Category Archives: Addiction

Increasing Self-Esteem is the Foundation for Emotional Recovery

3765077472_55d913c1c2_z“My feelings are that a person is born with innate characteristics, such as a sense of self-worth. As the person grows, environmental factors such as society, family, teachers, or peers can help the person’s self worth either grow and develop fruitfully or be weakened.”

“Self esteem, like so many other characteristics, can be learned or unlearned. Yes, we are born with our personalities, but through time, growth and experience, these can be altered through learning, attitude, motivation and inspiration when external forces work on internal forces.”

“In the event of a person being born with a chemical imbalance, which predisposes him/her to anxiety or depression, we must make a shift in thinking. A person with an anxiety disorder or depression may have to work a bit harder to find happiness and a sense of self-worth, but these certainly are treatable conditions and the person can still live a wonderful life of high quality.” K.C. Kelley

Addictions are the bandage covering the wound of not feeling worthy. I just discovered in 2010, that my primary addiction was to my family of origin—the family I grew up in. I have a picture of myself at age 5 which is about when I started thinking that I was terribly unfit to be in this family. There was always fighting, drama and violence. We had our loving times, too. I believe that my parents did the best they could. When describing those years, I love what ACA says about The Problem: “This is a description, not an indictment.”

But until I began healing my painful self beliefs, my self-confidence was very fragile. As I allowed those beliefs to change and become my new foundation, I became a person unafraid of what harm anyone could do to me. After i learned to love all of me, I was able to accept the rejection of others. I saw that they were just like me–they were only rejecting themselves. All hatred is really self-hatred.

I love group therapy because I believe all mental health to be transitory. So someone in a group is well at any given time. It is like a football we pass around. Sometimes we are “it” and sometimes we’re in a crazy zone.

In the self-discovery model of group healing, everyone in the group is a student. The sharing of power in relationships defines the health of the relationship. No hierarchy is needed when people enter groups to help each other. The leadership of the group can be shared by all on a rotation basis.

The group members in the self-discovery group must agree to follow guidelines that the group chooses. The main goal of the group should be short-term with the idea of splitting up to form new groups. Some people may choose to recycle–repeat the same group–before branching out to their own group. After 2-3 times recycling, the other group members may help with the formation of new group to a group member who needs more support.

I have created a blog about creating peer groups. How to Start and Grow a Recovery Peer Group Sharing Experience, Strength, and Hope.

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Accepting Our Core Issues in Addiction Recovery

Dealing with alcoholism and depression means needing a different path than only doing the Twelve Steps for recovery. I don’t believe that my core issues can be solved by the Twelve Steps of any self-help group.

Having grownup in a home controlled by alcoholism, I was able to see my addiction very early into the disease. Thanksgiving, 1976, I told my family that I thought I was an alcoholic. I fully expected everyone to disagree with me because I had not had any outward signs. But, my mother said that she had been afraid of that. So I was stuck with the admission and being the “perfect daughter”, I never drank again and went to AA.

My third month into recovery, I had a radical conversion as described by William James in his The Varieties of Religious Experience. It was instant and I call it ‘”the moment that changed my life.” So I have been trying since 1977 to hear what God’s will is for my life. Many days I have followed my will and called it His. But there has been progress, too.

Our core issues in recovery for those of us who lived in a family of “don’t ask–don’t tell” include the following:

1. From Want to Know.Info: “Transform Fear Through Core Issue Work”:

“Most of us have one or more core issues or challenges which surface repeatedly over the course of our lives. These issues are usually rooted in deep unexpressed fears. Depending on your perspective, core issues either cause all sorts of problems, or present many opportunities for transformation. When you choose to look at core issues as an opportunity, you are much more likely to transform your fears into learning tools which lead to a better life. Below are the most common core issues, their related fears, and suggestions for dealing with them.”

“Examples of Common Core Issues and Associated Fears”

  • Abandonment – Nobody cares about me. I’m all alone. I don’t matter.
  • Arrogance – I’m better than all of you. I’m too much. I’m right and you’re wrong.
  • Damaged – Something is wrong with me. I’m a failure. I’m damaged.
  • Inferiority – I’m not good enough. I’m stupid. I’m worthless. I’m boring. I’m hopeless.
  • Rejection – I’m a burden. I’m unwanted. Nobody wants to spend time with me.
  • Shame – I’m bad. I’m evil. I’m a mistake. I’m a monster. I’m disgusting. I’m possessed.

“Our core issues often originate from childhood family scenarios. They can be a result of negative messages that were repeated many times to us by our parents or other significant people in our lives. Or one of these beliefs may have been driven deep into us during one or more traumatic experiences. Was one of the above statements drilled into you in your early years?”

2.  In a post on The L.I.S.T ACA Group, a reprint from ACA WSO Webster, lists the “Effects of Abuse and How to Get Past them”, the following suggestions for overcoming abuse are given:

“RECOVERY FROM ABUSE”
1. Share your story – you don’t need to deal with pain alone
2. Believe your story – you have a tendency to discount
3. Establish perpetrator responsibility – recognize it isn’t about you
4. Address the addictions used to numb the pain
5. Realize you can deal with the pain without mood altering substances
6. Learn to recognize, then accept, and then communicate feelings
7. Learn to nurture yourself
8. Build self-esteem and positive body image (affirmations)
9. Deal with family of origin – break the code of secrecy – by writing and talking with other people
10. Learn to be playful
11. Learn that now you do have a chance to live, you do have choices – YOU NEED NOT BE A VICTIM
12. Take back your power – act responsibly, set boundaries that feel comfortable, control sexual
behavior – you can control who enters your life
13. Remind yourself of your strengths
14. Learn you can say “No”
15. Learn to give and receive criticism
16. Stop abusing others

Some links about core issues:

3.  PDF of Core Issues to be Addressed for People in Recovery from the Friends of Vermont.

4.  Good article by Bill Urell about the three stages of recovery reminds us that the late stage of recovery is dealing with the underlying issues.

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