Coffee addiction

cup, photo by Uli Bartels, Berlin Germany, www.ulrichbartels.deEveryone who loves coffee enjoys the taste and the lift it gives, as well as the social interaction that goes with having coffee with people – friends or business colleagues. It is considered safer than alcohol or other excesses but needless to say coffee addiction is dangerous. How many people do you know who have reached the stage of needing to reduce the number of coffees they have in a day because of doctor’s orders? As I see it if you like coffee, better to drink a safe number of coffees per day than to have to do without it completely, should it get out of hand.

I prefer a cup of tea to a cup of coffee
yet when we are out my first reaction is
to ask if anyone wants to have a coffee?
which surprises me immensely
I realise it is a socialisation outcome
just the thought of going out and
having a cup of coffee over a chat
appeals to me whereas
a cup of tea is something I
have at home or with breakfast out

cup, photo by Uli Bartels, Berlin Germany

To avoid Burnout

125189_burnout.jpgSomeone wisely said to me once that to avoid burnout he puts in only 80% of his full potential, especially at work. Once he had experienced burnout to the worst level and thought he was even going to die, so from then on he always remembered how bad that was. Whenever he experienced euphoric recall about the ‘high’ of being productive, he remembered the misery of burnout and that snapped him out of being driven to do more. In time that tool gave him serenity and a healthy way of living whilst enjoying whatever he was doing.

Comments from Atlanta and Paul reminded me of the ‘80% effort to avoid burnout’ theory and I show them here as a further reminder.

Atlanta wrote: Sorry to hear that you have been in burnout. A good reminder about self care. I hope that you are feeling better soon.

Paul wrote:Wow I really identify with this state. My boss was away this last week and I had a heap of things to do without interruptions. I was looking forward to getting some work finalised. I was suffering with a sore back and took some pain-killers to alleviate it. By Thursday I realised I had not achieved anything. As a matter of fact I was unable to make decisions. Partly because of the side effect of the pain-killers, but mostly from the burnout of trying to achieve too much for too long without celebrating my wins. Funny, though Iím posting this comment from another city, where I am spending my weekend working.

Burnout

125191_empty_2.jpgWhen we commit to too many deadlines we risk burnout. That feeling of becoming immobilised and overcome by massive apathy. This can be interpreted as fatigue and in many ways it is. How easily burnout can sneak up on us, even if we are experienced and take the necessary precautions usually to avoid it happening. The sneaky part is that we are hooked on completing the task at hand, and the adrenaline rush throws us into denial about the risks that come with neglecting the safety measures. Once we are suffering burnout it, nature takes its course and we find that we are unable to do even the simplest things – as we vegetate the body and mind rejuvenates itself. We fret about being out of control and we promise never to let it happen again. Then we worry about the immobilised state we are in. We just need to remember that ‘this too shall pass’ and we will find the strength and motivation to become active once more.

I have not written daily posts for the last 2 weeks
because I was in burnout – to the max
I completed two deadlines which kept me up late
at night and which involved my days full on too
my abstinence from food addiction was threatened
and I thought I was in control of how much
this work was affecting my wellbeing
it was not until after I met the deadlines that
reality ‘bit me on the bum’ and I realised my mistake
now I am resting reminding myself that it will pass
and soon I will be up and moving again, but cautiously
this is my first step today

Time doesn’t have to fly

Savoring time, photo by Tim Nisly, Albuquerque, NM, United States, slowing downPeople say “time flies”. In actual fact we are responsible for how fast time passes. Remember when we were children how long one year seemed like so long? That was because we weren’t in control of our lives, others were – our parents, teachers and so on. As adults we are in charge and we can forget how to stay in ‘the now’ and enjoy just being. Instead we live from gratification to gratification – the next pay cheque, the next outing, the next shopping excursion, the debts being cleared, and many more excuses to be in the tomorrow. Then we are surprised that time flies.

I noticed how quickly Christmas comes and goes
and as I get older it unsettles me
if I am in charge of my life then
I am responsible for how quickly time flies
so I cleared my symbolic plate of
as many commitments that allowed me
to have more relaxation time and
life enjoyment activities
but definitely less busy time!
how amazingly slow the week went
giving me enjoyment and serenity
it’s as simple as that
now I just have to be vigil about
maintaining that pace

Natural high

light FX:9 # 1,photo by Michael Bretherton, Brisbane, Australia,  fireworksIt is possible to get a natural high without risking our health with using substances or processes which can be life threatening. Some people can reach a natural high easier because of their genetic make-up. Nevertheless, there are many testimonials about how once people came into recovery from addictions they not only became free from symptoms of mental illnesses but also came to experience natural highs.

before I gave up chainsmoking through NicA
my fear was that I would become boring
fortunately I reached a stage where
smoking was losing its joy for me
so after a few weeks in recovery
and as a non smoker I experienced
what felt like the first natural high in my life
and I was smoke free, how unbelievable?!
but how empowering and what serenity?
and this is now a common event, without smoking

light FX:9 # 1,photo by Michael Bretherton, Brisbane, Australia, fireworks

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

Belonging to your community

Figures earth, photo by Sanja Gjenero, Zagreb, Croatia, community activitiesA natural need of a human being is to belong to another and to a community. Belonging to your community is far more important than people realise. Without that we can be tempted into isolation. The community can be your family and friends sharing similar interests, or your church group, or your self help group. Some of the those interests can be doing voluntary work for charitable and benevolent projects, or hobbies and sports. The learning community is another powerful area involvement. Even if your community is not a church group, belonging to a community is another form of spirituality.

how wonderful a project to see schools promoting
a marathon walk or something similar where the students
collect sponsor signatures to raise money for a charity
the excitement experienced by
the participant and the supporters
with the outcome of raising funds
or other donations which benefit
people, animals or the environment
ultimately the process rippling out globally
such a simple beginning with a profound ending
which can be duplicated over and over everywhere

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

Silly season

Pills, photo by Klaus Post, Aalborg, Denmark, prescribed pillsThis is the time of the silly season when there has been, for some, lot’s of drinking, drugging, eating, smoking, gambling and other excesses. At first it has to do with fun but memories come rushing back hooking in nostalgia and in some cases abuse in childhood or earlier relationships, so these excesses are then used as feelgoods. One of the most hidden addictions is pain-relieving pills. Whilst the intended relief is to ease physical pain the medication used can momentarily ease the emotional pain of life. Having the spirits lifted in that manner can lead to people using pain-relievers to make themselves feel better when they feel low or tired.

her injuries, sustained in a couple of serious accidents
caused immense pain now and then
but as a professional, experienced in addictions, she was
loathe to use pain-relievers unless absolutely necessary
and only for a short time under doctor’s supervision
recently she disclosed to me that she needed to
take some and she was afraid that it could be addictive
even though she avoided that before
I suggested that because she was aware of this
and her past experience
then perhaps that would not be a problem
next time I saw her we talked about the pain-relievers
and she mentioned that the last time she took any
was for the physical pain, then she got the urge to
take some to make her feel happier and when
she realised that was for the wrong reason
she didn’t take any more
it gave her great strength to be able to do just that
which also made her happy to be free of the need
this is possible for those who haven’t been addicted
but those who have been, and have managed to abstain,
then it’s too risky to even
contemplate strong pain-relievers

Addiction symptoms regardless of nationality

World map, photo by Brian S, Jakarta, Indonesia, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/653075, worldwide diseaseAn interesting fact is that people suffer similar addiction symptoms regardless of nationality, that is, whether we are European or Australian or Chinese and so on. The need to use or self medicate increases as the illness of addiction progresses and the illness can only be arrested by abstaining. Some of the symptoms are: depression, aggression (violence), resentments, isolation, paranoia, neediness, self-pity, poor anger management, and disorders in sleeping, eating and sexual behaviour. When feelings or behaviours are exhibited to the extreme then people would do well to explore the extent to which they use substances or processes to cope with them – this only makes those feelings worse.

during the day he was a successful businessman
but his behaviour was becoming more and more
aggressive, dishonest and unbelievably mean
towards his family, friends and staff
during the day it did not appear as though
he was drinking alcohol, but he did at night
that was the only time he was jolly
then his doctor said that his drinking had to stop
or his damaged liver would cause his death
for a few weeks he was sober and went to AA
the change in him was amazing and once more
his wife saw the man she had fallen in love with
but he was bored with his authentic self and
he gave up his recovery and that lost him his wife
his only salvation has been that
he’s minimised his drinking, however
his behaviour is obnoxious and yet
he knows what needs to be done when he’s ready