Enabling or Empowering? – Episode 261

How have you enabled your loved ones’ alcoholism? What is enabling, anyway? How do you know when you’re doing it and when you are empowering them, instead?

  • What does the dictionary say?
  • Merriam-Webster
    • 1 a : to provide with the means or opportunity: training that enables people to earn a living
    • b : to make possible, practical, or easy: a deal that would enable passage of a new law
    • c : to cause to operate: software that enables the keyboard
    • 2 : to give legal power, capacity, or sanction to: a law enabling admission of a state
  • From Urban Dictionary
    • Enabling
      Shielding a person from the consequences of a destructive behavior; Allowing a person's destructive behavior to persist by managing or minimizing the ill-effects of the behavior.”Enabling” vs. “Empowering”Enabling: supporting a person's behavior that (repeatedly/habitually) instigates a negative or destructive resultEmpowering: supporting a person's ability or effort in a positive or progressive endeavorEnabling can be as destructive as the behavior itself . . . a person enabling a destructive behavior is motivated by their need to do so and is gratified by reinforcing their superiority or control over that person; An “enabler” holds a person in an inferior state by denying them the motivation to change and therefore, the opportunity to grow.
  • What does enabling mean to you?  How does that relate to the definitions we just read?
  • Did you understand/head you heard of enabling before you came to Al-Anon?
  • What are some ways in which you have enabled others' dysfunction/addiction/behavior?
  • How can we (especially as parents) distinguish between supporting, helping, empowering, and enabling?
    • Can we look at our motivations, expectations, fears?
    • Slogans
      • Let Go and Let God
      • How Important is it?
      • WAIT
      • THINK
    • Boundaries
    • Detaching with love
    • Clarity: “mine or not mine?”
    • “When in doubt, don’t”
    • Serenity prayer (knowing the difference)
    • “Al-Anon pause”
  • What are healthy ways to be supportive without enabling?

We read from or discussed these resources:

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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Force and Power – Episode 249

How have you given away your power?

Did you lose power over your life when you tried to force solutions?

How can you recover your personal power?

  • Definitions
    • Force: make a way through or into by physical strength, make (someone) do something against their will
    • Power: the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events
    • Powerful: sturdy, influential, strong, compelling
  • How we give away our power?
    • Enabling
    • Saying yes when we mean no
    • Avoiding confrontation
    • Feeling resentment, bitterness, anger, shame
    • Fighting / taking the bait / picking up the rope
    • Denial
    • Losing track of what is acceptable
    • Not setting boundaries or not keeping them
    • Apologizing for things that weren’t ours to keep the peace
  • Forcing (solutions)
    • March 8, Courage to Change – Easy does it
    • Force is the antithesis of recovery
    • Trying to control drinking
    • Punishing
    • Hollow/idle threats
    • Impossible ultimatums
    • Working the program “hard”?
    • Tom W said “I don’t believe ‘it works if you work it’. I believe it works if you let it.”
  • How do we recover our power?
    • The power we were born with to live our lives with peace and serenity
    • Asking my higher power for help
    • Al-anon Welcome: “… we find it loses its power to dominate our thoughts and our lives.”
    • How Al-Anon Works, chapter 16 “A Nun finds Spiritual Peace”
    • Use the tools of the program
    • Slogan: Easy does it
    • Let go and let God
    • “I don’t know.”
    • Detaching with love
    • Setting healthy boundaries
    • Saying “no”
    • Saying what we mean without saying it meanly
    • Neutral responses (see page image below)
    • Understanding consequences (mine and not mine)
    • Changing the way I think is real power.

Read a transcript of this episode.

Upcoming topics include parenting a child who is an alcoholic or addict. 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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Consequences – Episode 245

Do you try to reduce the consequences of your loved one’s choices and actions?  Do you have trouble enforcing consequences on undesirable behavior by others?

con·se·quence
ˈkänsikwəns
noun

  1. a result or effect of an action or condition.

synonyms: result, upshot, outcome, effect, repercussion, ramification, corollary, concomitant, aftermath, after effect;

  • Setting Consequences
    • I have to be willing to enforce them.
    • They should be realistic and relate to the behavior.
    • They should impact the other person more than me!
    • What is the difference between “threat” and “consequences”?
    • When I set a boundary and consequences for violating that boundary, am I attempting to control or manipulate another’s behavior?
  • Consequences of OTHER people’s behavior – Is NOT my business
    • When I “do for others what they are capable of doing for themselves”, I set myself up as enabling, and deny them the natural consequences, good or bad, of their actions.  Resentment, disappointment, anger…
    • When I try to instill consequences, punishment, discipline, I often exacerbate an issue and set myself up yet again, for resentment, disappointment, anger…
    • A definition of “enabling” that I learned is “getting between someone and the consequences of their actions.” (see Courage to Change January 5, June 16)
  • Consequences of MY behavior – IS my business
    • When I take care of myself, …
      • Feel better
      • Act better
      • Cope better
    • When I do not take care of myself I…
      • Blame
      • Resent
      • Slip into old behavior
      • Get sick, angry, lonely, tired
  • Mentioned or implied in several slogans including Live and Let Live, Let Go and Let God, One Day at a Time
  • Related topics – CONTROL, ENABLING, RESENTMENT, DETACHMENT, BOUNDARIES

Resources

We read from at least some of these articles.

Our topic for next week is new topic. 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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Courage – Episode 220

How have you experienced courage in your recovery? Which steps required courage of you? How has recovery given you courage to change the things you can?

  • We use the word “courage” a lot in this program. Most of our meetings start with the serenity prayer:
    God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    The courage to change the things I can,
    And the wisdom to know the difference
  • What does the word “courage” mean to you?
    • In the past?
    • Now?
  • When were some moments in which you found “the courage to change the things you can”?
    • Coming into your first Al-Anon meeting?
    • Sharing in a meeting?
    • Calling another Al-Anon member?
    • Asking someone to be your sponsor?
    • Setting (and holding to) a boundary?
    • Not enabling your loved one.
    • Taking your 4th step inventory?
    • Sharing your “wrongs” with someone in the 5th step?
    • Making amends?
  • How have you found courage in recovery?
    • Faith and trust in the program, sponsor, higher power.
    • Little steps lead to confidence in bigger steps.
  • Finding the courage live your own life with your authentic truth. (24 hours at a time.)
  • Step 11 “power to carry that out” == courage

Upcoming topics include parenting. As an adult child of an alcoholic, how can you not pass that on to your own children? What have you learned in recovery about being a better parent? Or, alternatively, what is your experience as the parent of an alcoholic or addict? 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.

A listener called, looking for an e-book version of the Blueprint for Recovery 4th step workbook. To my knowledge, this is not (yet) available in electronic format. Some Al-Anon literature is available as E-Books. A variety of small publications are also available for free download from the Al-Anon website.

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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 feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading “Love and Alcoholism – Episode 142”