Shutting down as a defense – Episode 152

closer to perfectionDo you retreat into yourself when problems arise? Do you prefer not to hear bad news? Maybe you are shutting down as a defense.

Here's our outline:

  • Which of these statements do I connect with about shutting down?
    • “When I am stressed, I retreat into myself.”
    • “If I don’t think about a problem, it will go away.” (Tom)
    • “Instead of doing something, I chew over my problems in my head, over and over.”
    • “I escape into a book/movie/tv show/video game/… when I don’t want to face something.”
    • “Conflict just shuts me down. Sometimes I can’t even talk.”
    • “I keep busy with unimportant tasks, so I don’t have to face the things I don’t want to do.” (Tom)
    • “When there is chaos around me, I can’t do anything. I just shut down and retreat into my skull.”
    • “I hide by not answering the phone, or not opening mail.” (Tom)
    • “I fantasize about a better future, but I don’t seem to be able to do anything about getting there.” (Tom)
    • “In an airport or other public space I make sure nobody will sit next to me.” (Tom)
    • “I avoid difficult conversations at all costs.”
    • “There’s only one way to survive life. Shut down, or get hurt and die.”
  • What have I learned about myself, and about my ways of “shutting down” and “escaping”?
    • Conflict avoidant.
    • Lack of self-worth/self-esteem.
    • Fear of criticism, rejection, other mental/spiritual harm.
    • Fear of bodily harm.
    • Fear of intimacy.
    • Denial — if I don’t “know” about a problem, maybe it won’t happen.
    • Isolating
    • Depression
  • When can it be healthy to “shut down”?
    • Detachment
    • Taking a break
    • Resting
  • What tools can I use to face daily conflicts, problems, and discomfort of dealing with other people?
    • Serenity prayer.
    • Other prayers.
    • Inventory. (I can’t change something if I don’t see it.)
    • Gratitude.
    • Check in with program friends.
    • Living in the moment. “One day at a time.”
    • Meditation.
    • Practicing Step 10. “… and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
    • Self-acceptance
    • Vulnerability.
    • HOW: “Honest, open, and willing.”
    • Detachment — “it’s not me/mine”
    • Scheduling activities with others to prevent a self-isolating funk
    • Progress not perfection

Some online resources

Suppressing Emotions

Emotionally Closed Off: Healing Pain and Learning to Love

Why Anxiety Causes Detachment “Why anxiety causes detachment” (about the “bad” kind of detachment — distancing, emotional shutting down)

Upcoming topics include another “gift of Al-Anon”. This one is “Our sight, once clouded and confused, will clear and we will be able to perceive reality and recognize truth.” 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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Fourth Step Inventory – Episode 149

DSC_5860Have you done a fourth step inventory? How did you do it? Join Mike S. and David M. as they lead a workshop on using the 4th step inventory worksheets, based on the process described in the “How it Works” chapter in the AA Big Book.

There are 4 worksheets, corresponding to the 4 inventory categories listed in the Big Book: resentments, fears, sex conduct, and harms to others. Each worksheet has 4 or 5 columns to be filled in, one column at a time.

For example, in the worksheet for fears, the first column is headed “What am I afraid of?” In this column, I might list financial insecurity, (negative) judgement by others, people not liking me, etc. I should finish this column before moving on. The second column heading asks “Why do I have the fear?”. I might say “because I never seem to have as much money as I want” in the first row, and so on. The 3rd column is titled “Which part of self have I been relying on that has failed me?” It has sub-headings “self-reliance”, “self-confidence”, “self-discipline”, “self-will”, and a blank space to enter other parts of self, if these don't fit your case. In my first row, I might check “self-reliance” and “self-discipline”. In the second and third, I will clearly mark “self-confidence”. The fourth column asks “What part of self does the fear affect?”, and has these subheadings: Self esteem, pride, emotional security, pocketbook, ambitions, personal relations, and sex relations. Again, I will fill these in from top to bottom. In the first row, I check self esteem, emotional security, pocketbook, and ambitions. In the second, self esteem, pride, and personal relations. And so on.

The other worksheets are arranged similarly. In each, you fill in columns from top to bottom, as completely as possible, before moving on to the next column. Mike and David work through several examples, and provide explanations of what some of the words and concepts mean to them. Members of the audience chime in with suggestions and questions. I feel that I have a better understanding now of how I could use these worksheets, having listened to their presentations.

Our topic for next week is meditation. Do you meditate? How? Does the idea of sitting still and thinking of “nothing” just seem impossible? Are there are other ways to meditate? 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.

 

Old Year New Year – Episode 136

past-present-future-sign1What have you accomplished in the past year? How did you work your recovery? What are you looking forward to in the new year?

Reflect on your year past, look forward to the new year with these thought questions. In this episode, Spencer reflects on his 2015 and looks at his 2016 goals.

  • Did I have recovery goals for 2015? What were they?
  • Did I have other goals for 2015? What were they?
  • How did I reach towards my goals?
  • Outside of goals, how did I work my program in 2015?
  • What did I find out about myself this year?
  • What changes have I made or been making this year?
  • What has changed in my life this year?
  • What did I achieve this year? In recovery? In my life in general?
  • What will I keep on doing in 2016?
  • What do I want to do differently/new in 2016?
  • Am I setting any SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound)? Why might I want to do this? Why not?

Upcoming topics include families, and balancing more than one recovery program.

What did you learn in your family, growing up? How have you carried that into your present? Was your family “crazy” or “normal”? How have you learned a new way to be in family through recovery?

Are you in another recovery program? How do you balance your programs? Did you find a difference working the steps in Al-Anon?

 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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Forgiveness – Episode 68

Holocaust memorial, Berlin, GermanyDo you have trouble forgiving the alcoholic or addict in your life? Have you carried hurts long after the person who hurt you is gone from your life? How can we forgive without forgetting? Let's talk about forgiveness.

Spencer and Erika share their experience, strength, and hope about forgiveness, and try to address these questions.

What do the quotes that we opened the show with say to you about forgiveness?
How does this compare to the way you used to think about forgiveness?
Did you (or do you) think about forgiveness as giving a “free pass” to the person who hurt you?
Do you now think about forgiveness as “a gift you give to yourself”? (Or can you be willing to think about it that way now?)
How can forgiveness connect to the love of your higher power?
What Al-Anon tools can you use to help move from anger and resentment to forgiveness?
Inventory — seeing “my part” (and I there is almost always “my part” as well as “their part”)
Compassion — especially helpful for me in finding forgiveness for my alcoholic loved one’s actions during her active disease.
Prayer and meditation. Praying for the person I want to forgive, even if it’s just the “SOB prayer.”
Seeing that the other person is a human being, with faults, and that they were doing the best they knew at the time.
Setting boundaries to prevent the hurt from happening again.
How can I find forgiveness for myself, for my past actions that hurt others? (Same tools?)
What about “unforgiveable” behaviors? How can I let them go so that they’re not continuing to affect my serenity and continuing to drag me down?

Our topic for next week is Tradition 4. Upcoming topics include living with active alcoholism and taking recovery on the road.  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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life is – a meditation

 

life is a garden,
not a road

we enter and exit
through the same gate

wandering,
where we go matters less
than what we notice

Bokonon — Life Is…

A friend posted this to Facebook recently. I have heard many times that “life is about the journey, not the destination”. Which says to me that if I focus on where I think I am going, I often miss the beauty and the wonders along the way. And my life experience is that the destination I think I am working towards is often not where I end up, nor is it where I really want to be.

This little poem takes that idea a step further, by saying that there is not really a destination at all. I remember visiting Monet's garden at Giverny, where he painted many of his later masterpieces. I wanted to revisit the scene of this painting and that painting. I wanted a photograph of the weeping willows over the pond, and one of the arched bridge behind the water lilies. But if I had gone, head down, to just those scenes, I would have missed so much beauty and left poorer rather than richer. Monet spent years in that same garden and did not exhaust its riches. I spent an afternoon, and while I enjoyed seeing the “famous” scenes, the garden was full of beauty, large and small, for me to notice as I wandered.

And so it can be with the garden of my life. My program helps me to notice the things that are in my life today. The practices of daily inventory, prayer, and meditation slow me down in my headlong dash into the future, and enable me to look at what I have, at what is around me, right here, right now.

A meditation for October 14, 2013.

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