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Mending My Broken Spirit

Updated: Jan 11

Mending My Broken Spirit

My name is Onthene, I am an addict.

Yes, I will start or end my blogs with this admission because not only do I need to continuously remind myself that this is part of who I am. I also want to try and live by example, and make an attempt to show that there is no shame in admitting that you are an addict.

So, if you are reading this and you are one of my people… it is okay… you are not alone. Stick around long enough you will never have to feel like you are ever again.

I reluctantly started working on this “blog” hell knows writer's block is real and for my addict the perfect excuse to procrastinate on sharing anything that might help someone else let alone my recovery from this disease of which there is no known cure, and life, broken relationships, bad communication and my unsavoury co-dependent behaviours which I have genuinely tried to get better at the past few months.

So, whilst surfing the web in search of anything to provoke some thought, I accidentally came across something that rocked my world, wait, this was some Higher Power stuff, because honestly, I googled communication and my eye caught this… It caused a slight shift in my dimension…an awakening of sorts and I simply had to share it with you.

Have you ever heard about the circle of courage philosophy?

It is based on the universal principle that to be emotionally healthy all you need is a sense of these four core values Belonging, Mastery, Independence, and Generosity. This is from the teachings of Native Americans who reared courageous, respectful children without using aversive control.

I feel, that if I can apply this in my life as an adult despite that this is based on the Native American philosophy on childcare, I can make my life and the lives of those around me a better place to live.

The Circle of Courage Philosophy

Stay open-minded and willing to continue reading, this will soon make sense, I promise. This is where I am going to stop typing and instead share with you what I found. You will thank me later.

I’m sharing what is needed for this “blog” to get your attention and plant a seed. If you want to know more, click on the link. Change your perspective, change your thinking, and your behaviour will follow.

Here is to some good orderly direction.

As an addict, I need to understand and learn to apply these principles in my life.

So here goes, I hope this makes as much sense to you as it does to me.

The following is some insight into the circle of courage philosophy and how when used correctly can help mend a broken spirit, my own to start with.

Belonging - Be related, somehow, to everyone you know


In Native American culture, significance is nurtured in a community that celebrates the universal need for belonging. Native American anthropologist Ella Cara Deloria described the core value of belonging in Indian culture in these simple words: "Be related, somehow, to everyone you know." Treating others as kin forges powerful social bonds of community that draw all into relationships of respect. Throughout history, the tribe, not the nuclear family, always ensured the survival of the culture. Though individual parents might struggle, the tribe is always there to support the growth of the next generation.

Mastery - One must strive for mastery for personal reasons


Competence is ensured by guaranteed opportunities for mastery. The first lesson in traditional Native American culture is that one should always observe those with more life experience to learn from them. Children are taught to see someone with more skill as a model for learning, not as a rival or a threat. One must strive for mastery for personal reasons to build feelings of confidence and competence, not to be superior to someone else. Humans have an innate drive to master their environments. When success is achieved, the desire to achieve more is strengthened.

Independence - Power is fostered by deep respect for each person's independence


Power is fostered by a deep respect for each person's independence. In contrast to obedience-based models of discipline, Native American teaching is designed to build respect and teach inner discipline. From early childhood, children are encouraged to make decisions, solve problems and show personal responsibility. Adults modelled, nurtured, taught values and gave feedback, but children are given abundant opportunities to make choices without coercion.

Generosity - Finally, virtue is reflected in the pre-eminant value of gratitude


Finally, virtue is reflected in the preeminent value of generosity. The central goal of Native American child-rearing is to teach the importance of being generous and unselfish. In The Education of Little Tree, Forrest Carter recounted his grandmother's overriding principle: "When you discover something good, the first thing to do is share it with whoever you can. That way, the good spreads out and there’s no telling where it will go.” In helping others, young people create their proof of worthiness; they have the power to make a positive contribution to another human life”

Okay, so now what? Look at the following information I am going to share with you, if this does not blow your mind I don’t know what will.

The Spirit of Belonging

"Abraham Maslow's theory of human needs postulates that a sense of belonging must be attained before self-esteem and self-actualization can be realized. As a student is drawn into the circle in the Spirit of Belonging, a relationship is established which is based upon mutual trust and respect. This motivates us to live with "a minimum of friction and maximum of goodwill" (Bendtro et al, 1990). The ultimate test of this kinship is behaviour. You belong when you act as if you belong!”

​Spirit of Belonging

​Distorted Spirit of Belonging

​Broken Spirit of Belonging


Gang Loyalty



Craves Affection



Craves acceptance






​Cult vulnerable



​Overly dependent


The Spirit of Mastery

Native American education strives to develop cognitive, physical, social and spiritual competence. This holistic view of learning recognizes that all students can learn and each student must be allowed to demonstrate competence in some area. Without opportunities for success, students will tend to express their frustration and lack of self-worth through inappropriate behaviours. Learning that is somehow connected to the everyday life of the student and the opportunity for student collaboration provides very powerful intrinsic motivators.

In the Spirit of Mastery, success becomes “a possession of the many, not of the privileged few" Overachiever (Bendtro et al, 1990).

​Spirit of Mastery

​Distorted spirit of Mastery

​Broken spirit of Mastery






Failure Orientated


​Risk seeker

Avoids Risks

Problem solver


Fears challenges






Gives up easily


​Delinquent skill


The Spirit of Independence

Native American child-rearing philosophies place great emphasis on "guidance without interference" (Bendtro et al, 1990). Learning then becomes the responsibility of the student who can be held accountable through appropriate assessment procedures. Student empowerment is required to foster the belief that a student is in control of the learning process. This sense of autonomy is a powerful intrinsic motivator. In Native American culture, the internal locus of control must be balanced by social controls. Students first need to be dependent, learning to respect and value the wisdom of "elders". Modelling provides a basic framework that can be adjusted for each student to adapt to his/her particular learning style and multiple intelligences.

Spirit of independence

Distorted spirit of independence

Broken spirit of independence





Sexual prowess


Inner control







Defies authority

Easily led

The Spirit of Generosity

The highest virtues in Native American culture are generosity and unselfishness. Self-esteem and self-worth are greatly increased by learning to help others. There is a responsibility to consider the welfare of everyone in the community. In a classroom, peer tutoring and cooperative learning groups allow students to share their talents with others. There is a feeling of pride and joy that is experienced by helping others. Without opportunities to share their talents, students cannot become caring, responsible adults. The help given must be genuine and not equated with personal gain. Students should be encouraged to get involved in the school community through a variety of service projects.

Spirit of generosity

Distorted spirit of generosity

Broken spirit of generosity


Obligatory generosity






Plays martyr














Okay, okay, information overload. Sorry. Point is. If I look at the serenity prayer we addicts use daily:

“God, grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change.

Courage to change the things I can

and the wisdom to know the difference”

I need the courage to change the things I can, and it starts with me.

I find courage in empowering myself with knowledge about the ways I can change my thinking and behaviour, it all starts here, with this blog, this moment and the hope that one day my addicted brain will be less distorted and broken and I can be a genuinely good person who can contribute positively to the lives of other still suffering addicts.

I will try, every day, as much as humanly possible to apply the circle of courage philosophy in my own life, because ultimately I want to be emotionally healthy and stay spiritually connected.

Circle of Courage Philosophy


  • Drs. Larry Brendtro, Martin Brokenleg, & Steve Van Bockern (1992). “Reclaiming Youth at Risk: Our Hope for the Future”. Bloomington, IN: National Educational Service.

  • Drs. Lynn Moore, Diane Schon & Alicia Thornton – professors at The University of Calgary, who developed the website:


Dive into Onthene's poignant narrative about addiction recovery, emphasizing the transformative impact of the Circle of Courage philosophy. With a focus on belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity, this exploration sheds light on mending broken spirits. Drawing insights from Native American teachings, the text encourages self-reflection, empowerment, and the pursuit of emotional health. Onthene shares personal experiences and invites readers to embrace positive change in their addiction journeys. An empowering guide for those seeking a profound shift in their lives.

Introduction and Acknowledgment of Addiction

The blog starts with a candid admission of being an addict, emphasizing the importance of continuously reminding oneself of this reality without shame. It conveys a sense of community for those struggling with addiction, offering support and assurance that they are not alone.

Reluctant Beginning and Higher Power Revelation

Introduction to the Circle of Courage Philosophy

Insights into Core Values: Belonging, Mastery, Independence, Generosity

Application of the Circle of Courage Philosophy

Integration with the Serenity Prayer and Personal Commitment

In summary, the blog is a personal journey of acknowledgement, reluctance, discovery, and commitment to applying the Circle of Courage philosophy for personal transformation and the betterment of the recovery community.


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