Beliefnet
The Celebrity Therapist

addictAs a psychotherapist and life coach specializing in addiction recovery, I am frequently asked by family members what they should or should not do. Often family members are worried that taking a particular action or even making a specific statement to the addict in recovery can create the risk of a relapse or may somehow impede the progress being made.

In many situations, I find that family members can also benefit from professional services. In some cases, particularly with codependency issues in a family, all members of the family can benefit from therapy to address their own codependent behaviors and to learn more effective and healthy coping strategies and methods.

Another form of support I am able to offer my clients and their families is life coaching. As a non-therapeutic approach, it provides the family members with a confidential place to discuss their challenges and to create solutions that work for their own unique situation and family.

Through my own experiences with addiction and addiction recovery on a personal and professional level, there are some highly effective strategies that most families can use.

To help your loved one, the following strategies, tools, and techniques can be highly beneficial for everyone in the family:

·      Support all treatment recommendations – being positive and supportive of all therapeutic and non-therapeutic treatment options the addict purses is very helpful. For example, there may be a recommendation to change fitness and nutrition levels, or perhaps to join a support group or a group coaching program. Encouraging participation and being open to all positive changes is a simple way to rebuild lost connections and trust between family members.

·      Assist with appointments and medications – helping the individual in recovery to get back and forth to therapy appointments, or to remember online group meetings, and to ensure any medicines are taken as required is a sign of support and encouragement. It is essential to find ways to do this without seeing controlling or overbearing, and talking to everyone involved and creating systems is an effective way to manage this concern.

·      Be respectful of their needs – people in recovery should not be exposed to situations where alcohol and drugs are present, even if it is a glass of wine at a meal or a beer during the game. Find ways to celebrate in the family that promotes abstinence from alcohol and drugs for all and not just for the individual in recovery.

·      Be aware of signs of stress – learning to identify times when the person in recovery is under stress is essential as it allows you to provide additional support and time. Being there just to listen while the other person talks, to support their healthy choices, and to assist in times of stress is a powerful way to show you care.

Through life coaching or psychotherapy family members of those in recovery can work on improving communication skills, developing stronger interpersonal skills and learning more about how to demonstrate their commitment to the recovery process.

She helps singles navigate the dating process to find the love of their lives. Take her quiz to find out if you’re a love addict, sign up for a 30-minute strategy session, or learn more about how to get over a break up. Sherry maintains a private practice in Westlake Village, and is a sought after online dating and relationship coach. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com of sign up today for Sherry’s online group coaching program for $19/month https://wakeuprecovery.com/become-a-member-co/

addictMost people have had moments of being embarrassed and perhaps even humiliation in their lives. This is usually a result of doing something we see as foolish or wrong, or perhaps even unethical and unsavory. It is not about the act of doing something wrong; it is the way we perceive the action and how our feelings and thoughts about the action reinforce feelings of inadequacy or inferiority.

The Impact of Shame

For example, if you make a mistake in a speech and say something wrong, you may feel embarrassed or humiliated, and you may even feel guilty if you didn’t rehearse or practice. However, if you intentionally said something unethical, incorrect or misleading, you may feel a deep sense that you were wrong in your intent, particularly if it created a problem for someone else.

Children can grow up in an environment of shame. In dysfunctional families where addictions or codependency is an issue, it is easy for children to see themselves as unloved, unworthy, inferior or even inadequate. In other words, it is not their actions, but their whole being that is the cause of their shame. Constant belittling, criticism and even neglect and isolation all enhance this sense of inferiority and shame that becomes a central part of the individual’s way of seeing her or himself.

In an article in The Guardian, researcher Paul Gilbert at the University of Derby discusses the dangers of internal shame, also called toxic shame. He defines this is a “deep hatred of yourself” and a condition where you “don’t want to be the person you are.”

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have determined that this high-level toxic shame is often associated with early abuse in childhood, which can be physical, emotional or sexual in nature. These researchers propose that the exposure to the neurological changes that shame creates, can actually negatively impact neurological development.

Shame and Addiction

Individuals with a deep and ongoing shame of themselves are, by nature, isolated with deep and closely held feelings of being unworthy and unlovable. This, in turn, is linked to depression, and the use of alcohol and drugs is often initially a form of self-medication.

Additionally, the use of alcohol and drugs creates further feelings of shame. They also lower self-esteem and contribute to the constant cycle of seeing yourself as inferior or unable to cope. This downward spiral can only be stopped by a significant and powerful intervention.

People that feel unworthy of being helped, or even asking for help, rarely seek professional services on their own, but often they will seek help for addiction when prompted by family and friends.

To address the link between shame and addiction, it is important to start by working with a psychotherapist or recovery coach highly experienced in these areas for either individual psychotherapy or group psychotherapy.

·      Recognizing shame – recognizing when shaming is going on in the thoughts is critical. Learning to see mistakes as behaviors and not as a reflection of self-worth is essential to break the cycle.

·      Accepting self – learning to define yourself as a positive, worthy person is essential for recovery. Through therapy, you can learn to see value and worth in yourself and even uncover the causes of early shame that may have started in childhood.

·      Making connections –reconnecting with family, friends, and coworkers is essential to see yourself as part of a loving network. Learning to accept these people love you and see value in you can be difficult, but through therapy it is possible.

Breaking the cycle of shame and addiction and severing the link in your life is essential for healing. Working with an experienced therapist in this area is one of the most positive things you can do for yourself and a gift that will provide a high return on your investment.

She helps singles navigate the dating process to find the love of their lives. Take her quiz to find out if you’re a love addict, sign up for a 30-minute strategy session, or learn more about how to get over a break up. Sherry maintains a private practice in Westlake Village, and is a sought after online dating and relationship coach. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com of sign up today for Sherry’s online group coaching program for $19/month https://wakeuprecovery.com/become-a-member-co/

ghostingOne of the benefits, and also the potential pitfalls, of the always connected, always in-touch lifestyle people lead today is the ability to connect with people very easily and literally 24/7/365. A new friend or a potential partner could be just one social media post away, or you may meet someone on a trip to the local coffee shop or even one accidental meeting at a community event.

The downside to this constant interaction with people we don’t know and who are not part of our existing social network is the ease of these people, or ourselves, to simply disappear or go silent. This phenomenon of just vanishing from a relationship or interaction of any type is known as ghosting.

Ghosting is not just a behavior used by people that hardly know each other or perhaps have only “met” through social media and had no personal interaction. In a 2015 article in The New York Times, reporter Valeriya Safronova details how celebrity exes ghost each other, including Charlize Theron ghosting Sean Penn.

In a poll completed by the Huffington Post in 2014, of the 1000 people responding to the question of if they had ever ghosted someone, 11 percent self-reported they had simply disappeared from someone else’s life. Elle magazine also did a similar survey and found out of just under 200 respondents that almost 25% of the women responding reported using the behavior and just over 16% of men had done the same.

Why Ghost?

Researchers believe that the behavior of ghosting is based, in large part, in the inability of the person engaging in the behavior to set boundaries or to tell the other person they are not interested in pursuing the relationship. This can be a romantic relationship or just a friendship, but it is all about the inability of the individual to feel comfortable in saying “no” to the other person.

Another perspective that is commonly put forth by those who ghost is their inability to have to admit to doing anything wrong. By simply disappearing, they do not have to hear how their behavior has hurt the other person. They are able to internally justify this behavior as something that everyone does. In online dating situations, people who ghost often do not see the other person as “real,”instead they are a just a profile and there is no connection, therefore no empathy for any feelings the other person may have about the relationship. This allows them to simply stop communicating.

What To Do When You Are Ghosted

Today, it is more a question of when you will be ghosted and not if you will be ghosted. If you find someone suddenly stops interacting with you, consider the following tips:

  • Recognize the normal reaction – it is normal to feel angry, hurt, ashamed or embarrassed in a ghosting situation. Allowing yourself to accept these feelings and to process them through talking with others can be very helpful.
  • Do something you love – by focusing on positive aspects of your life and doing something you enjoy, you can refocus your mind from the potential relationship lost to the positive and real things in your life to enjoy.
  • Let go – stop blaming yourself, it was the choice of the other person to end the relationship is this way. Practice forgiveness and mindfulness in moving forward with the positive relationship in your life, letting go of any negativity created by the experience.

She helps singles navigate the dating process to find the love of their lives. Take her quiz to find out if you’re a love addict, sign up for a 30-minute strategy session, or learn more about how to get over a break up. Sherry maintains a private practice in Westlake Village, and is a sought after online dating and relationship coach. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com of sign up today for Sherry’s online group coaching program for $19/month https://wakeuprecovery.com/become-a-member-co/

happyOften, people have noticed a pattern in their life, where relationships that seem ideal quickly become toxic and partners that seemed like Mr. Right soon become Mr. Impossible.
The reality for many people is that codependency is often difficult to identify.
Many codependents are professionals and very good at what they do, as long as they are able to avoid considering what is going on in their relationships.
In my book The Marriage and Relationship Junkie,  I talk about my experiences with multiple failed, and toxic relationships and the sudden awakening I had to see that codependency was driving these unhealthy choices.
It is hard to suddenly see the truth, particularly when you are in a relationship that you are desperate to make work.
For many people, the justification for being overly involved in trying to seek approval from others is couched in terms of simply being too kind or caring. However, it can be narrowed down to codependency.

Issues that are typical negative experiences in codependency:

  1. Feeling isolated and alone in a relationship as the other partner seems oblivious or unwilling to meet your needs.
  2. Feeling an obligation to do whatever the partner wants, even if what is wanted is not something you feel or desire.
  3. Putting the needs of the partner above your needs in all or most situations.
  4. Inability to set boundaries or to say no, even if those things are against what you believe and see as right or fair.
  5. Feeling that saying no to the partner may end the relationship.
  6. Seeing yourself only as a part of a relationship and not as a unique individual.
  7. Pouring all of your physical, emotional and mental energy into a relationship and getting nothing in return.
Recognizing the issue is the first step, and then working with counselors and therapists to make changes is the next step on the road to recovery.

Turning the tide

Turning the tide
There are several options or strategies that codependents can use to start to make positive changes in life. Getting out of the destructive relationship and learning how to think about ourselves and those around us is an important internal change.
Changing how we think impacts how we act, and this all starts with making the choice to bring positive energy into our lives.

1. Positive self-talk

Everyone carries on their own internal monologue.
For those with healthy self-esteem, this monologue provides encouragement, praise, and support. For those with poor self-esteem, it translates into self-nagging and self-doubts. Turning this internal talk around begins with recognizing a negative thought about self and turning it into a positive.
For example, you didn’t make a mistake, you were brave and took a chance on something new, learning new information you can use going forward.

2. Become mindful

Mindfulness is a big buzzword today, and it doesn’t mean meditating with incense or spending hours thinking in a quiet room.
Mindfulness is becoming aware of what is going on around you and in your head and noting the thought while allowing it to pass without judgment.
It is a clearing of the mind that can be done anywhere and at any time. It is learning to be non-reactive but rather to understand how we want to respond in a positive way.

3. Be who you want to be

By acting in ways that are true to who you want to be, you become that person.
By choosing actions that build self-esteem and make us feel good about ourselves, we become more comfortable in seeing ourselves as just this person.
Expressing gratitude to others, doing specific and focused kind things to help people around us, learning to say no and set boundaries and stating our own wants and needs are all a part of becoming a person with a healthy sense of self-esteem.
There are positive changes you can start to make in your life today. Mental changes are difficult, but by putting them into action,you can make an amazing difference in your life.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a Certified Transformation and Recovery Coach and the leading Psychotherapist on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab and Sex Addiction.
She helps singles navigate the dating process to find the love of their lives. Take her quiz to find out if you’re a love addict, sign up for a 30-minute strategy session, or learn more about how to get over a break up. Sherry maintains a private practice in Westlake Village, and is a sought after online dating and relationship coach. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com of sign up today for Sherry’s online group coaching program for $19/month https://wakeuprecovery.com/become-a-member-co/