Monday, December 17, 2007

Can You Change Dysfunction?

Little Miss Sunshine

Excerpts from

Resulting Problems

Abuse and neglect inhibit the development of children's trust in the world, in others, and in themselves. Later as adults, these people may find it difficult to trust the behaviors and words of others, their own judgements and actions, or their own senses of selfworth. Not surprisingly, they may experience problems in their academic work, their relationships, and in their very identities.

Making Changes

Sometimes we continue in our roles because we are waiting for our parents to give us "permission"; to change. But that permission can come only from you. Like most people, parents in dysfunctional families often feel threatened by changes in their children. As a result, they may thwart your efforts to change and insist that you "change back." That's why it's so important for you to trust your own perceptions and feelings. Change begins with you. Some specific things you can do include:

Identify painful or difficult experiences that happened during your childhood. Make a list of your behaviors, beliefs, etc. that you would like to change. Next to each item on the list, write down the behavior, belief, etc. that you would like to do/have instead. Pick one item on your list and begin practicing the alternate behavior or belief. Choose the easiest item first.
Once you are able to do the alternate behavior more often than the original, pick another item on the list and practice changing it, too. In addition to working on your own, you might find it helpful to work with a group of people with similar experiences and/or with a professional counselor.

Special Considerations

As you make changes, keep in mind the following:

Stop trying to be perfect. In addition, don't try to make your family perfect. Realize that you are not in control of other people's lives. You do not have the power to make others change. Don't try to win the old struggles - you can't win. Set clear limits - e.g., if you do not plan on visiting your parents for a holiday, say "no," not "be." Identify what you would like to have happen. Recognize that when you stop behaving the way you used to, even for a short time, there may be adverse reactions from your family or friends. Anticipate what the reactions will be (e.g., tears, yelling, other intimidating responses) and decide how you will respond.

Final Note

Don't become discouraged if you find yourself slipping back into old patterns of behavior. Changes may be slow and gradual; however, as you continue to practice new and healthier behaviors, they will begin to become part of your day to day living.

Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

H.A.L.T. In The Name Of Serenity!


H.A.L.T. indicates that you need to stop and take care of yourself when you get Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Being too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, are conditions that leave us more vulnerable to the temptations that lead us away from our program of recovery. Part of recovery is learning to pay attention to these inner signals and practice appropriate ways to meet our needs and resolve issues in a manner that will enhance our serenity.

When HUNGRY, you not only need enough food, but the right kinds of foods. Although food comes immediately to mind, there are many other things for which we can “hunger.” We all need a sense of worth, connection to others and to something bigger than ourselves, appreciation, and many others. Miss out on some of these basic emotional needs for very long and we can end up sad or depressed.

When ANGRY, stop and deal with it using your recovery tools. Pray. Get some exercise and fresh air. Talk to a sponsor, counselor or trusted recovery friend. Remember that your serenity, not your ego, is the important thing. I get angry, you get angry, we all get angry. No problem there. The problem comes when anger is our most common emotion and our first response to most situations. Recent research has demonstrated that constant anger is not only not good for you, it can kill you. Pay attention to and deal with the emotions that anger typically grows out of: fear, frustration, hurt.

LONELY - In spite of all the modern ways we have to communicate with each other, we still live in a culture where it is incredibly easy to become isolated. Most people don’t know the names of their neighbors on either side or across the street. I know of people who are “just too busy” to spend the time to connect with other people. These folks are way too busy for their own good. Take the time to connect and stay connected to others. Walk next door and introduce yourself. Call an old friend you have not spoken with in a while. Stay connected.

TIRED - Vince Lombardi said “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” It’s not that most people don’t have the time to rest, it’s that most people have actually forgotten how. When it comes to the ultimate form of rest, sleeping, when was the last time you got the recommended 8 - 10 hours? In addition to getting enough sleep, schedule time to rest. Put it in your appointment book, and protect it and keep it like you would any other important appointment.

When you find yourself in H.A.L.T. mode, refrain from making important decisions until you have taken time for yourself and are in a better frame of mind. It may be helpful to attend a 12-Step meeting, phone someone in recovery or be of good service to someone. Sometimes the onset of anxiety or a sudden drop in mood can be traced to our having forgotten to eat so our blood sugar levels are off kilter. Sometimes we may be carrying a resentment, or feeling lonely, or we are just too tired.

Taking a little time out from our busy day to ask ourselves if we are feeling too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, gets us in touch with our feelings. When we know what we are feeling we can make choices and take the appropriate action to get our needs for food, companionship, or rest, met.

Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children