Adaptive Center, the “David” in the Addiction Treatment Field, Goes up Against the Giants

MIAMI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Adaptive Center, a Miami-based addiction treatment center, was notified that it has earned the Gold Seal of Approval®for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation by The Joint Commission, the agency that accredits the best hospitals in the world. The Gold Seal of Approval® is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s capacity to provide safe and effective care.

“We commend Adaptive Center for its efforts to elevate the standard of care it provides and to instill confidence in the community it serves.”
– Tracy Griffin Collander
LCSW Joint Commission representative

“We see this recognition of excellence as a reward and a weapon,” says Juan Lesende, Adaptive Center’s founder. “We want people looking for treatment to have a clear sign that can guide them to good treatment, and away from the scam artists that have populated our field. The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal is such a sign.”

Adaptive Center is probably one of the smallest treatment centers in the healthcare field: it services only 12 clients at a time. And yet is going against big treatment centers, fueled by money, from big business and individuals attracted to possible big profits.

“Almost any other treatment center in the field has more capital and a lot more beds than us,” says Lesende. “This provides them the opportunity to invest fortunes in advertising, and buy control of internet searches, to attract people into centers that deliver mediocre treatment. All we have to fight against this hijacking of information is excellence in treatment. That is why the accreditation from the Joint Commission is so significant to us.” Further proving this point is the comment by the Joint Commission representative, Tracy Griffin Collander, LCSW, who wrote in her report, “We commend Adaptive Center for its efforts to elevate the standard of care it provides and to instill confidence in the community it serves.” Lesende continues, “Ms. Griffin stated our mission perfectly. We will continue to fight for standards of care with the Giants in the industry, no matter the odds.”

About Adaptive Center: Adaptive Center is a JCAHO Accredited addiction treatment center in Miami, Florida. It is one of the smallest, yet most effective centers of its kind, treating less than 12 clients at a time. Adaptive Center is small by design – to provide the most intimate and effective treatment experience.

To learn more about Adaptive Center, call: (888) 925-0782.

Painkillers are not heroin but they lead to It

In Adaptive Center we treat a lot of opiate addiction. Painkillers and heroin belong to a family of drugs called opiates. Many of the painkillers that are prescribed for back pain, post surgery, and dental procedures are opiates, and close relatives of heroin.

In the last few years two factors have contributed to an epidemic of heroin addiction:

  • The cracking down of “Pill Mills” or “Pain Clinics”
  • The low price of heroin

Here’s what happened.

Opiates are very addictive. Many people that were prescribed opiates for chronic pain became addicted to them, and when doctors refused to continue to prescribe them, they found “Pain Clinics” in which by simply reporting symptoms of pain, and paying a fee, they could get prescriptions for any amount of opiate pills they wanted. These “Pain Clinics” became known as “Pill Mills”.

These Pill Mills spread like fire. In Florida, for example, they were so available, that drug dealers from other states would bring bus loads of people, line them up in front of these “Clinics,” and have each individual person get prescriptions that amounted to thousands of pills that the drug dealers would sell—illegally—back home.

As a result, many young people—and people medicating chronic pain—began buying these pills from the same drug dealers that had previously sold them marijuana and other “party drugs,” and became addicted to opiates very quickly.

The Cracking Down of Pill Mills

The existence of Pill Mills became so scandalous that law enforcement cracked down on their operators very hard. The majority of the Pill Mills were closed, and many of their operators faced legal consequences. However, these effective law enforcement measures cut the supply of pills to the drug dealers, and following the laws of supply and demand, as the supply of pills ran out, caused the price of pills to go up.

So, people addicted to opiates in pill form experienced the pain of withdrawing from them, and the pills harder to find. The drug dealers, however, had plenty of heroin.

The Low Price of Heroin

As the availability of opiate pills was going down, and their price kept going up, heroin was becoming cheaper. More and more heroin began to be manufactured in Mexico, instead of the old—and more distant—sources in the East and Europe. Mexican heroin was cheaper to make and easier to smuggle into the U.S. As a result, the supply of heroin sky-rocketed, and—again—according to the laws of supply and demand, the increasing amount of heroin made it cheaper.

The low price of heroin made it possible for people who were addicted to opiate pills to escape the pain of withdrawal by medicating them with heroin: it was cheap, and the drug dealers had a lot of it. Unfortunately, by reaching out to heroin as medication for opiate withdrawals, opiate addicts discovered what one of my clients described as “the King of the Opiates.” And the story that followed is tragic.

Here is the tragic story of the descent into Heroin addiction, as told to me by the majority of heroin addicts that I have known: First they began using heroin as a substitute for opiate pills that had become too expensive and too hard to find. Usually, they started by snorting it, in the same way that cocaine is used. However, soon they found that they needed to constantly buy more in order to escape “getting sick”: the withdrawal symptoms that follow the drug use. During their use, they met a more experienced user who taught them that if they injected the heroin it would be more potent and the effect would last longer—and eventually—even those that had been “horrified,” “disgusted,” and had looked down on people that injected heroin as “junkies,” tried it. And when they did, they report, that life as they had known it ended.

They report that life became an endless seeking of heroin—using—and seeking again. They became unstoppable and ruthless in their seeking—and they were stopped only by profound despair, death, or treatment.

Today this story is being lived by millions of people from all races, ethnicities, religions, and socio-economic status. While you were reading this article many died, and many want to stop because they can’t stand the despair of living for the sake of a drug, and many of those are looking for treatment to be able to stop and stay stopped. And it all began with Pills. They are not Heroin, but they led to it.

It’s our hope that this information may be of help to you and your loved ones, and that it may empower you and those you care about to avoid the trap of Opiate/Heroin addiction. If you think that we may be of even further help, call us.

4 Reasons to go to Treatment during the Holidays


The Holidays are a time of great personal expectations. Your family has high hopes of having the stereotypical happy and joyful Holiday events. Family members that otherwise live separate lives come to visit. The stage is set for your addiction to do great damage to the relationships with your family. What could be forgiven by your family in private, and in the course of everyday life, may be too much to bear in front of others. The damage that you cause may be irreparable.


The Holidays are a time in which many people feel lonely and depressed. These emotional states can cause you to seek the relief of drugs and alcohol, and since they are so plentiful during this time, they can take you to dangerous extremes.


Drugs and alcohol are plentiful, and are all around you. Even people who don’t abuse them regularly do so during this season. You will be surrounded by frequent use and abuse, and you will be encouraged to participate. It will be impossible to resist such an attack for long.


The environment of a good treatment center is not for the sick. It is an environment of support, and of loving embracing of yourself, away from the pressures and expectations that drive you to stress and pressure during this season.

When You Use Adderall…

If you are thinking of using Adderall, maybe it is because you feel pressured by parents, teachers, or peers to do better in school. Maybe you are planning to use it to help give you a boost of energy so that you can stay up all night and study. If you are hoping that Adderall will help you focus and concentrate, you might actually get what you ask for and more—and you won’t like it. You will concentrate and focus for sure. But the problem is that you will concentrate and focus on porn, masturbating, your accelerated heart rate, and obsessing over ideas and people. As a result, all of this hyper-concentrated-focus will make it impossible for you to finish the work that you are supposed to do.

According to SAMHSA, full-time college students were twice as likely to have used Adderall non-medically as their counterparts who were not full-time students, according to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health report released in 2009 (1).

Adderall is a drug designed to stimulate the area of the brain responsible for concentration—in brains where this area works slowly. This is the condition that causes ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder. So, if you have this kind of brain dysfunction, Adderall will boost your brain into normal speed. But if your brain is already working at normal speed, Adderall will throw it into over-drive: instead of concentration and focus, you will go into Obsession and Compulsion. Instead of becoming a focused person, you will become an obsessed and compulsive one.

And then it gets worse.

After sustained use, you will discover that even when the effects of Adderall become negative, and your compulsive porn watching, masturbating, and obsessing screw up your work, relationships, and school—you will have a hard time stopping it. Instead, you will actually begin to seek more, become preoccupied with having enough, and tell yourself and others outrageous explanations about why you really need it. Examples of these completely ridiculous reasons are:

  1. It’s a prescribed medication.
  2. It’s legal.
  3. You need it to function.

The problem with these explanations.

  1. You can always find a doctor that prescribes you anything if you lie to them about your symptoms, and hide from them the truth about how the medication affects you. If you are prescribed Adderall ask yourself if you really do suffer from ADD or if you have been exaggerating to get a prescription. Are you kidding yourself into believing you really need this medication when you know you have not been honest?
  2. Legality has nothing to do with drug abuse. The most addictive and deadliest drugs in the world are nicotine, alcohol, and legal drugs made by pharmaceutical companies. More people die from abusing them than from abusing illegal drugs. Many people feel that overusing their prescribed medications is inconsequential in fact, according to one study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, many Ivy League students asked don’t view ADHD medication misuse as cheating (2).
  3. If you really needed it, it would not be turning you into an obsessive-compulsive person that is experiencing negative life consequences.

Try this:

Do not use any drugs to study for your next round of tests. But don’t just not use Adderall – try a different approach.

  • Set a regular sleep and wake schedule
  • Eat three meals a day at the same time
  • Plan daily study blocks well ahead of the stressful last minute study week

If you end up using Adderall then you may have a drug problem and you will need to address it.

At some point one of two things will happen

You will continue to use Adderall until you lose your job and your relationships and get kicked out/or fail out of school. Then you will have to get help stopping.

You stop bullshitting yourself and pay attention to the reality that with Adderall you are engaging in compulsive behaviors that are not normal, that you are obsessing, and that you are failing at the very tasks that the Adderall was supposed to help you with. Then you act like a smart human being, and you seek help to stop—and protect the most important things in your life.

In order to stop using Adderall, look for a treatment center that is not a “rehab.” Look for a center that is interested in solutions to human problems, and that doesn’t label everyone walking through their doors as an “addict.” You need professional, rational, and scientifically validated treatment.

The first step of this treatment is detox. You have to stop the use in a protected environment, away from the places that you use. In a detox you will also receive medical help to deal with the anxiety and confusion that you will initially feel—don’t worry, it won’t last long.

Then you engage in an effective process of therapy, exercise, and self-discovery to identify what the deal was: How did you get into the Adderall? What were you after? What did you think it was going to do for you? Through the exploration caused by these questions you will clarify your crazy thinking, and will substitute it with rational-realistic-non-bullshit beliefs that will move you to meet your goals and reach success for real.


(1) SAMHSA – Nonmedical Use of Adderall® among Full-Time College Students

(2) AAP Article – Many Ivy League Students Don’t View ADHD Medication Misuse as Cheating

Questions and Answers with Juan Lesende

Can you start by giving us a short history and summary of the philosophy of the Adaptive Center?

Juan: The Adaptive Center’s history actually started when I began working in the field of addiction treatment over 20 years ago. One of the first things I noticed when I got into this field is that what many treatment centers were doing was not very effective, and many people were relapsing. After observing for many years what worked and what didn’t work, I decided to open up my own center, and incorporate everything I had learned in my years in this field. On Oct. 27th of this year, we will celebrate our two year anniversary.

Our philosophy at the Adaptive Center is grounded in the Human Potential Movement

Our philosophy at the Adaptive Center is grounded in the Human Potential Movement, which started in the late 1960s in California. The philosophy behind this movement is that we as human beings are born with the potential to be something. Just as a sapling which has the potential to grow into a tree can be bound in its growth by circumstances, so humans can be kept from reaching their potential. Circumstances like trauma, addiction, and mental illness tend to stunt growth and keep people from becoming what they were capable of being.

We use psychology and scientifically validated spiritual practices to liberate people from bindings such as addiction, depression, and anxiety, so that the person can reach their potential. Our goal is not just to help the person stop drinking and using drugs. We want to remove those things so that the person can learn and develop the skills they need in order to reach their full potential in life.

What makes the Adaptive Center unique from other treatment programs?

Juan: The environment we provide for clients resembles real life very closely. We are located in the middle of a city, not a remote, vacation-like location or a campus. Studies have shown that people internalize skills best when they are learning them in the environment in which they are going to use them. We have found that because of this our clients are able to learn skills better and put them into practice more effectively after treatment.

Another thing that makes us unique is that we have a proprietary model. After years of research, we created   a very individualized treatment model. It was created through academic research and real life observations, and is not borrowed from someone else.

We have an entire population of only 12 residents. What this means is we have a lot of time and resources to provide an extremely personalized treatment experience. These people are not just our clients; they get really close to our staff, and we have time and resources to devote to each one’s recovery.

We invest the majority of our resources in excellent treatment, not in window dressing to attract people to a grown-up version of Disney World, disguised as treatment. We are dedicated to the quality of therapists, whom we select very carefully, in their training, and in the research needed to find the tools that will best help our clients.

What specific types of therapies are used during treatment at the Adaptive Center?

Juan: Mindful cognitive therapy: This is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is the most tested and effective system of psychotherapy used in the past 30 years.  In this form of CBT, the added focus is on mindfulness—or increasing awareness. We train our clients in mindfulness through Zen meditation and yoga to the techniques of CBT. Very strong research shows that the increasing mindfulness helps people become aware of themselves, and their environment, in the here and now, and adds great benefits to the actual therapy.

System-based family therapy: We have found that this therapy is essential to recovery. The family can bring background information into treatment, which helps us better understand and reach clients. During this therapy we also work to repair the broken relationships that our clients have experienced with their families, so that when they return home they can have a more peaceful and welcoming environment, which will give them a better chance to stay clean.

Morita therapy: This is a Japanese form of therapy that is based on focusing on the task at hand. What this means is that we teach our clients to abandon themselves to whatever activity they are doing in the moment. For example, while hanging clothes in a closet, clients should pay attention to the details involved in order to do it right, not to other things that are concerning them at the time. This focused attention provides them with relief from obsession, cravings, and anxiety. Because we provide clients with a real-life, supportive environment, we are able to help them put this therapy into practice while carrying out their everyday tasks.

Social rhythm therapy: Through this type of therapy, we help clients create and keep a rhythm of their normal activities throughout the day. We have clients wake up, eat meals, and go to bed at the same times every day, in order to set their internal rhythm. This helps the brain become calm, and instead of having to guess what will happen next, the brain falls into a rhythm and provides relief from anxiety, depression, and cravings for drugs and alcohol.

Physical Fitness: Research in neurology—the science of the brain—proves that 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise daily promotes benefits to the working of the human brain.

You are located in a “real life” environment. What does this mean?

Everything at our facility takes place in a normal living situation. Residents live in a regular apartment building, in a block of apartments reserved for our clients. The apartments are well-equipped, and residents can cook meals, do laundry, and perform normal every day activities.

For therapy, residents walk two blocks to our treatment center, which is housed in a discrete building. They participate in therapy during normal work hours, and when they finish here every day, they go to the gym across the street to exercise. Next to the gym is a chain grocery store where our clients can buy everything they need. We give them money in the form of a card for food each week. The center is surrounded by stores, restaurants and a mall where clients can go shop, with an approved itinerary from the staff. In the evening, residents do homework and can participate in activities like AA in-house meetings or other therapies.

Our clients live a normal life like you and I, but they do everything within a small radius of their apartment

Our clients live a normal life like you and I, but they do everything within a small radius of their apartment—and with the supervision of our staff. We are always here to support and monitor them. The whole system is simple, protective, and non-constrictive.

Given this freedom for your clients, how do you ensure that active addicts or alcoholics are not using substances or engaging in other behaviors that may negatively affect their treatment?

Juan: Clients live in a real-life setting at our facility, but it is monitored closely. When a client wants to go on an outing, they must fill out an itinerary which tells us where they want to go and what time they will be back. If the person has shown that they are doing well in treatment, we authorize that trip. When clients return from an outing, such as a trip to the mall or to the grocery store, the first thing we do is give them a breathalyzer test to make sure they haven’t been drinking. We also conduct a urine test after each outing

If we do detect that a client used drugs or alcohol, they go into a more stringent form of supervision for one week: they have to be accompanied by counselors at all times. After completing this intense supervision period clients resume normal treatment.

Our system helps clients think ahead and avoid impulses. We have found that by allowing clients this type of freedom, and responsibility, individuals work harder at staying sober and have fewer relapses.

How long is a typical stay at your facility and what types of aftercare do you recommend for clients?

Juan: We ask for a 30 day commitment, because we have seen that this is the length of time that offers the best success. The average stay at our center is 6 weeks. Some clients stay for 30 days, or 3 months, or even a year. We work with each client to establish a program that meets their own needs.

We do believe in the importance of aftercare. Our local clients can come back to our facility for unlimited support from our therapists. For clients that are farther away, we help connect them with professionals in their area before they leave our facility.  In the future, we will establish workshops throughout the country, so that our clients that come from far away can attend these as aftercare as well.

2 Psychological Benefits of Yoga That Will Change Your Entire Life

Yoga dates back 5,000 years. It evolved in India as a practice to achieve self-understanding, personal freedom, and an end to the suffering that comes with life. It was designed to join, or “Yoke” mind-body-and-God as one. For this purpose the Yogi/Yogin engages in training the body and mind to attain unity with both.

These lofty spiritual goals of Yoga would surprise the casual Yoga practitioner attending the typical Yoga class at the Health Club. In its modern manifestation Yoga has become a way to get physically fit, learn to relax, improve your balance, improve posture, and other aesthetic benefits. In this article we will not discuss these aesthetic benefits, we will instead focus on 2 mental-spiritual Yoga practices that are connected with our work in psychotherapy: the development of mindfulness, and the development of acceptance.


Mindfulness is the capacity to be aware of yourself in the present moment —where you are and what you are doing— in order to experience life fully. When your attention is in the present, you escape the regrets of the past, and the fears of the future. When you are engaged —fully— in the experience that you are in, e.g. really tasting the sandwich that you are eating, fully feeling the touch of your partner…
When a person is not in touch with their experience and their desires, they fall into an internal state of void that usually gets filled with adopting another’s experiences and desires in order to find direction in life. This “dependency” on others for direction results in anxiety, depression, and “chemical dependency”—commonly known as drug addiction. Increasing mindfulness can put you in touch with true desires, restore self-direction, and put an end to the anxiety and fear depending on others for direction and validation.


Acceptance is the ability to accept whatever is happening in the present moment —in spite of your fantasies and desires to be somewhere else— or be doing something else. People who lack the capacity for acceptance are cursed with dissatisfaction and future regret. In psychology we use the term “hedonistic habituation” to refer to a constant state of dissatisfaction that sets a person up to live in constant anxiety, and envy. As an example consider the typical process that follows buying the car of our dreams. The first few days, and even weeks, we are filled with joy, satisfaction, and feelings of pride and accomplishment. Then, by the time that the “new car smell” wears off, the car has become our normal, everyday car, and we begin to eye cars —at the higher price range— that we now want. You can substitute the car in this example for anything in your life— your partner, your house, your clothes— and the process will be the same. As a result, we live unsatisfied lives, only appreciating the things that we have after we lose them. Instead—through the practice of acceptance—we can enjoy these same things when we have them, and enjoy them to the fullest before they are gone.

You may have noticed that these 2 goals are connected. That mastering acceptance arises out of mindfulness e.g. by living mindful of our present we can clearly see our reality, and accepting our reality—and the people and things in it—we can value their worth. Then we can enjoy them while we have them, and not have to regret not having done so when they pass.

Mindfulness and Acceptance have been principles pointing the way to human happiness since antiquity. Their development have been at the core of spiritual, philosophical, and psychological practices from thousands of years ago to our present. Yoga is one of those ancient systems, available to you today. It serves our clients as an excellent practice to enhance their change into a new way of experiencing themselves and their lives. I hope that it may serve you in your journey.

Being Bored is CRAZY: 3 Effective Ways to Stop It

Boredom is common, and yet unnatural. Boredom comes from feeling that you should, or could, be doing something other than what you are doing right now. In other words, boredom is a resistance to engage in what is around you for the sake of a fantasy. If you think about it, that’s crazy. So, stop being bored, and stop acting crazy. Here are 3 ways to do it.

Pay attention to what is going on around you

Anywhere that you are, at any time, there are things happening around you. They may not be the things that you would like to be happening, but they are there. Even if you are in the middle of a desert, there are things that are happening —that perhaps you SHOULD be paying attention to— like snakes and scorpions trying to crawl up your a…. Would you be bored in this situation? Doubtful. Guess what, neither will you be bored if you are paying attention to what’s going on around you wherever you are. Even if its not as urgent, the environment around you is full of stimulating things —colors, people, shapes, traffic, storefronts…— if you are open to see them; if you choose to be where you are, instead of wishing to be somewhere else, doing something else.


Instead of sitting around THINKING about how bored you are, why don’t you get up and do something? Anything. Open your door, step out, and start walking, get in your car and start driving, get on your bike and start riding. That’s right, without any specific plan, without an appointment, just go. Something will grab your attention. It’s impossible to be bored while you are engaged in movement, why? Because you have to pay attention to what you are doing, and that paying attention will take you away from boredom. So if you are bored, start moving and let your mind get engaged in something other than ruminating.

Call Somebody

Dig into your contacts. Read through your contacts —literally read them one by one. You will come across contacts for people that you haven’t been in touch with for a while. Call them. Ask them what they have been up to. Ask them to get together and catch up. You never know where the conversations can go from there. At best you may renew friendships that lead to new social activities, in the worst case, you had a nice chat with old friends that took you out of your boredom.

These are 3 simple ways to not be bored. Of course, for some people being bored —and complaining about it— is a kind of hobby, and a way to make others responsible for entertaining them. If that is your thing, disregard this article. I really believe that people have a right to their favorite amusement, even if it’s crazy.

Don’t Stress: 5 Natural Ways To Eliminate It

Long-term stress is unnatural. Stress is supposed to get us ready to act in moments of danger, not be a part of our lives for long periods of time. When our ancestors were hunters and gatherers, and they confronted danger, they experienced stress. When they were facing a dangerous situation—like hunting in a new forest—their organism would get ready to fight or run:

  • Their pupils would dilate to see every detail
  • Their heart would beat fast -pumping blood and oxygen to get them ready to fight or run away.
  • Their blood vessels would constrict —in order to reduce bleeding if they were wounded.

In other words, they would be ready to engage in an action that would save their lives.

However, as soon as the hunt was over, or they got eaten, this physical and mental tension, which we call stress, would end.

But that is no longer how it works. In the past 30 thousand years the jungle where we live and “hunt” has changed. Today we live and hunt in a concrete jungle, and the threats to our survival in this modern jungle are not predators of the animal kind —at least not four legged animals. Today the threats to our survival can take the form of non-physical dangers like:

  • Fear of unemployment: which represents the threat of losing the ability to pay for our shelter, food, and clothing.
  • Fear of losing social status: which puts us in a weakened position to compete with our higher-status peers for attractive partners, the best jobs, career opportunities, and the best caves i.e. homes and condos in prime locations.
  • Fear of rejection: which can lead to not being accepted by the other humans of our family, clan, or tribe: which can result in losing mates to love and procreate with, as well as the loss of companions that help us hunt, i.e. find jobs, make connections, give us shelter in hard times, and help protect us from enemies.

When our organisms sense these threats to our survival it gets ready to fight, or run, as it did for our ancestors. But, how do you fight an insecure job? The demands placed on us —by ourselves or by others—to gain status and respect; the pressure to excel at whatever we do, the societal press to become rich, powerful, or famous? How do we fight, or run away, from the threat of not being liked, approved of, or accepted?

We can’t physically fight these threats, and we can’t run from them either. As a result we are stuck in our ready-to-fight-or-run mode; without anything physical to fight or run away from. We get trapped in our physical and mental sense of emergency—experiencing on-going stress. And, the result of this on-going stress results in harmful mental and physical repercussions like:

  • Depression
  • Unhealthy weight gain or loss
  • Inability to focus
  • Impairment of the sensory systems
  • Addiction

So what do we do?

Many people respond to these threats by reaching out to alcohol and drugs, legal or illegal, to get short-term relief from the symptoms of stress. In our culture this search for relief is demonstrated by the billions of dollars that are spent every year on alcohol and illegal drugs, and demonstrated by the millions of prescriptions— that are written by physicians as a treatment for stress—every year. But, these solutions come with a dangerous downside: the danger of addiction.

So,again, what do we do?

Here are 5 Proven strategies to eliminate your stress in a natural way:

Become a good hunter in this jungle.

A good hunter becomes very good at exploring their environment and detecting its dangers. A good hunter doesn’t walk into a dangerous part of the jungle carelessly. Neither should you. You have to develop the ability to be in touch with your reality: your feelings, thoughts, and environment as it exists in the present, not how it “should be”. On-going stress is caused by dwelling on regrets of the past, and fears of the future. Grounding yourself in the present allows you to escape this kind of stress, and allows you to find solutions to problems instead of dwelling in them.

Become the master of your life and your domain

There are many circumstances in your life that you can’t change; but if you are honest with yourself, you will find many that you can. You have to challenge underlying beliefs that make you vulnerable to feeling obligated to do things, or be with people that are toxic for you. Every time that you are faced with the prospect of encountering these situations, your organism will go into fight-or-run mode and you will be stressed. Its natural to avoid danger. You would not go into threatening situations in a real jungle. Why would you choose to suffer emotional harm in this one?

Become the master of your time

You are totally capable to avoid the stressful situation of being late. Practice good time management skills. There are many books, blogs, apps and many other tools that can help you. However, they all depend on the simple practice of allowing yourself extra time, being realistic, not overcommitting, and the following strategy: learning to say No.

Learn to say no

Allowing others to impose their wishes and demands on you is a sure formula for a stressful life. Others will always have needs that they believe are more important than yours. You are the only person in the world that is able to set limits on the expectations that others impose on you, and avoid being put in positions that cause you stress. For example: Don’t say yes to invitations without checking if you have ample time to attend them—including the time to travel to and from them. Don’t double-book yourself because you couldn’t say no to any of two separate requests; in the end you will disappoint everyone anyway. Challenge the beliefs that tell you that other people’s needs are more important than yours; they are not. And, if you feel obligated to say yes, because of fears of abandonment, incompetence, or disapproval—challenge them. The day has 24 hours, and you really can’t please all the people all the time.

Get out of debt

I know, easier said than done. But stay with me here. Look, however you look at it, if you are in debt, the reality is that you will be able to pay that debt only according to your resources. You can’t magically create money that you don’t have. So, center yourself, and accept the reality that you are in. After all the volumes written on how to get out of debt, the most centered, realistic, and wise advice that I ever read came from a classic book called “The Richest Man in Babylon”. Here is the formula that it recommends: Dedicate 10 percent of your income to repaying your debt. Split this amount among your creditors. Call them and tell them that you are doing your best, and that as your income grows you will pay them more. If they accept, fine, if they don’t, still send them the amount that you came up with. If they threaten you, ignore it: there are no more “debtor prisons”; if they take you to court, go; and show the judge that you are trying to pay your debt, in the majority of cases they will work with you. Know that you are doing your best, and feel the satisfaction of doing your best.
Fight the beliefs of being a “deadbeat”, “loser”, or any derogatory view of people in debt that you may have. Challenge the feelings of inadequacy, shame, low self-esteem, and many other negative emotions that these beliefs can produce. You are living here and now. This is your reality here and now. Remind yourself that you are acting responsibly here and now —and as long as you are living as a responsible person— you are a responsible person.

Now —this is very important— don’t try to practice these techniques perfectly— perfectionism is a source of stress. It’s natural to fail as you begin to learn something new. Please know that you are not alone. If you need help in mastering these skills, find guidance. The best sources of guidance in fighting stress are psychotherapy, meditation, and yoga. These practices help you get grounded, increase your awareness and mindfulness, and help you challenge the irrational beliefs that lead to imaginary, or unrealistic dangers that trigger stress.
I hope that this article helps you to grow into a powerful hunter in our jungle, who uses stress as a useful tool, not a source of suffering.

6 Daily Habits to Improve Your Self Esteem

First of all, what is Self-Esteem? Self-Esteem is a term coined by psychologists to describe to what extent a person “esteems”, that is, values, them-Selves. Having good self-esteem is healthy. But when it’s exaggerated and unrealistic it can lead to psychological disorders like “Narcissism”. The people suffering from Narcissism build an inflated sense of self-esteem. They see themselves as “special”. Unfortunately this sense of “specialness” is hiding a real sense of being inadequate, incompetent, and weak. Whenever reality shows narcissists that they, in fact, are not special, their artificial self-esteem crumbles. They sink into despair, anger, and depression. Then, they run to restore their false sense of self-esteem, by desperately seeking admiration, or at least approval from others, often going as far as becoming subservient in order to secure approval. They also engage in escapist behaviors like drug use, acting out sexually, to convince themselves that they are attractive and wanted, or any other behavior that can restore their sense of specialness, and help them escape their feelings of inadequacy.

Instead, healthy Self-Esteem is a sense of feeling worthy, capable, and confident that you have the internal resources to handle the challenges of life. With healthy self-esteem you are aware of the realistic value in yourself, and in people. Because of their ability to enjoy a true sense of worth, those with healthy self-esteem are also less likely to develop mental health issues such as, anxiety, depression, and addiction. It’s then clear that building and maintaining healthy self-esteem is vital to your mental and emotional wellbeing. So how do we do that? Below are are 6 ways to do so.

1. Journal for 20 minutes.

This is the hardest habit that I have ever tried to create. The paradox is that nothing has been proven to work better for you. Daily journaling allows you to ground yourself in reality, show you in how many ways you are competent, and what areas of your life you should be working to improve. It is like looking in a mirror. And the image you get back can be a constant source of information that tracks your small accomplishments, and builds your realistic self-esteem.

2. Make a daily or weekly to-do list and cross things off as you go along.

This is directly related to the above technique, only more technical. This practice will help you focus on your accomplishments, building your confidence a little every day.

3. Sit Up Straight.

Do you think this one is silly? What if I told you that is completely proven by modern Social Science? There’s more. Also take up space. Take up space with your body, don’t slouch, hold yourself, cross your legs, or in any way try to shrink the space that your body occupies. Confident people display a confident posture. It also works in reverse. Adopting a confident posture will make you feel more confident. Standing with good posture – back straight, shoulders back, head held high – will make you feel stronger and more confident in about 2 minutes, boosting your self-esteem.

4. Focus on achieving small goals.

Achieving goals will give you confidence in your abilities to handle life’s challenges. Set a goal early in the day – like getting up without hitting snooze – and you’ll feel the confidence from that one small achievement all day.

5. Exercise.

The other habit that I continuously work on creating. Exercise releases endorphins and other feel-good chemicals in your brain. You’ll feel good for doing something good for your body, and your body will reward you in kind. Here’s the secret: don’t set yourself up with perfectionistic expectations of becoming a model in the cover of Shape magazine. The true benefit of exercise for self-esteem building comes from 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, e.g. treadmill, running, jogging, fast walking, doesn’t matter. 20 minutes will give you a shower of endorphins.

6. Challenge Negative Beliefs.

Instead of dwelling on the negative, force your mind to stop self-criticizing thoughts and challenge it to provide evidence for the truth of your negative beliefs. Evidence based in reality. You will discover that most of your negative beliefs are not grounded in reality; that they are based on fears, and irrational teachings that you have learned, and accepted as true. Once you see their irrationality, replace your negative beliefs with realistic ones. Instead of thinking “I can’t do this,” think “I need to learn how to do this”. Instead of “this is horrible” think “this is unfortunate, uncomfortable, etc.”. Instead of thinking “I can’t do this”, think “this is a great opportunity to learn something.”

Self Esteem is part of your foundation. When balanced it can provide you with confidence, clarity of mind, and joy. When out of balance it will be a source of instability, psychological pain, and lead to mental illness and addiction. The above strategies can provide you with a practice that strengthens and perpetuates a balanced and consistent Self Esteem. Treat yourself good, and practice them.

Tips For Overcoming Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts-lead to negative feelings-lead to negative behaviors. This deceivingly simple formula has been proven to be true for over 30 years. It is the proven foundation of successful psychotherapy. Its so effective that it’s proven to work on severe depression, anxiety, and almost any psychological disorder. You can put it to use when you are feeling down, or even better, as a tool to sharpen your mind, and take control of your emotions. Here I give you a few techniques, proven by the most cutting edged science in psychology, that will lead you to positive emotions, positive behaviors, and success.

1. Be around positive forces.

The environment is extremely powerful in creating emotions. Think about this; if you go into a room full of toxic gases, regardless of what you do, or want, if you stay there long enough you would get sick. In the same way, toxic-negative environments and people will eventually create toxic and negative feelings in us. Avoid being around negative people who will encourage your feelings of doom and gloom. Instead, enjoy the company of friends and family members who induce positive emotions. If you absolutely have to be in a negative environment, be aware of it’s negative effects on your emotional state, and get out as soon as you can, before you get toxically sick.

2. Focus on your body language.

Walk with your head held high up. Take up the space that you are in, i.e. don’t slouch, don’t be meek, don’t feel restricted and try to not be noticed. “Power Postures” as are known in social science , can encourage confidence, optimistic thoughts — and increased clarity. (for a presentation of Power Postures see the following TED Talk Some examples of how power posing can actually boost your confidence.

3. Write the negative thoughts out on paper. Then, challenge them.

Demand of yourself to prove that your negative thoughts are true. Imagine that you are a judge in a court of law, and demand evidence, not opinion, that prove that what you think is true. Write down all the evidence that you can. You will discover that most of your negative thoughts are nothing more than opinion and conjecture that don’t have evidence in reality. Once this becomes clear, your negative thoughts will loose the power to make you feel badly.

4. Confide in someone you trust and who won’t judge you.

Ask them to help you with the above exercise. Ask them to serve as an impartial judge as you present the case for your negative thoughts. Then ask them to rule. Ask them if they are satisfied with the evidence. Ask them to tell you the reason why, or why not. Not only can this ease the burden of your heavy thoughts, but it can help you get rid of your negative thinking, or be clear about changes that you can make to get rid of negativity in your life..

5. Read an uplifting book or article.

Instead of allowing bad thoughts to eat away at you, immerse yourself in something uplifting that can influence you to make a positive change in your existence. The famous psychologist Albert Bandura proved the power of “modeling”, the power that a positive model can have in shaping our view of the world, thinking and behavior. Seek inspiring models in novels, comic books, films, and all other forms of art. They can be incredibly powerful.

6. Rest, rest, rest.

The proper rest can also give you some much-needed perspective. After your sleep, your formerly troubled mind will feel clear and uncluttered.

7. Do a good deed.

Instead of concentrating solely on your own problems, shift the attention to someone else. Help someone else out. The power that helping has on emotions has been documented scientifically as one of the most important components of happiness. This could mean anything from the smallest act, to acts of great kindness. The result will be the same; an uplifting feeling of satisfaction, and escape from your negative thinking.

8. Now comes the most important of all: Practice Acceptance.

Accept that you are Human. Accept that you are not supposed to be perfect. Accept that life is not supposed to be fun, or happy all the time. Accept that disappointments are not tragedies, that failures are not catastrophe and they are a necessary part of life. So when your thought says “This is Awful” say back “No, this is dissapointing”, and when your thoughts say “I can’t take it”, say back “This is painful, but This too shall Pass”.

You have the power to change your thinking, manage your feelings, and be pushed by your mind in the direction that will bring you satisfaction, joy, and fulfillment. Take it.