Beliefnet
The Celebrity Therapist

imagoAccording to Harville Hendrix we are attracted to our Imago–what he calls our dream partner– an image of which we carry around in our brain.

The Imago is like a puzzle. As we are growing up, every time someone significant in our lives stimulates us it becomes a piece of the puzzle–a memory. Even with our parents this can be a sensual imprint, but not always.

The most common Imago is a composite of our parents’ traits. Unfortunately our parents often lacked a healthy personality so this is what we look for when we grow up. Sometimes the Imago is based on an ideal person who is just the opposite of our dysfunctional parents, but because he  is just perfect we go looking for the perfect partner and never find him.

At the end of adolescence, we are not really sure, the last piece of the puzzle is in place and we have a picture of out Imago.

Most love addicts go searching for the Imago with a vengeance. Normal people just wait for the Imago to come along, and build a successful happy life, including high self-esteem, in the meantime.

When normal people meet their Imago they are attracted and, sometimes,  fall in love. Love Addicts go nuts. Everything is magnified.

Normal people eventually discover that their Imago needs a little bit to be desired, and seek out compatible people, assuming their Imago is not compatible.

One the other hand, love addicts get addicted to their Imago and pass up on others who might fulfill them in other ways besides the magic of l passion.

In recovery, we must do an inventory of our Imago. Put the negative things we can’t have on one side of the page, and the positive things we can keep on the other.

We must reconstruct out Imago.

The hard part is becoming attracted to our new Imago. This is difficult. It is like being told by the doctor that we can no longer eat sugar (give something up) and start eating our vegetables (adding something healthy) In time, we really do learn to love our veggies and we live happily ever after.

Attraction, which love addicts call love at first sight is not enough. Be patient and let the love grow.

I used to have a list of what I was looking for in a partner. It was all Imago stuff. I left out compatible and, most of all for me, AVAILABLE. I don’t have a list anymore. It is in God’s hands.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, Radio Host, Certified Transformation Coach and author of  the award winning book, The Law of Sobriety:Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery and Ecourse www.wakeuprecovery.com. www.sherrygaba.com sherry@sgabatherapy.com.  Find out if you are #codependent. Take my quiz.  http://sherrygaba.com/co-dependency-quiz/ 30 minute strategy session with Sherry http://sherrygaba.com/product/30-minute-strategy-session-sherry-gaba/

reflect

If you were to be asked to immediately write down the first 5 words that come to your mind to describe yourself, what would those words be? Would they be different if you knew you had to share them than if you were the only person that would even see the text on the page?

People with addictions of any type have a hard time seeing themselves in any other light than as an addict. They often see themselves as failures, as insignificant, as unimportant and as, first and foremost, an addict.

A Clear, Positive Future

The reality is that how we see ourselves and how we see our future has a lot to do with shaping our recovery. When all we see in our potential is the mistakes and bad choices we have made in the past, all we see is the same type of chaos and failure in our future.

In my book, “The Law of Sobriety,” I talk about the important of being able to see ourselves as positive, changing and evolving people. This isn’t the “fake it until you make it” technique, it is about really seeing ourselves for who we are, not just a sum of our history and past actions.

Turning the Tide

Remember the first question I asked you about writing down words to describe yourself? Try this exercise next, write down 5 to 10 words about how you want yourself to be. Don’t worry if you aren’t there yet; these are your goals and aspirations.

Now, stop and consider one step you could take today to move towards becoming one or more of those words. Let’s say you wrote down “employed” and you are currently seeking work. Think about one thing you could do today to move yourself down the path.

By focusing on what we want in life, not where we are right at the moment, we create goals, objectives, and paths to follow. This isn’t a passive process, but it is effective and something that everyone can achieve.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, Radio Host, Certified Transformation Coach and author of  the award winning book, The Law of Sobriety:Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery and Ecourse www.wakeuprecovery.com. www.sherrygaba.com sherry@sgabatherapy.com.  Find out if you are #codependent. Take my quiz.  http://sherrygaba.com/co-dependency-quiz/ 30 minute strategy session with Sherry http://sherrygaba.com/product/30-minute-strategy-session-sherry-gaba/

Krister_linder_good_intentionsIt is common to hear addicts talk about themselves as if they were different than other people. They have often gone through so much and felt dehumanized so many times that seeing things work for other people is like watching a foreign film, they can’t understand the message and they don’t get the plot.

In my book “The Law of Sobriety”, I discuss how important it is for addicts to see themselves as any other person. Learning how to tap into the Law of Attraction and using the energy provided to us by the Universe can be used for healing addictions and developing a positive message to send forth to the world around us.

The Problem

A very big problem is the inability of the addict to see the damage the addiction has caused. As with any type of healing process, there has to be an acknowledgment of an illness before the treatment seems logical. Additionally, active steps have to be taken to change thinking, behaviors, and habits to allow for a successful recovery.

Too many times people with addictions misunderstand how the Law of Attraction works. It is not just simply wishing for things; it is creating intentional choices to remove the source of the addiction from your life on a daily basis. It is not just a once a week practice to check off on a list of things to do; it is an approach to life that is a guiding  philosophy to direct our energy and that of the Universe around us to help us to achieve our goals.

At the same time, we are actively working to achieve those goals. It will never be effective to simply think about not drinking and then go the bar with your friends. Instead, you will need to have purpose and intention in finding other activities that don’t involve the use of alcohol, drugs or any other addictive substance.

The Reward

The reward in using your energy to change behaviors while having purpose and intention in your life is truly inspiring. You will find opportunities are presented that weren’t there before. You will gain strength in getting through an increasing number of days without using, which puts you on the path to lifelong addiction recovery.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, Radio Host, Certified Transformation Coach and author of  the award winning book, The Law of Sobriety:Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery and Ecourse www.wakeuprecovery.com. www.sherrygaba.com sherry@sgabatherapy.com.  Find out if you are #codependent. Take my quiz.  http://sherrygaba.com/co-dependency-quiz/ 30 minute strategy session with Sherry http://sherrygaba.com/product/30-minute-strategy-session-sherry-gaba/

luv adThere is lot in the media about love addiction, but what about Relationship Addicts? How do they differ from Love Addicts? What makes them special and harder to treat? Why are they more likely to relapse?

Relationship Addicts [RA] were the first type of love addict to be recognized. They were first called co-alcoholics and then later co-dependents. As the media moved on to write extensively about the Love Addict, Relationship Addicts have been left in the dust until recently. Now there is a resurgence of interest in the RA.

Let me begin, by stating that what sets a RA’s apart from a Love Addict is that he or she is in a relationship.  Love Addicts are often obsessing about someone who is unavailable. Furthermore, most RA’s are also co-dependent. [Please note that there are as many male RA’s as women.]

According to Love Addicts Anonymous, there are two types of Relationship Addicts (RA):

Type One are RA’s who no longer love their partner romantically. The honeymoon is over. Still,  they cannot let go. Usually, they are so unhappy that the relationship is affecting their health, spirit and emotional wellbeing.  Even if their partner batters them, and they are in danger, they cannot let go. They are afraid of being alone. They are afraid of withdrawal. They are afraid of change. They do not want to hurt or abandon their partners. I describe this as “I hate you don’t leave me.”

Type Two are RA’s who are addicted to a relationship with a parent, child, friend, sibling, or anyone for whom they have never had romantic feelings.

Type Three is the RA who goes from one relationship to another without taking a break in between. They are terrified of being alone. Often they seek out a a new relationship when the one they are in begins to deteriorate. Some RA’s of this kind have never lived alone in their entire life. Relationships are their life.

Signs to look out for.

  1. You are too dependent on this person (financially or emotionally).
  2. You do not know where you leave off and they begin.
  3. You hang out with them too much.
  4. You cannot make decisions without their input.
  5. This person comes first. You always do what they say to do. You give in to them.
  6. You doubt your own decisions.
  7. Your needs are less important than the needs of this person.
  8. When you are not in contact you go into withdrawal.
  9. You have overwhelming compulsion to contact them even when you are living your own life.
  10. You always want to make sure they are okay.
  11. Everyone has told you the relationship is unhealthy but you keep hanging on.

At the later stages of the addiction, you can’t stand this person but you can’t let him or her go. You feel relief initially when they are not around, but then panic and want to make contact for no explainable reason.

Treatment for RA’s is more complicated because RA’s want to continue their relationships with their children, parents, or friends. Sometimes they have financial ties, shared custody, or a business relationship with an ex-partner. No Contact does not work for them. This is why RA’s relapse more often.

Relationship addicts who need or want to stay involved such in such relationships need to approach recovery differently. They need to create healthy boundaries which help them stay connected and yet enjoy their own lives. This is not easy. I suggest they read about boundaries and learn what they are. Where does their relationship with their husband, ex, or child start and leave off?

Once you know what healthy boundaries are enforce them. This is a process and will take time, but don’t give up. As Robin Norwood explained in her book, Women Who Love Too Much, the people you have been addicted to will rebel when you start taking care of yourself, but they will fall in line and actually encourage you if they really care. If they don’t care then just live with this.

You are as important as everyone in your life. Creating your independence is the first step in establishing healthy relationships. When you love and honor yourself you have more to offer others. Not all the things you think they want, but the gift of yourself which is even more meaningful to them if they really care about you.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, Radio Host, Certified Transformation Coach and author of  the award winning book, The Law of Sobriety:Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery and Ecourse www.wakeuprecovery.com. www.sherrygaba.com sherry@sgabatherapy.com.  Find out if you are #codependent. Take my quiz.  http://sherrygaba.com/co-dependency-quiz/ 30 minute strategy session with Sherry http://sherrygaba.com/product/30-minute-strategy-session-sherry-gaba/