Overcoming fear

570349_the_key_to_success.jpgThe worst part of fear is that we can become immobilised by it. In other words, we become frozen like a ‘stunned mullett’ when we are fearful and not able to make decisions to even save ourselves. There are several steps to take in order to cope with fear so that it does not debilitate us. First we need to breathe evenly in a rounded fashion – this will help us relax; then we need to imagine how it will feel to be a part of the solution and how rewarding that will be; finally we need to take action instead of just sitting and waiting for it to get better. There are probably other steps that may suit you personally, so note them and make sure you can recall them when you are next experiencing fear.

the boss was autocratic and prided himself on
being masculine or “macho” in his approach
his staff had been full of fear and either moved on
or everyone was miserable at work!
eventually they overcame their fear and
spoke to him about how badly they felt
and to their surprise he realised that it was
risky for his business that his staff are unhappy
so he put in a plan to involve them in the decisions
and give them a voice to keep him informed
about his behaviour and how it affected productivity
in time they realised that he was indeed smart to be
willing to change his approach for the sake of his business
and that overcoming their fear and asserting themselves
made a huge difference for their wellbeing

The key to success, photo by Jocilyn Pope, London, United Kingdom, assertiveness

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Madness of addiction

Almost mad ii, photo by Lucretious, Thessaloniki, Greece, insanity Addiction plays tricks with the mind, a form of insanity. People who are in denial about their addiction resent the notion that they are suffering the insanity that goes with the condition. How else can you describe the madness of addiction other than insanity, when you make yourself promises you don’t keep, when you find yourself lying, when your life becomes unmanageable and still you do the same? Is that not a form of insanity? Those of us who make it to the serenity of recovery, reach a stage when we are not ashamed of admitting that to be addicted,and remain that way, is insanity.

as I enjoy my serenity from
nicotine and food addiction
I value my freedom from being
compelled and yet not having enough
which is what the insanity of addiction
meant for me – not enough and yet
not being able to stop
so I attended 12 Step meetings
spoke about my innermost feelings
especially the ones I buried deep because
I didn’t like them for being unaccceptable
had regular visits with my therapist
and explored the madness of addiction
I remembered from the 12 Step program that
I am not responsible for my addiction but
I am responsible for my recovery
so today I carry that message as part of
my personal and professional life

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Honeymoon period

Lovers, photo by Sundar Chinnusamy, Erode India, loving relationshipsMost times when we romantically connect with people, the first phase is called the honeymoon period because it’s a state of ‘love in bloom’. We think alike, we enjoy the same food and drinks. We share the same interests, even to the extent that the men watch ‘chick flicks’ and the women watch ‘action movies’ (usually full of gruesome violence). Just being together is fun. It’s a moment in time that usually lasts for 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years, as shown by surveys. The relationship can then transform into a loving relationship based on friendship. Couples can customise their relationships to suite themselves and make life fulfilling which will provide a safe environment for their children, if they have any.

he asked her to marry him and
as both had been divorced
as well as having children between them
they discussed two or three vital issues
which they expected to face in marriage
then they agreed on some resolutions
which they could use to avoid disharmony
it was a peaceful, happy, sensual relationship
and above all a friendship based on respect

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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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Let’s talk

Talking, photo by Rakesh Vaghela, Leicester, United Kingdom,  conflict resolutionPoor communication is the No. 1 problem area in relationships. As long as people are prepared to talk about their feelings, needs, wants and give feedback about what they’ve understood the other person has said, then conflict can be transformed into negotiations for solutions. As people develop the art of expressing themselves appropriately they also discover that it is beneficial to the sender as well as the receiver of the message. Another important tip is that if the message is not being understood clearly then it is up to the person sending the message to rephrase it. Communicating effectively creates inner peace for all parties concerned in the interaction.

I was feeling uncomfortable about something
and decided to mention it to him
halfway through he became defensive
I felt anxious so I relaxed my breathing
and then started again “I mustn’t have been
clear in what I said so I’ll start again…”
changing how I expressed my thoughts
in so doing I felt calm again
then a more appropriate message came out
he too became more relaxed and from his reply it
was apparent? that he understood my point
although we did not agree
we agreed to disagree and
that was good enough for me
so our friendship strengthened

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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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Blueprint for your ideal relationship

Tourists checking a map, photo by Jorc Navarro, Barcelona, Spain, planning relationshipsBlueprints are commonly used for important productions, everything from buildings to machinery to gardens and so on. Otherwise known as plans and/or designs, it’s not unusual for people to expect this for successful outcomes. It is easy to have a fulfilling relationship if you are both willing to make a blueprint for your ideal relationship. It means planning at the beginning of the relationship what you want and what you don’t want in your life together. Then making an agreement to go to any lengths to resolve conflict early before it contaminates everything and to nurture your loving relationship. Maintenance is what we do to keep a beautiful garden, or home or car and it’s also what we need to do for our relationships.

they met through a mutual friend and
their relationship strengthened day by day
when he proposed she was not surprised
although they seemed in agreement about
the type of lifestyle they valued
they worked out what was
acceptable and what wasn’t
and how to sort out conflict
a blueprint for their ideal relationship
and it’s paid off because they’ve
had a healthy balance in their relationship
of being friends and lovers
and this has lasted many years
through the ups and downs of life

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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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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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Codependence or addiction?

Paper people, photo by Brian S, Jakarta, Indonesia, friend networkI’ve been asked “which comes first codependence or addiction?”. As a therapist I speak professionally and from personal experience as a recovering codependent, as well as a food and nicotine addict in recovery. A codependent can be either a victim or a perpetrator of dysfunctional behaviour and as a result addictions manifest in an effort to self medicate the disturbing feelings. There’s a difference between giving service to others and becoming a martyr for their sake, which is also codependence. A recovering codependent is someone who has identified their condition and admitted it; staying vigilant about it; being a part of a recovery program; and giving service to maintain their recovery and that of others, in a loving fellowship. This recovery also involves being abstinent from addictive behaviours.

Pia Mellody (Facing Codependence), who is
a leader in the codependence recovery field
spoke on her recovery from codependence and addictions
her honesty moved me because society can scoff at
people being transparent about their shortcomings
and how they’ve taken the journey to recovery
this could be because the majority of people are
afflicted by codependence and addictive behaviours
so it’s easier to scoff than to take action
until they reach their rock bottom and only then
they become willing to find sanity and serenity
in a loving fellowship committed to recovery

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