Episode 24: Find Hope in Recovery – The Integral Journey of Doug Prater

The Journey of Integral Recovery Podcast

Aug 04
finding hope overcoming learned helplessness

Episode 24:
Finding Hope in Recovery
The Integral Journey of Doug Prater

Before Integral Practice can lift us from the darkness of addiction, we need a compelling reason to start. To take the first step. Hope is, at its core, is the belief that a better future is possible. Without that belief, without hope, we won’t have any compelling reason to do what’s required to escape the darkness of our addictions. How can we move toward the guiding light if we can’t see it?

Our addictions all began at different times, with different substances, and for different reasons. For some of us, drugs and alcohol were a way to celebrate and connect, which eventually spiraled out of control. For others, substances were a way to relax, or to energize, or to feel more creative. For me, and for many others like me, drugs and alcohol were a means to escape the suffering of our lives; a coping mechanism to numb the sting of internalized shame and self-rejection.

It worked…until it didn’t. Eventually, the devastation wrought by drug abuse, alcoholism, and many complex forms of behavioral addiction outweighed the benefits as our lives fell apart in every quadrant. And the deeper we fell, the more difficult it became to climb back out of the hole. I fell so deep that I couldn’t see the light.

Hopeless and helplessness, for me, went hand in hand. When my efforts to turn my life around reinforced the fact that, (or so I believed), the world didn’t want me, I began a self-reinforcing cycle of disconnection, learned helplessness, and deep-seated self-loathing.

Beliefs that I’d internalized from a young age – like the belief that I didn’t belong, had nothing to offer, and the world would be better off without me – grew with a furious intensity.

The moment we begin the journey of recovery and growth, we begin to see ourselves differently. We come to understand our values. It’s a critical step, but there’s an often unacknowledged and hidden danger to that self-illumination: once we know what we stand for, failure to live in alignment with those values can lead to further self-rejection, entrenching the belief of our inherent unworthiness even more deeply than ever.

Breaking that cycle requires connection with others. And the more deeply held our negative self-belief, the harder is to open oneself to connection with others in any kind of meaningful way. This becomes even more true when our issues in the lower-right hand quadrant, which can be slow to change, show clear evidence of our failures. And with our bodies and brains ravaged by the disease, we often lack the physiological capacity to make the necessary adjustments and sustain them over time.

The Integral Recovery model provides a crucial framework for us to recover from alcoholism and addiction because it’s the only system that addresses the complexities and interconnections of all four quadrants. Factors in each of the four quadrants contribute to our descent into addiction. And in the depths of the disease, all four quadrants are damaged by our addiction. Without this kind of holistic and systematic approach to treatment, we can’t address the totality of the problem.

But we can’t recover unless we believe that it’s worth it to try. And when we’ve learned, again and again, that our efforts are futile, we become even less likely to make the attempt.

Hope is essential. It’s required. From the darkness, though, hope can be hard to find.

And that’s why Integral Recovery Practice is critical. When we can take even the first small steps, we begin to accumulate a series of small wins. The evidence begins to mount that maybe, just maybe, we’re not so helpless after all. And so, we keep showing up.

Over time, the effects of practice begin to accumulate. We feel better physically and mentally, which helps us as we rebuild our psychological framework and our beliefs about the world. As our beliefs begin to change, we can begin to repair (or build anew) our connections and relationships with others. And through our relationships, we can move back into the world of systems, which in turn, enable our continued progress throughout the other three quadrants.

But a distant, future benefit…a vague and nebulous idea that “this practice is an important part of recovery” isn’t enough. No, the will to practice comes from the knowledge that practice (whether of body, mind, shadow, or spirit) will help me feel better now. That association, that certainty, is built through experience. We have to build those references for ourselves through practice – which is why I strongly advocate the practice of starting small. If you can’t find the willpower to practice, start smaller. Make it too easy to fail. Any action, no matter how small, that is properly aligned with our intentions and values, begins to rebuild our sense of self-efficacy. Take a tiny step, feel better now. It’s worth remembering.

Each new step, each new opportunity, each new challenge, will give us a new opportunity to grow. Using our fear, our discomfort, and our resistance as a compass, we can lean into practices, relationships, and situations that help us grow. With continued growth, we reach terminal recovery velocity and free ourselves from the gravity of addiction.

In today’s Journey of Integral Recovery, I tell my personal story. It’s not something I’ve ever done before. And it scared me to be so vulnerable. That’s a huge part of why I had to do it. Courage is a part of my practice.

Perhaps more importantly, though, I shared my story so that anyone reading, listening, or watching this might find a bit of hope. If you’re having trouble finding your own, borrow some of mine. In recovery, miracles are possible. Together, we’ll be the proof.


Episode Resources:
Profound Meditation Program
Stealing Flow: Complete Brainwave Suite for Flow State Mastery (by iAwake Technologies and Douglas Prater)
Integral Recovery: A Revolutionary Approach to the Treatment of Alcoholism and Addiction (SUNY series in Integral Theory)
Deep Recovery – a guided meditation from iAwake Technologies

In this episode:
[1:11] How did Doug Prater connect with John Dupuy and the Integral Recovery movement?
[2:54] Doug’s introduction to the episode and his story, along with having the courage to share it. Leaning into our imperfections as a part of the growth process.
[4:06] How long has Doug been clean and sober, and when did he start down the path of addiction? How does the combination of typology, lines, and quadrants factor into seeking comfort through substance, and what was Doug seeking solace from?
[5:44] The need for safety and its importance to our well-being and development. How bullying, rejection, and social isolation create hoplessness
[6:00] A note of forgiveness and the acknowledgement of the possibility for growth, evolution, and redemption through living amends
[7:40] Why connection matters – the dangers of not being able to share our struggles, hardships, and traumas. The roots of shame and self-rejection.
[9:00] The deep-seated and lasting psychological damage of bullying, and why our parents, peers, educators, and communities must be vigilant and supportive.
[9:29] When tragedy comes, how do we cope? Why it’s important to seek out help, and to explore your reactions, grieving, and processing in a safe and supportive place. Dealing with survivor’s guilt. The trouble with suppressing and denying our need to heal, and why it’s important to reach out to others who appear to be suffering.
[10:45] Learned helplessness: How the lasting damage of entrenched negative self-beliefs formed by our early interactions can follow us in life, even when removed from the negative situation.
[11:41] Using alcohol to numb the pain and escape the thoughts and feelings that we’re unable to handle, and why this is particularly dangerous in a culture where it’s socially acceptable.
[13:43] Moments of clarity amidst self-delusion, and how to recognize the signs that drinking, drug use, or life are out of control
[14:44] The cycle of relapse, and why the knowledge that something has to change can further fuel self-loathing when the change fails to be made.
[15:55] When the shame of alcoholism and addiction push us further into isolation
[16:12] Patterns of alcoholism and the Dr. Jeckyll/Mr. Hyde Syndrome.
[16:45] Pushing anger into the shadows, and why it’s important to resolve and integrate our shadow material, lest we turn that anger inward and reject ourselves
[18:08] How do the lower-right quadrant issues of employment, finance, and social systems impact the upper-left quadrant issues of psychology, particularly as it relates to self-belief? Hopelessness is personal, pervasive, and permanent
[19:48] When rehab doesn’t stick? What needs to be in place for appropriate self-care when formal treatment is over?
[20:32] The problem of powerlessness in AA, and why the concept of powerlessness can be problematic
[21:33] How do we find hope when all four quadrants are in disarray? What can we hold onto? What could possibly impel us to action?
[23:30] How typology can influence our path to recovery, in terms of leaning into our strengths to find a compatible path – and why focusing on our strengths isn’t always enough. (It’s hard to think yourself into right action.)
[23:51] The level and stage regression that occurs into addiction, and how we can fall into the tendency of magical thinking as we search for solutions in recovery.
[24:15] How different experiences, backgrounds, and beliefs can impact our acceptance of the tenants and focus of the twelve step programs, and why a more integral approach, inclusive of the whole AQAL model, is necessary so we don’t let anyone slip through the cracks
[26:46] The appeal of Buddhism to those at the orange rational level, and why not being asked to take anything on faith, but to explore and verify for ourselves, works very well for motivated the rationally-oriented to seek the truth.
[27:25] How the study of Buddhism can be a powerful catalyst for growth into the higher stages of development.
[27:40] When the values of the leading-edge stage/level permeate the culture so thoroughly that we can embrace them without having reached the stage, and why we must continue our journey of personal evolution to fully understand the values, beliefs, and paradigm of a given stage or level of development
[28:36] On the development of compassion and opening of the heart through our own experiences of suffering in addiction as we learn to take wider and wider perspectives.
[30:18] The dark night of the soul and the call of the void: when suicide begins to feel like the only viable option…how do we continue? What is there to hope for?
[31:15] Opening to accept the helping hands of another as the beginning of recovery, and why it’s important to continue to make ourselves available to those who need us, even if they’re not yet ready or able to accept our help.
[31:30] The beginnings of a physical practice, and how exercise, nutrition, and sunlight can begin the repair the damage wrought the disease. Why taking care of ourselves physically and caring for the upper-right quadrant can be an important precursor to recovery in all four quadrants
[32:40] Learning to accept the rejected self through small acts of courage and personal alignment with purpose plants the seeds of hope necessary for recovery. How our own acts of courage can inspire and empower others, and how this reinforces a growing sense of value and self-esteem
[35:15] How small wins become a snowball that builds momentum, and why embracing the process and moving forward in spite of fear is essential for recovery and our growth and development as people
[35:33] Using acting classes as a tool for shadow work, social connection, and perspective taking
[35:54] When all four quadrants begin to heal simultaneously through a period of consistent Integral practice: Miracles of transformation and growth, and the transcendence of shame as hope emerges
[36:44] Reaching terminal velocity and breaking the gravity of addiction
[37:42] A life of possibility: miracles of a successful recovery, and why we must address recovery and healing from an AQAL perspective
[38:02] Building hope, courage, and self-esteem through integral practice, grit, consistency learning to give the whole of our effort to practice
[39:34] Transcending shame by allowing ourselves to be seen; sharing and showing who we truly are as a pathway to self-acceptance and healing
[40:45] Addiction is about disconnection. Recovery, and life, are about expansion.
[41:05] The golden scarab: rising above our crap to emerge into the light
[42:50] The tragedy of addiction – this disease doesn’t discriminate. Recovery matters.
[43:30] The practice of Showing Up, and continuing to do so, especially when it scares us.

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08/04/2017, 46:40, 32 mb (Audio)

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