ACoAs: DIS-comfort & Comfort (Part 4a)

uncomfortable brainI HATE HAVING TO
wait for results!

Dis-comfort & Comfort #2

<—- CHART 

SITEsHow to Practice Being Comfortable in Uncomfortable Situations
— 3 Rules for uncomfortable conversations  (excellent) 

QUOTE: “Growth & comfort do not exist” ˜Ginny Rometty, CEO of IBM (Article)

1. Negative Comfort
2. Negative Dis-comfort

Trying out new healthy thinking & actions make us feel anywhere from uncomfortable to highly anxious. It means disobeying all the toxic rules, going against our training, dropping off of the family mobile, & bottom line: forcing the brain to find new pathways of functioning. Too much prolonged stress causes physical ailments & psychological paralysis. That’s why we need to go slowly. Work on whatever issues you can tackle at the moment – ones that are the least scary. As you grow you’ll gain the emotional strength & mental clarity to tackle deeper one – like really ‘getting’ how much damage you have – without S-H or overwhelm, letting go of unsafe family & friends……

For ACoAs Growth means leaving behind our unhappy childhood to take our rightful place in the world – living in our True Self.leaving-home
This is very uncomfortable because our family discouraged & punish any effort to exert ourselves – for ourselves. And since personal growth is a slow process we often live in uncertainty & confusion – between what we’ve always thought & felt, & what we aspire to become. In-between states are always uncomfortable & sometimes scary, but as we keep going we do see positive changes that encourage us. “Easy does it, but do it” (MORE...)

PROCESS  (See post)
☛ Get started. This is often our biggest difficulty putting things off that we actually want to do! as well as those we dread or find too tedious to bear, for all the reasons listed in previous posts (procrastination).  What’s ironic and sad (for ourselves) is that most of the time when we finally take the action it’s not such a big deal, doesn’t take as long as we thought, & we usually like the result – or at least are relieved. (see posts re. Action)

☛ Don’t Quit. Some of us are over-responsible, over-doers…. & others of us just obsess about doing, but rarely pull the trigger. Then there are the in-betweeners – those of us who start things but never seem to get around to continuing (keep going to the gym, stick to a food regimen, attend meetings….) or finishing  projects. (See postsManipulating – 2b & 2c”). The WIC & the PP get in the way of going for the gold, so we let ourselves get distracted. The 3 As are useful here:
1. Become Aware of what’s really stopping you from pursuing a positive goal. It will always be something from our earliest training & experiences.

2. Be in Acceptance – allow yourself any emotions the awareness brings up. Don’t try to fix or change deep-seated patterns by brute force (control, S-H, forcing solutions). Continue using all the tools of Recovery programs & remember that re-forming your brain takes a long time.

3. Take Actions. Give yourself credit for the actions you are already taking. Don’t fret about what you can’t DO yet If you’re confused about what to do, make a list of the things you used to be interested in &/or still are. Look up what’s available in classes, groups… that can get you started. Some (useful) action is better than none. If you’re stuck for idecourage zoneas, talk it over with safe people who know you & can give you suggestion. Then follow thru. You don’t have to know what the end goal is & you don’t have to like the choice you’ve made – it’s won’t be a life changing mistake – only more info about who you are.

There’s no doubt that all forms of growth (personal, professional…) takes courage – which is taking actions in the face of our fear. Courage is not needed if we’re not afraid, but we can’t wait until we’re not afraid to try new things.

 NEXT: Dis-comfort & Comfort #3b


What to DO when CONFUSED (Part 2)


I can make a better decision

PREVIOUS:What can you do (Part 1)

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

Because in most of our families every experience carried equal weight – always boring & unavailable or dramatic & dangerous – we never got the chance to learn ‘sane’ ways of accomplishing things, which includes: Having options, nuances & small chunks…. (Part 1), AND —
Prioritizing activitiesask yourself, or the boss, what needs to be done, & in what order: immediately (past due), in the near future (this month), in the next few months, or whenever you can fit it in. Al-anon teaches us to ask: “How important is it?”

This can be hard for ACoAs to answer
— if the goal, task, activity… is strictly for ourselves. After all, no good co-dependent is self- motivated. We can move mountains for others but not even a pebble for ourselves
— AND when the I.C. has a lot of anxiety & wants to do something – immediately, the self-destructive way, to douse the fires of old terror.

Compulsive behavior is always a way to deflect painful emotions we don’t want to feel & don’t compulsionknow how to deal with OR that we have the tools for, in Recovery, but don’t want to use them! Automatically giving our screaming kid what it wants – especially when unhealthy – retards our growth & can easily interfere with taking care of our present-day practical needs.
EXP:  The kid may be screaming: “I want a new jacket! / I want to have sex with —- (unhealthy, abusive, unavailable person)! /  I want a cigarette! / I don’t want to work!” etc.

SO – Before you impulsively DO what the kid wants, like rush right out & buy something or call that unavailable person – check in with yourself:
● Will taking this action AND/OR spending this money create problems in taking care of my other needs (protecting my kid from more abandonment & abuse, caring for my health, paying rent, food, meds or other bills?)
● If the answer is YES – then think twice about taking that action.  If the impulse is very strong, call someone who can help you deal with the painful EMOTIONS which are behind the anxiety. Do an Al-Anon phone meeting, pray or meditate, go to the gym, read soothing literature, take a walk ….

Once you’ve made a priority list, only do one thing on it – if that’s all the time you have. If that one thing also has to be cut down into chunks, do one & then mark it off. Seeing the tasks ticked off can be satisfying & encourages us to do more the next day / next time. High powered executives only to a few things at the top of their list every day. Of course most of us don’t have a staff to do the little stuff, but REMEMBER – without inner conflict most things take a lot of less time than we think!

One of the many reasons ACoAs have trouble making decisions is that we either don’t know we have any alternative choices or we’re not allowed to make use of any options we’re aware of. We’re stuck following a pre-set course & nothing else is possible – for us!

EXP: It always amazed Bonita that some women could just walk out on a date if they didn’t like how it was going – more than one women in a restaurant has excused herself “to the bathroom” & then snuck out the back. What a concept! In her younger days she never would have thought of that, much less done it.

THE “LAW”: Being trapped as kids in endlessly dire situations without any possible ‘out’ left ACoAs with the Toxic Rule: “If you don’t like it you have to stay”. Controlling parents also taught us: “It’s MY way or the highway”  & “Who do you think you are?”.  Not only were not allowed to leave bad situations, but we shouldn’t think for ourselves or disobey the ruling demigods – lest we be destroyed!parents as god
• That is how the WIC actually experienced our parent(s): as ‘gods’, and disobedience = our death. If that seems extreme, remember the intensity of your terror, as an adult, when you’ve said NO to a parent or mate, or tied something totally our of your comfort zone. Haven’t yet?  As long as we still hold these crippling belief we have little or no wiggle room, making it hard to impossible to take actions in a considered & effective way.

EXP: Shona’s father had given her a few of his extra tools to use in her first apartment after college. 20 yrs later she was still struggling to making do with limited & outdated implements for every repair job, no matter how unsuited they were for a particular task!
Eventually Shona realized this was a metaphor for the way she lived the rest of her life, & decided to work on expanding her sense of possibilities – starting at the most practical, undramatic level. Anytime she was out shopping, she’s stop in a hardware store & just LOOK at the huge variety of items – each made for a specific operation! Imagine being able to make life easier by having the right tool!

APPLY this to all areas of life – & start by finding out what’s available. While there are realistic limits to our capacities & to what’s possible in the world we live in, they are NOT nearly as narrow as we believe. In T.E.A. terms, Emotions also have a wide range of expressions, just as there are many ways to Think about something & a variety of ways to DO things.
The latter can certainly apply to small daily choices like what to wear or eat —> all the way to big ones like where to live, which jobs & relationships to pick or stay in…. One teacher drills this statement into his audience month after month: “Don’t be negative, just be open!” – a new rule to live by.

NEXT: What  to DO when… (Part 3



needs a healthy foundation!

PREVIOUS: Healthy Trust (#2)


ATTITUDES that DEVELOP our ability to TRUST
Diminished fear: many of us will have to ‘act as if’ until we feel safer because old fear from the past can linger, & ‘new’ fear usually depends on our negative self-talk & staying with unrecovered people. Remember – “If it’s hysterical, it’s  historical”. The less FoA & S-H we have the less our day-to-day fear.  In any case, we can’t afford to let fear restrict all our interactions & activities

Having hope in the overall good will of mankind: without it we become isolated & emotionally stuck. This comes from learning to recognize & pull out the ‘weeds & parasites’ in our life, & knowing that not everyone is narcissistic or dangerous

A healing environment: good therapists, healers, teachers, recovery & spiritual groups.  As we grow we can change how we interact with our significant others, which will lessen blame, accusations & acrimony from all sides

Self-acceptance: to do this we have to know who we are – good points & weaknesses.  There’s NO room for self-abuse, only realistic assessment of ALL our qualities, abilities & knowledge.  Improved self-esteem makes it safer to get close to people without fear of abuse or abandonmentrue inner-selft

Self-disclosure of our damage:  Al–anon suggests that “You’re only as sick as your secrets”, so we need to air out our pain & distorted thinking – but ONLY in safe places & with healthy people

More openness: Others can’t connect with us if we keep hiding our True Self.  With Recovery we can risk being appropriately open with the right people, who have proven themselves kind & supportive, so that they can get to know & appreciate us

Reducing Competitiveness: ACoAs don’t always want exactly what others have, but are envious (between 2 people) & jealous (between 3) because they’re getting their needs met BUT we’re not allowed to! We feel deeply powerless & end up enraged & obsessed.  As we take better care of ourselves there will be less desire for competition, defensiveness & accusations of unfairness, reducing the barriers between us & others

Remembering the balance of life: the “Boomerang Effect’’ shows us that if we are dishonest, Reversemistrusting, narrow-minded… we assume everyone else is too, & are more likely to meet up with the same type.  BUT if we practice being sincere, respectful, kind, open-minded (but not foolish), most people will respond by showing us their best side too. This is not the same as being a victim or people-pleaser, which some people can’t resist taking advantage of
✶                            ✶                              ✶                              ✶
When I have a strong Inner Core, I choose better situations & people to be involved with so I can:
a. Trust myself – rely on MY:
• abilities   • accomplishments  • competence   •  integrity    • intrinsic human worth
• intuition    • judgment   • observationsboundaries  • perceptions
• principles  • strengths    • values

b. Trust others – rely on them TO:
• act in my best interest   • be competent   • be reliable
• be truthful  • do what they say they will do   • keep their promises   • stay interested in me   • take my side

c. Trust an intimate – rely on them to NOT:
• abuse me  • attack me   • betray me   • contradict me  • criticize me
• disappoint me   • discount me     • embarrass me   • hurt me  • ignore me   • judge me  • leave me  • lie to me • reject me  • upset me
• make me do something I don’t want to do   • ridicule me   •  think less of me   • take advantage of me  • tell my secrets   • threaten me  • try to control me   • turn against me
• undermine me      (by Burt Giges)

Re Themselves
• be honest with themselves and us in important matters
• tell us their truth, or if they don’t feel safe doing so, be clear as to why
• opt for compromise when we differ on important matters
communication• consistently keep their promises to us
• be respectfully direct and assertive with us, rather than aggressive or submissive
Re Us
• accept us for who we are – rather than what we sound like, how we look,  or what we do or have
• affirm & encourage us in troubled times  (VS. ignore or criticize)
• appreciate our personal talents as well as accept our limitations
• balance our flaws & mistakes with the good they see in us
• confront us directly when they need to, in a loving, sympathetic way (VS. shaming or being insensitive)

• listen to us with compassion, when we need to vent (VS. fix us / solve our problems fgood listeneror us)
• respect  our choice of friends, activities, and spirituality (VS. automatically agree with)
• respect our needs, opinions, habits, and beliefs – equally with their own – even if we conflict
• respect our limits and boundaries, including times when we need privacy or solitude  (it’s not a rejection)
• understand and empathize with us, within their limits

NEXT: How to Trust