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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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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Dealing with feelings

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When you live with an addict you are likely to experience anger, frustration, fear, shame and guilt. These feelings may become very overwhelming. They stand in the way of a happy and peaceful life and make it hard to make calm and conscious choices. There are ways to deal with such feelings, and you have more control over them than you might expect.

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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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Co-dependancy: being addicted to the addict

Co-dependancy

When we are dealing with the chaos and suffering that are the consequence of the addiction of a loved one, friend or colleague, we tend to focus all of our attention on the addict. We solve his or her problems, we want to control the addiction. We fight it. As you may have learned through this blog or through other resources, such as 12 step programs (e.g. al-anon), we obviously cannot.

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The young adult addict

The young addict

What do you do when you realize that a young adult is addicted? As a parent the feeling that will probably hit you first is guilt. Where did you fail in “properly” educating and preparing your baby for the big bad world? Where did you go wrong? Did you warn him or her enough? The emotions these thoughts provoke, can be very painful and overwhelming.

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Love is blind…

Love is blind...

The hardest part of loving an addict is that it “blocks” awareness. All you want to do is help (or cure…) the addict and very often this becomes your sole purpose in life. In doing so we tend to forget ourselves and our own life’s purpose. Also, helping may turn into a compulsion to control the addict (counting bottles, dumping booze, checking secretly, etc.)  And this, of course, is an impossible quest.

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