13th Step Syndrome

Couple kissing, photo by Margarit RalevIn March 11 2006 I wrote about avoiding the 13th Step which means “screwing someone crazier than you” – a term clarified by Dr. Stephen Jurd (a leading addiction psychiatrist). There have been more comments on this post than any other post I have written. The more recent comment on 12/10/07 by the author of Damn That Ojeda! website is worth mentioning here because of the enthusiasm with which the message is being relayed, and in order to correct the interpretation of my qualifications. The author refers to Coulter, ‘a right winged journalist’, intending to promote her book whilst appearing on a Carlson program which should discourage similar types from being edified because they are described as having…

spewed out such horrendous slanderous nonsense for no other reason than to let them promote more of their hate [which] will be diagnosed by me as having Dr. Affie Adagio Syndrome.

Allow me to explain.

Dr. Adagio herself does not have this condition. She’s a physician consulting chemically addicted clients and helping them go through the 12 steps of recovery. A noble and worthwhile cause indeed.

But in her treatments and counseling, she’s added one more step:

The 13th Step: Don’t Screw Anyone Crazier Than You

This, I would argue, is the problem with Carlson, et al. They allow themselves to electronically bed with Crazy Coulter for no justifiable reason. If she’s such a callous moron with nothing noteworthy to say before she goes on your show, why would you think your own program will be any different?

As the good doctor explains:

“It is not helpful to enter into an intimate relationship with someone who needs our assistance to recover from any illness or needs to improve their skills.”

Affie’s response: The author of Damn That Ojeda! has, indeed, the correct interpretation of the use of the term 13th Step which I also intended for people outside the 12 Step recovery program. This is because I believe it is a symbolic term of that extra step in any program which trains professionals to provide a service to others and therefore be responsible for not abusing the privilege.

One important correction that needs to be highlighted is that I am a qualified Family Therapist/Life Coach specialising in compulsion and recovery (addictions), a Doctor of Philosophy not a Medical Doctor or Physician. My PhD research was in Compulsion and Recovery and as a result I believe in a diversity of approaches – a synthesis or a balanced approach to recovery.

Couple kissing, photo by Margarit Ralev http://ralev.com/

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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

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Leisure time for good health

Exercise by the sea, photo by Adam Kurzok, trinec, Czech Republic, wellbeing We can get swept up by work commitments, which results in emotional and physical burnout. We are not aware of this happening because usually the process is enjoyable. Having purpose and direction is very potent for us human beings, whether paid or voluntary activities. However, without leisure time for good health, we can become sick. This can creep up on us, manifesting as common illnesses, depression, addiction and/or moodiness. Being vigilant about these symptoms? can be an early remedy. Better still is prevention, so we need to have a balance between our work and leisure time – no excuses.

I was chosen to run a new program and
we had great success with it which was
most beneficial for the clients involved
I was on call 24 hours a day
for their safety and that of the workers
and after 2 years at this pace
my weight increased and I got
chronic bronchitis and diabetes
my moodiness was not apparent to me
then I developed depression
which took 6 months to recover
I realised how run down I had become, so
I quit the job and found more relaxing work
to this day I am amazed at how intoxicating
that project was that I did not notice
how hard I was working and how
my leisure time had become minimal

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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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What is a Life Coach?

I’ve been asked “what is a life coach?” and so here is my definition as I function in that role and as the facilitator of the Affie Adagio Life Strategies Workshops.
Talking strategy, photo by Julie Elliot, Whichita, United States, action plan Life coach: a person qualified and experienced in the areas of relationships, personal and professional development. People can develop life strategies to accomplish the lifestyle they dream of, through the services of a life coach. This means achieving goals that have been previously unattainable due to obstacles that seem insurmountable or when resolved keep reappearing. Everyone possesses the skills to improve their lifestyle and often a guide is required to remind them of how it is done. That is the role of a reputable, competent life coach.

a successful businessman comes to see me
as he needed a professional to regularly
use as a sounding board
he provides a person-to-person service
for many of his clients and realised
that over time he was neglecting himself
too busy for self evaluation meant that
he abandoned his own needs for those of others
“that can only have dire consequences” he told me
and he was right, because we get into denial about
where we are at and where we are going, so then
we cannot role model effective behaviour for others!
a monthly visit with me meant he could become real
about his own plan of action and any obstacles
that may have arisen unexpectedly
even though his insights came easily
a gentle prod from me, now and then, was
all he needed because he had done considerable
personal and professional development previously
no wonder he was so successful and
useful for others in their achievements

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Exercise for healing and fitness

A Walk in the Park 1, photo by Curtis Fletcher, Thornton, United States, easy  fitnessMany people love going to gyms and/or exercising like jogging, swimming, horse riding, dancing and bicycle riding. Others participate in sports such as tennis, bowling, football, squash, and more. Some of us who find exercise too daunting can manage walking, slow dance, aqua-aerobics, yoga, and mowing the lawn to name a few. Any exercise is vital for gaining and maintaining fitness. Furthermore, exercise is especially beneficial for healing such basic illnesses as depression and diabetes.

she sufffered from severe depression but
although she new the benefits of anti-depressants
she was loathe to take them but she did know
that exercising was therapeutic for many illnesses
she attended the gym and yoga regularly
which she told me kept her hopeful of
a speedy recovery as it had helped in the past
another wise choice was that she drank water and
ate healthy food which she mostly prepared herself
a good balance of protein and vegies
were the major ingredients and
I loved to eat them with her

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New Year resolutions for 2007

Happy New Year - 2007, photo by Bill Kolios, Ioannina, Greece, big celebrationAs we wish everyone Happy New Year and fill our hearts with love many of us have made New Year resolutions for 2007. Some are realistic and some are just wishful thinking. Nevertheless, both types are useful for our personal and professional development because the process makes us visualise our dreams. Visualisation is an effective tool for achieving our goals because it means we prime ourselves for taking up opportunities as they arise, otherwise we miss them. They say ‘when Opportunity knocks, open the door first and ask questions later”. When New Year resolutions crumble then find another way of achieving them. Don’t quit searching for a way to succeed.

the year before last, feeling guilty for her behaviour
she made her New Year resolutions
and then felt hopeful but that didn’t last long
because she knew how hard it was to
stay away from the trigger foods that
were the cause of most of her ill health
she was overweight, had diabetes and
what’s more she spent her money easily
which always left her broke
then she remembered to try something new
for her carbohydrate addiction
success followed and her health improved
this year’s resolutions were more joyful to list
because she had achieved some of last year’s ones

Bill Kolios, Ioannina, Greece, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/678548

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Anger can heal

Feel my pain, photo by Nara Vieira da Silva Osga, Manaus, Brazil, painful emotionsWe run away from pain, that’s a normal human reaction to overwhelming feelings. Anger is one of the emotions that we don’t want to feel and so we often suppress it to the point that we think we don’t have it. Emotions that are buried will only explode like a volcano when we least expect them and often over insignificant events. Anger can heal if it’s reframed and used as positive energy – a popular strategy used in sports training. When feelings are ignored they cause us ill health and or lead to our need to self medicate with substances or processes which can eventually end in unmanageability and addiction.

at a rehab hospital the group worked on
how they dealt with their feelings
the facilitator kept probing Joe
who always appeared calm yet he
suffered from an addiction
finally Joe raised his voice demanding
what was expected of him?
the facilitator responded “that!”
meaning that Joe needed to be more
in touch with his feelings and express himself,
a basic tool for assertiveness training and recovery

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Soulmate

Amor junto al río, photo by Hernan Herrero, Capital Federal, Argentina, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/364492, loving relationshipSuccessful relationships can take place between people who are not soulmates. This is because soulmates can sometimes be just good friends. Nevertheless, when a loving relationship involves a lover who is also a soulmate then it is considered by some to be ideal. So if you’re searching for the ideal partner make a list of all the pros and cons of such a person – it is important to show both what you want and what you don’t want in a relationship. In doing that you raise your awareness of the type of person that will suit you best. Everything in life needs a blueprint and likewise relationships do too. Make sure that you are meticulous in making your list and then affirm it by thinking positive about finding your soulmate and life partner.

he had been unlucky in his choice of partners
someone who had appeared to be a soulmate
turned out to be codependent hell
he wanted to stop repeating this mistake
his life coach suggested he make a written list
of the likes and dislikes he had about
a future loving relationship
she said it was a phenomenon that worked
but she stressed that he make sure he
does not leave anything out from the list
he laughed because he thought it stupid
but he did it because she’d been right before
about some important things
not long after he found his wife and soulmate
and ten years later they have a life
he wouldn’t have believed was possible
children, security, love, fun and
above all sanity and serenity

Amor junto al río, photo by Hernan Herrero, Capital Federal, Argentina

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