Relaxation

Candles, photo by xlucas, Germany, meditationPeople underestimate the importance of relaxation for settling the temper, creating accelerated learning, accessing motivation, and contributing to recovery from addictions and other ill health. An effective method of relaxation is meditation with candles and our favourite relaxation music. If meditation by candlelight is not possible then a short walk will work wonders to relax us enough, and that is called walking meditation.

Wards of the State had developed serious
violent outbursts which were life threatening
my message to youthworkers of
this residential program was to teach
these youths how to relax when they
became frustrated and agitated
so the appropriate first stage for relaxation
was that they go for a walk as soon as
they felt the rage fester and if they did this
they would receive incentive points which
would be rewarded weekly
in time the smashing of windows and walls
ceased completely and the youths either
went for a walk and/or resorted to
hitting the punching bag in the rumpus room
till they felt relaxed enough to negotiate
a solution to their conflict

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Noise

Cymbal, photo by Julia Freeman-Woolpert, Concord, United States,  loud music So many of us have particular noises that we cannot bear and yet loud sounds that we love. Some can’t stand the scratching of fingernails on a board. Others can’t stand the clicking of a biro pen. Yet some aren’t bothered about those noises. Sometimes it has to do with the experiences we have previously had and that leaves us with feelings that are pleasant or not which are associated with different noises. This is a normal disparity in intolerance and in pleasure and we need to express our needs as they arise.

my 7 year old granddaughter plays games
on the computer at a very fast rate and
when I am sitting near her I feel anxious
because the clicking sound of the keys
is reminiscent of the rescue team that
was cutting me out of a crashed car
she couldn’t really understand why
until today when there was a tap dripping
and she ran into the kitchen to turn it off
because it was annoying her, and only then
did she realise how noise can annoy us

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Addiction and anger

Trapped, photo by Girinath Gopinath, Bangalore, India, must escapeUnresolved anger is a basic human condition which can hurt our minds and bodies. Addiction and anger feed each other in a neverending cycle. When we don’t practise skills to express our feelings appropriately then the anger that results slowly festers until it becomes uncontrollable rage. This rage has a short fuse and makes us feel trapped. The 12 Step program (AA, Alanon, NA, NicA, OA, CoDA, SLAA, SCOPE etc.) helps us to learn how to handle our feelings once we stop medicating them with substances and processes. This means identifying the problem, expressing it appropriately and then being able to walk away without being attached to the outcome. That process gives us an amazing sense of peace – serenity.

she came into the relationship as a calm woman
but the years took their toll on her
her temper reached a point when in a rage
she took off her glasses and threw them on the
carpeted floor, smashing to smithereens which
made her realise with what physical power
she had thrown them, and this frightened her
after attending Alanon for several weeks
she found her serenity again and
no one or nothing could ever make her
loose her temper again
whenever she got angry she firmly
expressed that feeling and people
knew she meant it, without a doubt
and that’s all she needed to let go of it

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Role models

Dad's Shoulder, photo by Joseph Zlomek, Pottstown, United States, loving parentSome people have had abusive parents as role models. Others have had one parent functional and the other dysfunctional. Unfortunately, there are those who have been abused and become abusers, mainly because they experienced how powerful induced fear was. The promising thing is that as we grow most of us learn to appreciate the healthy role models and mimic them in adulthood.

Nina was surprised that her mother’s abusive behaviour
hadn’t made her an emotional cripple, but remembered
that her father was a gentle, loving parent and
whenever she was tempted by her mother’s words
to believe that she was ugly and worthless
Nina would recall her father’s unconditional love
which gave her the confidence to make healthy choices
at times it took a lot of work to raise her self esteem
because her mother’s words would creep into
Nina’s thoughts unexpectedly, however
that was short lived as she developed the skills
to diffuse such thoughts by sending them
off into the universe in imaginary balloons

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Resentments

That look, photo by Betty Miller, Colorado, United States, http://fireyes.deviantart.com, inner turmoilEvery day we have mixed feelings about different matters. Resentments are strong feelings which we can bury deep within, contaminating our wellbeing. What’s worse is being in denial about doing just that. Resentments are so cunning that we can ignore their existence until it’s too late and we have surprising explosive behaviours. That’s why it’s far better to be in touch with our feelings and own them as being naturally ours, and in doing so they settle down. Then we need to observe their origin and what can be done to resolve this turmoil. The expression ‘befriend our demons’ means finding those feelings which we have suppressed, that have subsequently turned into problematic behaviour, and processing them.

she had long ago ‘befriended her demons’
as a result of intense therapy and
personal and professional development
she took pride in being a guide for others
on similar journeys of enlightenment
but she didn’t notice resentments building up
deep within, in her inner world
on the outside she was busy and happy
but something was not as it should be
she’d gained weight and had an insatiable appetite
it took 3 OA meetings a week to get real
about her buried unwanted feelings of
resentment, self pity, boredom, loneliness
which she was busy avoiding with activities
and for which she had paid the price
fortunately it didn’t take long for her
to tweak her choices back into healthy living

That look, photo by Betty Miller, http://fireyes.deviantart.com

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Devil woman

Paper devil, photo by Brian S, Jakarta Indonesia, no faultHow often have we heard “the devil made me do it”? In actual fact we make choices and sometimes we regret these choices and find it necessary to blame others in order to save face. This is especially the case when the consequences are not wanted. No one can make us feel anything we don’t want to – we allow them to make us feel in a certain way.

he had cheated before but convinced his wife that
it wouldn’t happen again and she believed him
then one day he disappeared with his best friend’s wife
she suffered for two weeks not knowing where he was
then he came back and professed his love for her
insisting that he did not love the other woman
but that she had thrown herself at him and
eventually he weakened and gave into her spell
the devil woman made him do it
that was the line that convinced his wife
it was impossible for them to
have a happy life together so she ended it
to this day he cries over being dumped by her
and his friends actually feel sorry for him!

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Sex and love addiction

Heels, photo by Marko Matovic, Cacak, Serbia, obsessive compulsive So many people nowadays suffer with sex and love addiction and yet are in denial about it. They are seen as rogues and the behaviour is condoned. Or it seems easier for people to believe that a person is worthless because they lose control of their desires for sex and love. Whereas if there was more understanding that this behaviour is a disorder or disease which can be treated, then it could be corrected. It is described simply by the need to have sex and love in order to get a thrill, only to feel guilty afterwards because the consequences are bleak and people are hurt. At times it is life-threatening when those involved are careless too.

he said that he couldn’t understand
what happened and that he took such a chance
he had not intended to have a one night stand
and yet he felt driven and what’s more
he didn’t use a condom
now he was stressed as he may have
signed his own death warrant
this was not the first time this had happened
and yet he is a good looking, successful guy
any number of women are attracted to him
something had to be done and right away
he agreed he couldn’t do it alone and needed help
he’d been to have his Aids test and
now he made a commitment to go to
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous which
he had resisted for so long
when I saw him next he seemed
more serene and spoke about how
surprised he was at meeting people
he respected and some who had
been through the same thing as he had
but were free of the madness
and now he felt there was hope for him
I saw him again one year later and he
was in recovery and grateful for his health
emotional physical and spiritual

[SLAA Sydney telephone: 9358 6605]

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The clown in addiction

Clowns 2, photo by Sasha Davas, Australia, double bindIn life we need fun and laughter to stay healthy. When it is missing then we turn to substances and or processes that lift our spirits. Unfortunately, using such means results in repetitive behaviour which is not fulfilling because eventually whatever we do isn’t enough. The clown in addiction can be a cover up for immense unhappiness and low self esteem. In other circumstances, the clown is a fun performance for the audience to enjoy.

as she spoke to me about the sadness and abuse
she had experienced all her life up till now
she chuckled often at the most traumatic recollections
as a therapist I was obliged to give her feedback on this
pointing out that incongruous behaviour was not unusual
in codependence and addictions
she quickly understood the message about
the clown in addiction
and this insight, although it hurt a little
no pain no gain they say
helped her to be more authentic about
her feelings and therefore closer
to resolving the turmoil inside
serenity at last

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Living skills

Globe, photo by Elvis Santana, Hialeah, United States, enlightenment, developmentThroughout the world people are faced with everyday dramas. What helps everyone get fulfilment in their lives regardless of these dramas is their living skills. Living skills or life strategies are learned behaviours we use to overcome life’s obstacles. When people are able to recognise their own feelings as assets and not fear them, which means they befriend their demons, then they are using life strategies. Having purpose and direction motivates us into living fuller lives and that too is using life strategies. These abilities are innate, that is, such living skills come naturally but because of life’s ravages we need to purposefully set aside time to consciously refresh these skills. This needs to be done in a safe environment with a qualified facilitator – a Life Strategies Workshop.

he told me that he did not want to
go with her to a life strategies workshop
because he thought only losers needed that
I asked him if he felt the same about using
the services of a doctor, accountant or lawyer?
he admitted that he did not and with this
he realised that going to a workshop where
a professional would facilitate the process
of refreshing his living skills to manage life efficiently
was indeed no different to turning to any other
professional resource person
this insight meant that he got full benefit
from the life strategies workshop

Globe, photo by Elvis Santana, Hialeah, United States, elightenment, development

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