Beliefnet
The Celebrity Therapist

higher powerRelationship junkies are always trying to create a “perfect” relationship. Of course, perfection is a fantasy, but they’re always trying to bring that fantasy to life. Seeking perfection—in yourself and others—is actually a compulsion to control, which is why relationship addicts sometimes feel like controlling partners. When everything around them seems precarious and desperate, control creates the illusion of reliability.

But what if you didn’t have to control everything? The opposite of perfectionism is faith, and faith means surrendering your efforts to a higher power. If you could put your faith in something besides yourself, you could give up control sometimes and trust that things will come our right.

Although it’s a controversial notion, surrendering to a higher power is an integral part of just about every addiction recovery program. Not everyone believes in a higher power and not everyone agrees with the idea of surrender. But surrendering to whatever your higher power is—god or goddess, the universe, the force, your own intuition—is crucial for recovery, because surrender teaches us what we can and can’t control, and what we should and should not trust.

When you try to control everything, you usually end up frustrated and mostly out of control. That’s because none of us is omnipotent, and a lot of things in our lives really are out of our control. Surrendering to a higher power means you finally realize you are in control only of what you do. When you know this, you can stop trying to control others. You can relax, you can learn, you can trust.

There is an infinite source of strength we can access from our higher power. We can let go of the struggle to relive our past and reshape our present by connecting to that source.

Ways to connect to a higher power can include prayer, meditation, guided visualizations, positive affirmations, forgiveness, gratitude, and reading spiritual literature. Spirituality can also be found in 12-step meetings, church, synagogue, temple, mosque, and/or creating your own sacred space in your home. However, do not confuse spirituality with religion. Spirituality is your personal relationship with your own higher power; where mind, body, and spirit come together as one in perfect harmony. It is as close to organized religion—or as far away—as you want it to be. You just need to be willing and open to that relationship.

If the idea of having a higher power at first feels uncomfortable or if you have a hard time really believing there is a power out there that is working for you, try acting as if there is one. Just pretend. Act as if your higher power is nurturing you. Acting “as if” is a powerful choice all by itself, and opens up all sorts of possibilities—including a spiritual awakening. There is nothing more empowering than surrendering the emptiness you might be feeling inside not to another unhealthy relationship, but instead to your divine self. When you surrender, your higher power will embody the unconditional love and acceptance you have been so desperately seeking.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a 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. You can take her quiz to find out if you are co-dependent or sign up for a 30 minute strategy session with Sherry. Check out Sherry’s new book The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking Your Obsession.

phone-1889401_960_720You can’t watch anything on TV these days without seeing an ad for a dating app. The selling point for most of them seems to be that they’re more scientific about making a match or the people who use them are more serious about dating—all leading to some version of, “We’ll make sure you get married and live happily ever after.”

If you’re a marriage or relationship addict, this is wrong for you in so many ways. Dating apps reinforce all the ideas you need to get away from.

The first is that you always need to be dating, with the goal of getting married. These apps stay in business by reinforcing social stereotypes that people need to be paired up to be happy, and that dating and marriage must be everyone’s ultimate goal. In real life, you can be happy alone or miserable in a relationship. Or it could be the other way around. Happiness does not depend on pairing up.

The second problem is the idea of “happily ever after.” That’s a fantasy. And if there’s one thing marriage addicts need to stop fantasizing about, it’s that the perfect partner will sweep them up into the perfect marriage so they can live happily ever after. Real-life couples have happy times and tough times, times when they want to be together every moment and times when a little goes a long way. They know they will never get everything they need in life from just one relationship.

Having unrealistic expectations about a partner is a recipe for disappointment and disaster. No one can save you or turn around your life by being perfect for you. You’re responsible for your own life, and only you can make it great or make it miserable—or somewhere on that wide spectrum in between where most of us live.

That hot but sensitive guy or cute but no-nonsense woman in the dating app commercial does not hold the key to your happiness. You do. But dating apps keep tempting you to believe otherwise.

Since marriage can be addicting, let’s consider an example using a more well-known addiction—gambling. If you fantasize that being rich is the only way to be happy, and that the best way to get rich is to play casino slot machines, you’re going to spend all your free time and all your money playing slot machines, becoming poor and unfulfilled and never actually being happy. That’s time you could have spent actually working to earn some money, and energy you could have invested in figuring out what you’re good at and passionate about to make a successful career for yourself.

Likewise, if you keep playing the dating app slot machine, you’re going to invest all your time and energy chasing a fantasy relationship, rather than figuring out what’s really going to make you happy, and then going about getting it.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a 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. You can take her quiz to find out if you are co-dependent or sign up for a 30 minute strategy session with Sherry. Check out Sherry’s new book The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking Your Obsession.

image1If you’re at all interested in mastering powerful transformational processes that you can ACTUALLY USE to create the recovery coaching business or psychotherapy practice you desire, be sure to join me for my upcoming…

FREE Coaching and Q&A Call for Recovery Professionals Being held Wednesday, March 28th, at 11:00am Pacific. Click here to register…     https://wakeuprecovery.com/wur-coaching-call-for-professionals

lessWe all tend to pick partners who reflect the vision we have of ourselves and our world. Unfortunately, that means marriage junkies end up being attracted to partners who remind them of their dysfunctional family relationships, where they never got what they needed. It’s ironic, in a way, because while they’re searching for someone to be their everything, they end up settling for much, much less.

Here are some of the reasons why relationship addicts settle for relationships that just don’t give them what they need.

  • Denial. Denial of reality (who are partner really is, who we truly are, whether we are actually happy in the relationship) keeps us deluding ourselves about our partner and ourselves. We see only what we want to see, and explain away the rest.
  • Illusions. We believe we can change people into who we want them to be. We assume they will somehow behave differently with us or we can make them behave differently. We might convince ourselves that once we’re married, they will miraculously become the person we long for them to be.
  • Low self-esteem. Good self-esteem is a result of empathic and nurturing parenting, but if we grow up in a family where our needs are not met, validated, or acknowledged, we feel invisible and that our needs don’t count. That can result in feelings of unworthiness and not being good enough because we have been invalidated and misunderstood.
  • Shame. Underneath shame are deep feelings of self-deprecation and inadequacy. We feel unworthy, unlovable, and disconnected from ourselves, therefore, others. When we develop low self-esteem that results from shame, we end up sabotaging our relationships with controlling, rescuing, and/or people-pleasing behaviors.
  • Dependence. This unhealthy attachment to another person is not the same as a healthy connection with someone who is dependable. In essence, we cannot recognize our wholeness and completeness, so instead we enter into relationships as half a person—someone who feels incomplete without a partner.
  • Emptiness. This feeling is a result of growing up in a family where our need for nurturing and empathy is not met. If our basic need for attachment is not met, the resulting feeling of abandonment sets us up for depression, anxiety, chronic loneliness and isolation—all aspects of emptiness or a feeling of nothingness.
  • Fear of abandonment and rejection. Missing out on early bonding with a primary caregiver can cause extreme fear of abandonment leading to a child being parentified—taking on responsibilities way beyond what they are developmentally able to take on. When these children become adults, they continue the abandonment cycle by either having relationships with people who are emotionally unavailable or by avoiding relationships entirely—thereby avoiding the threat of rejection.

When we aren’t honest about what motivates us, we end up settling for less every time. How many women do you know who fantasize about the wedding day versus the actual marriage? If you can see, their priorities are way off. A wedding is just a day, but a marriage should be a lifetime.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a 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. You can take her quiz to find out if you are co-dependent or sign up for a 30 minute strategy session with Sherry. Check out Sherry’s new book The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking Your Obsession.