The Celebrity Therapist

codep     When I first realized I was a codependent, one of the things that I began to understand was that I lived my life playing the victim.  Everything was always happening TO me, people were always doing harm to me, and I was completely innocent, and the list could go on forever.  I victimized myself, and I wallowed in every bad emotion I had.  Doing this made me lose sight of the good things in life.

Today, I’d like everyone to grab a pen and paper so that we can make gratitude lists.  This is one of the tools that helps me feel good about myself and my life, and it helped reframe the misery I was putting myself in.

When I was miserable and wallowing in self-pity and self-loathing, everything seemed like a direct attack to me, and everything was going to ruin my life.  There was no getting over something or moving on from it.  There was no silver lining.  Creating a gratitude list has required me to look for the silver lining in every situation, and to see that even though really negative shit happens in our life, it is how we perceive it that makes the difference.

Start making your gratitude list now, and see if you can’t add to it a bit during the day.  Before you go to sleep tonight, finish adding whatever you would like.  Read it aloud to yourself, or to a friend if you have one you feel comfortable doing so with.

Don’t be afraid to add “bad” things to your list.  For example, maybe you missed your bus and were frustrated early on, and then later in the day something happened that made you realize you were supposed to miss that bus.  Even if you did just miss your bus, and you were late with nothing to make up for it later…add it to your list!  You may not be grateful for it now, but just adding it to the list can attach positive emotions to it and make you feel better about it!

“If you want to find happiness, find gratitude.”- Steve Maraboli

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  Find out if you are #codependent. Take my quiz.

finger     Many of us have heard the phrase, “When you point your finger at someone else, remember you have three fingers pointed back at you.”  It took me a long time to truly get an understanding for this phrase.  It wasn’t until going into recovery for codependence that I finally realized what it meant.  Now, it is a sort of tool that I use to help guide myself in my own recovery.

One of my biggest problems was judging and criticizing others.  I would blame them for things that I had a hand in, and I would comment on how something they were doing was irritating me.  When I began recovery, I started looking at myself rather than others.  In doing my fourth step,  my eyes were truly opened to my behaviors and actions.  Suddenly, I realized I was all of the things I saw in others that bothered me about them.  That’s why they bothered me so much!

Now, even though I am working on not judging and not criticizing, it’s still an ingrained reaction, and I find myself doing it sometimes.  Instead of ignoring it and not caring that I am acting this way, I take a moment to use it as a tool.  I ask myself what it is that bothers me so much, and then I bring it inward and try to see if I can’t find times where I have acted similarly.  This tool has really helped bring me out of denial and avoidance!

It’s much harder to look at ourselves than it is to look at someone else and point out what we dislike.  There is so much pain stored inside, that the idea of really looking at ourselves is daunting, if only for the reason that we are convinced that we won’t like what we see.  The beauty of looking inward is that we truly begin to recover.  We cannot participate in our own recovery if we are busy focusing on someone else.  So today, I would like you to try to remember the phrase, “Spot it, you got it!”  If you find yourself annoyed with a person, try and use it to guide you into seeing a little bit more about yourself.  Don’t be afraid!

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  Find out if you are #codependent. Take my quiz.

black whiteGrowing up with an alcoholic parent, we were taught to see things in extremes.  It was either the best possible thing that could ever happen, or the worst possible thing that could ever happen.  Our parents had been taught, and were passing on to us, the lesson that people in the world are good or bad, right or wrong, smart or stupid, strong or weak.  If something bad happened, we often heard phrases such as, “I should just give up, then.”  Our world was framed around these extremes.  We have extreme reactions to situations and people in order to get what we want.

Being an alcoholic or a para-alcoholic, manipulation is part of our tool belt.  We can whip it out at any moment, and craft any situation in order to gain the upper hand.  Our ego rules us, believing that we are the most important, right now, and that is what needs to get taken care of.  If it doesn’t get done, we can whip out our other handy tools, shame, blame, and guilt.  We can throw them at our enemies with great precision, and back them into a corner.  This is our game, and it is how we win.

It is time we realize that life does not have to be this way.  We can take off our blinders and see the world for what it really is.  Just because we have not been living our life in a loving and healthy way for ourselves does not mean there is no hope for us.  There is always hope.  There is always another option.  There are always grey areas.  We do not have to let our pasts define us.  We can find a way forward, out of the black and white, and step out into the sun to see the colors as they really are.

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  Find out if you are #codependent. Take my quiz.

supportWhen we are choosing the people in our lives, we like to pick ones that comfort us and support us in our times of need. Part of our relationships with these people means supporting them as well. Some of us don’t really know what it means to be supportive, and we do the best we can.

So, what does it mean to be supportive? What can we do to connect with our loved ones better, and help lift them up without any burden to ourselves? Luckily, the answer is quite simple.

Many of us are fixers – we like to solve other people’s problems, lend a hand, and make sure everyone else’s lives are running smoothly. As a fixer myself, I know that more than enough time is spent on these tasks. Living as an adult child of an alcoholic means that I am well versed in the art of fixing, whether it is cleaning up after someone, fixing their mistakes, or bailing them out of trouble when that might not be the best thing for them. Being a fixer is not a bad thing; many of us are caregivers by nature, and we genuinely do love to help out. Being a fixer just means we spend a little too much time focused on fixing others.

Unfortunately, the best intentions can sometimes go astray. We know that we are coming from a loving place or wanting to help and connect with the other person. Constantly telling them how to fix their problems, however, is not what someone wants out of a supportive friend, and we often get pushed away.

Instead of fixing, try affirming what the person is saying. When someone complains about work, or a problem with a boyfriend, try to just listen and make them feel heard. By doing this and letting them figure the problem out on their own, will show them you have confidence in them, rather than fixing them and showing them that your way is better. A lot of times, we just want an ear, and for someone to agree with us that the situation we are in is difficult. We don’t need to try to fix someone in order for them to like us and enjoy our company. We don’t have to bend over backwards for other people, we just have to be there for them. Allow them the dignity of making their own decisions and offer insight when they ask. Fixing generally means that something is broken, and we don’t want to make people in our lives feel broken, we want to empower them and make them feel strong.

Today, I’d like to challenge you to just listen to one person that is venting, and show them that you hear them. Validate what they are saying, and try to hold back from fixing them. If the temptation is too strong, try asking them if there is anything you can do to help with the situation. Remember, you don’t need to use your energy focusing on anyone else’s problems.

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  Find out if you are #codependent. Take my quiz.

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