Denial is one of the most difficult human conditions to deal with. The more old pain and feelings we have “stuffed”, the more difficult denial is to break through. It is important to look truthfully at our past and our parents to realize that everyone did the best they knew how. That way, we don’t get stuck in blaming. It is also important to develop skills in conflict resolution so that we can work through the conflicts that emerge from telling the truth and breaking the “happy family” illusion. With good tools and skills, these conflicts can become doorways to creating real intimacy in a family. Weinhold and Weinhold
If you cannot get rid
of the family skeleton,
you may as well make it dance.
George Bernard Shaw
If your usage of a substance like alcohol or drugs, or habit like excessive shopping or sports-watching, ever prompted someone you love to say to you, “Too much,” listen up. The biggest mistake people make with addictions, alcohol and otherwise, is that they deny that they are over-doing it. They get defensive. They insist “I’m only drinking so much because …” They claim, “You do it too..” or “Everyone drinks like that..” They minimize, “I just drink….” Denial is tempting, and extremely self-defeating. Resist this temptation, and you have a chance at averting the potentially marriage-threatening consequences of an addiction that you persist in sustaining. The remedy: Take your loved one’s concern seriously. Seriously reassess your habit. Ask yourself, “If I look at my drinking in the best possible light, what is it meant to accomplish?” If the answer is that drinking enables you to escape from stresses in your life, it’s time to face those stresses head on. Addictions usually are an alternative to addressing and resolving problems, marital and otherwise. Replace running away with talking about your problems with someone you trust. By clinical psychologist, marriage counselor and author Susan Heitler, Ph.D. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201110/resisting-the-3-main-temptations-destroy-marriages
First you take a drink,
then the drink takes a drink,
then the drink takes you.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Depression comes in different forms, just as is the case with other illnesses such as heart disease. This briefly describes three of the most common types of depressive disorders. However, within these types there are variations in the number of symptoms, their severity, and persistence. Major depression (or major depressive disorder) is manifested by a combination of symptoms that interferes with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities. A major depressive episode may occur only once; but more commonly, several episodes may occur in a lifetime. Chronic major depression may require a person to continue treatment indefinitely. A less severe type of depression, dysthymia (or dysthymic disorder), involves long-lasting symptoms that do not seriously disable, but keep one from functioning well or feeling good. Many people with dysthymia also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives. Another type of depressive illness is bipolar disorder (or manic-depressive illness). Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes: severe highs (mania) and lows (depression), often with periods of normal mood in between. Sometimes the mood switches are dramatic and rapid, but usually they are gradual. When in the depressed cycle, an individual can have any or all of the symptoms of depression. When in the manic cycle, the individual may be overactive, over-talkative, and have a great deal of energy. Mania often affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment. For example, the individual in a manic phase may feel elated, full of grand schemes that might range from unwise business decisions to romantic sprees and unsafe sex. Mania, left untreated, may worsen to a psychotic state. http://www.athealth.com/consumer/disorders/depressionmen.html
Depression presents itself as a realism
regarding the rottenness of the world
in general and the rottenness of your life
in particular. But the realism is merely
a mask for depression’s actual essence,
which is an overwhelming
estrangement from humanity.
Write: Putting your feelings down on paper not only enables you to begin unloading your emotional baggage, it also allows you to process the situation so that perhaps you may a) gain objectivity, b) understand the other person’s point of view, and more importantly c) be free to move on with the more important and pleasant things in life. Plus, if you do this regularly in the form of a journal or diary it makes a fascinating read many years later.
Music: If you play an instrument, write a song about what is bothering you. Not only is it a release, it is a way to take that negative energy and be creative with it positively. Sometimes it may be a song that no one else will hear, but that’s fine. It would have served its purpose. If you’re not musically inclined, listen to someone else’s song about a similar subject. Music has the power to move you deeply and by the same token has the power to heal.
Confide in someone: If you feel you can’t talk to the people in your immediate circle, look outside it. They do not know the details of your life as they have been out of contact so may be able to provide an objective point of view or “outside advice. Bear in mind, if the advice given is not what you wanted to hear, do not be angry and defensive toward someone who is trying to help. Be honest with yourself.
Pray: Even if you’re not religious, even if you don’t believe in God, just give it a shot. You have nothing to lose by asking for help. Don’t be surprised if you bump into someone the next day that will make you smile, or you see an ad on tv or a show that makes an impact on your life for the better. There is always a solution, no matter how bad the problem is.
Everybody bottles up their emotions at some point. The trick is to realize that doing so is not healthy. When you learn to let go of the hurt or anger or frustration within and are no longer carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, you will feel much happier with life. Taken from an article at http://marcofratelli.hubpages.com/hub/Ways-To-Release-Your-Bottled-Up-Emotions
All the art of living lies
in a fine mingling
of letting go
and holding on.
Reality check: You cannot change a situation or circumstance when you’re in the process of resisting it. Just as you can’t catch a beach ball if you’re holding another one in your hands, you can’t embrace something new until you let go of the old, stale, and painful reasons for and arguments about why things are the way they are. To be clear, I’m not saying that we should release everything to the wind, watching passively as the world and other people go by. Not at all. The opposite of control is not laziness or apathy. The opposite of control is acceptance. When you accept, when you give up the illusion of control, you not only discover the peace and freedom that come with it. You become — perhaps for the first time — truly empowered to handle any and everything that comes your way. Why? Because there’s no energy being dedicated to holding yourself back any longer. The emergency brake you’ve had on yourself and your life comes off, and you’re finally able to cruise forward with power, freedom, and the ability to express yourself fully and create in the world — a world that you now realize is filled with opportunity. So make peace with life. Accept yourself, others, and the world the way they are. Surrender to riding the waves instead of standing stubborn and still as they crash down upon you. When you do, the urge to control dissipates and freedom emerges. And along with it, the sense and eventually the knowledge that anything, and everything, is possible. Taken from “Giving Up Control” by Jennifer Hamady (Huffington Post) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-hamady/acceptance_b_2432159.html
Some people believe that holding on
and hanging there are signs of strength,
but there are times in life when it takes
much more strength just to let go.
People want control. We’re all desperate for it. What we wouldn’t give to have more of it in our relationships, work, and lives. Not that we come right out and say so. Instead, we hedge a bit, asking coaches, therapists, and friends how to better manage our careers and other people. How we can change this or that aspect of ourselves or our circumstances — how we might better deal with specific situations and relationships. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with wanting growth and development. Yet that’s not what most of us are really after. Subtle as we try to be, the proof is in the pudding of our thoughts, feelings, and actions; in spite of all our questioning and questing, many of us feel pretty stuck. No matter the energy we exert, we remain in a standstill. Why is this? Why do we as a culture persist in attempting to control our way to personal, creative, and professional freedom? The answer, I’ve found, is pretty interesting. And that is that most of us don’t actually want freedom. Before you disagree, take a look at your own life. Look at the areas in which you wish you had a greater level of freedom, peace, and aliveness. If you’ve yet to achieve these things, I’d gamble that what you’re really after is control. Or said another way, freedom your way. Taken from “Giving Up Control” by Jennifer Hamady (Huffington Post) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-hamady/acceptance_b_2432159.html
Everyone must choose one of two pains:
The pain of discipline or the pain of regret.
There is a profound connection between writing and healing. Dr.James Pennebaker of the University of Texas, after considerable research, explained in his book, Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions, that excessive holding back of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can place people at risk for both major and minor diseases. More than simply a catharsis or venting, translating events into language can affect brain and immune functions. The subjects he tested had an increase in germ-fighting lymphocytes in their blood and lower stress levels. Writing was found to reduce anxiety and depression, improve grades in college, and aid people in finding jobs. He also reported that months after people had written about traumas over 70% reported that writing helped them to understand both the event and themselves better. Writing provides a means to externalize traumatic experience and therefore render it less overwhelming. At the same time, as the upsetting experience is repeatedly confronted, the emotional reactivity one feels as s/he assesses its meaning and impact is weakened. Once organized, traumatic events become smaller and smaller and therefore easier to deal with. Having distilled complex experiences into more understandable packages, survivors can begin to move beyond trauma because the process of writing about it provides a means for the experience to become psychologically complete, therefore there’s no more reason to ruminate about it. But not just any kind of writing will do. Dr.Pennebaker explains that the more writing succeeds as narrative – by being detailed, organized, compelling, vivid, and lucid – the more health and emotional benefits are derived. Likewise, over time, the work of inhibiting traumatic narratives and feelings acts as an ongoing stressor and gradually undermines the body’s defenses. By Catherine McCall, MS, LMFT http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/overcoming-child-abuse/201209/how-and-why-writing-heals-wounds-child-abuse
A journal is a tool for self-discovery,
an aid to concentration, a mirror for the soul,
a place to generate and capture ideas,
a safety valve for the emotions,
a training ground for the writer,
and a good friend and confident.
Codependents usually don’t want their relationships to fall apart, even though in moments of anger they may talk divorce or threaten to leave. And the most common reason they give for staying with a drinking or using partner is the simplest reason of all: Love. And in the name of love, they hang on to each shred of hope that their partner will get straight or somehow transform into a social drinker or a weekend user. In the meantime (and while waiting for a miracle that never comes), they invent excuses for their kids, for relatives and friends, for the boss or supervisor. Then, when the dependent partner turns up, remorseful and contrite, after another binge or bender, the codependent accepts the tearful apologies and believes the heartfelt promises. Again. If the partners of codependents are sick, so are codependents. On the other hand, they can both recover. But codependents can help the process along immeasurably by realizing that only they can help themselves. That’s why they need to get help. Because their problem isn’t their partner’s drinking or cocaine habit, any more. It’s their own fear, their own anger, their own anxiety, their own resentment. Gayle Rosellini http://www.doitnow.org/pages/804.html
We can easily forgive a child
who is afraid of the dark;
the real tragedy of life
is when men are
afraid of the light.
Gifts are a far more common cause of personal discomfort and interpersonal conflict than most people realize. Why the Conflict? There are many potential sources for discordant attitudes toward gifts. Cultural and family differences are certainly important. Gifts may have been a big deal in some families and all but ignored in others. Psychologists maintain that issues of power and vulnerability underlie many gift-related problems. Consciously or otherwise, some people try to use gifts to buy love or friendship, assert dominance or instill a sense of obligation. Others — men in particular — have difficulty accepting gifts because it makes them feel weak and vulnerable; in effect, in someone else’s power. They seem to fear the feelings of tenderness that are awakened by receiving a thoughtful gift. Among couples having interpersonal difficulties, underlying relationship problems can also show up as a conflict over gifts. One person may always be the giver and the other the receiver, with the receiver feeling helpless and dependent and the giver feeling resentful and unappreciated. Those who neither give nor receive may be too self-occupied to nurture their relationship. And those who continually give to one another may be locked in a power struggle that has many other dimensions. Jane E. Brody http://www.nytimes.com/1990/12/06/health/personal-health-look-some-strains-well-delights-giving-receiving-gifts.html
Even in social life,
you will never make
a good impression
on other people
until you stop thinking
about what sort of impression
Having a healthy sense of one’s self is not being selfish. It goes hand in hand with being able to enter into loving relationships. A solid personal identity and awareness of our needs leads to mutual respect and love. Every codependent needs relationships where they can work on relating in new and healthier ways. Seek relationships with mature people with healthy boundaries. Then work on developing a mature, mutual relationship instead of a dependent one. Make sure that you and your friends communicate honestly. Share your thoughts, wishes, and feelings mutually. And learn to make mutual decisions and to give and take and compromise equally. This may initially be difficult since you may have developed a “sixth sense” for finding people with poor boundaries who need rescuing. But only this kind of mutuality growing out of a healthy sense of your own self-hood or identity allows for intimacy and mature closeness to develop. In a mature relationship neither party is demanding or controlling and each opens up his inner self to being loved and being truly loving. A very practical step is starting to set boundaries that you are comfortably able to live with. You simply cannot learn to care and give of yourself in a healthy manner until you have a basic place of safety for yourself. This includes having the ability to set clear boundaries and to say no. At times, saying no is more important to our spiritual growth than saying yes to another activity. If you are growing out of codependency, you don’t always need to have a clearly articulated or spiritual-sounding reason for saying no. Sure, you may occasionally say no when it may have been good to say yes, but after a lifetime of erring on the yes side, don’t be afraid of occasionally missing the perfect ideal! It is far more likely that you will continue to err on the side of compulsive giving or doing. Jason T. Li. Ph.D. http://lifecounsel.org/pub_li_overcomingCodependency.html
Half of the troubles of this life
can be traced to saying yes too quickly
and not saying no soon enough.