You could be raised by parents who are very nice people and they may not have any drinking or drug use issues. They could be super religious. But that doesn’t guarantee it’s going to save you from drug addiction or alcoholism. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for prayers if somebody is sick. But what happens when you do a repeated bad behavior that you can’t seem to control?

As children, we don’t really have the power to change our environment that has been created by adults. We have been taught to be fundamentally flawed and that we are all sinners. And sometimes, when our brains have been wired that way, it naturally brings feelings of guilt, shame, and pain – that the only way to numb those is resorting to addiction. 

On today’s episode, Duane talks to Arlina Allen, host of The One Day at a Time podcast and creator of the Sober Life School. 

Arlina Allen has been sober since 1994 after living a wild life of drugs, alcohol, and sex. Her tagline at the time was – “If it was in a bottle, a bag or blue jeans, I was doing it!” Alina had quite a rough childhood. She started seeing a shrink at age 9, drinking at age 10, and started smoking weed in junior high. Her parents got divorced when she was young, and she was sexually abused by their neighbor. Growing up, she only had two feelings: guilty and wrong – and she used addiction as her way out of pain. Eventually, this left her feeling lost, full of self-loathing, demoralized, and hopeless. Then she finally reached out to some sober friends who offered her a little bit of hope and safety to be able to look inward.

Today, Arlina shares her understanding of how our own natural tendency for negativity and confirmation bias creates a painful feedback loop of continued self-loathing and continued pain, and finally, how reaching out to others can help change that process so we can unpack our baggage, see things more clearly with compassion, and begin to make the changes we want.

In this episode, you will hear:

  • How the shame spiral keeps going
  • Understanding confirmation bias, negativity bias, and the brain’s default network
  • What prompted her to finally make that switch to the other side
  • How part of the AA’s 12-step program allows you to unload all of your baggage
  • The role of community in addiction recovery

Key Quotes:

[07:11] – “In childhood, we develop these beliefs about who we are, it’s like the subconscious mind. It’s how we operate from it’s like a computer’s operating system. We then operate from that presupposition about who we think we are, and what we deserve, and what we’re capable of. 

[07:36] – “Confirmation bias meaning I’ve made a decision about who I was and what I was worth. And then my subconscious mind then looks for information to support my belief.”

[08:16] – “The default mode network is like a thermostat, where you don’t get too high, and you don’t get too low. We live within this comfort zone.”

[15:54] – “We do have a negativity bias where we’re looking for the problem so that we can solve it so that we can survive. But what we don’t realize is that we are forgetting about our assets. We’re forgetting to focus on the thousand things that go right every day.”

[21:08] – “I just didn’t see a way out. I was so self-centered but incapable of self-examination.”

[25:45] – “The how of recovery is honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness.”

[31:54] – “There is no doing this alone because our minds are compromised. And so we need an outside objective, compassionate, third-party perspective on what’s going on.”

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Supporting Resources:

Arlina’s Self-Esteem Course:

The One Day at a Time: 

Sober Life School: