Authority vs Responsibility Many who come to work with us discover that a significant problem is with unbalanced relationships, whether spousal, familial, professional, or personal. This commonly involves a controlling spouse, parent, or friend and virtually always includes passivity and passive-aggressive drinking (“try and control this you #@##!). Additionally, alcohol provides us with a “protective bubble” we can escape into and block out the demands, criticisms, and/or abuse that are heaped upon us.
Avoidance – Self-Medication’s Biggest Benefit Whether it’s conscious or not, all of our behavioral choices are rooted in a cost/benefit analysis. For example, we choose to marry, or not, depending on our considerations of loneliness vs companionship; financial security vs uncertainty; sexual access vs frustration; family and community expectations vs displeasing these same entities. All of these, and many other considerations, play a part even though we soon learn that marriage didn’t confer any of the benefits we thought it would.
2020? Already? With the holiday hoopla – that probably started before Halloween – now safely behind us, we are all now left with what to do with the rest of the year. Yes, I know that individual years do run one into the next, just as birthdays do, but I also know we all [...]
A New Year & Decade Dawns. Most of us find that some dates more important than others. We celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, New Year’s, and new decades with varying degrees of excitement or dread, resolutions to improve, or resign ourselves to whatever circumstances life and chance have assigned to us. Behind all of these emotions lay two unalterable facts: one is that our only finite resource is time, and the second that we have no idea what amount we still have in our account.
Do You Really Need a “Group?” I follow, and occasionally contribute to, a number of Facebook groups such as “leaving AA” and other similar online discussion entities. What I notice most frequently is that the last bastion of the various cults is the notion that you need a “group” in order to change your behaviors. Admittedly, this can be helpful in the short run for someone who needs to be deprogrammed from 12 Step mythology, or who has been regressed to the point that they need the security of a group in order to implement the major changes associated with exiting a cult. This is quite understandable.
Surviving the Holidays Apparently you made it through Thanksgiving. Good! Now there are just a half dozen weeks of celebrations to weather. As surprising as it may seem, most of us manage to enjoy the holidays without merely using them as an excuse to over-indulge in various mind or mood altering medications. How can that be? The word for this success is focus – or perhaps more accurately, where is your focus? If you focus on yourself and what you’ve always done, well, guess what, you will do what you’ve always done. That shouldn’t be much of a revelation. And if you focus on what you can’t do, or at least claim what you don’t want to do, namely drinking and/or drugging, then that focus on the void in your usual behaviors will simply lead you to resentment, feeling of deprivation, and a prompt return to the same old, same old.
Assertiveness Training There are many “skills” many of us need to hone if we are going to “fix, not medicate.” These include everything from CBT to blood sugar and hormone management, exercise, habit breaking, and avoiding sabotaging people and situations. Master managing your life and you will also master eliminating symptoms. As self-evident as that may seem, what is less obvious is that all of these “skills” require you to become assertive, and not just with others, but also with yourself.
When It’s Someone Else’s Problem Over the years we have had a constant stream of callers asking essentially the same question: “How can we make ……. Stop?” The short answer is, “You can’t.” Short of holding someone at gun point, there is no surefire way to control anyone else’s behavior, and even that method has its obvious limitations since the “change” only lasts as long as the threat remains viable. However, while you can’t force change on another, you can force change on yourself. Your responses to another’s behavior really is within your control as is how you look at their behavior.
Unique Answers to Your Individual Circumstances We have always worked with individual clients – and occasionally couples – never groups! “Treatment Programs” love groups! Groups are cheap, fill time, do not require competent professionals (quite the opposite), and ignore your individual circumstances, strengths, interests, abilities, goals, and options. Is it a surprise that these “programs” fail you 85% – 95% of the time? It’s also true that most of you already know that that route isn’t for you. Still, knowing what isn’t right, doesn’t automatically lead to what is – especially since what is effective has been undermined by over six decades of rehab propaganda and social brainwashing: “You’re powerless!” “It’s a disease!” “You can never recover!” “AA is the only way!”
Assertiveness! Balanced lives require a certain amount of vigilance – what recent jargon refers to as “mindfulness” and thirty years ago was packaged as “self-awareness” – but regardless of the label, it comes down to paying attention. However, paying attention doesn’t get you very far if you don’t do anything with the information you are squirreling away. “I know I should…,” repeated several times, is the mantra of those who’ve paid attention enough to have collected the data, but have failed to implement change based on the accumulated information.