From survival to flourishing
Whether you have been down and out, or what used to be called a ‘high functioning’ addict, you will have been used to employing some form of manipulation, denial or downright deceipt. Probably a mixture of all the above. These things become a lifestyle and insure that anything you build will not last.
Because you have taken the building Recovery approach you will now have planned your recovery. Thought about where you want to live and what design is good for you. You have thought about the cost and made sure that you are willing to pay it. You have built a solid and stable foundation that your new home will stand on. Now it’s time to think about your approach to life and how that has shaped your relationships.
There is always some form of deceipt in any addictive lifestyle. It’s part of secrecy and the need to keep people out, as well as the security acheived when we know something they don’t! It’s now time to consider the nature of this strategy. I would basically describe it as a survival strategy. Now there’s nothing wrong with that. If you hadn’t survived you wouldn’t be reading this and you couldn’t build anything! But we survive in order to flourish and the ground floor is all about learning how to flourish as part of a normal lifestyle. So how do we shift from survival to flourishing? We use the right materials to build with.
What materials will you use?
When we think about a building we think about something that will last, something that will shelter us in good times and bad. This means using the best materials we can afford. Your aim is to build something that will last a lifetime. Something that you are happy to live in. A home that is fit for purpose. This can only be done with the best materials.
Appearance over Reality
Your addicted lifestyle meant using survival techniques a lot of the time. This meant lying and trying to cover things up when your addiction got in the way of what you had promised someone you would do, or somewhere you would be or something you would pay. This is all part of a survival approach and is very short term. It does not build good relationships. It does not really build anything.
As we move from a survival strategy to a flourishing strategy we must use better building materials. I want to look at some of the most important materials now.
Honesty, Integrity, humility, vulnerability, boundaries and relationships. These are character qualities but in this approach we think of these things as building materials. The better the materials, the better the build!
But first the question, what is it that attracts us to poor quality materials? Obviously it’s the cheaper price. When you skimped on honesty, when you didn’t consider integrity. When you were too afraid to show vulnerability. When you didn’t build good relationships by managing the boundaries. All these times added up to a poor standard of building and so when the bad weather came, the whole thing would come crashing down.
These things can be grouped together in this way, appearances over reality. When we use poor quality insulation in the walls no one will see it. When we use cheap wiring, wood and other materials that are not the required strength or thickness, we are more interested in appearance over reality.
The reasons you did this are both complex and simple. In that the psychiatrist would cite narcissistic tendency (complex) and the people who know you would say you are a liar (simple). The point is that we want to change to a flourishing strategy, so how do we need to do things differently? Number one advice, avoid extremes!
People with addictive tendencies tend to be people of extremes. More is always better, right? So your first reaction tends to be to change everything, now! Try to avoid this. Think about a dial, say to a stereo player or to the central heating. Think about turning that dial 5% more. That’s right. 5% is a good shift. And there are two reasons for it not being more. First you don’t want to over challenge yourself. Second you want to be fair to people that know you. 5% means that they wouldn’t be too shocked by the changes.
Ask yourself, could I be 5% more honest with this person? Could I be 5% more vulnerable in this relationship? Could I be 5% more direct with this situation? All these changes help you in your aim to build well and to build substantially.
What are my challenges?
Everyone is unique! Your challenges will be subtly or majorly different to others. So there is no general fit here. I just want to make sure that you are able to discern what your particular challenges are. And that you know the reasons why you might find this difficult.In your addicted lifestyle, you developed the belief that suffering of any kind, even ordinary discomfort, was to be avoided. And worse, that it was dangerous to your health! Neither of which was true. No matter what drug you took or what behaviour you acted out with, it became a substitute for feelings. It helped you to avoid the pain of growth.
It’s time now to accept the idea that challenges are good for us. That they help us to grow. But that they are also uncomfortable and that discomfort is a part of normal life.
For some the greatest challenges are honesty. This is often because they are used to the security of knowing something others don’t.
For some the greatest challenge will be authenticity and vulnerability. This is often because they have a history of ridicule or physical abuse. They have learned not to let others have anything that they may use against them.
Check your relationships room by room
The rooms you have designed offer you a way of looking at your relationships in a more focussed way. By placing each relationship in a particular room you are setting a context for the relationship and, as a result, a way of assessing the quality of the relationship.
When you place a person in a certain room that room sets certain expectations of that relationship. It helps you think about what the relationship should include and not include.
So the initial question is “is this person in the right room?”. If you have the wrong room then the relationship will always be problematic. It may surprise you to find that you have people in the wrong room, but it’s quite common.
This is often found in the rooms of friends and work for instance. Sometimes our relationships need to be divided in more subtle ways, such as mutual intrest aquantances, friends and close friends.
Once you have our rooms designed you can then make sure you have the right people in the right rooms. Only when you have the right people in the right rooms can you properly understand and then apply the idea of boundaries. Let’s do that together now.
Are your boundary fences in the right place?
Boundaries are a whole subject in themselves. I want to keep this idea simple and powerful for you. There are only three possibilities here. Number one – Your boundary is in the right place. Number two – Your boundary fence is too far from your house. Number three – Your boundary fence is too close to your house. Let’s assume that option one is fine and needs no further scrutiny. We’ll take the other two one at a time.
Option two – your fence is too far away from your house. This means that you are expecting someone to mow your lawn! In practice this means that you are not taking enough responsibility for your stuff, or you are not recognising what is yours and what is not yours. When you move your fence a little further from the house you may experience some reaction from your own ‘parts’ or from the other person in the relationship. Remember, there’s a lot of history here.
Option three – your fence is too close to your house. This means that you are mowing someone elses lawn. In practice this means that you are expecting yourself to take responsibility for something that is not yours. Again, when you move the fence to the right place expect some reaction from your own ‘part’, which may expect you to keep doing what you have always done. Or the other person, who may well expect the same.
In this context we are thinking of the people in your life in terms of developing relationships. This involves some risk. When you put your boundary in the right place it could mean the end of that particular relationship. When you put your fences in the right places you will be changing the structure of your social life. It could mean difficulties at work. This is one of the main challenges of moving home.
Which rooms am I neglecting?
There will always be a tendency towards one room over the other, that’s just human. So the question “which rooms am I neglecting?” is not simply a way of having yet another go at yourself. It’s a method of maintaining balance in your progress. Particularly in the first two years when you are dealing with all sorts of pressures that come with your new design.
Doing this work on your boundaries will also help you in reviewing your design. Take another look at your ground floor design drawing. Is everything still being built as you wanted it? Or are things tending to return to how they were? When you place people in different rooms or move your boundary fence with regard to any particular relationship, your room size and design may come under increased pressure.
The pressure will always be towards returning things the way they were. This is mainly because of the fact that others don’t change straight away just because you do. It’s also because you still have those parts of you that want to protect you in the same old way. So, consider putiting in a monthly check on your design and make sure you can see the design instructions being followed.
Am I building too fast or too slow?
This idea of pace is all about safety and risk, and the balance and tension between them. The idea is to build at the right pace FOR YOU. It may disappoint others in your life if you build too fast for their liking. It may upset or worry others when you build faster than they think is safe. But there is a right pace that is not set by others, it is set by your ADULT SELF.
So, let’s make sense of this by understanding what pace is about. It might seem obvious to you that slow is best because ‘what’s the rush, right’. It might seem obvious to you to go really fast because ‘why wait, right’. Until you understand the main reason for thinking about pace, you may struggle to understand what the right pace for yourself is.
The right level of challenge
Pace is about maintaining the right level of challenge for your growth. When the level of challenge is correct you grow and learn. When the level of challenge drops too low you stop learning because you are TOO SAFE. When the level of challenge gets too high you stop growing because you are OVERWHELMED.
It’s like going in the gym for the first time. There are two ways to put yourself off. By spending all your time in the jacuzzi pool or by trying to lift the heaviest wieght in the place. So build at the right pace and continue to check if you have become too safe or being overwhelmed. We will continue this in the next message. See you there.