Thursday, July 31, 2014

The children that grow up in a family of addicts

Together with Ann-Charlotte Johansson, a therapist and colleague, I made a survey for the members of a swedish discussion forum (a forum for relatives). One of the questions were for those who grew up in a family of drug and substance abusers, asking them what help they would have wanted to get.

These are the answers we got:

* Get acknowledgement

* Get to talk to someone to not feel alone. Be understood.

* Someone that asked me how I felt.

* Someone that could have shown me how a "healthy" family lived.

* I wanted to be saved.

* I wished that a parent that didn't use, or some other relative, would have put their foot down.

* Information about that it shouldn't be the way it was. Me and my siblings thought everyone lived like we did.

* Help to help myself and not get walked over all the time by people that knew better than me.

* That some adult would have caught hold of me, or made my problem visible to someone that could.

* I wish that the school would have seen and reacted.

* Help to get peace and quiet, safety, trust for other people, affirmation, get listened to, strengthened my identity.

* That someone had told me that it wasn't my fault that my dad drank and that violence was not OK.

* That I'd have gotten a foster family.

* That someone saw me and acknowledged me. Told me that I would manage despite all the difficulties.

* Someone from the outside that saw and understood.

* Afterwards I got to know that my teacher reported my family to social services but they didn't take action. The teacher never told me this. It would probably have meant a lot to me if I had known. It would have helped me put words on what was happening and my feelings about it.

* That social services had stepped in.

* Since I didn't dare to speak to anybody I wish there was more civil courage in school, since it was obvious to everyone how things were in my family.

* I wish that there was someone in school you could talk about feelings to. After all, it is only when the problems get big that you talk about what children have to go through.

Let's learn from those who already know...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Do you own your own feelings?

Do you own your own feelings? Or are your feelings dependent on another person's feelings?

That might seem like a strange question. But the truth is, and many realtives will probably find this familiar, the relative's feelings follows the addict's feelings. Being a relative or a close friend to a person suffering from addiction can become an emotional lack of independence in the long run.

If the addict feels bad - then I start to feel bad
If the addicts has a good day - then I have a good day
If they are worried - then I get worried
If they are sad - then also I get sad
and so on...

And if the addict gets sober and takes responsibility for their own feelings and their own life - then there is the risk that I will become empty, not know what I feel, not know what I think, I lose the meaning of my life...
Nothing can take the focus off of myself, I have to explore and experience myself. Who am I? How do I feel, after all?

Who owns your feelings? Who steers them?
Can you be empathic and understanding and still keep on living your own life? Can you take care of your own feelings?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Define yourself in strengthening words!

Here is a challenge that can help you strengthen your selfesteem. Do it if you want to encourage yourself!

We often put negative labels on ourselves, such as:

- I'm dependent
- I'm a failure
- I'm a victim
- I'm always in bad luck
- I'm stupid
and so on... you get it. We feed our thoughts and brains with these labels. How positive does that get? How much power and strength do I feel if I tell myself those things? Probably none. I'll probably only get sad, feel worthless and won't dare to put energy into things I'd like to do, because I'm already convinced that I'll fail.

That is why you should do the opposite! Write down 5 positive or strengthening labels on yourself, things you know to be true. Words that can encourage you, support you, make you happier and stronger. Then put them on a place where you can see them every day!

- I'm courageous!
- I'm understanding!
- I'm vigorous!
- I'm actionable!
- I'm responsible!

If it's hard to come up with characeristics of yourself that are encouraging and strengthening, think back to moments when you've felt that you succeeded, when you were satisfied with yourself, which characteristics made you able to succeed with that?

Exchange the negative thoughts about yourself with strengthening thoughts!

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pay it forward!

One of the most beautiful movies I've seen is "Pay it forward". It's about the boy who comes up with the idea of how to make the world a better place. And how every person can contribute.

The ide is that you help at least 3 people with a challenge/problem/situation that they wouldn't have been able to do on their own. They in their turn will help 3 people each, that help 3 people and so on... That way the help can be spread world wide in a sort of domino-effect.

What if things worked like that... How cool and wonderful wouldn't that be?

I believe there is something called the "Pay it forward movement" in USA. I'll check it out sometime.

In the meantime i I'll pay it forward to you readers!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Is she/he an alcoholic?

I often get emails from people that ask if their relatives are alcoholics along with a descriptions of their behavior and drinking habits.

That's when I start to think, is it important? Is it important to have a label or a diagnosis? What does it mean if a person is an alcoholic? Or not?

As I see it, it is the consequences of the might-be-alcoholic-behaviors that are interesting. Does the drinking affect other things in life? Does the drinking have consequences on the relationships to the relatives? To the wife/husband and the children? Does it affect ability to work? Does it affect the economy? Are other areas in their life affected?

If there are negative consequences on the different areas of life the person probably has a problem with addiction, and that is enough for it to eventually become a huge problem, despite if the person would be classified as an alcoholic or not.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Exercise: A new perspective!

A problem that currently might seem overwhelming can in a couple of years appear pretty simple. When you are in the middle of a problem you get emotionally affected and it can be hard to see the problem from other perspectives, from outside. Sometimes it can be good to take a step back and try to see the situation from another angle.

Here is an exercise on perspectives that can be helpful to you! Writing down your answers on a paper will help.

- Imagine it being ten years from now and look back at this situation, what would you think then? What advice might you give yourself?

- If it instead was your best friend being in the situation you are in, what would you advise them to do?

- If you were a statistician and you looked back on how your life has been statistically the last year, number of good days, number of bad days, number of consequences of alcohol/drug addiction and so on. What conclusion would the statistics make you come to?

- If you worked for a relief organization (eg Red Cross) or the social services: What would you then think was the problem that most urgently needed to be taken care of? What would be the most important thing to do as step 1?

These are only some of 1000 different perspectives you can see things from. If you find other helpful perspectives, use them as well! - Den ständigt växande länkkatalogen - Den ständigt växande länkkatalogen