1. DO NOTHING
2. DELAY GRATIFICATION
3. DEAL WITH YOUR FEELINGS
Why do nothing? Because whatever we have been doing and saying hasn’t made us happy so far. We aren’t living the life we want, which is why we are reading this now. We are looking for an answer we don’t have. We do nothing in order to release everybody and everything from our control. Control that we felt we had to exert to ensure that nobody or nothing could hurt us. It means to stop saying and doing anything other than the basics. We don’t yet know what is driving us, so we might land up hurting ourselves as well as others in our attempts to control.
How do we do nothing. Quite simply we do the essentials only. We get up in the morning, attend to ourselves, go to work and come home again. We eat well, drink plenty of water, sleep well. We buy groceries as we need them and go to appointments we cannot cancel. Otherwise we isolate from any distractions for as long as it takes. This will drive us crazy at first but we must see this through in order to learn and perhaps change. Letting go and trusting that the world will turn anyway without us in control is the biggest step so far. If we are in a relationship and this is not a safe person, you may need to have a safe area or even move away while dealing with this as it may affect your recovery. If there is somebody about whom you can trust, secure their cooperation. If you cannot isolate, try a 12-step program where there are many people in the same boat. They have rules that help keep you safe.
What now? It is a time now to reflect, to sit back and let the world go by. We deserve a break, time to reflect on our past how it hasn’t given us what we wanted and to experience what comes up for us now. Busy-ness is a distraction, a way to avoid feelings, things we’d rather not deal with. Until we stop and do nothing we will likely never get to see who we really are. This must be done in conjunction with the other two steps.
Why do we delay gratification? Since we are being driven by unconscious unmet legacy needs we need to get in touch with them.
We delay gratification because it heightens our feelings, the craving, much like a smoker who hasn’t had a smoke for too long. He suffers withdrawal symptoms. We are usually compulsive or addicted in some fashion, even if it’s as innocent as chocolate. So we usually set out to meet the craving before we become consciously aware of it. It becomes a habit. In doing so we often make life worse for ourselves and those close to us.
How do we delay gratification? We must do this step in conjunction with the others. Things that are nice-to-have’s will not drive us crazy. We can let these go; do nothing about them for now.
How do we identify the crazy-making cravings? It’s the ones that we FEEL we MUST have met. These are the ones that are likely driven by feelings we cannot yet identify.
What to do? When we identify the ones that DO drive us crazy we act in the following way. As soon as we notice them, write down what it is we are wanting to do and why, and describe as best we can the feelings that are associated with this craving. Keep doing this until you feel you have most of them identified. Now comes the hard part. We have to share these with another person. Preferably somebody we can trust like your partner, your church vicar or a professional psychologist who is skilled in the area of dealing with past (unresolved childhood) issues. This may be hard stuff to admit. But do remember that validation is what we are after, not judgments or criticism.
DEAL WITH OUR FEELINGS
Why deal with our feelings? Quite simply whether we acknowledge them or not they drive us. Along with our beliefs about ourselves and the world, we respond with feeling and we make decisions and choices taking these into account. We carry old patterns of responding from childhood (which we had to adopt in order to survive so they are well ingrained) which most times do not work for us as adults. We respond much as we did as a child, out of fear. As an adult we are expected to act out of confidence honesty, integrity, from strength, with compassion, commitment, and awareness. That’s hard when we spent most of our childhood just surviving. We didn’t have a chance to learn how to do that. As an adult we often act with deceit and dishonesty, or just plain secretly, covertly trying to get what we feel we need manipulating and controlling anything that gets in our way. We KNOW what we are doing, but we will find a way to ‘dump’ our feelings often times justifying our bad behavior by blaming others – ‘They made me do it’. It allows us to avoid accepting how we behaved and feeling so bad about it – we can say ‘They deserved that.’ We just don’t yet know how to respond appropriately to perceived hurtful situations or when getting our needs is thwarted. That will come in time.
What now? We now need to acknowledge that we got hurt, really badly! It’s called grieving. We grieve the loss of our childhood, what we didn’t learn and grow to accept who we are now. We basically start all over, but recognize we cannot ever regain our childhood, but we can learn what we missed back then. Its hard. Being our own parent now. That is why a safe support person is necessary to reflect back how we are doing. To act as a surrogate parent. Over time we will overcome the bad behavior and substitute new ways of behaving. It’s like hacking a new path through a jungle and consciously taking the new path for a while, and trying to avoid the old path until it grows over enough that it is impassable.
How do we deal with our feelings? Slowly. At a pace we can handle. Depending upon how bad a life we had, and we cannot know because our reality is already distorted by our own past. We will only begin to know this as we share with others our life, have it validated and can relate to others who have been healthy or have gone this path before us and can relate back to us just how bad it REAL-ly was for us. Each time we feel something, do nothing about it, just feel it. Try to ignore for now the desire to act on it. It is important to just get out into the open what we are suffering from. These coping strategies were put there by our need to survive. We are coping and they are no longer needed.
As an adult (we don’t feel like one but we are), we can re-parent ourselves and change who we have become. This may take some time, but it is important to remember that we need validation through sharing and to have reflected back how we are doing when we take steps to change. The changes may seem scary. Letting go of the old way is hard. It kept us safe, despite not getting us what we really wanted. We will relapse occasionally too, but we forgive ourselves and try again. Not forgetting to admit we made a mistake and set about making amends to those we hurt. This is important otherwise we find ourselves abandoned by our partner or closest friends during our growth, our re-birth.
We often do not mean to hurt somebody but our rebirth is a learning process and we are going to make mistakes. It helps those we impact understand we mean no harm. It keeps our lines of communications open. The more open the better, even if it feels too vulnerable. Most people can relate. Those who can’t probably have similar issue to those we are trying to remedy, so be gentle on them. We also need to learn to give. Up to now we wanted relationships in order to TAKE what we needed. We cannot do that in the same way now. We must be open about our needs and seek out a person who can give consciously to us. Likewise we must listen for their needs and GIVE to them what they want. That way its mutual and loving and nurturing. It means letting go of control and trusting that our partner will commit to this, but it usually works out over time just fine.
We also have to learn to openly ask for what we want. You’ll be surprised who will answer your needs! Usually more functional people respond to more functional honest requests. We all need love which means if we are all taking, there isn’t much love being given out. Our culture makes many demands upon its population in terms of time and taxation. Over generations it has become worse and a sense of wanting something back has been building and passed on down through the generations. Perhaps that is why our western culture is in so much trouble of late, we are all to busy taking that its hard to find somebody who’s learned to give. If you find that rare person hold onto them. Practice lots giving too, the benefits will soon become apparent in what is returned over time.
How do we change? This is going to need input from many sources. The library and book stores have many self-help books. Look for practical guides. Try modeling behavior after a trusted person who is doing well in life. Seek professional guidance from somebody who is skilled in the area of re-parenting ones self. Above all be open and honest about our feelings and needs. It may seem like the opposite of what we did to survive as children, but it is the only way other people can get to really know YOU. They will also share with you their experiences and presto we have a connection. If it feels right, go with it. If it feels wrong, leave the situation and reflect. That’s how good relationships grow. The pattern will seem unfamiliar at first. Not like the old family(er) pattern of alcoholics, drug users, workaholics, compulsive relationships, but something more wondrous and perhaps so far ON base that it feels scary. Be careful to examine the situation or relationship carefully before responding though, our old tendency was to sabotage ourselves with our old ‘safe’ but bad behavior. Take your time and feel, feel, feel.