Sulking is such a waste

677811_beyond_the_sea.jpgMany people resort to sulking when they are not pleased with someone’s behaviour. It is aimed at getting attention in the hope that the other person asks “what’s up” and then the sulker says “nothing”. The dance goes on until finally the sulker is convinced to share their hurt. Surely it is far healthier to learn how to be up front and honest about how you feel than doing this attention dance which can be such a waste and it causes resentments in relationships. We need to teach our children too how to communicate their needs openly to spare them resorting to sulking to get their way which in the end costs them.

the little girl was 8 and her mother had deserted them
so the father compensated by taking his daughter
to the movies 3 times a week for a while
it was an escape and took his mind off the pain
then he decided to stop overdosing on movies
but his daughter had her heart set on going that night
so she stood at the window looking out and sulking
after about one hour he asked her what was the matter?
in a good sulking pose she said “nothing”
so he went about cooking for the next day
another hour passed and she got tired of the act
and jumped at the opportunity to stop sulking when
he told her it was late and to get ready for bed!
it was a lesson not easily forgotten because
it served her no purpose

Beyond the sea, photo by Tolga KOSTAK, Izmir, Turkey, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/677811

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Secrets fester

Ball, photo by Marcelo Gerpe, Buenos Aires, Argentina, stimulus responseWe should not confuse the concept of secrets and confidentiality. Confidentiality is when we don’t disclose information that belongs to someone else unless respecting that person’s privacy is threatening to someone else. Having a secret is withholding information because there is shame about it and that can only cause the secret to fester. One thing leads to another and before long the secret is exposed and so are the lies that have been used to cover it up. This is the basis for compulsions and addiction.

Gary came into the halfway house after detox
and the first lessons her learnt were that
he needed to abstain from using drugs
he needed to go to meetings every day
he needed to keep his own area clean
he needed to do likewise with the rest of the home
and he needed to be ‘up front, honest and open’
about how he felt and what he was doing
in other words ‘no secrets’ because they
go hand in hand with lies and shame
which are what everyone needs to be free of
so as to be in recovery from addictions

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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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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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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

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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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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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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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Male identity suffers

Men friendship 2, photo by Piotr Bizior, Budapest, Dolnoslaskie, Poland, good mates As a feminist, I am glad that the women’s movement has advanced the status of women, even though there’s much more to be done. Nevertheless, I have noticed that the male identity suffers through this process of achieving equality. Many men have become over cautious at being light hearted with women because they fear allegations of sexual harassment. Yet many women miss the harmless flirtations that took place between men and women. In becoming politically correct, rightfully so, perhaps we have thrown out the ‘baby with the bathwater’. In time, these men will feel safe to use respectful flirtation with women.

my communication is coloured by flirtations
a funloving aspect of my personality
which lifts my spirits often
the type of flirting I am referring to is one that
maintains a respectful position in relation to whoever
I am communicating with regardless of gender
I have noticed though that more men have become
quite reserved in their mannerisms and
I suspect that this is due to
an attempt to be respectful towards women
however, I believe the male identity suffers
in that process and they become tense
perhaps we need to role model
respectful flirtations more often
so that we don’t become overly serious
in our efforts to ‘do the right thing’

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