Controlling Behavior – Episode 207

thinkingDo you believe you can control another person’s drinking? Or maybe all of their behavior? What consequences have your attempts to control led to?

I recently started working the steps with an AWOL group (A Way Of Life). In our first meeting, we agreed to address the first 5 questions about Step 1 in the book Paths to Recovery. (Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.)

  1. Do I accept that I cannot control another person’s drinking? Another person’s behavior?
  2. How do I recognize that the alcoholic is an individual with habits, characteristics and ways of reacting to daily happenings that are different from mine?
  3. Do I accept that alcoholism is a disease? How does that change how I deal with a drinker?
  4. How have I tried to change others in my life? What were the consequences?
  5. What means have I used to get what I want and need? What might work better to get my needs met?

Upcoming topics include “the 3 P’s: Perfectionism, Procrastination, and Paralysis”. We will also be addressing more questions from Paths to Recovery: How do I feel when the alcoholic refuses to be and do what I want? How do I respond? What would happen if I stopped trying to change the alcoholic or anyone else? How can I let go of another’s problems instead of trying to solve them? Am I looking for a quick fix to my problems? Is there one? In what situations do I feel excessive responsibility for other people? In what situations do I feel shame or embarrassment for someone else’s behavior?

Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading “Controlling Behavior – Episode 207”

Obsessive Thinking – Episode 197

Do you obsess over your loved one’s drinking? Do you keep chewing over past actions or wrongs done to you? How can we stop?

  • What is obsessive thinking? What are some other words?
    • Wallowing (in negativity/fear/anger)
    • Resentment (as we discussed last week)
    • Ruminating / chewing over (past wrongs / future problems)
    • Looping
  • What sorts of obsessive thoughts do I have? (… have I had?)
    • Getting the alcoholic to stop drinking.
    • Counting drinks.
    • The problems I had in my life (as a result of the drinking).
    • Money problems.
    • What could happen (the worst, of course).
    • Things I did that I feel shame about (kicking myself over and over.)
  • Why is it a problem?
    • Takes time from things I can do.
    • Depresses my mood.
    • Sleeplessness.
    • “We who have been affected by someone else’s drinking find ourselves inexplicably haunted by insecurity, fear, guilt, obsession with others, or an overwhelming need to control every person and situation we encounter.” How Al-Anon Works Chapter 1
  • Tools for relieving obsessive thinking?
    • Detachment
    • Slogans: “How important is it?”, “One day at a time”, “Just for today”, “Let go and let God”
    • THINK / Pause (Courage to Change – Mar 4) Before I get into trouble, before I open my mouth to react, or get lost in obsessive analysis of another person’s behavior, or worrying about the future, I can Stop. Then I can Look at what is going on and my role in it. Then I can Listen for spiritual guidance that will remind me of my options and help me find healthy words and actions.
    • Letting go
    • Gratitude list
      • Often I’ll detour at a particular letter and find myself giving thanks for apples and alexandrites, apothecaries and astronauts, ants and anchovies, or bottles and bakeries, bumblebees and blueberries, bathtubs and brushes. The more overwhelming the problem I’m entertaining, the more my gratitude list helps me. First, by taking my mind off of my obsession, and second, by reminding me of the multitude of delightful and peculiar items in the world around me. (Having Had a Spiritual Awakening Chapter 8)
    • Think of something positive: “… when my thoughts race out of control, I need to stop. I may do this by breathing deeply and looking at my surroundings. It can help to replace the obsessive thoughts with something positive, such as an Al-Anon slogan, the Serenity Prayer, or another comforting topic that has nothing to do with my problem.” Courage to Change Nov 1.
    • Do something: listen to music, go for a walk, play a game, do a puzzle …
    • Serenity Prayer (praying for HP will)
    • “God Box”
      • On a note, I write down the name of the person about whom I am so distressed or angry, or describe the situation that is killing me, with which I am so toxically, crazily obsessed, and I fold the note up, stick it in the box and close it. You might have a brief moment of prayer, and it might come out sounding like this: “Here. You think you’re so big? Fine. You deal with it. Although I have a few more excellent ideas on how best to proceed.” Help, Thanks, Wow (p. 36).

    Some other links:

    Deepak Chopra: How to stop anxiety and obsessive thoughts

    Georgia Psychological Assn: How to Stop Obsessive Worry

    Upcoming topics include Alateen, parenting, and the “adult child” experience. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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    Al-Anon Slips – Episode 191

    What does it mean to relapse in Al-Anon? Have you had an Al-Anon slip? What did you do to recover?

    • What is a “slip”? Is it just another word for “relapse”?
    • What do you think an “Al-Anon slip” is?
      • How do you know if you’re having (or if you had) one?
      • In AA, it’s “obvious”, but in Al-Anon, it’s more subtle.
    • What kinds of slips can you identify?
      • Controlling
      • Enabling
      • Emotional
      • Making another person your HP
    • Relate a story about a slip you had
      • A big one?
      • A little one?
    • How did it feel the same as before recovery?
    • How did it feel different?
    • What program tools did you use to recover from your slip?
    • How do you / can you detect that a slip is imminent and what can you do to prevent it?
      • What tools/slogans help?

    Upcoming topics include obsessive thinking. How does your obsession with others behavior (such as drinking) make your life unmanageable? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

    In response to a listener question, we suggested episode 78: Stay or Go?
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    Being Ready – Episode 189

    Happiness withinWhy did I come to Al-Anon when I did? Or, to ask it a different way, why didn’t I come sooner? What made me ready?

    Why did I come to Al-Anon when I did? Or, why didn’t I come sooner?

    • Not understanding alcoholism.
      • I didn’t grow up with alcoholism
      • I thought my loved one’s behavior was a choice
      • So she just had to fix it.
    • Denying the problem.
      • It was her problem.
      • Not mine.
      • She just needed to “drink normally.”
    • Not seeing the problem.
      • My behavior was out of control.
      • But I couldn’t see that.
      • I didn’t connect my behavior to the alcoholism
    • Resistance
      • Therapists at treatment centers suggested it to me.
      • “Not my problem”
      • 12 steps were off-putting
      • I’m FINE
      • Not relating to the video on codependency
    • Shame and isolation
    • So, what happened?
    • A “moment of clarity”
      • Yet another “friends and family day” at yet another treatment center.
      • “YOU didn’t cause it, YOU can’t cure it, YOU can’t control it.”
      • Recognizing that it was NOT mine to fix.
      • Recognizing that I was miserable.
      • The “20 questions
    • The “last resort”
      • What else is there? What can it hurt to try it? (Al-Anon)
      • Even then, I resisted. When a friend offered to take me to a meeting that night, I said “I need to think about it.”
      • I thought about it for maybe 30 seconds.
    • Did I get here “right on time”?
      • I’m glad I didn’t take longer to get here, anyway.

    Upcoming topics include Alateen, slogans, and parenting. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

    In this episode, I mentioned the Intimacy open talks from last year.

    Several listeners wrote in about Steve L’s talk on fear, faith, and surrender. One asked if there are other talks by him available. I found his talk on the Recovery Radio Network, where there are other talks by people named Steve L. (But I haven’t listened to them to know if they are the by the same person.)

    Love and Alcoholism – Episode 142

    heartWhat does Love mean to you? Has alcoholism turned your love turned to hate? Or maybe, you feel both at once and it’s tearing you apart.

    The ancient Greeks had 4 words for different kinds of love. In English, we have to use adjectives to distinguish them. These include

    • Romantic love
    • Sexual love
    • Parental love
    • Familial love
    • Obsessive love
    • Compassionate love
    • Love of humanity
    • Unconditional love

    In an alcoholic relationship, love can become poisoned, eventually turning into dislike or hate. We can feel both of these emotions at once, which is certainly confusing. Our recovery tools can help to detangle this messy web of feelings. By learning about the disease of alcoholism, we can begin to find compassion for our loved one, and to separate the person from the effects of the disease. This can help us to detach with love, and to find a way to live our life with balance and serenity, even while the alcoholic behavior continues.

    Fear of consequences to a love one can compel us to try to control their actions and outcomes. As the reading about Step 1 in How Al-Anon Works states,

    … many of us have confused love with interference. We don’t know how to show affection or support without giving advice, seeking to sway another’s decisions, or trying to get those we love to do what we think will bring them happiness. We confuse caring with controlling because we don’t know how to allow others the dignity of being themselves.

    We can treat our loved ones as helpless babies who must be protected and helped. Such behavior is appropriate for a baby or young child. But we need to let go of doing that for the adults in our lives. As a child grows up, our love demands that we let them learn to do things for themselves and experience consequences, so that they will be able to live independently as adults.

    In the suggested Al-Anon closing, we are told that

    … though you may not like all of us, you’ll love us in a very special way— the same way we already love you.

    It is also said that in recovery, “we love you until you can learn to love yourself.” What does this mean? We have learned to love ourselves as our higher power loves us – unconditionally – strengths, flaws, and all. And thus, we learn to see you as a lovable human being, struggling to recover from the effects of alcoholism or addiction, and we can love you just as you are.

    Upcoming topics include recovery in divorce, and the “gifts of Al-Anon”. The first of these states, “We will become mature, responsible individuals with a great capacity for joy, fulfillment, and wonder. Though we may never be perfect, continued spiritual progress will reveal to us our enormous potential.” How is this gift coming true in your life? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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