If you put these tips into play, you can leave that regret behind, get your own life back, and give your loved one valuable food for thought that could help set them on a new path.
Make inner peace a top priority in your own life.
If your first reaction to this tip is an eye roll, think again. Energy impacts relationships. When your loved one behaves in a crazed, upset, depressed or otherwise imbalanced way, the natural response is upset on your part.
But often, your upset simply multiplies theirs and the impact is to motivate them to numb themselves even more. No, I'm not saying you are responsible for their usage. They are. But, you ARE responsible for your response.
By making inner peace a top priority in YOUR life, you will be better equipped to respond to their problems sanely, rationally, and in a way that helps them move toward a better way of life., PLUS, you will begin to see life through new, more peaceful eyes.
You are always contributing to making things better or worse in your own life and that of your loved ones. Build your own fortress of inner calm so that you can consciously and consistently act in ways with the potential to make things better..
Observe their behaviors objectively and jot them down.
Being willing to see what is actually happening rather than focusing on your inner upset over what is happening. Your inner upset is not directly useful to your desire to help. The facts are! Jot them down. There will be time to share them. Just not yet.
Use the power of your breath to calm yourself down when observing behaviors that trouble you.
Look within again. Are you upset? Is your blood pressure rising? Are you too upset to think clearly? Who wouldn't be! But again, if the goal is to be helpful, it is important to bring yourself back to calm. The 4-4-8 breath exercise works for many to return to peace.
Breathe in slowly, naturally, and deeply to the count of four. Then hold it in to the count of four. Then let it go, again, slowly and naturally, to the count of eight. If these numbers are the ones that work for you, experiment with others. The idea is to use your breath consciously so you can bring yourself back to inner peace.
This does not mean you don't have feelings to work through. We will save the details of that for a future article. But right now, breathe.
If that is not enough, stretch your arms and legs. Walk around the room or block quickly and powerfully, swinging your arms.
During upset, the blood often leaves the brain and goes to the feet. The breath stops and leaves you speechless and at a loss. the key is to return to rational thinking. You may even need to leave the room to bring yourself back to center. To be optimally useful to another person - and to yourself, calm is essential. There are many ways to use breath and body to increase peace within yourself, Use them!
Observe your own words and behaviors.
How do you interact with your loved one? Do you cry to everyone else and keep a stiff upper lip with your struggling loved one, bailing them out of their problems and giving them whatever they want? Do you yell and scream at them before you cave into their demands? Do you tell them what you see, only to back off when they argue that you don't know what you are seeing? If any of these describe your behaviors, how's that been working for you? Be honest with yourself and consider a new path.
Get out of denial and into awareness!
This is important because:
Denial is the linchpin of the addictive system.
Lying to yourself is no longer an option, especially if their drinking or using is out of control, uses your resources, involves your covering up for them and bailing them out of their problems.
Believing their "I've got everything under control" line is NOT helpful. Remember: they must first lie to themselves to keep using. Then, when you confront and they deny, they need you to believe them. That keeps denial in place and allows them to continue using in a smooth, unfettered way.
This leads us to Tip #6:
Stop believing their lies and start believing your own eyes and ears!
Stay aware of the facts of the situation. Believe the facts, not your troubled loved one's spin on the facts. You contribute to their addiction when you allow their lies to push what you have seen and heard into the back of your head. Keep track of the facts by continuing to jot them down.
Look for their behavior patterns in your notes
While it is true that occasionally the eyes and ears can fool us, it is just as true that when a loved one is embroiled in a real struggle with substances or other addictive behaviors, a pattern will emerge. That is what you are looking for in your note taking.
Script and then share what you have seen and heard. in a loving conversation, known as a BALM (Be A Loving Mirror) conversation.
Once you know you have facts worth sharing (relevant to your loved one's challenges), put them into a conversational format as follows:
- start with love
- share the facts
- end with love
Practice delivering this with a tone that is calm, sincere, objective. Save the drama for another day. Not for this conversation.
Then, when you have delivered the love and the facts, either change the subject or walk away.
That is all. Nothing more.
Brief intervention is one of the most powerful evidence-based best practices when it comes to helping a struggling loved one consider choosing recovery.
You share it, without emotion, they get a chance to absorb the facts without the distraction of your drama. Powerful stuff.
If necessary, set a boundary.
A boundary is something you put into place to improve your own life. It's not about controlling them, it's about choosing the life YOU choose to live.
Here are some things to consider:
If your loved one has expected you to bail them out of jail, wake them up for work, take them to their dealer, have the alcohol cabinet stocked, allow them to come in at 3 AM, make all kinds of noise forever and ever, etc., and you see these things as not how you choose to live anymore, you can set a boundary.
Often, boundaries involve you choosing to no longer enable!
Enabling is when you do anything that makes it easier for your loved one to get their substance or engage in their addictive behavior.
Stopping enabling is something that will be hard at first but it will do two things in the long run:
1. Give you greater freedom to not have your life wrapped around their using.
2. Give them fewer choices about how to get their substance or engage in their addictive behaviors.
While they may find other enablers, your no longer being one means you are NO LONGER CONTRIBUTING to their use.
Disengaging from enabling makes your life better in the long run AND helps you be their BEST chance at recovery.
In other words, it will definitely save YOUR life and may even contribute to saving theirs!
Being someone's BEST chance at recovery is about choosing to put yourself first while also being conscious of how you engage with the struggling person.
It's a path worth pursuing IF your goal is to help your loved one and get your life back.