October 5, 2023


I have often used the expression “Stop digging the hole” to clients and leaders when they try to defend a losing cause just because they could not admit there was a better way or choice. In other words, you cannot climb out of the hole until you stop digging it, and to climb out you need to surrender your stance. Whether it be pride, ego, or just pain stubbornness, digging the hole deeper just winds up burying you.

For leaders that keep digging a hole, it is a poor example for leadership. But for substance abuse clients it can be fatal and will interfere with their recovery and/or mental health. You must first, “stop digging” the hole before you can begin climbing out of it.” I cannot tell you the hundreds of times I have heard clients defending their positions on why they are in their current addictions while they sit in my group at my treatment center. I say to them “Hello,” I am sure you did not plan a goal five years ago to be in treatment now. Whatever the reasons, they are not working!

I have used this phrase to help clients and leaders visualize that a problem will not be solved until you first stop digging the hole that the problem created in the first place. More simply stated, when you recognize that you made a mistake or realize you could have performed a task or job better, stop making excuses to defend your position. Acknowledge it, own it, change it, and improve it. To do this you must first understand what is making you defend something you clearly do not believe in or know that it is wrong.

When faced with a problem, situation, or opinion that we clearly no longer believe in, but stubbornly refuse to adjust our mindset based on principle or pride, we need to “stop digging” further into it if we intend to grow. How many times have you stubbornly remained defending a person, belief, or action that deep down inside you knew was no longer how you felt or believed, but refused to adjust or shift your opinion? The new buzz words for this folly are “doubling down” and “tripling down” on an obvious problem or situation you are in. It may fool people in politics, or you may even fool yourselves, but it does not go away by simply ignoring it or making believe there is not a problem like children do with magical thinking.

This metaphor is a notable example of how we continue to make excuses about our actions and behaviors, especially when they involve addictions. “Stop Digging” is easier said than done. So, stop, look, and listen to your Mind, Body, and Spirit! One hundred percent (100%) of the time you will see areas in your lives that need to be improved. Write them down! If you do not, you will begin to make excuses about why you cannot address them. “Stop”! You can address them, and you need to accept responsibility for them. Now you have stopped digging the hole and may be able to see the light above.

In our present world digging the hole deeper seems to be the fashionable way to go. Just remember, no self-growth will ever occur while you continue to believe in things that keep you stagnant in your present situations. Another great quote, by Einstein, stated “Problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them.” No growth can ever occur without you changing the way you process your world. It is pretty simple, we were all raised by parents who were not perfect, as with all people. So, just sticking to what our parents believed will keep you status quo. Without knowledge, and your willingness to always question the origin of your beliefs, no changes in your situation will ever occur.

When was the last time you changed or shifted your view on a topic or belief? If your answer was seldom or never, then you are stagnant in your world. It is impossible as we grow to not expand our world view and intellect, which in turn shifts our opinions and beliefs. I should say. You do not grow by stubbornly remaining still even though deep down you know your feelings about a topic have changed. It is okay to change your stance on things. It is not a sign of weakness like so many believe, it is a sign of strength and growth!

So, how does this relate to mental health issues or addictions? If you suffer from symptoms like depression, anxiety, obsessive thinking, flashbacks, nightmares, and so on, then just know that they are not the problem: They are the symptoms of a problem. If you read my blog on “Chasing Symptoms” then you will have a better understanding of what I am saying. The point is once you accept your symptom as the problem, you now keep digging that hole until you lose sight of what caused the symptom in the first place. I see this all the time in my practice and teach how our current mindset is also a compilation of past unresolved and resolved issues in our lives. The more resolved we are, the healthier we are, which in turn stops us from digging a hole we have created.

Resolving past traumas/life events will not happen if you continue to dig the hole that those events created. You cannot change your past, but you can change the way you view it. Never stop seeking answers to questions involving your lives. Stop falling back on old ways that have never gotten you anywhere other than in a deep hole. Occasionally check your ego and pride at the door. You may surprise yourselves with a greater understanding of what makes us who we are.

So, get some paper and start your list. It may help you to stop digging!

Mind, Body, Spirit…Balance!

Vinnie Strumolo, CEO, CCO, LMF