The Celebrity Therapist

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.

Dahlia_'White_Perfection'_1                Hello all!  Today I want to talk about the topic of perfection.  As codependents and love addicts, we have striven for perfection constantly, only to be disappointed when our expectations were not met.  Whether it was someone else we were trying to impress or just ourselves, we were hard on ourselves for not executing it perfectly.

We don’t have to be hard on ourselves.  Nobody in this world is perfect!  We seem to hear that from people all the time, but the struggle is in understanding and really believing it.

We look at other peoples’ lives, especially with social media, and they seem to have it all – jobs, families, houses, vacations, and happiness.  But there is so much of peoples’ lives that we do not see, and each person has their struggles.  Truly, nobody is perfect.

But oh how we wanted to be.  If we were perfect, our parents would love us right, or boyfriend would be our husband, and we would get that promotion we dream about.  But our perfectionism hinders us more than it helps us.  We focus too much of our energy into trying to please others and be the perfect person that we lose ourselves.  We don’t do what we want, or what may even be good for us, because there is a chance that we can be the perfect person and that will solve our problems.  When we fail at being perfect – not because we are failures at all, but simply because nobody can be perfect, we are ashamed of ourselves.  We feel guilty, and we tell ourselves that next time we’ll be more perfect, an antagonize over minute details rather than the bigger picture.

Our worth is not defined by how perfect we are, as we have been led to believe.  No matter what, we are worthy, and if there is someone that expects perfection in return for their presence in your life, they are not the right person for you, and that is okay.  We are imperfect.  It makes us human,  It allows us to empathize and have compassion for others, and when we share our imperfections with others, we are courageous and it creates connections with others.  We don’t have to be perfect.  Nobody is.

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

NOWe all have a right to say no.  Most of us are used to hearing this phrase in terms of drug use or consent (“Just say no!” and “No means no!”).  Many of us feel as though we are obligated to do things, or that if we commit to something, we cannot change our minds and back out.  This is false.  We have the ability to make our own decisions, and to say no whenever we feel we need to.

Saying no can be hard!  There are people that we want to impress, and a lot of the time, we truly don’t mind doing something for a person here or there.  There are some of us however that feel overwhelmed with how much we have agreed to do, and we find ourselves unable to say no.  Perhaps we want to seem like we are always willing to help, or we want to give a good impression of ourselves.  Maybe, we don’t even realize that our problem is saying yes to everything.  The good news is that there is always room to grow.

I have a friend that freelances her work, and she used to say yes to every job she was offered.  It wasn’t long before she found herself exhausted and overworked, and ready to call it quits.  After one particularly grueling few weeks of working straight through with no days off, my friend realized something needed to change.  She was trying to hard to please the people around her that she lost her needs in the process.  After a while of saying yes to everything, this friend began to say no to jobs based on a specific criteria.  If that’s what helps you – go ahead and make a list of requirements in order to say yes.  Or maybe, you just decide that you want to say no three times a week.  The important thing is to remember that it is completely okay to say no to people, and you do not have to justify why you have done so.

I think this is something that trips up a lot of people, myself included.  Not only do we feel as though we can’t say no, but we feel as though if we do say no, we have to have an amazing reason for doing so, and the person we are saying no to has to somehow be okay with it, or we must feel guilty.  We’ve got to stop this!  It is so much easier said than done though.  If we can start saying no, and stop justifying ourselves for every decision we make, we might just be happier.  But we have to start one step at a time.  These behaviors are ingrained in us and they will not change overnight.  We can become aware, and work to change them one behavior at a time.

Today, I challenge you to say no to something that you normally would say yes to.  If you don’t feel comfortable with that quite yet, try to just become aware of the times you are justifying your actions to yourself and others, and see if you can’t catch yourself and remind yourself that you have your reasons, and others don’t need to know them.

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