Turning the holiday blues around

 

For those suffering from unhealthy habits the holidays can be a difficult time of the year. I often hear that to many of us, days like Thanksgiving, St. Nicolas, Diwali, Hanukkah or Christmas are triggers to watch out for. Of course this is not so (see my previous post on triggers). Also, the end of the year is the time for making life changing resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking, stop drinking, and so on. This too is not the most helpful way to recovery and happiness (see this post). So, what can you do to enjoy this time of the year?

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Low self-esteem: who’s judging who?

One of the recurring themes that comes up when talking to people suffering from unhealthy habits is “low self-esteem”, both as a cause, an excuse and/or as a symptom for their behavior or thinking. The word self-esteem implies a judgment we have about ourselves. The word low expresses the result of that judging process.  When our self-esteem is low, we judge ourselves to be not good enough. However, isn’t judgment up to an impartial judge and jury. So, who is judging who? Awareness about the true nature of this thing called low self-esteem can be very helpful in recovery and you will find out that it is all about the ego’s insanity.

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The 4 words you should stop saying

 

When you are suffering from an unhealthy habit, there are four very familiar words that have more than likely been going through your mind often enough to make you feel weak, guilty and miserable.In my book Addiction Farewell the first piece of advice I give you is to delete this little phrase from your vocabulary. And for a very good reason.

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Unhealthy habits: self-image versus true self

Contemplating the statement “I am an addict” or “I am addicted” is an important step in unlearning unhealthy habits. The key question is who the “I” is. The answer may surprise you and may radically change the view you have of yourself.

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Addiction farewell

[:nl]I do not like the words addiction or addict. It makes me think of commonly used labels, such as “disease”, “powerlessness”, “patient” and the need for a “higher power”. It creates a sense of unavoidable dependency and despair, taking away the incentive for an active personal involvement in working on recovery, on healing. I prefer to talk about unhealthy habits, and that includes the way you think.

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Truth versus selective perception

The reality you perceive may not be the truth. People have a tendency to interpret what they perceive through their senses, according to what they believe, according to their convictions. It is very useful to be aware of these “tricks” your mind and your thinking may play on you.

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The three C’s

The three C's from al-anon

One of the most common problems when dealing with an addict in your life is that you blame yourself.  You ask yourself: “Why is it that no matter what I do and how hard I try, the addict(s) in my life doesn’t change and the pain and suffering doesn’t stop”. Or “What am I doing wrong, for if I would do it right, he or she would not drink, do drugs, etc.”

In my upcoming book I explain how and why this is.

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New relationships: time is on your side

Taking down the wall around the self

We were not created to live alone.  After ending a relationship with an addict – especially a loved one – it is not always easy to make the step to find new people to like, or to love.

As you may have read elsewhere in this blog, the consequences of living with an addict are multiple. You have invested all you have. You may feel you have failed. You are disappointed and you carry emotions such as guilt, anger, shame and frustration with you.

The time will come that you feel ready for new relationships, but how do you deal with these emotions.  How do you know whether this time it will work out? The honest answer is: you don’t.

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Recovery and new relationships

Remove the labels you stick on people, places and things

In many cases recovering from living with an addict leads to ending the relationship. It is quite natural that you carry feelings of disappointment, betrayal, anger and pain with you after such a rupture for quite some time. You blame your addict for them and these feelings can stand in the way of engaging in new relationships. You are afraid to get hurt again. We generalize our anger and mistrust towards people we meet (“men are all the same anyhow” or “you cannot trust women.Period.”)

We have to realize that it is not the addict that generates our feelings. It is our own thought process. Fortunately we are in control of our thoughts.

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