WHEN I’M CONFUSED
it’s OK to ask for help
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REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
They are by definition, about the future, whether 5 seconds or 5 yrs from now. But ACoAs want to know how everything is going to turn out NOW, to quell a little of our anxiety. We assume that without our interference (control) we will always be in danger, as we often were in childhood. What danger? As kids we were just as harshly treated if we spilling our milk, talked back or stole something. No nuances, no degrees of value, no room for lack of knowledge, accidents or human error. In the present, ACoAs continue to give the same importance to all situations & all outcomes. This is not accurate or healthy.
• ACoAs are known for only thinking in B & W. Our traumatized WIC still doesn’t know there are ‘gray’ areas / possibilities, and certainly doesn’t believe there are any actual positive, kind, safe options for us – only bad, scary, dangerous people and situations that have to be white-washed to make tolerable, because we aren’t allowed to see things realistically or leave. “Should I get a divorce or have a dinner party?” asked one very distraught ACoA woman. Hmmm.
IRONY: The WIC can only see and is drawn to the unsafe ‘people, places & things’ in life, but since that is intolerable for most of us, we compensate by not acknowledging who or what is truly dangerous. We walk right up to it, say hello & then take it home with us! And then wonder why the outcomes are so often hurtful or disappointing! We’re not crazy – just blinded by our own denial.
EXP: Telling someone you don’t want to do something, or forgetting to make a call is NOT as dangerous as walking alone thru the Central Park at night, or depending on a narcissist – for anything…. Unfortunately, many of us are more afraid of the former than the latter!
• Al-Anon says: “Take the action & let go of the results”. This is another hard thing for ACoAs to do. ‘Letting go’ is not in our vocabulary. Because of the WIC’s fear that the whole world is an unsafe place – as our original family was – we try to control every outcome. BUT danger is not the only possibility beyond our family, in spite of all the bad things that do happen in the larger world, which none of us caused nor can fix. Not every situation or person is equally safe (idealized) OR equally dangerous (devalued). The reality is that there are good people & positive circumstances we can interact with, once the WIC & PP are no longer in charge of our choices!
In reality, there are some outcomes:
a. that we do need to be responsible for – so the results have at least a chance of being favorable, first to ourselves, & then to our loved ones, our work projects, & perhaps even the world – when applicable. How things turn out will partially depend on how we behave & what actions we choose, and partially on outside forces.
• Many times we can make an educated guess about the outcome of a date, meeting or event, which is not mind-reading, projection or wishful thinking. Rather, such ‘predictions’ are based on logic, knowing what’s real & sane, using previous experience, education & intuition. But since we are taught to deny all of these – we don’t take advantage of what we already know.
• If we’ve been thru a particular situation several times AND are willing to acknowledge what we’ve observed and felt, then our behavior & the actual outcome will improve without a lot of agonizing, like: — NOT dating an addict, again
— NOT going to an abusive parent for emotional comfort, again
— NOT taking another job that doesn’t suit our talents
— NOT not handling our money wisely….
b. that we can not possibly control, because we’re not all-powerful, in spite of that some ‘spiritual’ or philosophical teachings insist on. Nor are we all-knowing, even tho ACoAs believe we’re supposed to be, & feel ashamed & self-hating when we aren’t. This is magical, narcissistic thinking. And this kind of ‘not knowing’ sends some ACoAs into a panic, bad enough to paralyze, because we assume the outcome will be the same as all the previous times, & like our childhood.
We can NOT predict the outcome of encounters or situations —
i. which NO human can know ahead of time. Even very psychic people don’t have all the answers! We can not know things like —
— the outcome of medical tests, procedures or medicines
— how someone is going to react when pushed to their limit
— when we’re going to met the ‘right one’
— how our children will turn out
— whether cold-calling will get us business
— when we’re going to die….
ii. when we don’t have enough info about them ahead of time, like how a new experience is going to turn out (first time in a groups, moving to a new job or location…. ), what value you’ll get from taking a class, how your relationship will work out in the long run, where Recovery will take us in life….
EXP: No matter what you think of the Kardashians, Kim’s comments to Oprah about the ‘reason’ her recent marriage broke up after 2 1/2 months speaks to the lack of info: she said they had never spent time together alone, so that once they were under the same roof on a daily basis, she realized they were at all incompatible.
• Naturally that suggests to all of us that some situations need to be researched more thoroughly before we jump in, as in “Look before you leap”. So we’re back to: “Take the action & let go of the result”, or – do the best you can & learn from the outcome.
Taking actions – The best way to learn how you function in the world is by trial & error – IF you have enough info & a decent support system to guide you. Try out 2-3 different ways to say or do something, & then evaluate the results.
• In most cases you can change your mind before or even during an activity, without major repercussions, so your decisions don’t have to be written in stone. ALWAYS have PLAN B. in case things don’t work out to your benefit.
• IF you still can’t take a particular action, keep working on:
— your negative beliefs, & the anxiety they create
— the connection to your PP (too strong)
— with your WIC (not strong enough)
— validating your needs & hopes, while practicing your boundaries
BROADEN you horizons. Not all RISK is dangerous. Keep trying new things.
NEXT: Why are you stuck? (with Chart)