Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Healing The Pain Of The Inner Child


Life is hard. It's even harder if you don't have parents. By that, I mean parents in the fullest sense- two supportive, caring and emotionally present beings to guide and help you develop.

I say this not to indulge in self pity or wallow in victimization. I say it simply because it's true, yet is often overlooked by those most affected by it- the adult child of alcoholics. We take it for granted, never having experienced anything different.

Our drive for "perfection", inability to be vulnerable and openly accept help, empathy and love are clues that growing up ACA has been a stunting, detrimental experience. We may deny we need those things and ignore that we are without some of the tools and modeling people from less dysfunctional families possess to effectively deal with life and relationships.

This doesn't mean we are doomed. The mere acknowledgement that we are at a disadvantage is a step towards health and a better life. But to fully realize this we must fathom it, feel it and accept it. Self love starts with inner empathy.

If you saw a young child, helpless, abandoned and crying on the street, how would you feel? I'm guessing, unless you are a sociopath, your heart would just about break. Can you extend this same feeling to your OWN inner child- the one that was so emotionally abandoned, lost and confused? The one that was left feeling all alone in this big scary world and had no one to turn to? Remember the overwhelming sadness and fear you once felt?

Are you feeling resistant and uncomfortable to this idea? Is your critical inner parent scolding you for even considering it? Messages like "Stop feeling sorry for yourself!", "Things weren't so bad" and "Get over it!" may be filling your brain. These are symptoms of avoiding and minimizing your past. And they are the very things that keep you stuck there, unable to heal and progress. It is your right to feel the past with as much intensity as you can muster.

What happened in the past was not ok, but it's ok to feel it, accept it as an integral part of yourself and BE ok with it. Sharing the pain of the past with yourself and expressing it to a trusted friend, therapist or recovery partner will help. 

The better you can empathize with yourself, the more you will be able to empathize and connect with others. Empathy for self and others is indeed, ONE of the critical tools "healthy" people have and use. It is the glue of relationships. And chances are, if you find it hard to connect with people, there is an inner connection to yourself that is missing.

Remember these ACA Promises. They are more than just mottos but calls for action:

We will discover our real identities by loving and accepting ourselves.

Our self-esteem will increase as we give ourselves approval on a daily basis.

Our ability to share intimacy will grow inside us.

As we face our abandonment issues, we will be attracted by strengths and become more tolerant of weaknesses.


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

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Healing/ Are You A Control Freak?

Adult Child Of Alcoholic, Sandra Graves Talks About Healing

Sandra Graves talks about dysfunction, fear, "perfection", forgiveness and healing from a personal perspective.


Who's In Control?

Control freaks rarely know that they are one. They believe that they are helping people with their "constructive criticism" or taking over a project because "no one else will do it right."

They don't see their controlling behaviors as symptoms of what's really going on--their own anxiety has run amuck.

Irrational thoughts abound in our high stress world: If I don't get this contract, I'll get fired. If I'm not home by 6:00, I'm a terrible parent. If I don't get that raise, I suck at my job.  All of these thoughts might be true, but probably not.

Rather than tackle our own irrational thinking and massage it into more realistic thinking, we attempt to control the situation, usually by trying to control other people.

Want to know if you're a control freak? Here are eight signs for your self-diagnosing pleasure:

* You believe that if someone would change one or two things about themselves, you'd be happier. So you try to "help them" change this behavior by pointing it out, usually over and over.

* You micromanage others to make them fit your (often unrealistic) expectations. You don't believe in imperfection and you don't think anyone else should either.

* You judge others' behavior as right or wrong and passive-aggressively withhold attention until they fall in line with your expectations. Sitting in silent judgment is a master form of control.

* You offer "constructive criticism" as a veiled attempt to advance your own agenda.

* You change who you are or what you believe so that someone will accept you. Instead of just being yourself, you attempt to incept others by managing their impression of you.

* You present worst-case scenarios in an attempt to influence someone away from certain behaviors and toward others. This is also called fear mongering.

* You have a hard time with ambiguity and being OK with not knowing something.

* You intervene on behalf of people by trying to explain or dismiss their behaviors to others

You believe that if you can change another person's undesirable behavior, then you will be happier or more fulfilled. You make someone else responsible for how you feel.

The thing is, you are only responsible for you. The road to better relationships always starts with you. Rather than attempt to control everyone else, work on becoming a better version of yourself. Here are a few ideas:

* Be vulnerable with people.
* Never compromise your self-respect by altering your core beliefs.
* Be realistic about your expectations of others.
* Quit the passive-aggressive nonsense--be direct.
* Accept that a large portion of life is laced with unknowns.
* Embrace confrontation--it really is sometimes the only thing you can do.
* Take responsibility for your own happiness.

If you work on your own improvement instead of trying to control others, healthier relationships at work, as well as everywhere else, will then come to you as a result. -Thanks to "Anonymous"

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