Immediate “Next Steps” After Experiencing Known Triggers

How to Manage Your Triggers

Cape Town, South Africa

What Is A Trigger?

The first step in breaking the cycle of cravings, urges and relapse is to identify the unique triggers that prompt the need to drink or use drugs. Triggers can be defined as any situation or stressor that creates a thought, feeling or action to use.

Triggers come from internal and external factors. Sometimes they are obvious and other times they are subtle. Triggers can come out of the blue or intensify over time. These disparities make triggers difficult to recognize because they manifest in different ways for different people.

Let’s take a look at examples of external and internal triggers.

External Triggers

External triggers include people, places, things and situations going on around you. They can be:

  • Old friends
  • An old connection or drug dealer
  • Old hangouts
  • Paraphernalia (i.e., bottles of alcohol)
  • Celebrations or holidays
  • Sporting events or concerts
  • Emotionally charged interactions
  • Certain times of the day

Internal Triggers

Internal triggers come from within and include memories, thoughts or feelings. They can be:

  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Panic
  • Negative thinking
  • Insecurities

Triggers are unique to each individual. What may urge one person to use drugs or alcohol may not affect another. This is why it’s important to understand which things set you off and the proper steps to take if you encounter them.

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Half Truths and Outright Lies

A Misadventure to Ruined Relationships

Half Truths and outright Lies
A Misadventure to  ruined relationships

A deliberate obfuscation of the facts that spiraled into a macabre and bizarre facsimile of a relationship filled with jejune tatters of communication. ~tHe sTrEeT pRoPhEt~

Being in a relationship with somebody who lies is tough. It’s not that you don’t love them or care about them, it’s just that you can’t connect.
Without trust, there’s no relationship.

Henry Cloud and John Townsend say people lie for one of two reasons.

The first is out of shame or fear. Somebody may believe they won’t be accepted if they tell the truth about who they are, so they lie. You can see how religious communities that use shame and fear to motivate might increase a person’s temptation to lie.

People who lie for this reason can get better and learn to tell the truth. Until they do, however, it’s impossible to connect with them, all the same.

The second kind of liar is less fortunate.

Some people lie simply because they are selfish. These liars are pathological. They will lie even when it would be easier to tell the truth. Cloud and Townsend warn that we need to stay away from these people. Personally, I think people like this are pretty rare, but I agree, we simply can’t depend on them emotionally or practically.

Still I wonder if people who lie understand what they’re doing.

I think some people want grace and certainly they can get grace, but when we lie, we make the people we are lying to feel badly about the relationships and about themselves. We like people who make us feel respected, cared about and honored. Lying to somebody communicates the opposite.

When my friends lied, I felt disrespected and unimportant. They didn’t seem to care about me or trust me enough to tell the truth. This made me feel bad about myself, as though I were not important or trustworthy enough to be told the truth.
When I found out the extent of one of the lies, I felt like a fool. Technically, my one friend didn’t really lie. She just told me “part” of the truth. It was as though she were testing out whether she was safe to be vulnerable. (She told many other lies, but this was just one of them). But it backfired. When I found out things were worse than she’d made them seem, I felt tricked and deceived. Again, without meaning to, she’d made me feel bad about myself because I felt like somebody who could be conned.
I thought less of my friends. I knew they were willing to “cheat” in relationships. When we lie, we are stealing social commodity without having earned it. People can lie their way into power, and in one instance with a friend, she lied her way into moral superiority. Still, none of the authority or moral superiority (such a thing exists, and while it’s misused, it’s not a bad thing not unlike intellectual superiority or athletic superiority. It just is. An appropriate use of those two examples of superiority might be to lead a team or teach a class.)
I felt sad and lonely. When we think we are getting to know somebody, we are giving them parts of our hearts. But when they lie, we know they’ve actually held back their hearts while we’ve been giving them ours. This made me feel lonely and dumb.
I felt like I couldn’t trust them. The only thing more important than love in a relationship is trust. Trust is the soil love grows in. If there’s not trust, there’s no relationship. When my friends lied, our trust died. As much as I wanted to forgive them, and feel like I did and have, interacting with them was no longer the same. I doubted much of what they said. Sadly, I think both of them began to tell more and more of the truth. But it didn’t matter. Once trust is broken, it’s extremely hard to rebuild.
If they didn’t confess (or lied in their confession) I felt like they didn’t care enough about me to come clean and make things right. They were still thinking of themselves.

Lying is manipulation, so if a person is a manipulator and gets caught lying, they are most likely going to keep manipulating. They may tell more lies to cover their lies, or manipulate by playing the victim. They may try to find things other people have done that they see as worse and try to make people focus on that. What they will have a hard time doing is facing the truth (which would be the easiest way out of their dilemma. It’s just that they don’t know how to do it. (They’re survivors, scrappers and have learned to cheat to stay alive socially.)

MIND GAMES

Healing From Domestic and Sexual Abuse

Mind Games are deliberate attempts to psychologically manipulate someone. They are covert, coercive, manipulative intentions masked by innocent sounding communication. Mind Game language is designed to confuse and keep the victim from guessing the perpetrator’s true aim.

Some of the Mind Games men use to psychologically confuse female partners include blocking her from clarifying his mixed messages, questioning all her judgments, and manipulating her by responding with lies. Mind Games are an attempt to indoctrinate someone into believing they are the guilty party and their viewpoints are irrelevant or pathetic, and need to be realigned to the viewpoint of the perpetrator.

Mind Games are especially powerful when the victim totally trusts the perpetrator and believes both their roles in the relationship are well defined and socially ‘normal’.

Mind Games entail brainwashing
Confusion and crazy-making
Guilt trips
Questions all her judgments
Manipulates with lies
If she withdraws he punishes her, if she reaches out he rejects her
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t
Behaves differently when people visit
Mind Games are abuse
Mind Games are a warning sign that you are being abused and controlled
Compassionate View
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Mind Games entail brainwashing – a notion that we usually associate with cults or terrorist hostage tactics. But, the truth is, brainwashing is happening in your neighbourhood right now. Ordinary men brainwash their partners when they say one thing and do another. For example when a man lectures her about his life philosophy of caring for others, but only enacts such caring towards others outside the family – not her. They brainwash their partner when they appeal to her instinct and desire to care for him by saying, “If you really love me you’d do what I want”. This gets confusing when you love and trust your partner. But he is slowly – one tactic at a time – oppressing and controlling. It’s insidious – and it can take years to see, and to realise this is a pattern.

Women’s efforts to make sense of mixed messages are often blocked by their partners which is incredibly stressful, anxiety-provoking and can lead some women to experience disrupted sleeps, and illness – physical, psychological and spiritual. Brainwashing, guilt trips and confusion lead to exhaustion, which can make women more susceptible to believing some of the denigrating and manipulative language their partners use against them. Some women are led to identify more and more with the abuser, whilst others are able to maintain morsels of a sense of themselves – of their own thoughts and beliefs.

Women I interviewed for my Masters research, and women I work with in counselling, talk about experiences of emotional blackmail, manipulation, guilt, feeling fearful and feeling mind-numbingly-crazy.

Confusion and crazy-making

Elizabeth said that because she could not “prove that stuff” that her ex-husband did and said to her that now – years later – she still has “this thing, about whether people believe me”.

Victoria said, “The Mind Games leave you in doubt as to whether or not you’re actually being abused … you’re not quite sure anymore and they really start to cloud your judgment. Whereas if somebody hits you, you know you’ve been hit. The psychological abuse has made me pessimistic, untrusting, vulnerable and very strong now I’m at the other end of it. Also I feel there’s this big hole, this big deep cavern that will always be there that I have to work my damndest to walk around and never to fall back into because I know it’s always there because the behaviours have been so well learnt over the years.”

Pauline said, “I had a friend who I used to call a lot on the phone … I was so confused and I needed to talk to somebody to hear it out loud and to get some feedback. At one point I thought I was going quite crazy because he acted innocent. Like if I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ he acted like nothing’s wrong. He wouldn’t really say anything. So I’d think well maybe it’s me, it’s all my thinking, my perception.”

“And my friend who was calling lives in another town and it’s ages later when she was next at our place. And he was home on shift, outside working so I called him for lunch. We’d be sitting down to lunch and he wouldn’t come in. My friend [had previously] thought my husband was an absolute angel, she went to school with him, and she said to me, ‘All these months you talked to me on the phone about what he’s been like, I didn’t think you were lying, but I couldn’t see that’s how he would be, because that’s not him.’ But, she said, ‘Now I’m here today, I can see this is for real, it’s happening’.”

Guilt trips

The combination of tactics some men use to control their female partners lead many women to forgo and lose interests and wants of their own. To survive in the relationship many women continue doing only those things that keep the peace.

Victoria said, “I felt guilty about going onto the nursing course. I didn’t feel guilty at the beginning coz I thought it would be good. But then the more I did it, he’d start to do reactive behaviours like, he’d drop me off at work and then he’d go cruising the main street of the city we lived in. Then I felt guilty that maybe I’d pushed him too much or that I’d offended him, or that I’d damaged his ego because I was moving on and he wasn’t moving on. That was where the guilt came in, that I was making him feel less of a man and I must stop that.”

Questions all her judgments

Teresa said her partner often questioned her judgments about friends: “If I talked about something a friend was doing or had said or some problem that a friend had, if I was talking about it sympathetically he would try and turn it around so I wasn’t sympathetic and say “No, it’s probably this or probably that” and point out negative things about people that I liked to change my judgment of them and so I wouldn’t like them as much.”

Luckily, Teresa didn’t take any notice of what he said about her best friend. Instead she, “considered the things he said and then mentally dismissed them”.

But when he said things about other people Teresa, “would think Oh, I hadn’t thought of that, oh yes he’s probably right. He would also tell me that people had said things about me. People at work, that they had said that I was this, that I was that., horrible things, which I believed and I don’t know whether they had said them or not. I think that he probably twisted a lot of things like that and I believed him, so that would change my judgment.”

Manipulates with lies

Heather said her partner scared her, “how he would fabricate the truth all the time. I never knew what was truthful and what wasn’t. He told people, “I laid all those tiles,” but I’d seen with my own eyes that he hadn’t laid those tiles, I saw the tile man doing it. I said, “Look Luke you didn’t actually do those tiles.” He said, “I did.” I said, “You did a little bit over there where the man showed you coz you wanted to cut a tile. That’s lying.”

If she withdraws he punishes her, if she reaches out he rejects her

Sally said “my husband initiated sex 99% of the time.  He would insist that part of the problem we had sexually was that I didn’t initiate.  So occasionally I would initiate sex … and every time I initiated sex he just wasn’t himself, he just became kind of angry, kind of a hatred on his face … I don’t remember his words but they were something like how dare you initiate sex at this time, I am busy, I’m working, yet generally he was not busy or working.  I was so confused … one day it dawned on me.  I thought he doesn’t want me to initiate sex, but that’s not the issue.  He just wants to be in full control, no matter what.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

Victoria said she was not allowed to be independent, nor was she allowed to be dependent. If she didn’t agree with Graham, he would manipulate and twist things to make her doubt herself. She was not allowed to express feelings and, if she did, he said she was either overreacting or misinterpreting.

Behaves differently when people visit

Women share stories about ways their partners don’t carry out household, personal or parental responsibilities, but suddenly when visitors come to the house, their partner starts performing his responsibilities. Raewyn said that if she “wanted a break from the children he was either uncooperative or refused saying that she did nothing anyway. He sulked if he did not get his own way [yet] when friends came over he would suddenly start being a father.” Sally said that Dylan would often not work, but would “appear to be busy when visitors or guests came to stay”. Donna’s husband had trouble putting on his own boots, but she said that “one day Frank’s family were visiting and he bent down and put his own boots on and off in front of them.” Donna was devastated that she had been so used because she did not know he could manage himself.

Charming in public and abusive in private

Teresa said others told her she was misinterpreting things because Patrick was so charming to his colleagues. Elizabeth said her husband, David was charming in public but at home he stomped on Elizabeth’s budding creativity. Heather said that she’s still having trouble coming to grips with her own experience of abuse and control in private and his public utterance of words of love. She was further confused because of other people liking him and validating him.

Mind Games are abuse

Mind Games should not be taken lightly – they are abusive and they are controlling. Patrick attempted to impair Teresa’s judgments by hiding things and suggesting that she was going insane when she could not find them. Victoria said she had no name for her husband’s behaviours when she was in the midst of experiencing his power and control tactics. She said, “I didn’t really consider it abuse until I was deeply entrenched in the marriage. I just thought he was manipulative and I thought he was moody. But in the initial stages I didn’t know I was being abused. I thought he was playing Mind Games with me, but I never considered Mind Games to be abuse. If I had been aware that there was such a thing, then I would have seen it as abuse earlier.”

Mind Games are a warning sign that you are being abused and controlled

If you believe your partner is playing Mind Games, then seek help. If you feel you are going crazy, then you may be in a relationship with a partner who is controlling you. You have the right to seek help and to seek support and validation from people who believe in your judgment about what you are experiencing.

The compassionate view

We live in a society where the notion of being a man is written in a social script that all too often is distorted and suppresses a man’s natural humanity. Acts of dominance hide vulnerabilities and emotions, which results in some men remaining unaware of their underlying needs for love and care. In the distorted society myth it’s not regarded as manly to show feelings. Mind Games are part of this complex cover-up that hides the perpetrator’s real need and desire for human connection. Paradoxically, women often detect such insecurities in their partners whom they love, which can get in the way of women being able to name Mind Games as ABUSE. Until, and unless, the perpetrator is helped to develop empathy and a compassionate view, the victim must acknowledge there is harm being done and need to protect themselves from further harm.

Reference:

Murphy, Clare (2002) Women Coping with Psychological Abuse: Surviving in the Secret World of Male Partner Power and Control. Unpublished Masters thesis, University of Waikato, New Zealand.

Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Substance Abuse Treatment, Recovery 101

Selection_323When you’re struggling with drug addiction, sobriety can seem like an impossible goal. But recovery is never out of reach, no matter how hopeless your situation seems. Change is possible with the right treatment and support, and by addressing the root cause of your addiction. Don’t give up—even if you’ve tried and failed before. The road to recovery often involves bumps, pitfalls, and setbacks. But by examining the problem and thinking about change, you’re already on your way.
Drug addiction treatment and recovery

1: Decide to make a change

For many people struggling with addiction, the biggest and toughest step toward recovery is the very first one: deciding to make a change. It’s normal to feel conflicted about giving up your drug of choice, even when you realize it’s causing problems in your life. Change is never easy—and committing to sobriety involves changing many things, including:

the way you deal with stress
who you allow in your life
what you do in your free time
how you think about yourself

You may wonder if you’re really ready for all that change or if you have what it takes to quit. It’s okay if you’re torn. Recovering from addiction is a long process, one that requires time, commitment, motivation, and support. As you contemplate your situation, the following tips can help you make the decision.
Thinking about change

Keep track of your drug use, including when and how much you use. This will give you a better sense of the role the addiction is playing in your life.
List the pros and cons of quitting, as well as the costs and benefits of continuing your drug abuse.

Preparing for change:

5 key steps to addiction recovery

Remind yourself of the reasons you want to change.
Think about your past attempts at quitting, if any. What worked? What didn’t?
Set specific, measurable goals, such as a quit date or limits on your drug use.
Remove reminders of your addiction from your home and workplace.
Tell friends and family that you’re quitting and ask for their support.

Drug addiction treatment and recovery

2: Explore your treatment options

Once you’ve made the decision to challenge your drug addiction, it’s time to explore your treatment choices. As you consider the options, keep the following in mind:

There’s no magic bullet or single treatment that works for everyone. When considering a program, remember that everyone’s needs are different. Drug addiction treatment should be customized to your unique problems and situation. It’s important that you find a program that feels right.
Treatment should address more than just your drug abuse. Addiction affects your whole life, including relationships, career, health, and psychological well-being. Treatment success depends on developing a new way of living and addressing the reasons why you turned to drugs in the first place. It may have been because of an inability to manage stress, in which case you’ll need to find healthy ways to handle stressful situations.

Read the rest of the article at HelpGuide.org

Source: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.

Last updated: February 2016.

“How to Kick the Worry Habit”
by Jim Rohn

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Click Here to Download "How to Kick the Worry Habit"!

How to Kick the Worry Habit
Worry May Be A Killer
In my seminars the last few years I have covered what I have
found to be those few, simple, basic principles that can make major
changes in life and lifestyle. One of those subjects that gets the
most comment is:

Disease of the Attitude. And out of that subject, worry and how to kick the worry habit have caused the most questions. So, in this brief visit with you, let me give you my best look at worry, how to recognize it and define it, and what to do about it. And hopefully these ideas will give you a good chance for confidence over worry.

First of all, worry might well be killer number one. And if it is
not the number one physical killer, although doctors tell us
worriers die sooner than non-worriers, and we have all heard the
expression “worry yourself to death,” at least it is the number one
killer of dreams and achievement,of energy and vitality, and
lifestyle.
I know the damage and effect of this killer - worry, first hand. I will spare you the details, but over a period of some three years I let worry get out of hand. As I’ve mentioned before, I became a super worrier. I was good at it. The combination of small and big worries about my circumstances, what people thought of me, my finances, my abilities, the future, my progress, all led to a complete physical collapse. A stay in the hospital, emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion, and a deep despair I couldn’t shake. A sad picture for a young man who should have been well on his way to carving out his share of opportunity.
I am happy to tell you that good fortune came my way. And as
many of you may be aware, I met a man, Mr. Earl Shoaff. With his
ideas and inspiration and the help of a very close friend, I worked
my way past the minefields of worry and disaster, and out into the
clear air of mental sunshine. And if I did it, anybody can do it.
I’m not saying it’s easy. It took me almost a full year to kick the worry habit. It took practice and much effort, but it was well worth it. Remember, don’t ask for the task to be easy, just ask for
it to be worth it.

“The Five Steps To Positive Thinking”
by Tony Robbins

“Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.” – Anthony Robbins

7 Rules for a Life Worth Living

Life worth living

7 Rules for a Life Worth Living
KIMG0061
Written by Scott Young

Life worth living

Are you writing the story of your life, or are you letting other people and circumstances write it for you? You might not consider yourself a follower, but here are a few signs you aren’t in control:

You don’t like your job – Maybe you picked something because it was easier or safer than your ideal career. Worse, maybe you’re just doing what your family pressured you to do.

You’re living pay-check to pay-check – The problem usually isn’t money, but your priorities. It isn’t hard for the stuff you own to turn around and own you.

You feel obligated to do things you don’t want to do. Your first duty is to yourself. You can’t save the world while you’re miserable.

Leading your life isn’t easy. It means freeing yourself from many different assumptions. That freedom can be initially terrifying and painful, which is why so few people do it. It is far easier to just follow the assumptions of society, even if it leaves you unfulfilled.

Here are 7 rules that can help you start building a life worth living:

Rule One: Never let another person dictate the terms for living your life.

Not your parents. Not your spouse. Not your kids. Leading your life means you can accept the input of other people, but the final decision is yours. This means that career choice, relationships, beliefs and way of life are to be judged by you, not anyone else.

This rule holds especially when you have doubts. Don’t let your moment of doubt become a weakness to be exploited by others. Not sure what you want to do with your life? Don’t sit passively and let other people decide for you.

Rule Two: Don’t allow yourself to be chained by consumerism.

The world is filled with stuff. Don’t let stuff get in the way of what is important. When you become chained to your stuff, you are no longer leading your life. Ask yourself: if you had to give up 90% of your net worth tomorrow to pursue your dream, could you do it effortlessly? If you hesitated, perhaps your ability to lead your own life has been weakened by your attachment to stuff.

Rule Three: Rule money. Don’t let money rule you.

Money is a resource that can be applied when leading your life. You can use it to reduce discomforts, focus on meaningful work and apply it to help you learn and improve. But if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, the money is in control.

Here are some goals to put yourself in a position to rule the money in your life:

Maintain one year of emergency funds in the bank.
Your lifestyle should expand at a slower rate than your income grows.
Be able to drastically reduce your expenditures if needed.

Financial freedom doesn’t mean the ability to buy everything you could desire or live in luxury. It means that money becomes a tool and not a distraction in leading your life.

Rule Four: You come first in relationships.

Do you know people that can’t stand being single? They get out of one bad relationship only to jump into the next.

Why? Because they put too much of their needs dependent on that other person. Without emotional and possibly financial support, they can’t survive.

In any relationship you need to be the person that comes first. That means that while you might enjoy the relationship, it doesn’t become the major purpose in your life.

Your purpose and leading your life must come before any relationship you enter. The surprising fact is that when you do this, you are able to have healthier personal and intimate relationships because there is no need for jealousy or possession.

Rule Five: Never outsource your thinking.

“You can split up food between men, but each man must digest it individually.” – Howard Roark in The Fountainhead.

Leading your own life means leading your own beliefs. It means never accepting anything unless you can filter it through your reasoning and find it to be true. Think critically about everything in life. Chances are there are a lot of undigested thoughts floating around trying to bypass your mind and go straight to your gut.

Rule Six: Anything you lack can be trained.

Never accept a fatalistic view of life. So you’ve been told you lack the intelligence, willpower, strength or charisma to do something? Ignore them. So you’ve told yourself that you lack the talent? Ignore yourself.

Begin with the assumption that anything can be trained and you’ll find few exceptions. I used to be a shy, introverted kid. Recently some friends described me as an extreme extrovert, being unafraid to meet new people and having honed my abilities to speak in front of crowds. Begin with the belief that you have no idea where your talents are until you train them.

Rule Seven: Purpose comes from your creative faculties.

Want to know what your purpose in life is? Simple. Hold your hands in front of you. Now look at them. There is your purpose and means to do it.

Purpose is your ability to take the creative energies you have and communicating them with the world. You and I might pick different mediums, but the act of purpose is exactly the same. You could be a manager crafting the art of dealing with people, a programmer crafting the knowledge of algorithms or an entrepreneur crafting the art of a business.

Don’t worry if you haven’t found the right medium. Once you feel that great purpose for your life and it comes from within, that is your greatest asset. With that belief you are the leader of your own life.

Coping With Drug Addiction In Your Family

Helping Your Household Recover

Coping With Drug Addiction In Your Family
family

Drug Addiction does not happen overnight, least of all, for the person abusing the drug.

Often, family members never see it coming.

When someone you love begins their long spiralling, journey down the road of drug addiction, it is a path that seems to have more twists and turns than a roller-coaster.

The ups and downs occur every day and seem to be never ending.
As a family, you start to doubt anything the household member has ever told you.

If things in your home become missing, you suspect they took it.
If they go to the bathroom, you think they are doing drugs.

There is absolutely no trust whatsoever and you begin to fear there never will be.

Trust is completely destroyed.

You talk to people about help and they tell you of yet another 12 step support program, system, or of something they know little or nothing about.

You thank them smile and never hear another word they say because your mind is racing, and you are more concerned with where the kin-folk is, right at this very moment, and you are wondering what they are doing, who they are doing it with or ... if they are even alive.

Young people aren’t just smoking pot these days.

Young folks are huffing, snorting, shooting, and smoking substances that you have never heard of, much less pronounce their names, and they don’t plan on giving it up.

If they get caught, they’re repentant, they will look you square in the eye and tell you that they’re sorry.
After that they will be even more cautious to avoid being discovered.

These designer drugs allow the individuals on them an amazing delusional, level of self-confidence with authoritative people in their lives.

They are going to do drugs and with the slack laws, well there is nothing you can do about it.

WRONG.

There isn’t anything you can do with your children once they turn 18.

If they choose to do drugs after their 18th birthday, they can do just as much as they want and you will not be able to stop them; no one will help you control them.

Legally, they are no longer under your protection – they are legal adults now.

However if you are coping with a drug-addict that is under the age of majority, you can take drastic measures.
In many cases you should.

The drugs that are available to kids these days are more dangerous than anything you ever experienced in your younger years.

The kids opt for pain killers such as Oxycontin, Percocet, and Loratabs, to name a few.

Then when those highs don’t cut it, they get turned onto meth amphetamine also known as, (crystal meth).

Meth Amphetamine is an extremely popular social drug that has devastating effects.
No one seems to walk completely away from crystal meth, because the temptation is there to use, each and every day for the rest of their life.

So when you get that phone call in the wee hours of the morning, and after you hang up the phone decide, right then, to take action! Remember if you don’t, it will mean you could be giving up someone you love.

Copied with permission from: Free PLR Addiction Articles

How To Break the Pattern of Love Addiction

Ann Smith - Guest Article

Love_Sick

First things first. Take this brief quiz to see if you are likely a love addict.

1. Did you once think that if only someone loved you in that "special way" you would be happy for the rest of your life?

2. Were you/Are you pre-occupied with the notions of love as expressed in music, movies and fiction?

3. Have you ever tried to talk yourself into loving someone you weren't particularly fond of because you needed the love NOW?

4. Have you felt the need to prop up or do a total makeover on your partner early on in your relationship rather than admit that he/she wasn't right for you and end it?

5. Have you stayed in a bad relationship or repeatedly returned to an ex-partner because you couldn't stand to be alone?

6. When you are in a committed relationship do you wonder if you chose the RIGHT one or fantasize about a lover from your past, thinking you should have kept him or her and then you would be happier?

7. Have you used the words "soul mate" in reference to how love should be?

8. Since age 18 what is the longest period of time you were totally unattached and not fretting about some love interest?

9. Are you able to take the time necessary to heal and do a thorough post mortem on a failed relationship before running out to find a new "friend" which quickly becomes a rebound lover?

10. Do you expect your lover to make you feel loved and lovable?

I won't ask you to score or rate yourself. You know who you are!

If you suspect you are a love addict - don't feel too badly about it. I was a member of the love addicts club for a good portion of my life as well. I too was in love with love.

I have built my career on this issue, working with ordinary people who are lost when it comes to finding and sustaining a healthy relationship, stuck in a cycle of pain and disappointment in others and themselves.

They believe that either they just can't find the right one or that the early infatuation waned and they are no longer "in love." Some jump from one relationship to another in search of that wonderful feeling they once had. Others stay, despite feeling dissatisfied, harboring secret thoughts of leaving, cultivating emotional affairs, or cheating from time to time, having no clue about the real problem.

To be clear, addiction can be defined in a general way as a compulsive (repeated action without choice) and chronic (ongoing over time) pattern of using a substance or behavior for soothing, comforting and/or arousal as a means of medicating uncomfortable feelings. Addicts typically continue use of their "drug of choice" despite negative consequences.

Sex addiction is a compulsive pattern of pursuing sexual arousal independent of emotional attachments. Love addiction is a little harder to define simply because by nature we are all addicted to love - meaning we want it, seek it and have a hard time not thinking about it. We need attachment to survive and we instinctively seek connection, especially romantic connection. There is nothing dysfunctional about wanting love.

Love addiction, however, is a compulsive, chronic craving and/or pursuit of romantic love in an effort to get our sense of security and worth from another person. During infatuation we believe we have that security only to be disappointed and empty again once the intensity fades. The negative consequences can be severe and yet the love addict continues to hang on to the belief that true love with fix everything.

In my experience, the most difficult love addicts to help are those who actually develop committed relationships with two or more people at the same time. What a dilemma, they say! Who should I pick? They really believe that the only problem they have is deciding who would be the best choice.

The causes of love addiction are fairly easy to identify: inadequate or inconsistent nurturing, low self esteem, absence of positive role models for committed relationships and indoctrination with cultural images of perfect romantic love and happily ever after endings.

Unfortunately, knowing why you do it isn't much help. Having the information or insight cannot change the unconscious drive to attach at all costs. After the end of a bad relationship my clients have said things like:

"Wrong guy! I'll never do that again. I'm going to find someone who is nothing like this one."

"I am not interested in dating. I just want to have someone to spend time with now and then."

"I'm going to go slowly next time around."

Here are few truths about Love Addiction and what is most likely to happen if you have not processed and grown from your painful experiences.

1. If you are looking for the opposite of the last one, just remember that the opposite of Sick is Sick. When we rebound, we go to the other extreme and end up in the same place.

2. Your new "friend" will be your next lover and it will turn out the same way the last one did.

3. Just saying you will go slowly doesn't work when hormones kick in and infatuation starts making the decisions. Infatuated love is blind.

Truth is: Wherever you go, there you are.

The problem is your pattern, not who you are with.

Here are some initial steps for breaking the love addiction pattern:

1. STOP what you are doing and stand back to observe your own behavior. Take an inventory of your dysfunctional pattern in your current and past relationships. Write it down. Be honest without blaming anyone else for your choices. Unless you are in a committed relationship, do not engage in any potentially romantic interactions for at least 6 months. That includes no texting, emailing, online dating sites, hook ups, introductions by well intentioned friends and family.

2. As you do your inventory look for the common themes in your relationships. Does there appear to be a similarity between your childhood experiences and your choices as an adult? If so, it is no accident!

3. If you are not in a relationship right now, consider getting professional help with your self evaluation before you begin your search again. If you are in a relationship, unless you are being abused, don't make any decisions or demands until you look at yourself honestly.

4. Ask yourself how life would be if you took responsibility for your own happiness, successes and failures and loved yourself the way you want to be loved.

5. Make a plan and follow through on a daily basis. You will be lonely, sad and frustrated at times but in the end you will have the most valuable gift of all. You will know and love yourself. Only then can you choose well and have the real, albeit imperfect relationship you deserve.

6. As an act of love that will last a life time, accept yourself and the one you love AS IS. It may not come with a big red bow but it is one thing you can be sure everyone wants.

For more help with breaking through the pattern of love addiction, visit my website at www.breakthroughatcaron.org. (link is external)