What Your Patients are Hearing

Overcoming social media’s false narratives; using fitness to fight addictions


For most people, life is a roller coaster of satisfaction and challenge. And in the midst of days filled with the latter, the social media chronicles of someone’s seemingly perfect life can set the teeth on edge. But should seeing those adventures from afar generate feelings of envy and self-loathing?

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No, argues a piece written in The Guardian. Social media has created a world in which everyone seems ecstatic – apart from us.

Is there any way for people to curb their resentment? Yes, said Ethan Kross, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, who studies Facebook’s impact on well-being. Interviewed for The Guardian article, Dr. Kross remarks that “envy is being taken to an extreme. We are constantly bombarded by ‘photoshopped lives’ and that exerts a toll on us the likes of which we have never experienced in the history of our species. And it is not particularly pleasant.”

Negotiating the era of envy requires a conscious effort to not compare one’s life with those of others, especially since their social presence may choose to gloss over their real-life troubles. Heavy lifting to boost personal self-esteem can be beneficial.

But these steps are far easier in theory than in practice. “What I notice is that most of us can intellectualize what we see on social media platforms – we know that these images and narratives that are presented aren’t real, we can talk about it and rationalize it – but on an emotional level, it’s still pushing buttons,” clinical psychologist Rachel Andrew, ClinPsyD, said in the article. “If those images or narratives tap into what we aspire to, but what we don’t have, then it becomes very powerful.”

Gym seeks to help people stay in recovery

The world for those who are trying to rid themselves of substance use/addiction can be a fragile place. Having support can be the difference between a new clear-headed life and the slide back to darkness. For people with addictions in several U.S. cities, community gyms that operate under the moniker “The Phoenix” can be help.

Cycling workout UberImages/iStock/Getty Images

The Phoenix was started by Scott Strode as a way to help people generate some sweat to stay sober. He has been sober for 21 years. There are no initiation fees to join and no monthly dues; funding comes from donations and grants. The absence of a financial burden comes with the requirements of 48 hours of sobriety, and the desire for that to continue.

The 14 Phoenix gyms in the United States have helped an estimated 26,000 people with their recovery.

“The hardest part about coming to Phoenix is opening the front door. But we’ve removed all those other barriers to access. Because it’s free, it doesn’t matter what insurance you have or how much money is in the bank account or what your addiction story is,” Mr. Strode said in an interview with “CBS This Morning: Saturday.”

Dana Smith has been sober for 9 years. Her introduction to The Phoenix was in prison, serving a sentence for a fatal traffic accident she caused while driving drunk. When asked by the interviewer how she lives with the reality that she took a life, Ms. Smith replies: “That’s another reason it was so important for me to come to Phoenix. I knew that I needed to be in a place where I felt comfortable talking about it. And I felt open and able to share ... I can help others ... and I have to listen the way that people listened for me and the way that people helped me to heal.”

Mr. Strode still burns with passion about the importance of The Phoenix. “For me, getting out of my addiction was like getting out of a burning building. And I just don’t feel like I can walk away if I know people are still in there,” he said.

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