Al-Anon STEP 10 – Comments (Part 3)


PREVIOUS: 10th Step #2

SITEs:  8 books for ACoA   ///   Apology GUIDE

AA / Al-Anon Step 10 : “Continued to take personal inventory & when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

1. Daily Inventory

2. AND WHEN WE’RE WRONG  (cont.)

c. Something that did not hurt or upset another, but which we’re convinced did. Again, this is our narcissism – projecting how we’d feel if….. In fact, what we’re obsessing about may not have even registered, or if it did – it didn’t bother them.

So, before apologizingASK  “When I said/did ——, how did you feel?” (done right away, or at the next opportunity).
✔︎ If the other person was not upset, believe them & drop it!
THEN if you insist on explaining, justifying…. it’s not at all about making an amend to —-> the other person.
Instead – it’s all about you, trying to get them to make you feel better

✘ If it did bother them, then we can apologize, but not in a self-serving way by trying to justify our behavior!
However, sometimes BRIEFLY providing a legitimate context is helpful to the other person “I’m so sorry for ———, yesterday my mom was rushed to the hospital // I’d just had a chemo treatment…. // Sometime my brain-injury makes it hard to remember —– ” (Try not to use the word ‘but’ before the explanation!)

d. Human mistakes (not a tragedy). These can come from being tired, under great stress, over-doing or from ignorance. We need to have our own internal permission to be ‘normal’ (imperfect), to forgive ourselves & then make any necessary corrections.
Most other people are not as upset about our errors as we are

e. Things we said or did which actually hurt / harmed someone.
Sadly, the WIC still gets things backwards, as with the backwards Serenity Prayer.
We blame ourselves for things that are not wrongs, while having great difficulty owning long-term defense mechanisms : superiority, lying, lateness, insensitivity, laziness, procrastination, S-H ….).
Not noticing our unhealthy behavior is a lack of self-awareness – patterns we think “well, that’s just me” but are actually the False Self, & a deep-seated shame about our True-Self needs.

*    *    *    *    *    *
a. The Program phrase “Let it begin with me” certainly applies here.
If we accurately identify a ‘failing’, we can promptly admit it TO OURSELVES – without shame or S-H.  Hard for many ACoAs to do!

In Recovery we learn that character defects come from the wounded child &/or PP, so even with years of hard work they don’t go away fast or easily. We need to be KIND to ourselves, & patient with our process!
For in-depth info, read posts Outgrowing Co-dep Niceness #6a-7c”, re. Forgiving ourselves.

b. Re. OTHERS – 9th Step procedure applies here too – read post “Outgrowing Co-dep Niceness #8a = Being forgiven by others”.

A sponsor may suggest that “promptly” means to act within 48 hours – not a week or a year.  But for many ACoAs it can take hours or days before we realize we need to make an amend, or to take the time to overcome shame, or calm down from anger, & get some perspective.

As mentioned before, in some cases the person may not accept the amends or want to talk to us at all. Sometimes it’s not safe or even possible to reach them. An abusive boss, a mentally ill family member, a manipulative narcissist, the passive-aggressive….. can easily use a sincere ‘amend’ against us, if not right away, then some later time when it suits them.
We do need to use discretion & be self-protective.

Not wanting to apologize may seem like PRIDE on the surface, but actually it’s:
a. being ASHAMED of not being perfect
b. it’s something that was shamed / punished in our family growing up
To be able to apologize ‘easily’ we can not be choked with SHAME!

💠   💠    💠    💠
Read: ACoA 12 Steps

ACoA 10th Step: “We continued to take personal inventory & to love and approve of ourselves.”
• This is not arrogance or narcissism, but rather, self-care.
• It’s not about being at the extremes of either having to be “right” <—–> or of self-flagellation.
• AND keeping our side of the street clean does NOT mean staying with people who don’t want to be with us, who are subtly abusive or simply incompatible!

By accepting ourselves completely, we can slowly outgrow much of our damage, & uncover our True Self. This minimizes the amount & frequency of acting on character defects. It keeps us from isolating ourselves & judging everyone else.
“Admitting & Accepting” is the mental health of acknowledging our human-ness & the need to be part of the human race.

NEXT: MBTI Introverts

ACoAs: PATIENCE vs Co-dependent Waiting (Part 2)

PREVIOUS: Co-dep vs Patience #3

SITE: How to cope with waiting for news

QUOTE: “Good character is not formed in a week or a month.  It is created little by little, day by day, by protracted patience” – Heraclitus of Ephesus


Co-dep also shows up as IMPATIENCE, annoyance, intolerance, worry, fear & distrust
• It’s demanding what we want, right now (instant gratification), because any delay in getting a need or a desire met is taken by the WIC as a definite “NO – you can’t ever have it, so shut up & go away!” from the PP (Negative Introject)

• It’s rushing relationships, to get that feeling of instant attachment, which is actually symbiosis. It’s an attempt to compensate for present-day fear of Abandonment pain, to make up for not having had that bond as an infant with mom, when it should have occurred

• It’s impulsively rushing into situations without considering whether they’re right for us, or what the consequences will be – to ourselves or others
• It’s pushing our way ahead of others (selfish entitlement) – the unconscious fear of being left behind – while consciously assuming it’s ‘our right’, but is actually childish narcissism
<ADD YOUR OWN kinds of unhealthy co-dep ‘patience’ & impatience>

Fortunately, Recovery gives us an out – a way to identify our damage so we can separate & strip it away from the Real us that’s hidden under all the defenses, separating the Toxic Rules from our Rights. As adults we have very real options, if we’re willing to risk leaving our attachment to the dysfunction.
REMEMBER: We’re damaged (wounded), not defective!

🦋 🐯 🦆 🐳 🦒 🐇

This kind is an ACTIVE response to reality (personal & environmental)
Just like ‘Acceptance‘ does NOT mean giving up or giving in, Patience does NOT mean letting the world trample us.
Nor does it mean ‘taking the moral high ground’ as some spiritual superiority, nor a punishment from the ‘universe’
• It does not imply the hopelessness of being forced to endure suffering & deprivation
• It does not mean being passive, of not taking appropriate actions when necessary to accomplish something, especially if it’s something only we can do. (Posts: Healthy Actions // What to do when confused // Why are you stuck?)

It DOES mean being emotionally mature. This allows us to tolerate delayed gratification, which can only come from lowering the WIC’s intense anxiety. Healthy patience is active in the sense that we choose to wait for a desired outcome, while at the same time actively continuing to live the best way we can – every day.

Real patience :
• requires knowing the difference between Rescuing & Helping, because it takes patience to sit with our own discomfort of not jumping in to someone else’s problems. Knowing the rules for Helping is important. But we can also tell by being physically stressed or relaxed, & our emotions:

— Rescuing / people-pleasing is driven by anxiety (before), a compulsion to compensate for something broken in us. The excitement of ‘doing’ comes from a false sense of connection, & temporary relief of abandonment fear. Afterward – we can feel drained – from overdoing, disappointed if we didn’t get what we wanted in return, & then angry. Here the actions are ALL about us, the WIC trying to cover up S.H.

— True Helping is done from an inner sense of calm & confidencebefore taking action a choice that comes from the Healthy Adult’s enjoyment of sharing our personal talents, knowledge & experience. And we feel pleased, satisfied & comfortable – afterward. We benefit, but it’s not so much about ourselves.

NEXT: Co-dep vs. Patience #3

ACoAs being “RIGHT” (Part 3a)

everyone else is worthless!

PREVIOUS: Being Right (#2)

SITE: 38 (
unhealthy) Ways to Win an Argument w/chart

• ‘The art of being right” = some of those 38 ways explained

▶︎ Right = A belief or action conforming to facts or truth. What is most favorable or desired
❖ Self-righteous = Convinced of one’s own righteousness (being perfect, therefore superior, even when well-hidden from most others), especially in stark contrast to the actions & beliefs of others. Being narrow-mindedly, moralistic. ~ Webster’s dictionary

REMINDER: BR comes in various degrees of intensity. You may have a touch of it, or it may run your whole way of interacting with others.

ACoA addicted to Being Right (aBR)
PAST: We suffered thru an abusive, controlling & neglected upbringing, Constantly forced to give up our way of thinking, doing or feeling around a Right-ist – we reacted as kids by fighting, fleeing, freezing or appeasing, (see Part 1) depending on our personal preference, which became our long-term style.
In general, being flooded with fear & anger temporarily diminishes the capacity to use the frontal cortex, which is needed for thinking, decision-making & self-control. Over time this has had long-term physical & mental consequences. As childhood victims of a Right-ist, we gradually became less able to express ourselves, seemingly less competent & articulate (brain-freeze). We may have seemed stupid, making the bullying Right-ist even more convinced of their superiority.

• With some oppressive authority figures, BR was dangerous because it showed them up & was considered ‘arrogant’, slowly forming our belief that we don’t know anything

• With others, a way to survive & avoid punishment was to always get it right, prove it without mistakes & to justify ourselves – forming the assumption that we must know everything.

🚦Double bind: Some of us were constantly told we were ignorant / stupid / unteachable – while at the same time expected to take care of them as if we were adults trained in several professions!

NOW: Always having to be right can be used as a protective cover, giving us a sense of stability & control. Projecting our scary childhood onto the whole world, we assume everything is still & forever unsafe, thus the assumption we need to be perfect – to prevent further danger.  Still desperate to please so we won’t keep getting abandoned, we wobble on the fence between these 2 false beliefs (know everything, know nothing), inevitably falling off, inevitably feeling miserable. This original dilemma has left us with rage & S-H, alternating between rebellion & paralysis.

• Many grew up with one or more severe narcissist – who always had to have their way. Then some of us took up the Right-ist mantle & carry it forward, tromping on others as we were tromped on. (See Right-ist characteristics – Part 2)

— SUBTLE but pervasive – perfectionism is aBR in disguise. We can keep this obsession better hidden, but the obvious result is decades of procrastination

— BLATANT: Wanting & insisting on getting our own way – most or all of the time – is the narcissism of the False Self, a common character flaw of wounded people (the majority!). We will push & push to get others to see that our way is the not only correct – but the only possibility.

As ‘dedicated’ Right-ists we negate or prevent input from others, no matter how logical. We’re so caught up in this defensive strategy that we’ll argue our point endlessly, trying to manipulate everyone in our life, even other people’s thoughts – especially in situations that are truly & totally beyond our control, such as with the active addicts we love (See “The Serenity Prayer backwards“)

• Feeling superior (aBR), we may not even realize our anxiety is temporarily relieved when we get our way: “I knew I was right! Now that you’ve got that straight, we can go on.” It calms us – our security blanket in our unsafe world. But it’s a false solution because our damage is still lurking in the background, waiting for someone or something to set it off. Unhealed, we’re driven by old, deep terror.

• But like any addiction, having to BR is very stressful – always vigilant, afraid to make a mistake, never truly safe, never comfortable.
While outside it shows up in the form of false pride – the need to feel important or better than everyone else, inside it’s driven by inadequacy & shame – which we may not even be aware of! Especially if we need to be seen as innocent, good & all-knowing, we’ll use charm & manipulation, alternating with anger & intimidation to force our agenda on others.

However, all we end up doing is alienating others by being high maintenance, or taking psychological prisoners of the insecure. In the process we sacrifice our own well-being.

NEXT:  Being right #3b

Co-Dependence Negatives – Intro-b

harder than everyone else!

PREVIOUS: Co-dep Intro-a

SITE: Childhood Trauma Recovery ARCHIVE

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


The HIGH COST of ‘too nice’ (cont)
Co-Dependence & Anger have a reciprocal connection. Some people compensate for their fear/terror of rejection – for having their own needs, opinions & emotions such as anger – by using people-pleasing tactics. They may not have started out angry, but the longer they have to suppress their own needs & feelings, the angrier they get.  ‘Fake-nice’ has its limits, so when we can no longer hold down the rage that’s been building, we can explode outward – at others, OR or implode – on ourselves, getting depressed, physically ill &/or suicidal. (see also 3 posts)

Active Co-deps have not yet learned that:
• it’s normal for everyone to experience anger, being part of the kaleidoscope of emotions we’re born capable of
• we can give ourselves permission to feel & deal with all emotions
• there’s a difference between the WIC’s anger from S-H thoughts & unrealistic demands of others vs. appropriate anger at being victimized by family & others
• the best way to manage anger is to deal with it as soon as we can, each time we feel it – so it doesn’t have a chance to build up
• it’s imperative to find legitimate, effective outlets for anger, so it doesn’t get vented in situations harmful to ourselves or others
(‘Anger & Co-dependency‘. Great site by Dr. Irene)

Michelle Ferris (LMFT) offers 3 Co-Dep traits that breed anger & resentment
1. The Illusion of control — over others (the Serenity Prayer backwards)
2. Being a Superhero — always over-giving, never asking for help
3. The Lie of being FINE — superheroes aren’t supposed to be vulnerable or have needs (MORE….)


In their book “The Givers & Takers“, the authors Evatt & Feld point out that – ironically – Takers are more ‘desirable’, in spite of & because of being less available, less forthcoming & less sensitive. When they do give – it’s more reluctantly, sporadically & for calculated reasons. They’re the ones who lean back instead of forward in their chair when having a conversation, who seem not to need anything, who have an air of mystery. Yet, they’re considered more sexually & socially attractive, while Easy/Soft is considered uninteresting!

The authors believe these are the Introverts of the world, while the Givers are the Extrovert. There may be some validity in that, because Introverts don’t need or want as much contact & interaction with others. But it’s not the whole story.
Introversion is an inborn characteristic & is not a sign of emotional damage.
On the other hand, dyed-in-the-wool Takers are more likely to be trying to compensate for childhood damage – withholding, arrogant, insecure & narcissistic – hiding behind silence, while feeding off of others who chase them.

Now, if you are the co-dependent Giver type, unavailables are like catnip to you – BUT you don’t want to be one of them! You’re too driven to give, sacrifice, be needed, rescue & fix – to be aloof. HOWEVER – if you are indeed an extrovert/ connector type by nature, you really do have a good heart, so it’s imperative you learn to moderate how much you give & to whom – if you want mental health & true safety. (Healthy Helping).

Not the Real you? Angry-niceness is a damage-trait, like all other character defects. The big mistake many of us make is to think these patterns represent our real personality, murmuring: “Well, that’s just who I am, I can’t help it.” Actually, it’s a manifestation of the False Self, rather than written in stone. So the good news is that it can slowly be changed, or at least greatly modified.

NEXT: INTERNAL negatives

Co-Dep Angry-Nice UNDERPINNINGS (Part 2)

to keep you happy! 


BOOK: “Deceived” by Claudia Black, includes 3 types of anger


Co-dependence UNDERPINNINGS (cont)
• Filters – you weed out anything positive about yourself,  your actual accomplishments, positive opportunities….. including the people who actually do recognize value in you, who are willing to help you help yourself…..

• X-ray vision –  inside your personal Fun House, you’re looking into the eyes of everyone distorted mirrorelse trying to see who you are, but only seeing other people or distorted versions of yourself thru their eyes

• Fuzz – like a grey TV screen – whenever extreme terror shuts down your frontal cortex, i.e.. the ability to think at all, OR just that familiar vagueness that comes over you, especially when it’s for your own benefit. Your favorite phrase is: “I’m overwhelmed”. It’s easier to vegg out with favorite distractions than admit what you really feel & need

Magical thinking – you’re sure you have the ‘love’ & the will to fix broken people, & sure you’re doing it out of the goodness of your heart.  But actually – it’s to make them well enough to give you all the things you want for yourself but don’t have a right to get directly

• Mommy Issues – careening thru life looking to finally be rescued & taken care of, secretly scanning everyone you interact with: “Are you my mommy? – Are you my mommy?” Even if you think you only have Daddy issues (yes, they may be very real too), you still needed a strong, healthy mother back then, & where was she???

Nose – even in a room full of ‘normal’ people, if there’s one sick or needy person, you’ll ferret them out to latch on to or seduce – whichever works – to be their savior, in spite of feeling barely a few inches higher off the ground than them yourself, so you can feel a tiny bit less unlovable. Or because you assume none of the others would want to be with you??

• Pitch Fever – frantic to get everything done you’ve committed to, exhausted but never wanting to disappoint anyone, rushing from one task to the next, & feeling guilty for even thinking you need a break!

Reverse logic – getting the Serenity Prayer backwards. Instead of: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can & the wisdom to know the difference”, you compulsive try to do the impossible & keep putting off the things you really can do

put up walls• Walls – in spite of a desperate need to connect, you’re so terrified of intimacy that you compulsively pick emotionally unavailable friends, mated, jobs…. their harmful patterns keeping you at arm’s length, to guarantee that no one gets too close. If they did, they’d ‘find out’ how worthless you are – according to the PP in your head!

NEXT: Negative results – Intro

ACoAs – “Being Negative” (Part 5)

positive thinking

my thinking on the good things I already have!

PREVIOUS: Being Negative (Part 4)

SITE: The science of Happiness (“Happify” Website)

TROUBLE letting go
of negative thinking /talking – WHY?
• it’s strongly imprinted in our brain from years of ‘practice’
• it would require S & I from the family, which is never easy
• denial: we have a hard time noticing how often we think / talk that way

• it gives us a sense of false ‘control’
• no one would know how bad we had it growing up
• we get something out of it (Post: Negative Benefits)

• we don’t see the value in thinking/speaking positively, believing it’s for wimps, pollyannas or dummies (who don’t know what’s real!)
• we think it would be denying / our pain & suffering
• we use it to punish ourselves for being imperfect

CONSEQUENCES of Negative Thinking (NT
a. MENTAL: • it leads us to assume that any mistake is a failure, which will expose us to criticism/ judgment, like in our family
• tells us we should be able to make big strides quickly & easily, & that since we can’t – we lazy, stupid or hopelessly stuck
• it prevents being able to think of alternative solutions to problems
• when the brain tries to deal with a complex task, being inundated with NT slows down its capacity to process information & think clearly – by as much as 50%  (More…)

b. EMOTIONAL• can easily lead to depression, assuming we have to be perfect, & to being trapped by our own unrealistic standards
• can cause anxiety, leading to unhealthy coping mechanisms

c. PHYSICAL: • it’s harmful to the body, since negativity lowers its defenses & subtracts from our energy
• because NTs are so painful we can easily turn to addictions to escape (food, money, sex, alcohol/chemicals, relationships….)

d. PSYCHOLOGICAL: • is an obstacle to personal growth, making any change feel too overwhelming & painful
• it makes it hard to see & acknowledge the small steps in progress we DO make
• it denies or ignores possibilities that would improve life, & prevents receiving abundance
• it wastes time & energy, which could be used to heal old wounds & pursue healthy goals
• it convinces us that any form of risk is ‘life-threatening’

e. SOCIAL: • causes many personal, social & work problems
• has a downer effect on others we’re regularly around
• prevents us from relaxing & let our guard down, always second guessing ourselves  (Cognitive Therapy Guide

OUTGROWING NTs – change/modify things that contribute to it:change to positive
• start with AWARENESS of what you’re saying to yourself, what’s causing the ‘stinking thinking’, & the harmful effects it has on your life (& on others)

• slowly clear up practical problems which you have some control over (changing college course, job, spouse…., pay off debts, go to 12-Step meetings, do something creative/artistic….)

• try not to actually speak any negative thought out loud (develop personal boundaries instead of giving in to S-H).
If you feel the urge to criticize or get angry about something, shift to another topic if you NEED to talk

• accept/believe that positive thinking/speaking is a big plus, personally & socially. It does NOT mean being mushy, drippy, girly, sacrificing your opinions/ tastes/ values, or never objecting to something ‘wrong’
•  if you’re depressed, get the help you need to deal with it

• become acutely sensitive to the fact that some topics you’re interested in are intensely emotional (illness, jail, abuse, death, loss, war, politics, putting anything or anyone down….)

By your logic, these topics may be ‘perfectly normal’, interesting, current…. .
But when they’re inherently unpleasant, it is not respectful to foist them on others. It can easily sour the mood of a group, bring up old pain for someone or hurt someone’s feelings.

Naturally, such topics are appropriate in a group specifically designated for that (therapy group, 12-Step programs….)

• Notice how you feel when around another person who’s always a ‘downer’. Be willing to admit you may sound like that, & work on changing your own pattern – from the inside out.

NEXT: Being Negative #6

ACoAs – What about ANGER? (Part 4)

angry b. womanI NEVER KNEW ABOUT
all the ways to use anger

PREVIOUS: What about anger? #3

SITE: Why we shout in anger – a ‘teaching’


WOMEN’s anger (usually) has to do with close relationships – hurt from being let down by family members & friends, or that these people expect too much without giving much in return

anger (usually) tends to be more abstract – about strangers, objects that aren’t working correctly, & larger societal issues that prompt concerns about right / wrong.
Also being one-down, disrespected, unappreciated

CHILDREN’s anger (young) tends to be about goals or objects being blocked, like a toy taken away or having to stop playing at bedtime…..
BUT also about being abused & treated unfairly (MORE….)

Most ACoAs never learned to identify emotions – at all – much less when we’re angry. This also applies to those of us who are ‘big feelers / sensitive ‘emotionals’….because to survive we had to cut off large parts of ourselves.

This chart
shows the many ways anger can be expressed, depending on the grammatical form being used. Not all the terms are ‘negative’ but are all related, for-or-against, falling into, or rising above.

Anger words & their opposites are used in language as : ➡️

DEGREES of anger
from most mild to most intense:
annoyed, irritated, cranky, frustrated, aggravated, agitated, miffed, peeved,
sulking, offended, bitter, indignant, exasperated, incensed, pissed, outraged, hostile, spiteful, vengeful, resenting, wrathful, raging, furious, ferocious & livid.

Bitterness combines long-held unresolved (E) anger + (T) obsessions + CDs, therefore it’s both emotional & mental

Hate – the emotional hardening of intense hurt + unremitting anger, because of constant stress without an outlet or practical options
Self-Hate : Childhood Rage at parent(s) turned on oneself

Dr. Robert Sternberg (2005) suggests 3 things which contribute to forming & maintaining Hatred:raging bull
a. Avoidance: by distancing from a person or group, we don’t get rounded / balanced info about them, which – if we had – might likely change our perspective and emotions

b. Intense Anger, contempt, disgust, the quick-conditioned limbic responses (E), which the cortex (T) doesn’t have time to check for accuracy
cIntense Beliefs (negative, judgmental), hardened & rigid, which ramp up emotional intensity – used to justify denouncing, degrading or destroying the hated person or thing

Temper is the broad term for expressing anger AND a state of mind. Dictionary def: Habit of mind & Heat of passion, especially in the form of irritability, impatience, outbursts….

It can mean “temperament”, as in: having a calm disposition OR to be out of temper.
But it’s usually meant as an outward expression (action) of anger. In ACoA language, it’s our PP or WIC reacting to a present situation, based on old painful experiences.

❗️Anger is a natural response to aggravating / stressful PPT, but does not need to be acted on TOWARD someone or something – temper/angeronly acknowledged, felt & vented in safe ways.

However, when our judgment (T – the mental component) becomes clouded or distorted, the feeling (E) takes over & dictates our actions (As), called ‘loosing one’s temper’ – seen in various forms of acting out, such as :
— breaking things, punching walls, verbal attacks, yelling…. OR
— neglect, ‘forgetting’, the silent treatment, withdrawal….

Plutchik’s ‘Wheel of Emotions‘ shows ANGER & FEAR as opposites. SO:
🥶 When someone is constantly fearful, full of anxiety, only seeing thru victim lenses, they are suppressing a great deal of anger
😡 Conversely, people who are mainly bitter, react too easily with anger & are generally ready to fight (even indirectly) – are suppressing mountains of fear, sadness & disappointment.

• Being stuck at either extreme is very harmful – to the individual, to their family & to the world at large. A tremendous amount of energy gets used to suppress those mountains of “unacceptable” emotion, while some deep part of us knows we’re not completely honest.

Having to deny ANY part of ourself – to ourself – comes from a distorted, untrue belief that we don’t deserve to be treated well (loved, respected, comforted, successful….) & never will be.
BUT we can’t help wanting it, to the point of obsession.
See the: “Serenity Prayer backwards!”

FLOW CHARTS from Emotional Competency.


NEXT: Anger & the Brain (Part 1)

What is Self-Control ? (Part 5)

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 7.44.34 AMIT’S MUCH BETTER FOR ME – to be in control, than to be controlling

PREVIOUS: What is Self-Control ? (Part 4)

SEE post: ACoAs Acting controlling’

QUOTE: “To enjoy freedom we have to control ourselves” ~ Virginia Woolf

1. Neutral: No Pressure – A free environment with no competition, where you can do whatever you want. Self-control is based on however you feel at the moment. With no one else to compare to, people will be more -or- less motivated, depending on the urgency of whatever they’re doing, or their ability to self-motivate

ACoAs – re.‘ Neutral’, children left too much on their own, without guidance or boundaries, can end up floundering, lacking self-motivation. Notice : now with open chunks of time we say “I don’t know what to do”,  OR “I have so many things I could do / should be doing – I don’t know which one to pick”.
So we end up wasting the opportunity by doing nothing or just puttering around. Then we feel frustrated & upset with ourselves.

2. Negative: Bad Pressure – In a judgmental & prejudicial ocer-controlenvironment with no competition, people can get depressed, unmotivated & lose self-control.
REVIEW: Emotional Power over others and
Emotional over-Control of oneself are similar because they :
• both try to unfairly influence inner feelings, beliefs, attitudes, values
• are inappropriate internal strategies for dealing with issues, conflicts or mistakes
• are less obvious than physical methods, being manipulative, sneaky, dishonest
• produce subtle results (harder to catch), BUT ↓
• can be identified by resulting signs — depression, discouragement, emotional suppression, insecurity, low self-esteem, negativity & pessimism

3. Positive: Good Pressure – Being in a competitive but non-judgmental, non-prejudicial environment which helps people become motivated, inspired & gain self-control, & makes them want to be like others around them

STUDY from Humboldt University, Germany:
Broad styles of emotional control can be identified early in life.  This study followed children for 19 years, starting at age 4, then divided   them into young people who were –
a. Under-controlled:  disagreeable & lacked self-control. “When feeling frustrated they acted aggressively towards others, notwithstanding the who's in chargenegative consequences.”

b. Resilient (balanced): self-confident, emotionally stable, with a positive orientation toward others. These were “good at modulating their emotions, interacting with others & bouncing back from adversity”

c. Over-controlled: emotionally brittle, introverted, tense, quiet, self-conscious & uncomfortable around strangers. Who “… control their emotions too much, so are less ‘natural’ & spontaneous. Being slow to warm up, they are seen by others as shy.”

✳️ One observation from the study was that – “compared to the resilient children, the other 2 types took longer to move into adult roles, such as leaving home, starting a romantic relationship or finding a career. Accomplishing these milestones requires social adeptness that over- & under-controllers take longer to develop….”

COMMENTS : Types a & c are likely the result of unsafe childhood experiences combined with each child’s native style of emotional reactivity. This affects brain chemistry, & therefore how we react to life as adults. Regardless of which underlying type we’re born as, pre-Recovery ACoAs are rarely Resilient, but more likely over- or under-controlled, from childhood trauma.

⚡︎ ⚡︎ SO: coming from a turbulent, dysfunctional home, the impulsive child can easily turn out to be the trouble-maker or drama-queen, AND the shy one ends up isolated, depressed & marginalized (Scapegoat or Lost Child)
Resilients : by comparison, coming from a safe family, Extroverts can grow up to be dynamic go-getters AND Introvert become the quieter ones who successfully use their influence & skill in-the-background.

STUDY – by Jerome Kagan, from Harvard U,  His team used MRI scans to show that the brains of young adults – who were identified as being shy when toddlers – worked differently than the more Extroverted ones when they were kids.  Of course, there are many other factors, including class, that make a difference in how children mature.

Ultimately, healthy Self-control is a combination of:
• being in charge of you WIC – by forming a relationship with him/her, so your UNIT is the stronger voice – reasonable, trustworthy & KIND
• AND not letting the PP bully the child into staying hooked by the family disease, who will either rebel or fold.

NEXT: Healthy Control (Part 2)

Healthy HELPING (Part 1)


As long as I take care of myself in the process

PREVIOUS: Rescuing (#2)

REVIEW: Hero Family Role 


ACoAs:  Many of us were trained from birth to be helpers, regardless of our native personality style & interests. There’s an ironic saying in recovery circles: “ACOAs are born with an MSW (Masters in Social Work) and then get their Birth Certificate later”!

• This is most common with the child who has the Hero role, which is usually the first-born in a dysfunctional family.  They’re supposed to pick up the slack where the parents leave off – being the little adult to make the family look healthier than it really is, but at the expense of the child.

• This caretaker role becomes so deeply ingrained that it’s usually carried into all of our ADULT relationships.  It requires unceasing effort for the benefit of others, instead of caring fully for ourselves. (See ‘RESCUING – False Helping’).

✦ On the other hand, there are ACoAs who, by their very nature, are meant to be in the helping or service professions, like people born with strong Water & Air Sign influences in their astrological chart – such as Pisces, Cancer (the healers), Aquarius & Gemini (the teachers).

✦ For those of us so designed, the goal is to be of genuine help to others, as a way of expressing our Highest Self – without being motivated by the toxic patters of co-dependence, self-hate, boundary invasion, fear of abandonment & over-control.

GOAL of Heathy Helping (HH): Encourage someone to take care of themselves the best way they can, in their current circumstance
OPPOSITE of making / keeping someone dependent on you!

1. OVERVIEW  – before HELPING someone, ASK:
a. What do I know about the person I may help?
• are they responsible & self-caring?
• did they ask me directly & specifically, for something?
• will they be OK with me if I can’t do what they want?

b. What exactly do they want?
• can they truly do it for themselves?
• is the request ‘clean’ (emotionally & verbally honest)?
• how many parts to the request are there, actually?
• what are the consequences/ price TO ME?

c. Can I Comply?
• am I really able to do this? (it’s not beyond my ability, OR it’s not something impossible)
• do I WANT to do it?  If ‘Yes’ – what’s my motive?
• what does it require of me – specifically?
• will I be angry if I do it, or remorseful if I don’t?
• do I want anything in return? What are my expectations?

2. Prerequisites for H.H.
a. In ME – I need to:
• be able to keep the ‘focus on myself’ – not get enmeshed with the needs & emotions of others
• have basic self-esteem, a sense of identity that not dependent on others
relaxed• have developed real boundaries, not needing to be symbiotic
• know my individual human limitations, without judgment or self-hate

• not have to use people to feel good about myself
• KNOW what’s real, in the recovery process, about:
— emotions: each person is responsible for their own, & they can learn how to managed them
— the growth process: it’s slow & has to be experienced personally
— what Mental Health is (from ACoA website)
— what can realistically be dealt with: what’s possible or not. ACoAs tend to get the Serenity Prayer backwards!

b. In THEM
✦ I can help – if they :
• are actively doing self-care, & communicating with their inner childInner Child (personal responsibility)
• actually ask for the help they want or need
• are clear about what they need (direct & specific)

• apply to their lives what I give them & use it to grow
➼ “Give a man a fish & you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish & you feed him for a lifetime.” Chinese proverb
• IF they’re truly ‘dis-abled’ in some way (ADD, PTSD, depression, illness…)

✦ I can help – as long as they DON’T :
• blame me for for that they can’t do, for things that don’t work, or for disappointing outcomes
• expect me to be perfect, know everything, take care of them
• need to suck me dry / cling, use me as a parent substitute
• try to copy my personality, instead of forming their own

NEXT: Healthy Helping, Part 2