Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude

Gratitude, the theme of Thanksgiving day, can be hard to conjure when the world around us seems to be falling apart due to addiction and its consequences. But conjure it we must. Not only because of the holiday, but even more because it is one of the keys to the castle of serenity and well-being that is our birthright whether or not the addict is drinking or drugging.

I've heard it said that 'gratitude is the plug into the power of the universe' and I believe this to be true. When I begin my day with gratitude, I feel a surge of energy and happiness, a reminder of that which is good and right in my life and in the universe, no matter what is going on.

Let's face it: When things are tough for any reason (addiction, finances, lost job, lost love, the state of the world, etc.), it can be difficult to put the focus on what is going right. Yet, that's when it is so important to do so. The old saying 'That which you put your attention to grows stronger in your life' is more than a truism. Everytime we break through the negativity in our lives and put our attention on what's going right, we give strength to that rightness in our hearts and minds, and the rightness, the things we are grateful for expand in our lives.

But don't believe me. Try it for yourself. Begin each day with a list of the people, places, and things you are grateful for. Find at least five things each day and watch your list grow as you increase the power of your attention to the people, places, and things that bring you joy! Do it for 25 days. Start with just doing it in the morning and feel free to send your lists to this blog as comments!

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the day by keeping the focus on you and what you are grateful for.

With Love and Thanksgiving for all of you in my life!

Recovery Coach Bev
786 859 4050
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009


What does this 12 slogan mean when it comes to living, loving, and/or working with an addict?

To think is to breathe deeply and to allow first impulses to pass before determining action. This is extremely important when it comes to dealing with a person under the influence or recovering from being under the influence.

It is in fact, the difference between reacting and responding, going off the handle and staying calm, being at effect or being at cause.

Let's take an example: Let's say the person you care about (who happens to be an addict or alcoholic) just made a decision to spend all of your savings on a second honeymoon for the two of you in Hawaii. Naturally, you may be filled with conflicting emotions: romanticism, nostalgia for when you could actually afford such a trip, anger that they would even think of investing your emergency fund in a two week vacation, frustration at their impulsivity, sadness that you cannot afford this wonderful trip plus be able to save for a rainy day, madness that they made such an important decision without consulting you.

So, what do you do?

For many codependents, we are so used to having to react quickly to situations, that we simply freak out, say whatever comes to our minds, impulsively say yes and then no, no and then yes, etc...

But what does THINK guide us to do?

Stop for a moment and breathe slowly, deeply, deliberately. Let it sink in. Watch all of the thoughts of anger, criticism, happiness, sadness, fear, etc., pass.

We may say the Serenity Prayer in order to center ourselves within. (God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.)

Then, we might just say something, like, "Wow. This is huge. Let me take a moment to think about this one. You made a big decision there. I've got to take this one in."

And if necessary, more breaths and centering.

THINK is like that. It's a STOP sign we put up in front of our mouths, while our hearts and minds take in what we have just heard or seen.

At that point, we may feel calm enough to share how we feel about the situation, calmly and lovingly, or we may say something like, "That is an interesting idea. I need some time to think about it. Do me a favor and don't reserve the tickets until I have some times to gather my thoughts, okay?"

Handling a situation calmly gives you time to respond fully, thoughtfully, and carefully, while allowing you to treat your loved one with dignity and respect. Once you have had that time, whether five minutes, five hours, or five days, you will have a completely different perspective than you had in the heat of the moment. You will be able to use "I" statements and "you" messages in a calm tone of voice that reflects the serenity you have worked to maintain through your prayer and meditation life. You might say, calmly and lovingly, "Honey, when you make a decision for the two of us without consulting me and with our funds so limited, I feel touched that you want to spend time with me in such a special place, and at the same time, extremely worried about our finances, and even angry not to have had a voice in the decision."

For many of us, responding in such a calm, detached way feels like it would be difficult and even fake. But when the alternative is a bunch of expletives and anger spewed out that could damage the relationship even further than it already is damaged, writing down and even rehearsing a loving response to the impulsive irratic behavior our addicts sometimes exhibit, is really not a bad idea. What we are doing is going from reacting (just saying whatever hits us at the time) to responding (hearing, listening deeply, thinking, reflecting, and then giving our ideas and feelings in a thoughtful, loving manner).

But what if the situation demands an immediate response? What if your loved one shows up completely drunk or high and you need to act quickly? Again, THINK can come in handy.

Take that deep breath before you open your mind. Remember the tools you have in your arsenal such as First Things First, How Important Is It?, Easy Does It, The Serenity Prayer.

Even when you must respond quickly, the key is to THINK first, to gather your inner resources and to RESPOND, not react, to the circumstance.

It is possible to be a loving person, even in a difficult situation, but not when you are allowing your impulses to take over.

You may be angry or sad to see your loved one in such bad shape, but that does not give you the right to call them every name in the book or to put them down. Even if it did give you that right, it wouldn't do any good. Remember, talking to someone who is under the influence is like talking to a wall. Rather, you might do anything from showing them the door, to giving them a sofa to sleep on, getting yourself and your children away from them, to calling the cops. Each situation will warrant a different response. And it is your frame of mind, your ability to collect yourself by taking that moment to get spiritually centered and THINKING on your feet, that will allow you to handle the situation with your God-given dignity and grace, rather than returning insanity with insanity. While you are taking that moment, you may take the phone, go into another room, and call your sponsor (12 step guide) or your coach to get another perspective from someone not directly affected by the situation.

Living, loving or working with a person addicted to a harmful substance or behavior can be one of life's greatest challenges. Using the tools of the 12 step programs to develop our inner calm and awareness, can make it one of life's greatest gifts.

So the next time you are confronted with a difficult situation, in your face, try to THINK rather than just react, use your tools to respond with your inner dignity and grace intact.

In the meantime, have a wonderful week and Keep the Focus on You!

All the best!

Beverly Buncher
aka Recovery Coach Bev
786 859 4050

Please note:
These blogs are designed to provide those who love, live and/or work with addicts with food for thought. They are not designed to replace the wonderful support available to co-addicts in programs like naranon, alanon, gamanon, and s-anon. These 12 step programs offer meetings all over the world. You can find their listings on their web sites:

There are people at these meetings who have dealt and continue to deal with the rampage that addiction can bring into the lives of those affected by someone else's using. Feel free to call me to find out more or to check out their websites for more information.

In addition, having a coach can intensify the pace of growth in these areas. If you feel you would benefit, give me a call or send an email and let's have an introductory, no-obligation session.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What does surrender look like?

Surrender. Let it go. Let go and let God.These are words that we hear in 12 step meetings and say to each other in between. When it comes to relating to people, places and things outside of ourselves, sometimes it's either surrender or die inside. Yet, we often hold on, afraid of what will happen if we let go.

Indeed, one of the hardest things to face is that addicts need us to be role models of sane living more than they need us to take care of them.

So, what does it mean to surrender and how do we do it?

First of all, for our purposes, we will define surrender as " to give up". In order to keep the focus on ourselves, we need to give up control of another person, place or thing. We relinquish this control to the care of the Higher Power of our understanding. And the reason why we do so is that we are finding that the controlling we have been doing has not been achieving the result we wish it to achieve... and even if it has been, the price we have paid for that control, in terms of lost peace of mind and sanity, has been far too high.

"But," any good codependent will counter, "if I don't control my addict/husband/wife/brother/grown child, etc., they'll fall apart! They need me to take care of them. Believe me, I'd like nothing more than to let them handle their life, but without me they'd fall apart completely. And i just couldn't cope with that! It would kill me!"

So, then comes the next question: How good a job are you doing? And at what price to you personally?

The fact is that most of the time, when we are  taking care of things others are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, a few things happen:
1. we stop taking care of important parts of our own lives
2. they come to rely on our help and don't use or ever develop their own capacity to take responsibility for their own lives.
3. even worse than that, when we use our time or money to handle their responsibilities, they don't have to use theirs...

In the case of an addict or alcoholic, this can be deadly. Literally. After all, they have to do something with their leftover time and money. - Wait, I know, could it be buy and use drugs???

When we say "uncle" or "I give up God. You help him." we are starting a new journey toward taking care of our lives and being the role model of sanity that we are promised to become by working the steps.

Let's look at this whole idea of why we don't want to surrender:
There could be a few reasons: fear of what will happen to the addict, fear of how we will cope with not knowing, fear of how we will cope if something happens to the addict, and no idea of how to live our lives without the addict at the center of it.

To all of these there is a simple answer.
First, realize that you are not God. That what you have been doing has not been working, that in fact it is hurting not only the addict, but you as well.
Second, realize that there is a Power greater than you who will help you live a happy and sane life and can potentially do the same for the addict or alcoholic in your life, if you will JUST GET OUT OF THE WAY.

It's the simplest idea, yet so difficult to implement. When we have wrapped our lives around others for so long, to simply unentangle our grasp can be a major undertaking. That is why the idea of surrendering, of letting go, is so powerful. We are not simply abandoning our loved ones. Rather, we are giving them over to a Power that can truly make a difference in their life, should they decide to participate.

In the meantime, when we let go, we can build a happy meaningful life for ourselves.

So let go and let God. Allow your addict or alcoholic or other loved one whom you have been carrying to grow up by no longer carrying them. Let God carry them and you.

And remember, you don't have to go it alone! There are 12 step programs for family members where you will find others who can help you walk this path successfully along with them!

And if you feel a coach would help, feel free to give me a call as well.

Until next week, Focus on Yourself!

Please post your comments and questions. I would love to hear your perspective!

All the Best,

aka recoverycoachbev
786 859 4050
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