Why dogs don’t need Louis Vuitton bags

[:nl]We are all born naked. We come into this world with nothing and we leave it in the same way. Yet in our lifetime being naked and simply being one’s self seems to be unnatural. Why?

Initially our self image is the result of what others teach us about ourselves. That we are a boy or a girl, blond or black, skinny or chubby. Later on that image of ourselves  evolves further, in consequence of what others expect from us and what – in turn – we expect from ourselves, whether it is about our physical appearance, our job, the partner we choose, our education , our car, our house, and so on.

Obviously it is impossible to meet all these expectations and the result is that we start to suffer. This is quite normal, since we do not want to disappoint the people around us and we have convinced ourselves that we have to meet these expectations. If we don’t, we feel guilty, ashamed and we even blame others and ourselves for failing to do so. And let’s not forget that we do the same to other people.

Our unhealthy habits are a result of this impossible and insane situation. We have created a belief system, we have somehow convinced ourselves that we need to entertain these unhealthy habit(s) to cope. Of course, these habits cause even more suffering and problems but we do not see this, or bluntly deny it. We will do anything to maintain the illusion we have created about who – we have convinced ourselves – we are.

This is like convincing ourselves that putting extravagant clothing on a pet is normal. In doing so we are totally ignorant of “who” our beloved animal truly is. And what’s more, if you have ever dressed your dog, like I have for fun from time to time, you will have noticed that the dog does not change its behaviour whatsoever. It mostly tries desperately to shake off the accessories you put on it and it definitely has no effect on its self image, since… dogs do not have a self image. They simply “are”.

It is possible to fix the skewed perception we have of ourselves and others.

In case of the dressed up pet, we would simply undress it. In case of ourselves it means getting rid of everything fake. By taking off of ourselves, all the different masks we wear and by taking off all the labels  we have stuck on others.

It is a scary step to take. People will probably be surprised by the authentic you; you may not fit their expectations or the desired image they expect of you, anymore. Relationships may change or end because of it. However, this only means that they were based on an illusion in the first place.

If you are suffering because of someone else’s unhealthy habit it, than take of the mask you wear when this occurs. Acknowledge who you truly are in this situation. And just like that dressed up pet, shake off what is not really you, get rid of what is not naturally you. In return take of the labels you stuck on that person, so you can see who he or she really is. And expect nothing. In doing so, you will find peace and serenity.

You may see this process as the waking up with a sigh relief from a realistic dream. Dreams seem real, but they are not. You are. Dogs do not need Louis Vuitton bags and neither do you.[:en]We are all born naked. We come into this world with nothing and we leave it in the same way. Yet in our lifetime being naked and simply being one’s self seems to be unnatural. Why?

Initially our self image is the result of what others teach us about ourselves. That we are a boy or a girl, blond or black, skinny or chubby. Later on that image of ourselves  evolves further, in consequence of what others expect from us and what – in turn – we expect from ourselves, whether it is about our physical appearance, our job, the partner we choose, our education , our car, our house, and so on.

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Powerlessness: step one towards recovery

Admitting that we are powerless… Hmmm, at first sight this seems like defeat. Most people like to believe that the people places and things around them are under their control. Especially the addictive behavior of someone we love, or who is dear to us. Powerlessness seems to turn the word into a scary place, filled with unpredictable uncertainties and hurt. And we don’t like that.

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The Higher Power paradox

[:nl]The dictionary defines the word paradox as: a seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true. In Greek the word literally translates as “conflicting with expectation”. Accepting powerlessness over unhealthy habits and the unmanageability of our lives and the belief that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity, are the essence of recovery in 12 step programs, such as AA, Al-anon, CA, NA, OA, etc.

However, accepting our powerlessness and unmanageability is a hard nut to crack. We do not like to admit we are wrong or that we have “failed”. Basically it means admitting that until now, all the efforts that you have put in changing yourself or someone else were pointless. This a source of frustration to most people.

Secondly, accepting a higher power that can restore us to sanity is also difficult to many. Many people do not believe in a supreme being, a Higher Power, a God.

After all, isn’t this higher power also responsible for the current state of suffering in our lives and in the world? So how on earth can we turn to it for such a positive thing as our recovery.

Overcoming our mental resistance because of this paradox is key to recovery and is simpler that you think.

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Forgiveness: finding peace in truth

Forgiveness is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution (source:Wikipedia). It is important to realize that you are the one making the choice to forgive. This means that you can end your own suffering. Read more
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Loving or leaving?

Being in a relationship with someone with an unhealthy habit is a choice. This is a fundamental truth and our awareness of it is the beginning point of recovering from our suffering.Being in a relationship with someone with an unhealthy habit is a choice. This is a fundamental truth and our awareness of it is the beginning point of recovering from our suffering. Read more
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Denial

Sometimes things happen in your life that are so painful that you put them away in the deepest realms of our mind. Sometimes you even deny them. This denial protects you from having to feel or relive pain or suffering. Read more
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Forgiveness

When you or your loved one(s) suffer from an unhealthy habit, blame and anger or guilt and shame,  are states of mind that many of us are all too familiar with. We feel guilty and ashamed for the suffering we cause. We are angry and blame others for our own pain.  What we sometimes do not realize is that these states become an unhealthy habit in themselves. We become used to them. Our lives and the way way deal with people, places and events, and especially how we perceive them, are dominated by them. It has become a form of energy we fuel our lives with. But why would we want to be fueling something that causes us pain and negativity? And what can we do to end this behavior?  I have found that forgiveness is the key.

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The truth about people pleasing

The ‘excuse’ of people pleasing

People pleasing is said to be one of the character traits in many people suffering from unhealthy habits. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this. Being nice and helpful to others is a good thing, as long is it feels right.  The truth is that often we feel just the opposite: fear, anger and frustration. Why is this and what can we do about it.

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About al-anon’s “step one”

To get rid of unhealthy habits many people turn to so-called 12-step programs, such as AA, CA, Al-Anon, to name just a few of the more than 50.

Regular meetings in which the participants suffering from the same habits share their personal stories and experience form the basis of these programs.

It is common practice to have a so-called “step 1 meeting” when there are newcomers in the group. I remember my first al-anon meeting vividly (note: al-anon is a 12 step program for people living or having lived with an alcoholic partner, family member, parent , child, friend, colleague, etc.) and it may be worth while to share this experience with you.

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The truth about higher power

In 12-step programs such as AA, Al-anon, CA, XA, SLAA (and there are many more) the basis for recovery is the belief in a “Higher Power as you understand him” or “God”. So what to do with this when you consider yourself to be an atheist or when you are not a Christian.

In many conversations I have had with people suffering from unhealthy habits I commonly hear – or sense –some form of anger or frustration when talking about this notion of a Higher Power. Some people are outright pi..ed off. How can it be, they ask themselves, that there is so much (personal) suffering and misery in their lives and in the world if there is a God. Why does the Higher Power let this happen?  If this is how you think, then this post is for you.

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