Relationship with self

elisa_hiding_pose, Elisabeth Fuchs, Vienna Austria, self loathingTo have fulfilling relationships with anyone else we need to first develop a loving relationship with self. It’s the foundation for any type of love we have with others. Without the ability to love ourselves we feel emptiness or self hate which leads to needing feelgoods such as food, alcohol and other drugs or addictive processes like work, gambling, love and sex. To develop healthy self love we list our strengths and weaknesses, because that raises our self awareness – education is 50% of achieving the outcome we want. Then we list what we want out of life and what we definitely don’t want. Try it and see.

Yvonne was a pleasant person who
made friends easily but she was
extremely overweight from using
food to medicate her resentments
at times she appeared “sickly sweet”
and so apologetic that it seemed
she was even apologising for breathing
that is codependent behaviour and
can only lead to unhappiness
as she got into recovery from codependency
she developed her relationship with herself
in listing her strengths and weaknesses
as well as her wants and needs in life
her self esteem was strengthened and
in time her relationships with others
became more fulfilling
eventually she lost a lot of weight because
she didn’t need to self medicate with food

elisa_hiding_pose, photo by Elisabeth Fuchs, Vienna Austria

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Timing is vital

Clock, photo by Henning Buchholz, Bremen, Germany, high priorityWhen good intentions become failures, then our timing could be out of sinc. Timing is vital in any plan of action, even for simple discussions. How often do we begin to say something, feeling confident and enthusiastic, and then the whole situation deteriorates into struggling in emotional quicksand? The more we struggle the worst it becomes and we wonder how it happened? Perhaps we didn’t consider whether it was appropriate to bring the matter up, no matter how simple it seemed. Perhaps we didn’t consider whether the other person was in the mood to deal with the matter. Perhaps we didn’t consider how capable we were at that point to express the matter appropriately. Or a combination of all of these things. When we pause and plan how to express ourselves, especially taking into consideration how right the timing is, then the interaction has more of a chance of being successful.

Stephanie had learnt from a young age
not to jump into the emotional deep end!
her father had a volatile personality
whether he was drunk or not, and so
before she spoke about anything delicate to anyone
she’d ask “are you free to speak for a moment?”
this usually prepared the other person
and it spared her unnecessary hurt!
how easy would it be if it were protocol for us
to first ask this question, just as we
automatically say “please” and “thank you”,
checking that the timing is right, could
protect us from abusive personalities
whilst respecting each others availability to
be fully present in a discussion

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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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90 meetings in 90 days

Chairs 1, photo by Anka Draganski,  London United Kingdom, http://www.fofiles.co.uk, 12 Step meetingsRegardless of which addiction we are afflicted with, a trusted and true recovery method has been to go to 90 meetings in 90 days with a willingness to abstain. Just getting to sit in 12 Step meetings, until the message gets through to your subconscious, is the key. As you sit with the feelings that were the reason you needed to self medicate, you own them as being your feelings which releases the fear about them, then you can relax. Relaxation brings us peace in our inner turmoil. The other powerful influence of attending meetings is that when we identify with others’ experiences they model solutions for us and “monkey see monkey do”. If we don’t do 90 in 90 then at least 3 meetings a week are absolutely necessary.

he told his therapist that he was
really pissed off with her because she
set homework for him to attend
7 meetings a week with other tasks
such as writing, reading, walking and
affirmations on a daily basis
a therapist himself, he felt he lived
the program and 1 meeting a week
would be sufficient, however
he surrendered and was amazed
that this meant he had needed to
let go of the control that had been
ruining his recovery
and it worked
a proven remedy

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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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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

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13th Step love

Together, photo by Puiu Adriana Mirabela, Bucharest, Romania,  loving fellowshipPeople who find recovery from addictions in a 12 Step program create close loving friendships together, which is the basis for this fellowship. It’s known that some members also find a soulmate or life partner in the 12 Step fellowship, when both partners have a strong recovery and are ready for an intimate relationship. In such cases a life partnership is rewarding because they share a way of life which they understand and which enhances their recovery choices. However, people need to be vigilant about 13th Step love. That’s what they call it when someone who is experienced with the 12 Step program gets involved with a member in recovery who is vulnerable and who is usually a new member (also see my other posts on the 13th Step which is the unofficial term for this involvement).

he resisted his feelings about her because
she was new in recovery and he was her guide
he had many years in the 12 Step fellowship
and was grateful for the sanity and serenity he had
but he was fooled about her level of recovery
because it was not her first time in the program
so when their relationship became intimate he had
hopeful plans for their future together
but then she relapsed and he realised
it had only been a 13th Step love
he took responsibility for the mistake as he was the more
experienced one and had needed to be more aware
she was now a ‘runaway train’ with her addiction and
they suffered in more ways than one
a painful lesson for both

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Soulmates or love addiction?

Forelove @ Backlight, photo by Ertl Balázs, Soroksar, Hungary, true loveThere is a fine line between having a loving relationship and love addiction. A loving relationship involves soulmates having a fulfilling life based on like-minded friendship. Love addiction is a relationship that brings extreme highs and lows with unmanageablity as the distinctive characteristic which gets progressively worse. Soulmates or love addiction, which will it be for you?

he had experienced great unhappiness
and yet mad passionate love with her
he was finally free of that madness
and it hadn’t been easy to achieve!
in therapy he tried to understand
why he felt disinterested with his new love
and yet he knew he loved her deeply
it took a while for him to realise
that he needed to adjust to the reality of love
in other words: soulmates or love addiction?
he finally understood the difference
and since then his life has been
what he’s always hoped for and yet
thought he’d never have
together with serenity at last
as well as three adorable young children to love

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Generation gap

Mummy and me, photo by sanja gjenero, zagreb, Croatia,  parent  childTake back your authority as a parent, regardless of the age of your children. Even adult children need to feel that there is a healthy generation gap. You are the parent they are the children. You can be a friend but that role is governed by your role as the parent. They have friends who are there to share in their fun and foibles but do not confuse that role with the role of being a parent. In this way you keep good boundaries for yourself and also role model healthy boundaries for your children. Otherwise, children take on parenting roles towards their siblings or even towards their own parents – they become the parentified child. So, before long the roles are reversed, with children becoming critical towards their parents or feeling overly responsible for them and this is all due to the ambiguity. It is the parents’ responsibility to ensuring this does not happen by not relinquishing their role as the parent.

she wondered why she felt fear around her adult children
unable to express her needs to see them more often
she became depressed and confused
their claims that she was being needy felt accurate
until we discussed it and she became aware that
her expectations were quite normal for a mother who
had spent her life dedicated to the wellbeing of her children
now that they were adults it was not unreasonable
to expect her love to be reciprocated accordingly
expecting her busy offspring to reach out was unrealistic
yet trying to arrange visits was being met with
resistance and sometimes intolerance
until she realised that she had to take back
her role of mother and correct the imbalance
before more harm was caused to her and
to her adult children by being role modelled
ineffective parenting skills
in taking back her role of parent she became
confident, nurturing and specific about
what her needs as a mother were
resulting in renewed respect from her children

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Life Strategies Workshop

Smiley Orange, photo by Levi Szekeres, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, stress managementHave you ever reached a stage that you look around and see people around you relating in a superficial manner – plastic and meaningless, dragging you into the same empty space? There are enjoyable ways to bring you back in touch with your true self and your passion which otherwise can just die away. Today I facilitated another Life Strategies Workshop. This one took place in the boardroom at the Crest Hotel at Kings Cross. There were 9 participants and we had fun unwinding from the stresses of life.

Those present already have experience in using effective life strategies and are involved in providing person-to-person services in corporate life. Today was their turn to take the focus off others and put it on themselves. It was also great to have such a good ratio of men and women.

We looked at how to identify different personality types so as to improve communication in the workplace and in personal relationships. Also how to find your passion which is so important to keep you motivated to achieve your goals. Then how to move on after a relationship has ended, with the least possible suffering. All vital life strategies which need honing now and then, no matter how good you are at dealing with life’s ups and downs.

The participants also experienced developing their skills in dealing effectively with a rebellious, difficult person without losing their sanity. For some, such a person is an adolescent child with unrealistic expectations.

Feedback from some participants was along the lines of:

  • more productive than other workshops
  • confronting, yet light and enjoyable
  • very different from what I expected, good work
  • interesting workshop, good group of people
  • enjoyable afternoon, a good learning curve
  • good to be with like minded people and unwind
  • great to refine my negotiation skills in a pleasant way
  • will remember this day for a long while, stress free
  • I liked the lots of humour for change
  • it mapped a path to my goals, back on track
  • more beneficial than I expected, cause I dealt with something new

The venue, atmosphere and delicious food and beverages created a moment in time that busy successful people could really appreciate. This is a reliable method of ensuring that your life is kept on an even keel.

The next Life Strategies Workshop will take place 1-5pm on Sunday January 28th 2007 [changed to February 4th]. So book early as only 9 or 10 participants are accepted.

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