Boundaries – Episode 103

find meHave you ever set an ultimatum? What did you do when it wasn’t honored? How do you deal with unacceptable behavior from your loved ones? Spencer and Maria talk about boundaries.

Last week, we read an email from a listener who asked these questions:

  • Do any of you out there have any personal experiences setting ultimatums with your addicts that were not respected, acknowledged or met with insult?
  • How have you handled the negativity from your addict, and the anxiety and heartbreak of not knowing if the relationship will ever be restored?
  • What has it looked like for you to practice loving detachment with an intimate partner through a separation or divorce?
  • What is the next right thing to do once a boundary has been communicated?

So we thought, “maybe it’s time to talk about boundaries again.” We actually had a couple of earlier shows around this topic. Our very first episode was a 20 minute discussion of boundaries, and then in episode 44, we talked about setting boundaries without controlling.

Some discussion/thought questions about boundaries:

  • What is a boundary?
  • How does it differ from an ultimatum?
  • How can I set a boundary that involves someone else’s behavior?
  • What can I do when my boundaries are not respected?
  • How do I feel when my boundaries are not respected by someone I love?
  • How can loving detachment help me to maintain my boundaries?
  • What if I don’t want to follow through with the consequences of my boundary having been violated?
  • What happens (to me) if my boundaries turn out to be expectations?
  • How does a boundary with my own behavior differ from a boundary with someone else’s behavior?
  • How can I set up and follow through with consequences on a boundary with myself?

During the show, we referred to several earlier episodes, including relapse, face to face meetings, Tradition 1, and getting started in Al-Anon.

Our topic for next week is judgement. How does having judgement differ from being judgemental? Can judgement be both a character asset and a character defect? How do you judge others? How do you think others judge you? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading Boundaries – Episode 103

Responsibility and Authority – Episode 102

sing joyouslyDo you take responsibility for your own actions? Do you take on responsibility for the way others live their lives? Do you sometimes try to play God?

Spencer and Akilah talk about responsibility and authority, as set forth in Concepts one and two.

  1. The Ultimate Responsibility and Authority for Al-Anon World Services Belongs to the Al-Anon Groups.
  2. The Al-Anon Family Groups Have Delegated Complete Administrative and Operational Authority to their Conference and its Service Arms.

The readings in the books Paths to Recovery and Reaching for Personal Freedom include some writings on personal application as well as explanations of how it works on the service level.

  • What do “authority” and “responsibility” mean (to me)? What is the difference?
    • Authority: “the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.”
    • Responsibility: “the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something” or “taking ownership of my thoughts, words, and actions.”

For concept one

  • For what part of my life am I ultimately responsible? What responsibilities might I share or delegate?
  • How do I contribute to the group conscience?
  • How does this concept help me to keep the focus on myself?
  • How can I learn to trust the decisions of others?
  • When have I assumed responsibilities that are not mine?
  • When have let others take on responsibilities that should have been mine?
  • Can this concept help to me to “Let go and let God”, knowing that I am not the ultimate authority?

For concept two,  the questions are:

  • Why is it important to delegate both responsibility and authority in general? In Al-Anon?
  • Am I able to share responsibility? What responsibility? Am I willing to offer my assistance to others?
  • When do I rely on others? Can I ask for help?
  • What responsibilities in my life could I delegate to someone else?
  • Whom can I trust to be reliable?
  • How does delegating responsibility help to trust the abilities of others?
  • How willing am I to work with others and to consider their ideas? How often do I trust the knowledge an experience of another person? Do I support and encourage others?
  • When delegating how do I define boundaries to separate my responsibility from someone else’s
  • How does my attempt to take charge of everything without delegating keep me from completing the work that needs to be done?
  • For what am I responsible?

A listener emailed some questions. Listen to the show to hear the whole email. We put the questions to you, in hopes that you will share your experience, strength, and hope with our listener.

  • Do any of you out there have any personal experiences setting ultimatums with your addicts that were not respected, acknowledged or met with insult?
  • How have you handled the negativity from your addict, and the anxiety and heartbreak of not knowing if the relationship will ever be restored?
  • What has it looked like for you to practice loving detachment with an intimate partner through a separation or divorce?
  • What is the next right thing to do once a boundary has been communicated?

Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com. Or just leave a comment right here.

Continue reading Responsibility and Authority – Episode 102

Looking Back, Looking Ahead – Episode 101

peace at sunsetHave you made New Year resolutions? How has that worked for you in the past? Is there a way to use our program tools instead?

This is the time of year when we look back at the year gone by and forward at the year to come. Spencer talks about his process of “looking back, looking ahead” at this beginning of the new year and end of the old.

  • How do I do this?
  • I can ask myself, how are my actions in alignment with my values?
    • There is discomfort in the gap that spurs me to want to change
  • The program gives me tools for this: Steps 4–7.
  • What are my values? When I state my values as aspirations of the way I want to act, I can more clearly see the alignment (or not) of my actions with them.
    • Integrity: I act in all things according to my true self. I state my beliefs honestly and openly.
    • Commitment: I do not make commitments I cannot keep, and I keep the commitments I make.
    • Acceptance: When I disagree with someone, I may argue my position, but I will not diminish their personhood.
    • Love: I express my love openly and appropriately.
  • How have my actions this year aligned, or not, with my values?
    • Acceptance is hard. I react emotionally to some people, and let those reactions color my interactions.  On the plus side: I am more aware of this when it happens, and more likely to modify my response.
    • I can “go along” with something I don’t agree with, because it is too uncomfortable to disagree. This happens less often than it used to.
    • I can express my desires and needs when they are important to me.
    • I sometimes overcommit and under-deliver.
    • I find it difficult at times to express my true feelings to my wife.
    • I have openly stated and explained my spiritual beliefs and practices, even when I don’t know they will be accepted by those to whom I am speaking.
  • What can I let go of, that is no longer of use to me?
    • What holds me back?
    • Stuff! Clothes I haven’t worn in a decade.
  • What do I want to bring into my life (more) in the coming year?
    • Self-care: physical and spiritual (I do OK on the mental front)
    • Family: I will spend more “quality” time with my family
    • Money: I will work to be more attentive to our financial status.

Next week’s topic will be the first of a series on Al-Anon’s concepts of service, focusing on Concepts 1 and 2. These say

  1. The Ultimate Responsibility and Authority for Al-Anon World Services Belongs to the Al-Anon Groups.
  2. The Al-Anon Family Groups Have Delegated Complete Administrative and Operational Authority to their Conference and its Service Arms.

In my experience, many Al-Anon members are not at all familiar with the Concepts, and that includes me. We will explore not only what these concepts mean for Al-Anon as a whole, but perhaps more importantly, how we can use them in our day to day lives. These two raise an interesting question in my mind: What is the difference between “Ultimate responsibility and authority” versus “administrative and operational authority”? What might these phrases mean in my family life? my work life?

Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading Looking Back, Looking Ahead – Episode 101

Guest Host Experiences – Episode 100

What is it like to be a guest host on The Recovery Show? Join us as Mark, Ruth, Mara, Harriet, and Akilah talk about their experience co-hosting the podcast.

I asked my guests today to reflect on these questions as we reach our 100th episode.

  • Why did you decide to participate as a guest on The Recovery Show?
  • How did you feel beforehand? How did you feel afterward? How do you feel now about your participation?
  • Did you listen to “your” episode? If you did, what was that experience like? If not, why not?
  • How has participating in the show strengthened (or not) your Al-Anon program?
  • What would you like to say to our listeners about your experience?

Mark, who hosts the Recovered podcast, remembers being a guest on the show, and the ease of not having to “run” the show.

Ruth reflects on co-hosting the 12 Tradition episodes, why she committed to them, and what it has meant to her.

Mara talks about the importance of service in her recovery, particularly when she is not at home. She also sings Happy Birthday to us (in tune!)

Harriet was terrified at the idea, but still committed to co-host an episode about isolation, which she had identified as a problem in her life. Hear how she feels now about her participation.

Akilah admittedly likes to talk. She enjoyed co-hosting an episode and encourages you to do the same.

Upcoming topics include include growth in the program, discovering ourselves, and healthy support vs caretaking. As we approach the end of the year, and the start of the new year, what “resolutions” are we thinking about for 2015? I’m also talking with a co-host about doing a series over the next year on the 12 Concepts of Service. As with the traditions, we will be talking a little about how these work for the Al-Anon groups, but also taking time to share how we can use the Concepts in our personal lives, families, and workplaces. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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Holidays – A meditation

peace and loveHolidays can be difficult times for many of us. Each of us has our own reasons why. For some, our families are the reason we’re in recovery. For some, our families just “push our buttons.” Family members can ignore our boundaries and dig under our skin. Sometimes, when we “go home,” we revert back to childhood roles and behaviors.

Holidays can be difficult because of expectations engendered by our past, or by society and the media. The holidays are “supposed to” be times of joy, happiness, and togetherness. If, instead, they are filled with loneliness or conflict, we can feel resentful or sad. We may never have the holidays of our dreams, we cannot capture the innocent enjoyment we had as children (if that was ever true for us.)

In recovery, we can find new ways to spend and even enjoy our holiday time. We can set aside expectations and live for the day, one day at a time. We can choose not to put ourselves in situations that trigger old feelings and behaviors. We can choose not to spend time with people who threaten our serenity.

A listener asked for suggestions of past episodes of The Recovery Show for the holidays. Here are my suggestions. If you have your own favorites, please email feedback@therecoveryshow.com or comment here.

  • 62 – Changed Attitudes. “We believe that changed attitudes can aid recovery.”
  • 45 – Chaos. Are your family holidays full of chaos?
  • 5 – Choices. I don’t have to follow others wishes, but can make my own choices.
  • 12 – Detachment. Other peoples behavior doesn’t have to drive my feelings and actions.
  • 6 – Expectations. When I let go of expectations, I can enjoy what comes.
  • 54 – Family of our dreams. “We may never have the family of our dreams,” (How Al-Anon Works, p. 47) but we can live with the family we have.
  • 7 – Letting go. See “expectations,” above.
  • 34 – One Day at a Time. We can get through almost anything one day or one moment at a time. If we must spend time in uncomfortable situations, this slogan can help.
  • 39 – Self-Care. Taking care of ourselves can help us get through.
  • 92 – Triggers. Does your family trigger you? How do we reduce our reactions to triggers?

 

 

2 Years – Episode 99

4529789618_fca6f88bf4_bIf you’re new, do you wonder why members have been coming for years? Doesn’t there come a time when we’ve learned it all? What do we gain from keeping on keeping on?  It amazes me that The Recovery Show is 2 years old this week!

Spencer thinks back over the last 2 years, about the journey, about what this podcast has meant for him, and maybe for you. Here’s a rough outline.

  • How and why did we come to start the podcast?
  • Early experiences podcasting.
  • Guest hosts.
  • Including your voices.
  • Losing my co-hosts.
  • Focusing on the podcast
  • Providing value.
  • Your feedback and support.
  • Challenges.
  • “electronic” co-hosts.
  • Value to my program.

Next week will be episode 100. We’ve invited some past co-hosts to reflect on their experience participating in The Recovery Show.

Upcoming topics include growth in the program, discovering ourselves, and healthy support vs caretaking. As we approach the end of the year, and the start of the new year, what “resolutions” are we thinking about for 2015? We’d love to hear from you. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

Continue reading 2 Years – Episode 99

Tradition 12 – Anonymity – Episode 98

DSC_5353Do you wonder how much to reveal about your situation? Are you afraid someone will “out” you? Do you have “idols” in the program? We’ll address these questions and more as we talk about Tradition 12, Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles above personalities.

Ruth and Spencer had these questions around which we structured our conversation.

Ruth started by asking, “Spencer you said this is your favorite tradition. Would like to tell us why?”

  • How do you understand the principle of anonymity?
    • How do you practice this principle?
    • Inside the “rooms” of Al-Anon?
    • In the wider world?
  • How can I protect anonymity when I meet someone outside the meeting?
  • How can I protect anonymity when I meet someone in the meeting who I already know outside the meeting?
  • How do we practice anonymity in the podcast?
  • How does anonymity change the way I feel about myself?
  • How can I practice anonymity without being “invisible”?
  • How can I share my experience, strength, and hope without telling others what to do?
  • Do I put people on a pedestal? Why? What happens?
  • How does focusing on personalities hinder my growth?
  • How is it different when instead, I listen to everybody, even the people I don’t “like”?

Upcoming topics include growth in the program, discovering ourselves, and healthy support vs caretaking. As we approach the end of the year, and the start of the new year, what “resolutions” are we thinking about for 2015? Join the conversation. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading Tradition 12 – Anonymity – Episode 98

Gratitude 2014 – Episode 97

A power greater than ourselves provides the beauty of a flower.Can you be grateful for painful events? How do you cultivate an “attitude of gratitude”? Can gratitude help you sleep better? Join Spencer and Wendy as we talk about our experience with gratitude.

We used these questions to guide our discussion.

  • What does “gratitude” mean to you?
  • Do you see gratitude differently now than before you came to Al-Anon?
  • Do you practice an “attitude of gratitude”?
  • How has this changed your life?
  • Have you found gratitude for painful occurrences in your life? How or why?
  • What are you grateful for today?

We also found a couple of interesting articles about gratitude. Powerful Lessons in Gratitude starts “As I write this, I am coming to terms with the death of a good friend of mine who was killed in a tragic accident over the weekend. … However, I realize that even in death we have the opportunity to celebrate the beauty of life.” Both of us have found gratitude in the middle of pain and loss, and that gratitude has helped us to live our lives with greater serenity and even joy.

Another interesting article is 8 reasons to love gratitude, which has this list of benefits. The benefits are backed up by scientific study, believe it or not.

  1. It can make you happier.
  2. It can reduce blood pressure.
  3. It makes hearts healthier.
  4. It’s associated with better sleep.
  5. It helps people exercise more.
  6. It helps make vets more resilient.
  7. It can help your relationship.
  8. Even a little bit helps.

Spencer was happy to hear that he doesn’t have to practice gratitude every day in order to gain its benefits!

Our topic for next week is Tradition 12, which states “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles above personalities.” Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading Gratitude 2014 – Episode 97

Isolation – Episode 96

aloneDo you revert to isolating in times of increased stress and difficulty? Do you find it harder to work your program at these times? Today we will talk about what isolation has meant to us.

Spencer and guest host Harriet discuss this topic, suggested by Harriet, following this outline and questions.

  • What is isolation?
    • Closing myself off from the outside world
    • Looking outward to fix an inward problem
    • Rejecting reality
  • What did isolation look like a year ago, now, etc.
    • Can take many forms, and could look like:
    • Pretending (hiding)
    • Self criticism (finding evidence that fits my conjecture that I’m  broken and alone)
    • feeding an obsession
    • Compulsive show watching (often a familiar show I’ve already watched, maybe b/c I need to have some certainty)
    • Compulsive podcast listening (not to broaden my perspective but to drown out my thoughts or emotions)
    • Avoiding connection with friends or Al-anon members (Anything that takes me further into my closed system)
    • Food
    • Being compulsively busy
  • Why do I isolate?
    • Shame (I hide my worst parts)
    • Disconnect between mind body and spirit.  I look outside myself to find the answer
    • I’m having a feeling I’d rather not be having and am afraid to look at myself
    • I believe my own conjecture
  • What helps?
  • Accepting where I am and my current reality
  • Trying one thing different to break my cycle
    • I need to make peace within myself before I can genuinely connect with others.  I think I need to share w others, but until I’ve reconciled within myself, I can be isolating right in the middle of a conversation
    • Writing— before I’m too far gone
    • Step 5 — a member or friend who I can share with (to acknowledge where I am)
    • A meeting
    • Meditation – breathing exercise
    • connection with a pet
    • Prayer
    • Brene Brown’s TED talks
    • This podcast- suffering is optional, 3 A’s, self-care
    • Inventory—why am I isolating?
    • Service
    • Self-care and self compassion

Our topic for next week is gratitude. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading Isolation – Episode 96

Tradition 11 – Episode 95

DSC_5860Do you switch the tv-channel when the commercial kicks in? Are you tired of being reminded of something which you know would be good for you but you just don’t want to, and now giving in would just feel odd? Do you wonder why some annoying people always have to emphasize where and how they get their stuff? But are you curious why that person, despite all the obvious problems in their life, has a smile on their face? And how do we practice anonymity in our podcast?

Ruth and Spencer talk about Tradition 11, “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, and TV. We need guard with special care the anonymity of all AA members.” We used these questions to guide our discussion.

– There is a lot in this this tradition and I would like to start with the last sentence: the anonymity of the alcoholic. Why it is important, for them for us. How was it when we were new, or even before before we learned about the concept if the desease.

  • If we break our anonymity we may break the one of our relatives too.
  • How can we share our story without breaking the anonymity?
  • Various aspects of anonymity: our background, education, finance, status … not just names.
  • As important as it is to experience people who have what you want to have, it is important not to connect people with program (principles over personalities).
  • What can we do, what do you do to let people know about AlAnon?

I asked on twitter: how would you translate the 11th tradition into your personal life and I get a very good response from “the bubble hour”: “attraction not promotion means we can stand on our integrity in all things, without controlling outcomes or people.”

  • How do we practice Tradition 11 in this podcast?
  • We share only our own experience, strength, and hope.
  • We do not use our full names, and some of us use pseudonyms.
  • We don’t try to “sell” Al-Anon.
  • We often use phrases such as “loved one” when we mention the alcoholic(s) and/or addict(s) in our life.

A Slogan for Tradition 11: “Take what you like and leave the rest”

How do we practice this tradition in our life?

  • Being an example.
  • Act as we expect to be treated (“Golden rule”)

Upcoming topics include isolation and caretaking. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading Tradition 11 – Episode 95