Discover the Art of Detachment

Your heart must become a sea of Love

Detachment. Synonyms include aloofness, indifference, and disconnection. These words sound harsh when linked with relationships. However, detaching with love can be the greatest gift we can give ourselves. Learning to detach with love sets us free.

Detachment is not detaching from those we care about. It is detaching from the agony of over-involvement. We liberate ourselves from excessive worry, preoccupation with others, and a false sense of control.

Detachment is freeing us from the responsibilities of others. It enables us to stay true to our individual life and responsibilities. Unconditional love for ourselves sets others free from our tight reign of control.

The opposite of detachment is attachment. When we are enmeshed with codependent behaviors, we are overly involved. Codependency stems from childhood trauma, abuse, and emotionally unavailable parents or caretakers. Codependency is an unhealthy form of attachment to others. We need to feel needed. It is placing outward focus to gain love or affirmation. We adopted this behavior in childhood when our parents or caregivers discarded our thoughts and feelings. Abandonment presented itself through emotional unavailability, neglect, divorce, or preoccupation with work, shopping, drugs/ alcohol, sex/ relationships, or gambling just to name a few.

We learned to be reactors rather than actors. Neglect and criticism drove us to react in defense as the mascot, hero, caretaker, people pleaser, and scapegoat. The roles we took on maintained the homeostasis yet denied our true self. We believed we are not good enough and lost our sense of self to gain attention. Love became associated with abuse.

Our unquenchable thirst for love and safety caused us to tolerate cruelty and abandoned our personal values, friends, or career. Our childhood experiences gave us the message we have to do something to gain love, attention, and safety. This self-destructive behavior hinders our adult relationships.

6 QUESTIONS TO ASSESS IF YOU ARE CODEPENDENT.

  1. Do you have excessive worry and preoccupation with others?
  2. Do you have obsessive attempts to control?
  3. Do you react with intense negative outbursts and emotion?
  4. Do you depend on others to determine your feelings?
  5. Are you always taking care of others, rescuing, or enabling irresponsible behavior?
  6. Do you obsess and can’t get your mind off the person or problem?

We can learn new ways to cope. Detaching with love has many rewards. We can learn to love and care about others without hurting ourselves. We can understand how to live without guilt or resentment. We can discover that detachment may motivate and free people around us to begin to solve their problems. If not, we can still live without the entanglement of obsessions and worry.

The Solution

  • Twelve-step groups
  • Individual or Group Therapy
  • Social Learning

There is hope for recovery. It is possible to have healthy relationships. It starts with support from other recovering codependents. Twelve-step groups such as Codependents Anonymous or Adult Children of Alcoholics or Alnon are very helpful. Regular attendance at meetings provides a safe place to meet and interact with other members who exhibit similar characteristics and work together to support, encourage, and contribute healing experiences.

Individual or group therapy provides more in-depth healing than twelve-step programs. A therapist who specializes in addiction, attachment issues and familiar with the twelve-step principles and solutions solidifies the skills learned in twelve-step programs.

A good therapist utilizes a combination of various treatment modalities. She investigates with open, nonjudgmental curiosity, accountability and provides psycho-education, empathy, and compassion. Eventually meaningful connection and healthy boundaries are maintained in all relationships. A better life begins.

The skills and therapeutic healing created through twelve-step groups and personal therapy provides social learning. Social learning gives us maturity to improve our relationship with our self. We can interact with others while maintaining self-love, respect, and self-protection. We have a robust sense of personal identity and values. We treat ourselves with care, kindness, compassion, and are able to acknowledge and validate our thoughts and feelings and tame the inner critic.

Conclusion

Being codependent is a learned behavior due to unhealthy attachment to our parents or caretakers. They adapted their style of relating to others from their parents. It’s a generational disease passed on. Our parents’ lack of trust to make decisions, blame, make excuses, and irresponsibility projected onto us. It was just too scary for them to take ownership when they lacked any sense of self. There is no wonder we came out as adults the way we did. We learned as children how to attach as adults.

Understanding our present is passed on generational abuse can help us find compassion for our parents, ourselves, and open the doorway to healing and recovery. We can learn to love honestly, protect, care, and take responsibility for ourselves. We can formulate healthy relationships. Regular reflective inner work at a Twelve Step program, therapy, and allowing ourselves to take risks and make mistakes, we can choose to open our hearts, be vulnerable, and let our real self explore the beautiful gifts of the world. We can confidently care and protect our self-love.

Principles of Service and Gratitude

12-step program12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The twelfth step of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) recognizes that the practice and principles applied in the entire ladder continue throughout a lifetime.  It is having the awareness to continue to live out the values of AA in our life and our relationships.  Learning and personal growth doesn’t stop once we complete all the steps.  It is a gradual and continual process.  It continues as long as we are open to noticing, observing our inner and outer world, and it’s affect on others and ourselves.  It is continuing responsibility for our actions, attitudes, and assessing our values and goals to ensure we are moving in harmony.

Maintaining sobriety is equivalent to a dieter who lost (fifty) 50 lbs.  To upkeep the recent weight loss; personal habits, choices, and a support system must be maintained.    The new physique is taken care of by consistent exercise, healthy food choices, and constant consciousness of the things they do, don’t do and consume.     The same is true for a member of AA.  Abstinence of alcohol unmasks many of the insecurities, fears, anger, sadness, and hurt covered by the veil of alcohol.  To help continue the change in behavior the recovering alcoholic must find healthy ways to acknowledge and process those surfacing emotions on a daily basis.  The principles of the twelve steps are a roadmap to notice, assess, and make adjustments to personal behavior that was denied while drinking.

Step twelve is based on the principles of service and gratitude.  In service, we are helping others.  In gratitude, we are thankful for the support, guidance, and safe environment to express our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs associated with our continued sobriety.

Since we have awakened from our own misguided beliefs, we have the experience, knowledge and ability to help others who may be struggling.  As a member of AA it is our duty and privilege to pass on our wisdom, our understanding, and our support.  It may be as simple as listening with an open mind and kind heart.  It may be validating for the first time someone’s thoughts and feelings.  It may be sharing from personal experience.  It may be sponsoring a newcomer and providing consistent friendship and support for their sobriety.  It may be any one or more of these deeds of service.  The most important component is to offer compassion, understanding, and an empathic listening ear.

As part of the AA program we provide service to others with humbleness and gratitude.  Having appreciation for a spiritual awakening is being thankful for the people who were there for us when we needed help.  It is reflecting on what we learned, being grateful, and in turn sharing our knowledge.  It is also assessing the approach that was given to us and adjusting it to what we would have liked when we first entered AA.  How has AA helped you and how would you convey that to others in a helpful manner?

AA is about living a clean and sober life with meaningful and honest relationships.  The twelve steps provide a foundation and platform to launch your personal growth and development of healthy relations with yourself and others.  Following the principles one day at a time enhances our lives.  The program when followed correctly ensures when we pass, we are remembered for being present, honest, courageous, humble, responsible, patient, and charitable with faith and hope for the future.

Here is a list of seven questions to help ponder your experience with the Twelfth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous.

1. Have you been able to reach out to another recovering addict? If so, describe the situation and how it feels to you.

2. What kind of approach would you like to have had when you first started the program? How can you implement your desired method in your life to others now?

3. How has the 12 Step program worked for you? 

4.  How do you usually handle conflict? Do you know of any way to be more effective in conflict resolution? If so, how would you become more effective? What would be the steps?

5.  How much time are you willing and able to work with others on their program? How will you go about setting that time aside?

6. What resources other than AA can you call upon when you need help as a sponsor?

7. How and when do you know if you are suited to helping another person on working a 12 Step program?

Contact me to enhance your journey recovering from alcohol or substance abuse addiction.  April Wright, MA., MFT Registered Intern #69624. Under supervision of Kathryn Tull, M.A., LMFT #44809 Kathryn Tull, Inc. 310.502.4944 http://www.therapywithapril.com https://femmevolution.wordpress.com

Principles of Prayer and Meditation

prayer-meditationStep 11 – Through prayer and meditation I seek to improve my conscious contact with God as I understand God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for my life and the power to carry that out

The principal of the eleventh step of Alcoholics Anonymous is prayer and meditation.  Taking a few minutes a day breaking away from everyday frustrations, distractions, and multitasking’s for self-examination can change your life.  Spending just a little time each day consciously connecting with your higher power can directly influence your thoughts, attitudes, emotions, and behaviors.

For most people, serenity is far off in the distance due to those day after day interruptions, obligations, and disturbances that cause chaos and clutter. Making prayer and meditation a daily routine is your path to new hope leading to a more serene life.

Whenever you are feeling stuck, confused, need help, or don’t know what to do next, take a few minutes to talk to your higher power.  Ask for guidance and help.  At first, it may feel awkward talking to a force you can’t see or hear.  Stay with the uncertainty and within a short period of time you will see results.

There are many books, articles, and literature on how to pray and meditate.  Most religions have formal guidelines for prayer.  Religious guiding principles include confession of wrongdoings, asking for forgiveness, expressing gratitude, asking for guidance, asking for blessings on family, friends, and loved ones or trying to love.

Choose your own religious ritual or spiritual pathway that works best for your lifestyle and beliefs.  Select a regular routine that will enable you to continue and make it a habit.  Pray in nature, taking a walk, in the shower, or on your knees by your bed.  Meditate in a group.  Bow your head, clasp your hands, or close your eyes.  Or sit alone, quietly and just think.

Talk out loud or write entries in a journal dedicated to your higher power.  Dictate a long prayer in the morning, night, or recite short messages throughout the day.   Whatever the method, you have the autonomy to choose your own process for prayer.

Whatever your course is for prayer and meditation ensure it is one you can do consistently.  During this time for yourself, you can address self-care, including how to nurture inner peace, when to reach out to others, and how to find a way to embrace a perplexing task and really own it as yours.  You can reflect upon ways to carry through on good intentions, where to make time for fun, and to be present for your feelings.

Prayer and meditation is a time to be open and receptive to whatever comes up.  Honor the process by being with and allowing your feelings to move within and through you at their own pace and timeframe. Stay with the practice trying not to change, distract, distort, or numb what is happening within.

Respect what is happening inside by mindfully acknowledging your thoughts, emotions, and perspectives.  It may be a good time to reach out to a trusted friend, your therapist, or your sponsor for validation.  Eventually you will get to a place of acceptance, understanding, and a renewed sense of relief and peace.

With an inner sense of tranquility, the hurt, anger, and helplessness is diminished.  When the walls of fury are dropped, the gates are open to a pathway for love.  You are more receptive and able to connect to those you love or trying to love. Your connections are expanded because you set free your loving presence to soar.

Cultivating a deeper prayer life provides new opportunities for reflection, affirmation, and lasting change in your relationship to yourself and others.  The eleventh step of Alcohol Anonymous is one that is encouraged to practice every day.  With diligence and consistency, a spiritual consciousness awakens a fuller, robust life with rich, meaningful relationships.

Here is a prayer to get you started.  It is a recovery prayer based on Alcoholics Anonymous, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:

“Thank you for keeping me straight yesterday.  Please help me stay straight today.  For the next twenty-four hours, I pray for knowledge of your will for me only and the power to carry that through.  I pray that you might free my thinking of self-will, self-seeking, and wrong motives.  I pray that in times of doubt and indecision, you might send your inspiration and guidance.  I pray that you may send me the right thought, word, or action, and that you show me what my next step should be.”

Step Ten of Alcoholics Anonymous — A Life Journey

Responsibility: No single drop of water thinks it is responsible for the floodStep 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Steps one through nine provide tools to awaken internal realizations and relational manifestations.  They offer help to accept the past and heal what is possible.  The first nine measures give guidance for honesty, faith, hope, courage, and humility for responsible lives.

Step ten is based on the principle of responsibility.  Being responsible is using our authority to make independent decisions for our actions and for our failures to take action.  We are accountable for our actions and their consequences.

The tenth step uses the basis of responsibility and applies it to daily life as an ever evolving journey.  Throughout the stages of life, we are in a in a constant state of transition, emerging, evolving, and becoming.  We are continually discovering and making sense of our existence.  As we repeatedly question ourselves, others and the world, it is important to continue looking within and practice being accountable for our behaviors especially when we are wrong.  Paying attention to our varying degrees of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors helps improve conscientious decisions-making.  Keeping abreast to our internal being and being true to ourselves and others maintains balance and happiness as we progress in our lifespan.

To help encourage awareness make time each day to practice stillness.  Stillness is slowing down from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  Set up a quiet sanctuary for your practice.  Maintain a personal ritual in a quiet place where you can focus internally.  It’s a time to just notice and listen in the moment.  This is not a time for judgment or ridicule.  Just allow thoughts to surface and pay attention to where the feeling is sensed in the body.

The concept is simple, yet can feel difficult to perform.  To assist, you might create a place dedicated solely for the purpose of reflection.  Form a tranquil space with pillows, blankets, and memorabilia that are personally special.  Wear comfortable clothing.

Nature is another sanctuary.  Ensure there are no external distractions such as electronic devices or interruptions.  Take the time to focus internally and scan your body and listen to your inner being.

Begin by taking several slow, deep breaths.  Start your practice remaining silent for five minutes and as your meditation muscles strengthen, add more time.  Increase in one to five minute intervals each week until you reach thirty or forty-five minutes, or as much as feels right for you.

In the beginning taking time for mindfulness may seem like a waste of time. Allow for the process to transpire and you will reap many benefits. You will have more clarity and decisiveness.  With less wandering of the mind, you are able to make quick, precise decisions.   You are more centered, well-balanced and connected with your core and inner being.  Having greater connection to your body and mind provides more awareness.  Being aware supplies consciousness to peace and confidence in your authenticity.

Stillness is your sacred time to connect to your spiritual power and to reflect inward.  It is a valuable time solely for you.  With practice, you will adopt, habituate and notice positive changes in all areas of your life.

Now that you are more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and actions, challenge yourself to experience fearful situations and remain there knowing you can manage your emotions and take responsibility for your behavior.  Each person has unique thoughts, emotions, and urges.  They are a natural part of life.   Distinctive thoughts and feelings are not right or wrong.  Labeling them good or bad/right or wrong is passing judgment.  Acceptance is a state of non judgment.  Reassure yourself, that your thoughts and feelings matter and are of value.  They equate just as much as everyone else’s.

The more in tune you are with your thoughts and feelings, the more you can create a safe place for you to express them in a healthy way.  This means stating your wants and desires.  If you are not getting want you want, it is your responsibility to express your needs.  People are not mind-readers.  The only way to have a healthy discussion is to communicate openly and honestly.  Allow the other person to speak, express their thoughts, desires, and feelings; and then do the same.  Use respectful dialogue.  Establish ground rules such as no name calling, blaming, yelling, or stonewalling. If the conversation elevates to such a level, take a time out with a specific day/ time to reconvene and continue the discussion.  Ensure you return at the established day/ time.  This builds trust.  With practice, responsible responses will habituate and become easier over time.

Having an awakening to your internal psyche creates more options and alternatives. Exposure to communication brings deeper connection and better relationships.  We are our choices.  Thus instead of using alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, gambling, and relationships to restrain what you think and feel, you have the capacity to notice, acknowledge and choose how you manage your internal workings.   Your relationships will show the improvement.

Step 10 encourages you to notice and allow whatever thoughts and emotions you are thinking or feeling to surface.  By observing your interior consciousness you are awakening to a richer life of happiness, joy, and serenity as well as managing your own life for safety and protection.  Having thoughts and emotions are normal and healthy.   Allowing them to surface doesn’t mean you have to act on them.  It’s being in charge, building a relationship with your fears and distress, and strengthening your confidence to know you can handle difficult experiences.

Responsibility Sure Glad the hole isn't at our end.

Forgiveness – A Crucial Component of Step 9 in the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.Forgiveness is a process and a choice.  It is the opportunity to untie the bindings of your pain from the past.   As part of the course of action, forgiveness involves confronting your fears and compassion to allow yourself time to physically and emotionally heal.  Exposing yourself to persons, surroundings, or objects that you fear offers the opening to have a corrective experience.  You are able to reorganize your memories and repair those recollections.

For example, as a child you may have experienced being attacked by a Rottweiler.  You were not physically hurt but the immediate threat startled you.  As a result you froze.  This is a natural fear response.   The terror was never discussed by your family or friends.  Thus the thoughts and emotions were not processed and disorganized memories formed.  Avoiding the discussion of the incident caused your fears to worsen.  Unprocessed feelings transform to generalized fears and all or nothing thinking.  Consequently you became fearful of all dogs and avoidant of the neighborhood where the attack occurred.

By exposing yourself to another Rottweiler that doesn’t attack gives the opportunity for a remedial and healing experience.  Difficult memories are allowed to surface.  The thoughts and emotions that were once suppressed can now be processed.   Processing gives way to reorganizing your memories.  You learn that not all Rottweilers show aggression.  You broaden your capacity for more knowledge and understanding.  All Rottweilers don’t attack.  There are some aggressive dogs and others that are very loving.  Black and white thinking transforms to accepting that Rottweillers and all animals have trustworthy and safe parts and some that are not.  For example, a cat that was once abused as a kitten associates touch as a threat.  Thus when you pet him, he bites.  As long as you don’t pet the cat, he is kind and playful.  Animals and experiences are complex and make up many parts not just good or bad.

The same is true for people.  Most parents, loved ones, and friends do not intentionally try to hurt you.  The hurtful behavior that was endeared was taught and passed down from their parents.  As a child, you have no choice but to tolerate the emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.  You are completely dependent upon your caretakers for safety and protection in whatever capacity they can.  Thus you learn to protect yourself, suppress your emotions, and tolerate abuse.  The abuse continues until you learn that as an adult you have a choice on what to tolerate.  You can now tune into your emotions and express them in a healthy manner.  As an adult you can courageously choose and confront those in your cycle of abuse.  You can choose to forgive.

The persons on your list from Step four are participants of the cycle of abuse.   By respectfully approaching those on your list, you may be able to have an open discussion, grasp a better understanding from their perspective, explain yours, and possibly heal old wounds.  All participants must be willing to have an open mind and to listen and speak compassionately from the heart.  It is possible to heal hurt with positive, respectful dialogue.  As you both come to a new understanding, unresolved emotions are replaced with restored, transformative memories to a place of forgiveness and healing.

Make Amends

Step 8:  Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) recognizes that addiction affects not only the user but all relationships especially family members.  It doesn’t matter whether their role was passive or aggressive.  Each person has a part and the eighth of the twelve steps of AA spotlights those relationships in a two-step process.  The first piece is to make a list of all persons harmed.  The second element is to become willing to make amends to those persons listed.

This means looking back at all your relationships and doing a personal inventory addressing your role even when you have been harmed by others.  The process can be daunting and feel overwhelming.  Reflecting upon difficult times and the interactions can bring up hurtful memories and feelings of guilt, shame, disgust, hurt, and many other complicated emotions.    During these times it is useful to practice self compassion, patience, and understanding.  To help, you may want to use the guidance of your higher power; consult with your sponsor, a trusted friend, or a therapist to learn to set free those harmful feelings.  Looking into the past is a humbling experience.  It is important to let go of your pride and acknowledge your role.  It takes tremendous humility to make amends with someone who may have harmed you more than you injured them.  Step eight is about having the humbleness to take responsibility for your part.

In step four you began to look at your resentments, made a list of persons, and of whom you have those ill feelings toward.  Step eight offers the opportunity to look at that list from another perspective.  Since the principles toward willingness can feel complex and overwhelming, I have broken the process down into ten specific, achievable, and realistic goals.

Process for step Eight:

  1. Assess your past in manageable amounts of predetermined timeframes in a safe environment.

Set aside a chunk of time to open the doorway to a loving viewpoint for yourself and for those on your list.  While accessing your past and reviewing your list from step four, give yourself the opportunity to practice self-care.   You may want to start with fifteen minutes and progress to an hour or so.  Do it at your own pace and when you are ready.  Decide if you want to start from the most recent of times and then go backward or vice versa.  There is no right or wrong way to revisit the past.

Set the environment and give yourself the proper conditions to feel safe and prepared for difficult emotions to arise.  You may want to play your favorite CD.  Brew a warm beverage.  Sit in a comfortable chair in a well-lit area.  You may want to have a box of tissues nearby. Ensure your surroundings are free from interruptions and distractions.  It may mean turning off all electronic devices or going out into a secluded spot in nature.  Whatever it is, make sure the atmosphere feels right to you; where you can take time to process your past.   Keep a journal or notebook and write what comes up.  Allow your thoughts to flow freely without judgment or ridicule.

2.  Be compassionate to yourself.compassionate hug

A lot of hurtful feelings may arise.  Allow for your emotions to emerge and come to the surface.  It is normal to feel resentment, sadness, anger, disgust or whatever you are feeling.  There is a reason why you are feeling the way you do and permit yourself the opening to feel all that materializes.  Let the feelings occur while actively becoming attentive to them.  Focus on the present moment, where you are right now.  Don’t derail yourself by not feeling the feelings.  In the moment, practice compassion and move away from opinion and criticism.  Just notice, stay with the process, and if helpful write what comes to mind in your journal.

3.  Make changes to move toward acceptance.

Integrate nurturing, comforting thoughts and behaviors.  Surround yourself with supportive people who can help in the journey.  Acceptance is allowing and understanding the process.  Progression is giving yourself permission to cry, to be angry, and to feel your pain.  The more you experience what you have suppressed for so many years, the more you can relinquish the past and live a gentler, more open and fulfilling present. Freedom comes after you let the feelings flow.

4.  Begin to write a list of people who you have harmed.

You have already begun a list with your resentments in step four.  Use the inventory to guide you to reconstruct or formulate a new list for step eight.  Set your timer for how long you want to spend evaluating who is on your list.  Start with fifteen minutes and progress to more time as the process becomes easier.  Through the process, finalize who you want to address and acknowledge your role.

5.  Evaluate how you harmed those persons.

You have completed your list for now.  It is time to evaluate how you harmed those persons.  What do you think you did to contribute to the conflict?  What would you do differently now?  How could you have looked at the situation differently at the time?  What do you think the other person was feeling?  What messages was their behavior indicating?  What were you communicating with your behavior?  Was that aligned with what you really wanted to convey?   How would you act to parallel your behavior with your intent?

6.  Determine your role in the wrong doings.

Decide how you played a part.  What was your role in the relationship?  What did you learn?  What would you do differently now?

7.  Establish a plan for how you would like to make amends.

At this instant, you have evaluated and deeply understand your role from multiple perspectives.  Establish a plan for how you would like to make amends.  You may want to make an official apology to the person.  You may want to repair the relationship with an open dialogue.  It is up to you to decide the best way to compensate for your role in the relationship.

To create a safe environment for discussion about the past, listen openly and without attachment.  Detach yourself from the outcome and their reaction.  Listen honestly and without judgment or criticism.  You may want to mirror what you hear the other person saying. Try reflecting their thoughts and feelings in a short sentence starting with “I”.  Try your best not to react to their words.  Your goal is to mirror what they said and check in to make sure you have received the message correctly.  Let the other person have an equally valid point of view.  A major source of conflict is not recognizing each other’s separate existence.

There are many ways to make amends.  Consult with your sponsor or trusted confidant to determine what method is right for you and that particular situation.

8.  Seek advice from your sponsor or respected member of AA who has completed step eight to review your list.

You have made your list.  You have determined your role.  You have established a plan on how you would like to make amends.  It is time to take this thorough craftsmanship of work to your sponsor, someone you respect in the AA community, or your therapist.   It helps to have one person review and check your list to ensure that you are not going to do more harm than good by approaching that person in the mending process.  There is no right or wrong way.  Remember a person’s opinion is subjective.  It is up to you to use your internal wisdom, guidance, and reflection to know what is best for you and the relationship with the person you have harmed.  You are the one who has to face those on your list and have crucial conversations. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide who you want to make amends with and how you want to do so.

9.  Begin the process to willingness to approach those persons and make amends.

Willingness begins with acceptance.   You began working on your acceptance of the process in step three listed above.  You have been able to recognize and allow hurtful parts of yourself to surface.  You have hopefully offered yourself understanding and normalized that we all have components we are proud of and are not so proud of.

The darker sides are elements that may have been denied, shunned, or rejected from loved ones in the past.  The more compassion, self-love, and sympathy you have for your experience and reaction that made you who you are today, the more you can accept your true self and others and their individual characteristics.  When you are able to understand the origin of these mysterious sides of yourself, you can learn to integrate them into your being and use them in positive ways instead of destructive habits.  Most of us have sides that split into bizarre fantasies or mean behaviors that are usually nothing more than compensations for past humiliations, wounds, or deficits.  Understand they are normal.  You don’t have to shun essential pieces of yourself anymore.  You can consciously use them constructively.  The closer you are to self-acceptance of all that you are the more willing and able you are to accept others as they are.

10.  Make amends with those persons on your list.

You have completed a long, arduous, and difficult pathway into your past.  You have learned to be with and release difficult emotions.  You have developed more self-compassion, acceptance, and willingness to face your fears and have those essential conversations.  It is time to take your dedication, all your preparation, and your hard work to good use.  Now is the moment to make amends with those persons you have harmed on your list.apology_artform

While making your reparation, remind yourself to practice compassion for yourself and for the other person.  Allow for differentiation and acceptance of their story.  It doesn’t make it right or wrong.  Their opinion, thoughts, and perspectives are theirs to keep.  You are there to make amends with your narrative and what you believe to be right.

The twelve steps of AA are meant to be a lifelong process and journey.   As you go through each, there will be times to review certain steps again.  We all have an effect on others.  The steps are a guideline to awaken empathy, compassion, and understanding of those relationships.   Step eight gives the opportunity to reflect and learn from the past so that we are more present, aware, and compassionate in our relationships.

“Growth and healing occur by allowing old wounds to be expressed and released in order to make room for a lighter way of being.”             ~Kathryn Tull, M.A., LMFT

April Wright, MA, MFTI is a registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern #69624 under supervision of Kathryn Tull, M.A., LMFT #44809.   April holds an active and current registration with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.   April is a member of CAMFT – a professional network designed to educate, advocate and enrich its members. If you have any questions or you would like to discuss how to enhance your spiritual connection and need support in your sober process, please contact April for a free 15-minute consultation.

April Wright, M.A.

MFT Registered Intern #69624.
Under supervision of Kathryn Tull, M.A., LMFT #44809
Kathryn Tull, Inc.
310.502.4944
http://www.therapywithapril.com
https://femmevolution.wordpress.com

Peace Mandala for Amends

Alcohol Anonymous (AA) Step 7: Ask Our Higher Power To Humbly Remove Personal Shortcomings

SeventhStepPrayerIn step one (1), you admitted powerlessness over alcohol.  In step two (2) you came to believe that a power greater than you could restore your reasoning.  You possibly named that source to be God, Allah, Nature, a passed-on relative or loved one or even your breathe.  In step three (3), you turned your will and life over to the care of your higher power.  In step four (4), you wrote a list of your moral inventory which included your resentments, faults, fears, sexual injury, and harms.  Once your list was complete, in step five (5) you stated your role in past wrong doings.  In step six (6), you declared to your higher power that you are ready for him/ her to remove your shortcomings.  And now in step seven (7), you humbly ask your higher power to remove your shortcomings.

“If you are truly humble, nothing can touch you, neither disgrace nor praise, because you know who you are.” –  Mother Theresa

In step 6 you prepared yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually to have the limitations you listed in step 4 removed.  The limitations could be past negative self talk, manipulative behavior, or explosive reactions to others.  Whatever the behavior, thoughts or feelings, you are now ready for change.  After much preparation, step 7 provides the direction to humbly ask your higher power to remove obstacles that are preventing you from the healthy interactions with self and others.  You have adjusted your attitude, let go of arrogance, pride, and now unpretentiously and respectfully ask your higher power for strength and to remove whatever obstacles that have prevented you from succeeding in the past.  During times of temptation to retreat to old destructive patterns, you look for your higher power’s guidance.

What does it look like to complete step seven?  Let’s use the example of quitting smoking. In step six, you prepared yourself and declared that you are ready for change.  You said, “I am ready to quit smoking” and you turned it over to your higher power.  You believe in the possibility to quit smoking.  You let go and have faith in your higher power. You rely on dialogue and prayer, modestly asking for strength during times of temptation.

Steps 6 and 7 are considered the hardest of the actions due to their constant attention to a spiritual connection.  At times, it is difficult to determine your own personal will versus your higher power’s will.  It is the belief in your partnership with your higher power and their desire for your success that can help alleviate any question.  Your confidence in your partnership, personal intention, motivation, and daily actions affirming your desires are of utmost importance to the outcome of your efforts.

You can view it from the standpoint that your long-term goal is to quit smoking.  You declared it in your mind, to another, and to your higher power.  Your responsibility is to ensure you have continual, conscious contact with your higher power to guarantee that each minute, hour, and day you do the best you can to achieve your goal.

With the grace and guidance of your higher power you are breaking down your larger goal into smaller manageable actions.  The process begins in the morning when you awaken.  You embark on the day asking your higher power his/ her will for you.  It could be the simplest of things such as you are not going to buy a pack of cigarettes today.  As the day passes, the enticement may be great.  This is where the importance of step 7 comes to play.  You ask your higher power for help and pray for the power to carry out your goal.  As your spiritual bond strengthens, your chances to follow through are increased.

If you fail it is important to forgive yourself and keep trying.  Unlike your higher power, you are human and mistakes are bound to occur.  It is imperative to have compassion and understanding for yourself.  If helpful, visualize that your higher power is holding your hand and supporting you along your journey to remain from smoking; knowing your will and intent are in good fortune.

At the end of the day as you fall asleep, give yourself praise and accept your higher power’s approval for your role in making your goal a reality.  If you broke down and bought a pack of cigarettes, it is crucial to be kind and gentle to yourself in small setbacks.  There is another day and your higher power is there to support you when you humbly ask.

Working step 7 along with the other steps is a continual process.  As long as you are continuing to put one foot in front of the other, you are moving forward; positively and purposely as your higher power encourages.  With the guidance of another and your ongoing spiritual connection and consciousness, you are able to achieve anything you determine it to be.  As long as you are kind, gentle, and compassionate to yourself, your spiritual being will support and help you along the journey.

April Wright, MA, MFTI is a registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern supervised by Kathryn Tull, M.A., MFC44809.   She holds an active and current registration with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences pre-license 69624.  She is a member of CAMFT – a professional network designed to educate, advocate and enrich its members. If you have any questions or you would like to discuss how to enhance your spiritual connection and need support in your sober process, please contact April for a free 15-minute consultation.

April Wright, M.A., MFTI 69624
Employed & Supervised by Kathryn Tull, M.A., MFC44809
310.502.4944
http://www.therapywithapril.com