As a Coach over the past 30 years, I have worked with thousands of clients who were struggling with drug and alcohol problems. Many were in the early stages of the disease; some were in the advanced stages. What they all had in common was that they had tried many things to control their alcohol and drug use, failing over and over.
I have spent most of my time working with people on an outpatient basis, using Coaching to support their sobriety. Where are you currently in your struggle with alcohol and drug abuse? What have you tried up to this point? Is there someone in your life who is struggling, and you want to know what you can do to help? The material on this site will help you to approach sobriety differently, either for yourself or others. Coaching also helps you gain all that you can from free resources such as A.A., N.A. and Alanon Twelve-Step Programs, Celebrate Recovery, CAIR Self-Help and CAIRing Grace Groups.
The disease of alcoholism and drug addiction can best be understood in the light of present cultural attitudes and beliefs. Our society is permeated with many subtle messages that contribute to the problem of alcoholism. There is an underlying fear of pain and a worship of comfort. Advertisements tell us that if we have pain we should “take an aspirin” and if we can’t sleep we should “take Sominex.” We are told that we shouldn’t “let them see us sweat” because we should be calm and confident at all times. We are told that if we want to be more popular, we need to know how to order the right beer; sex and friendship are available at our nearest tavern. We must get what we want when we want it, or it is “awful.”
Mass media makes it easy to confuse needs and wants. New is better. We shouldn’t have to work hard at relationships. Things and other people should make us feel good. We should feel happy and peaceful at all times, or there is something terribly wrong. These and other messages affect our expectations and become the background for us to view ourselves and our lives. Children are particularly affected by this programming, and Adult Children of Dysfunction are no exception. The disease of alcoholism is experienced within this social context - by alcoholics, their co-dependent partners, and children who grow up in this toxic environment.
There is a growing epidemic of people feeling disconnected and isolated, urgently needing to connect with others. Alcohol and drugs are a central part of the social process for most of that connecting. The show “Cheers” touches a deep cord of being where “everyone knows my name.” Alcohol advertisements always show people relaxing and enjoying each other with beer/wine at the center of things. We sit isolated, alone, seeing the warm relationships and we want to be a part of the picture. Adolescents and young adults often feel like outsiders if they don’t drink and use drugs. The show “M.A.S.H.” showed Radar, the naïve young radio man on the show was the only one that didn’t use alcohol as a major social lubricant.
Addiction to prescription drugs such as opiates, tranquilizers, sleeping medications, etc. continues to destroy lives in growing numbers. Emotional pain and stress can not be “handled” with these highly addictive drugs without a very real likelihood of addiction. The cultural expectation is that life should be good and we shouldn’t have to put any special effort into making it happen. This lack of connection between effort and expectation is a major source of frustration and resentment, which in turn puts even more pressures for relief. This demand for immediate relief feeds right back into the use of drugs and alcohol.
Much has been written about the changes which take place in alcoholics as the disease progresses (Jellinek, 1960; Polich et al., 1981; Royce, 1981). These researchers and others have found a number of psychological and biological changes, which appear to be associated with alcoholism. There is growing evidence of a relationship between alcoholic drinking and a reduction in neuro-transmitter levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine (Blum & Trachtenberg, 1987).
Ethanol has the capacity to displace enkephalins and endorphins at binding sites which decrease these levels in the brain and pituitary, thus resulting in alcohol craving (Blum & Topel, 1986). At the psychological level there has developed a recognizable cluster of personality traits associated with alcoholism, including a low tolerance for stress, feelings of inadequacy, impaired impulse control, isolation and a negative image of self.
There seems to be agreement that at a point in the progression of the disease, people cross into alcohol addiction. It is at this time that alcohol becomes the organizing core around which everything else in the alcoholic’s life must relate. When this happens, alcoholics can no longer predict their behavior while drinking, or even whether or not they will drink.
Dr. Stephanie Brown (1985) has explored these developmental changes in cognition, which lead to “alcoholic thinking.” She states that these changes refer “not only to rationalization, denial and frame of mind, but also to character traits that frequently accompany drinking. These include grandiosity, omnipotence and low frustration tolerance.” (Brown, 1988 pp. 97) These traits appear to be directly associated with the addictive process rather than with the individual’s personality prior to establishing this abusive cycle.
As alcohol becomes more dominant, the need to deny these changes becomes greater. It appears that there is an interaction between physiological changes and psychological defenses which creates emotional immaturity, self-centeredness and irresponsibility. Alcoholism becomes a thought disorder as well as an addiction to alcohol.
These qualities would accurately describe the primary defenses and interpersonal style typical of normal development in the first three years of life. We have found it useful to characterize the addictive part of self as a “two-year-old child”. The widespread appreciation of the “terrible two’s” stage of human development gives alcoholics a new way of understanding what is happening inside.
Alcoholics increasingly utilize the psychological defenses of denial, undoing, isolation, and rationalization to keep from facing reality. This progressive use of these early defenses forms the core new part of the alcoholic’s personality. This two-year-old wounded part of self begins to “drive the bus” and create havoc for all concerned.
As the disease develops, the two-year-old becomes predominant while the adult influence atrophies with disuse. When fully formed, the two-year-old becomes a permanent part of the alcoholic’s personality. The use of alcohol and other drugs strengthens the power of the two-year-old and at the same time weakens the adult. The primary focus of therapeutic intervention in Therapeutic Coaching is to develop healthy supervision for the two-year-old by the New Program Adult.
If a young child is left alone in a room with a loaded AK-47 - with the safety off, who is really responsible if that two-year-old shoots up the room, destroying many precious things? Is the young child responsible? Are the parents responsible for shooting up the room, even though they were not physically present at the time? The reality is that the parents are responsible for not supervising their child and therefore they are ultimately responsible for the actions of the child. This key distinction allows a new way for alcoholics and drug addicts to view their destructive behavior.
One of the most difficult issues in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction deals with the shame and self-hate associated with destructive choices and actions that were made during the time of using the drugs and alcohol. Usually the results of the destruction begin to surface in early sobriety. At the time the addict/alcoholic can least cope, the results of the addiction hit the most.
To give them a healthy way to understand what has happened in their lives and within that understanding, a constructive focus for current attention. The alcoholic can begin to tie the destructive actions to the two-year-old driving the bus. The focus is on learning to supervise and nurture the wounded part of self, seeing sobriety as the key to that supervision. It helps the alcoholic/addict shift from the destructive reaction of shame, to the healthy reaction of regret.
Step 2: Learning the internal patterns within yourself that feed into and fuel the addictive process. We all have Perceptual Filters that affect what we experience and how we experience it. Several powerful examples of Perceptual Filters that impact alcoholism and drug addiction are: “Demanding Comfort”, “The Time Machine”, “Assuming Feelings Are Fact”, “Powerful Words”.
It is also important to realize we have feelings about our feelings – “Second-Order Feelings” – that fan the flames of emotional labiality in chemical dependency. The belief: “That’s Just The Way I Am” adds a powerless, hopeless dimension. Jerry is an example of applying Coaching treating alcoholism and drug addiction.
The CAIR Handbook explains: “Our perceptions are filtered through our beliefs and assumptions, our internal dialogue (thoughts) and images, our physiological and behavioral responses, and our emotions. All of these interact to form a filter through which we experience the world. In the process of growing up in an unsafe environment, we make many decisions about ourselves, and the world outside of us.
These decisions form the filter of our Old Program. Over time we become addicted to this way of looking at the world, and the decisions that underly our filters become unconscious. If our filter sees us as inadequate and unlovable, positive feedback from those around us cannot get through. Keeping our internal view and rejecting the external information usually resolves the mismatch between how we see ourselves, and how others react to us. (Stop and discuss.)”
Your windshield filters what you see as you drive your bus. Imagine driving west into the sun in the afternoon, with bugs, grime, and dirt covering your windshield. What are you feeling as you drive along? What if you assumed that your poor vision was “just how you are” and there was nothing you could do about your poor visibility.
Someone sitting in the passenger seat would probably demand that you pull off at a gas station and clean your windshield, whether you thought it would help or not. They wouldn’t want to risk their lives as you drive blindly.
Are you ready to begin cleaning your windshield of the many distortions and filters that color everything you perceive? You may enjoy driving a lot more when you can see clearly to choose healthy driving. This concept of perceptual filters is key in the recovery process.
Demanding Comfort in your recovery is not realistic. This is a common trap – “change should be easy and comfortable, or there is something terribly wrong.” First of all, it is important for you to remember that the patterns you want to change are probably not that comfortable either. Life while using and drinking was often very painful. Second, the truth is that change requires thought and practice to become a new habit. Third, change cannot come through automatic pilot, it comes by living consciously, manually, intentionally accepting yourself and others as becoming. Fourth, the more you allow yourself to feel good about small steps towards your goals, the deeper your changes become. New Program allows you to enjoy healthy steps forward and feel good about learning from steps backward.
The opposite can also be a trap. I have seen many people come to Therapeutic Coaching with the assumption that “for change to be real, there must be a great deal of pain in the process.” You can’t suffer your way into sobriety. You can apply the Fundamental Principles of Healthy Change to your life in the present, by allowing yourself to bring accuracy into your current situations. This is not just intellectual knowing; it is the process of believing these truths at the level of applying (imperfectly) in your daily perceptions.
Not all pain is equal! When you are judging something, the pain from the condemning is added to the experience. The judging also accentuates negative elements in our Selective Movies. Resenting your sobriety as robbing you of the freedom to drink, adds tension and stress, which in turn increases the demand for comfort and relief.
When you experience painful things with an attitude of grateful humility and the Serenity Prayer, it becomes possible for you to relax into the pain, sharing it with your Higher Power, and with other safe people. When you realize that feelings of withdrawal and craving are actually your body’s way of saying: “Make me normal, give me the drugs and alcohol.” As you relax into the physical sensations you can realize the pain is meaning that healing is happening. It is a temporary state while your body learns to recalibrate a new, healthy normal. The longer you experience sobriety, the more normal it will feel. You will begin building new habits and patterns in your sobriety.
The Time Machine is a perceptual filter that takes you out of the present, which is the only place you can actually make changes in your life. Do you find yourself living in the past, hanging on to past negative experiences, allowing them to influence you in the present; or living in the future, anticipating and dreading the unpleasant things that might happen, rather than living in the present? When you relive past or future scenes, experiencing these scenes as if they were happening in the present, the original feelings and conclusions are reactivated.
When you come out of your Time Machine travel, you will bring back into the present these painful feelings as a hangover. With traumatic events, the Time Machine allows you to experience the same painful scene over and over. When you project yourself into a future situation, experiencing that scene as if it were happening in the present, you bring your current resources into that future scene. This denies your ability to gain resources in the present to help deal with this future situation – feeding the anxiety.
The truth is that you add greatly to your current pain by using your Time Machine. The truth is that you can learn to notice when you begin firing up your Time Machine, and choose to use New Program tools to change this destructive process. Gaining “frequent flyer miles” in your Time Machine allows you to feed your depression and anxiety. Travel into the past feeds your feelings of depression; travel into the future feeds your anxiety.
You can start to ask the key questions: “Who am I?” (Who’s driving your bus in the present), “Where am I?” (What is the actual situation in the present), and “What time is it?” (Is it past, future or present time)? These questions help you orient out of the time machine and into the present.
The Time Machine is very different than allowing yourself to reflect on a past or future scene, while staying in the present. You are free to remember who you are becoming, and bring an attitude of nonjudgmental curiosity and caring into the scene. The difference has a lot to do with perspective.
When the camera angle is coming from your New Program Adult eyes in the present, looking at yourself in the scene, you can rally useful resources to help nurture yourself in the scene. When the camera angle is coming from your eyes in the scene, you tend to experience regression and a flood of painful feelings. Does this pattern feel familiar to you? Feel good about noticing this and shift your camera angle so you can begin seeing yourself in the scene, while being in the present. Jot down in your journal examples of time machine travel.
Assuming That Feelings Are Fact is a filter that uses emotional reasoning to determine what is true. If you feel something, it must be true. You give your feelings some infallible authority in determining what is real and true. The truth is that feelings are neither true nor false; they are just real sensations of emotion. They are the result of your perceptual filters. If your perceptual filters are accurate, the feelings that come from them will be accurate too. If your perceptual filters are faulty, the feelings that come from your filters will be distorted too.
Imagine what impact your alcohol and drug use has had on your perceptual filters. Alcohol is a depressant which impacts depending on dose. At mild levels, alcohol filters your experience as more relaxed and confident. At a higher level, alcohol can trigger a variety of strong emotional reactions: anger, resentment, maudlin, “best friends” sloppy drunk reactions, etc. The feelings that come up while you are drinking and using drugs are not an accurate reflection of your feelings, but rather perceptual filters created by chemicals. The old saying: “What you say when you are drunk is what you really feel” is an absolute lie!
Do you have a tendency to react to your feelings as if they were true facts? Begin to explore the perceptual filters that are creating your feelings. Challenge those filters that are currently distorted, and replace them with healthy accurate ones. As you practice experiencing your new filters, they will become more natural. Remember practice, practice, and more practice!
You may be someone who has gone to the other extreme of believing that feelings have no place in making decisions, and that feelings should be blunted out as much as possible. From the time I was 14 until I began my recovery at 29, I lived my life as a Vulcan, like Mr. Spock on Star Trek. I gave up feelings and tried to live a life of logic and rational reasoning. The problem with this decision is that intimacy requires feelings to grow and flourish.
This Vulcan style was very hard on my marriage. When Sonia and I had only been married a few months, she was expressing some strong feelings about something important to her, and I responded that I would “talk to her when she was rational!”
Some time later, when I was having a rare moment of emotional outburst, she turned to me and said “I’ll talk to you when you are rational” and I suddenly experienced what she must have felt so many times. I looked deeply into her eyes, as tears were forming in mine, and told her how sorry I was for having said that to her all those times before. I have never said that to her in the 35 years of marriage since then.
If you have learned to survive by burying your feelings and worshiping logic, you can start by feeling good about noticing this toxic pattern, as the first step in change. Realize that this emotional disconnection has a key role in your drug and alcohol abuse.
Notice your resistance to the idea of shifting to a more balanced respect of feelings and logic, as a dynamic duo to help you determine truth. Respectfully connecting with your resistance can help you make contact with the wounded part/parts of you.
These wounded parts are often afraid to open the feeling dimension for fear of being overwhelmed with blocked feelings from the past. You can learn to support these wounded parts as they respectfully learn to deal with their blocked feelings with your help and supervision. We will explore the Adult Child Character in the next chapter. Jot down in your journal what you notice.
Powerful Words create such strong emotional reactions that you end up reacting to the words rather than the actual situation, which affects your ability to choose. Words like “phony,” “acting,” “can’t,” “should,” “stupid,” and “but,” are all examples of powerful words. The word “but” takes away the meaning of the phrase that goes before it. “I tried so hard to be good about my drinking, but….” “I’d like to stop drinking, but…” One of the more toxic patterns is “yes but…” Replace the word “but” with the word “and.” Notice the kinds of words you use to describe difficult situations. When you say “I can’t drink” it produces a feeling of being deprived, of your freedom being impinged upon.
Do you notice different words having power, depending on whether they were coming from you or from someone else? Take the time to notice the kinds of words that come from your inner “Commentator,” that voice in your head. Feel what it is like for you to tune in to the messages that are usually going on subliminally, and make them conscious. Notice the kinds of words you are using to describe yourself and others. Listen to the words used in describing the situation. Do you notice flashlight judgmental statements or grace-filled lantern statements that shine with respect and valuing at the entire scene, including you. Keep coming back to this filter as you grow, to deepen your appreciation of the power of words.
There is a profound (subtle) difference between saying “I should quit drinking and using drugs” and “I choose to make my life more manageable by embracing a sober lifestyle.” Over the years of coaching recovering clients, those who allowed themselves to see their identity as “becoming” in their sobriety were the ones who gained quality sobriety and recovery. Those who held to the belief that “I have to quit drinking” usually had to battle a lifetime of resentment and feeling deprived.
A significant dimension in intimate communication is the tone that the words create during sharing. When there is an overall tone of valuing and respect, and the words convey that attitude, and the nonverbal channels congruently express the same valuing and respect, you have maximized your healthy power. Shining your lantern with a gentle, nonjudgmental light in all directions, allows healthy, intimate communication to come most naturally. This impact is true whether talking to yourself or others. When I shine my lantern in coaching sessions the first thing we usually see is that the client has been working with a judgmental flashlight.
When you share honestly, with respect and valuing, the chances of a healthy outcome are much greater. Many people use judgmental words without even realizing or intending their impact on the communication. Some have the attitude that they need to “tell it like it is!" If a relationship is important to you, it deserves the gift of thought, particularly when sharing difficult things with your family and friends. Notice the impact your words have on those you care about – including you.
We have feelings about what we are feeling. These Second-Order feelings are more intense than the original emotions and can cause significant perceptual filters. We can start by feeling a little sad about something, then we can begin to feel afraid of the sad feeling because of prior experiences with depression, then we can feel angry about feeling sad and afraid because we see these as weakness, then we can feel overwhelmed by all these powerful feelings. This process can build on itself without any conscious awareness, creating even more confusion. Fear of “losing it” or anticipating being overwhelmed is a key element of anxiety and panic disorders.
That’s Just How I Am! This perceptual filter confuses action with identity. The fact that you (or someone you interact with) have been a certain way up until now, does not say anything about what is possible in the present. It only affirms that you will probably continue being that way as long as you remain functioning in automatic pilot in Old Program. The moment that you choose to shift to manual, becoming conscious, as chooser in your life, and begin to bring truth into that pattern, change becomes a natural outcome. It will probably be awkward and clumsy, but small steps of healthy change build.
Remember that allowing and forcing have opposite effects on your ability to change. This perceptual filter, more than most, gets its power from believing the faulty perception that I am my habits. When you believe that “that’s just how I am,” it becomes true for you, robbing you of choice and healthy power. Your believing gives it the toxic power. If you expect me to behave in a certain way, you will tend to be affected by that expectation, and see what you expect, whether it is actually happening or not. This filter actually helps create what you expect to see.
Jerry, a forty-seven-year-old alcoholic-poly-drug abuser with one hundred days of sobriety, was having significant difficulty maintaining his sobriety. The desire to drink and use drugs was constantly on his mind, and he had had three near relapses in the prior two weeks. The following is an excerpt of a Therapeutic Coaching session:
Jerry: “I can’t help it doc. Everything I see makes me think about getting high. I feel so bored and empty. If it weren’t for this constant fear of drinking and using, I wouldn’t be feeling anything at all.”
Jim: “Jerry, it seems as if you are using a tremendous amount of energy in NOT drinking and using. All you seem to be thinking about is not relapsing, and fighting to try to ignore the urge to drink and use.”
Jerry: “Of course! I go to meetings all the time, I never feel safe. I know that if I have another drink or use again, I am going to die.”
Jim: “Jerry, do you remember me talking bout the two-year-old addictive part of you when you were going through the program?”
Jerry: “Yeah, now that you mention it, but I had forgotten all about that. I have been so busy trying not to drink and use, that I guess I forgot a lot of things from the programs.”
Jim: Well Jerry, it is real easy to do, and what is important is to allow yourself to remember now, and to begin to use the tools you have learned now that you remember. Take a moment…here in the safety of my office…to let yourself really feel the urge to drink and use, to really experience what is going on inside. Allow those feelings to float up to an image of the two-year-old Jerry, and just notice how big he seems as you begin to look at him.”
Jerry: “Shit, he seems huge!”
Jim: “Look again Jerry, Allow yourself to see him for the two-year-old he really is. Don’t be confused by the intensity of his tantrum. You need to love him enough to say NO in a caring and respectful way.”
Jerry: “He seems so small now. How can he have so much power? I mean, I really feel out of control and scared so much of the time.”
Jim: “Of course you do Jerry. What is happening inside is that you forgot to parent little Jerry, and so you became him. The adult was able to get you to meetings, but that is as far as he went. Give yourself credit for that much. Celebrate the fact that you have maintained your sobriety. It is natural for a two-year-old to feel overwhelmed when he doesn’t have an adult to take care of him. Is it OK for us to do it in an easier way?”
Jim: “I want you to keep that two-year-old with you every where you go this week. Take him to the meetings with you, take him to work with you, take him with you when you go to the bathroom. I want you to understand he is going to tantrum, and that is fine. What is important is for you to remember that you are a hell of a lot bigger than he is, and can protect him and yourself as you ride out the tantrums.”
Jerry: “I’ve got to remember that he is a little kid.”
Jim: “That’s right Jerry, and the more loving, firm and consistent you can be with him, the easier it will become. He needs to learn that he can trust you to be there, and to keep the limits consistent and predictable. It is also important to begin saying YES to healthy things. Let yourself begin to have some fun with him in between the tantrums.”
Step 3: Learning about the Adult Child Character. In all my years of coaching people struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction, I have never found one that didn’t suffer from wounded parts of self that had been rejected and disowned. These wounded parts play an active role in addiction. Understanding Self-Esteem is a key to unlocking the mystery of identity. The environment we grow up in has a powerful impact on our sense of identity – Developing Self-Esteem.
Excerpt from: Who’s REALLY Driving Your Bus?
By James O. Henman, Ph.D., Psychological Associates Press, 2003, p. 55.
Adult Children are like the Wizard of Oz. Their outer facade may seem powerful and competent, but inside it is as if a little child is pulling the strings and driving their emotional bus. Does this feel familiar to you? Do you often feel like a “fake” when relating to important people in your life? Do you often see yourself as a “phony” going through life in fear of being “discovered?” Does life feel like one unending drama of trying to survive to the next scene, trying to avoid the inevitable disappointments and rejections that you just know are coming? Do you often have significant difficulties in your personal relationships? Do you often ask, “Why Me?”
There are six qualities that seem to be present in most Adult Children prior to entering recovery. How many of these qualities do you recognize in yourself?
1. Reacting to life with a “survival” mentality.
2. Feeling that we are different from “normal” people and spending a lifetime trying to “pretend” that we are normal.
3. Looking at life through a “Black” or “White” filter.
4. Going through life judging very harshly. This judgment may be directed at ourselves, at others, or both.
5. Constantly looking for approval and validation from outside of ourselves.
6. Having great difficulty with intimate relationships.
The natural reaction of blocking painful feelings and experiences is what creates the Adult Child characteristics, dynamically like the frozen scenes that continue to break through for trauma survivors when certain triggers are activated.
We have learned a great deal about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from work with Viet Nam Vets and survivors of traumatic events. Blocking an emotionally charged experience can cause the memory/experience mechanism in the brain to freeze that moment with the emotions fully charged. The memory leaves the limbic portion of the brain experiencing the fullness of the original emotions for the remembered scene, locked in the “on” position emotionally.
When the memory is activated, even subliminally, the emotions come flooding back into consciousness, so that you perceive yourself back in the original experience. I call this dynamic the Time Machine (see Power Of Mind distortions in Chapter Two). Blocking unwanted feelings causes part of your “self-perception” to be stuck in a timeless state, as if in Tupperware and hidden away, frozen in the original scenes.
Adult Children were often forced to become “adults” as children, and often function as “little children” in aspects of their adult lives. Others never grew up because of the lack of safety and healthy models. They had a lack of support to risk becoming an adult with healthy self-esteem. They learned to survive by blocking out painful experiences and adapting to the demands of their environment.
Our wounds grow out of our decisions, perceptions of who we believe ourselves to be at our core, how we perceive the outside world, and how we choose to survive. This can vary greatly depending on whether regression is taking place at the moment. Do you notice any significant fluctuations in your perceptions of self and others?
It does not require “war stories” to create wounds in our character. Rejecting and hating yourself, trying to block painful feelings, and hating someone else can all create a frozen scene. This frozen scene can develop into a wounded part of self, forming its unique perceptions and sense of self. I am not talking about the pathological condition of Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly Multiple Personality Disorder. I am talking about the sometimes subtle filtering of your perceptions without you realizing it is happening.
You need to be living consciously to recognize most of your regressions. What you may notice first is the old, survival feelings beginning to seep or flood into your current experience. A Second-Order feeling reacting to these feelings compounds the intensity and complexity of your feelings in the present. Feel good about noticing where you are starting at this moment. This cuts off the flood of Second-Order feelings that normally come with judging.
Are you feeling guilty because you come from a normal family with no particular problems, feeling you have no right to be an Adult Child? The truth is that we all grew up in fallible families that came from fallible families, etc. We all learned who we are and what the world is going to be like in our childhood. This is not about blaming; it is about being accurate. Notice what you decided from these early experiences. Take several deep breaths and notice the reactions you have to this “Nugget.” Share your reactions with me in your journal.
Normal life produces wounds! This concept of wounding is not about blame, it is about change! This book is an opportunity for you and me to discuss and reflect on your “Old Program” filters that support your current problems. You can learn to unblock your feelings in a healthy way that allows healing of your core self-esteem, using a “New Program” set of tools and resources to develop healthy esteem. I am a recovering Adult Child myself and will share glimpses into my own “inner kids” as the book unfolds.
Appreciating this Adult Child concept is central in the change process! The way I explain it to my clients is that I believe most people have some degree of Adult Child qualities. I believe that this is a normal part of being human. I coach them, and I will coach you to learn how to “parent” the wounded parts of yourself that are involved in the dysfunctional patterns in your life today. It is important to realize that the rejected parts of yourself retain their original perceptual filters, developmental resources, and the cognitive/thinking styles that were present at the time of disconnection.
Step 4: Learning to develop your own “Inner Coach” to approach the healing process. There is a healthy New Program approach to your sobriety. In my experience, how you approach the process of change is the key to successfully making the healthy changes in your life today. Change is possible in the present! It is a lifetime adventure of becoming, living consciously in the present, looking for "Nuggets of wisdom" about healthy change. Give yourself the tools needed for making healthy growth in your life today. The Action Plan shares some of the resources that can help you make your desired changes the path of least resistance.
Excerpt from: Who’s REALLY Driving Your Bus?
By James O. Henman, Ph.D., Psychological Associates Press, 2003.
My many years of experience as a Therapeutic Coach in peoples’ lives has given me a chance to watch the Fundamental Principles of Healthy Change unfold, both within the same client, and within different clients over time. I have seen the effects when clients chose to resist and ignore these fundamental principles.
Since these principles are integrated, when you violate one principle, it affects all aspects of New Program. An example would be learning to see more accurately, but insisting on judging and feeling bad about what you see. It is predictable that this strategy will result in a growing resistance to seeing accurately. Judging will cause you not to notice the very things that are being judged – what a great paradox.
I have formed eight of these Fundamental Principles of Healthy Change into an esteeming New Program for recovery and growth. I have found them particularly useful in coaching and in the free CAIR Self-Help and CAIRing Grace Groups. These principles can guide you on your journey.
Fundamental Principles of Healthy Change: A New Program For Living
1. A growing commitment to being non-judgmental, open and accurate.
2. A growing commitment to believing that we are all Fallible Human Beings.
3. A growing understanding that we react through our perceptual filters rather than directly to “reality.”
4. A growing commitment to the acceptance (acknowledgement) of Reality in the present.
5. A growing commitment to Mutual Respect and Valuing.
6. A growing commitment to a healthy parenting relationship with the “wounded parts of yourself.”
7. A commitment to a growing relationship with a Loving Higher Power.
8. A realization that Recovery is an ongoing process of growth and change – a way of life.
These eight Fundamental Principles of Healthy Change are the heart of an esteeming New Program that allows you to nurture your ability to bring healthy perceptions into your life. When I refer to New Program, I am including the beliefs, attitudes, perceptions and tools presented throughout this book that reflect the Fundamental Principles of Healthy Change. New Program is an integrated perspective that has a direct affect at the level of perception. It is a process of developing healthy attitudes affecting your perceptions, not a set of rules. It is a way to approach your life differently.
Excerpt from: Who’s REALLY Driving Your Bus?
By James O. Henman, Ph.D., Psychological Associates Press, 2003, p. 75.
You can learn to bring healthy power to the “content” in your life, the situations you want to handle differently. You can bring more accurate perceptions and a deeper understanding of the Fundamental Principles of Healthy Change to difficult situations. This may seem like a strange and confusing notion for you as we are starting our coaching journey together. By the time you have experienced the entire Bus Book several times, this statement will make perfect sense.
You can learn to freely bring healthy perceptions into difficult areas of your life; imperfectly applying the tools you are learning in New Program, and embracing a No-Fault attitude in the learning process. You can learn to recognize who has been driving your perceptual bus in any problem area. You can build your own inner coach to help guide you into healthiness.
Therapeutic Coaching actively brings the following resources into your change process:
1. Brings judgmental, defensive, flashlight perspectives into consciousness and turns them into lantern perspectives that look nonjudgmentally from all directions.
2. Encourages an attitude of curiosity, openness and accuracy.
3. Provides New Program tools and resources from the Fundamental Principles of Healthy Change.
4. Brings a desire to learn and grow into the situation.
5. Brings absolute faith in your ability to apply New Program in your life today.
Building your inner coach involves learning to approach yourself in a way that reflects these five healthy steps. I often tell my coaching clients that there is an automatic difference of 40 I.Q. points depending on which chair one sits in while in a coaching session. When sitting in the coach chair you automatically gain an additional 20 I.Q points from where you are starting, as you look at the client’s blind spots; sitting in the client chair causes you an automatic 20 I.Q. point loss as you look at your own blind spots. A difference of 40 points is very significant. You can begin to gain these points as you learn to bring truth and accuracy into difficult situations in your life, without judging or defending, feeling good about noticing. You gain healthy power as you learn to listen to your own inner coach.
The goal of Therapeutic Coaching is to help you experience your life as an adventure of recognizing these Fundamental Principles of Healthy Change in daily life, and taking action on what you notice. The difference between “experiencing believing-in-action” and “intellectually holding on” to concepts has a direct impact on the possibility of successful change! Holding on to beliefs, whether true or not cannot produce healthy change. Only the process of putting your believing into action produces meaningful change in your life. This is what I call recovery – developing your inner coach.
Recovery is putting your healthy believing into action, one day at a time, imperfectly. Really reflect on this distinction in your own life. Share with me in your journal what comes up as you make this important distinction. List the areas in your life where there is intellectual knowing of important facts, but you have not been able to put your knowing into action. Also list areas where you know something is untrue and unhealthy, and yet your actions are as if you believed it to be true. Remember to feel good about noticing the things on your list as a beginning of the change process.
My clients usually describe me as very intense, passionate in the belief that change is possible. Don’t be surprised that some of that intensity comes across in this book. It is not easy sitting across from me in a coaching session, and it won’t be easy to sit across from me as you experience this book. My clients are ready for a nap after a 45 - minute coaching session. We often make an audiotape recording of our sessions so the clients can listen back several times to what has been shared in our session.
Clients often come to coaching wanting an A, B, C, set of rules to fix things, what they leave with is an appreciation of a different way of approaching life. Perception has a profound effect on us all. The truth is that you actually do have the ability to achieve transforming personal changes. The secret is how to approach your abilities in a way that makes them come alive. When you embrace the “Nuggets” in this book as healthy perception, you can practice believing them consciously as you go through difficult situations. The truth is that there are Fundamental Principles of Healthy Change that can affect the chances of success in your recovery.
Please don’t expect yourself to pick up these resources immediately, like a set of rules to follow, with white-knuckled demands of perfection. Let yourself have fun with me as we approach your life differently. You can use this book as a resource that can bring a healthy perspective and New Program tools to whatever situation you may need added help. The more you use it, the more helpful it will become as you build your own personal coach inside. Are you willing to invest in your recovery? Share your reactions to having a coach at your disposal in your journal.
There are two motivational strategies for approaching healthy change in your life that have very different affects on the resulting process. In one motivational approach you are motivated by the desire to avoid negative/painful consequences; in the other strategy you are drawn toward a desired goal. Which one feels most familiar in your life up until now? Fear and pain can motivate a person to abstain from drinking or using drugs; it cannot draw a person into sobriety. Trying to avoid a negative tends to create the dynamic I call “Don’t Think Of Purple!” The harder you try to not think about the color purple, the more the color floods your mind.
New Program and Therapeutic Coaching focus on learning to motivate yourself by the positive desires to continue becoming and growing. It is not fear-generated; it is motivated by grateful humility. You are drawn toward a positive goal. This key “Nugget” makes all the difference in your recovery process. Take several deep breaths and look deeply into how you have approached motivating yourself up until now. What do you notice? Share what comes up in your journal, sharing with me how you are feeling about what you are noticing as you develop your inner coach.
Step 5: Realizing that this material is deep wisdom about the process of change, find someone to discuss and share your reactions with as you go through the material. This is a very important step in the healing of your addictions. Select someone you can feel safe being open with in the sharing process, or look into a free support group like CAIR Self-Help Groups, or CAIRing Grace Groups. It is very important to attend A.A. and N.A. meetings regularly, and find a sponsor to help support your recovery.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
© Copyright 2008 Psychological Asssociates James O. Henman Phone: 209.765.9528