Holding Time – Part 3

Holding Time for Vacillators

Since a vacillator longs for connection you might think they would be excited about holding time. Since Vacillators want connection without being vulnerable it can feel like a risky proposition. What if I like it and my spouse never offers again? What if I feel too exposed? Asking directly for what they want or need is very difficult for the Vacillator. Some Vacillators may be too mad at their spouse to offer or accept a holding time.

We find Vacillators often express anger and are unaware of the anxiety and more vulnerable feelings under the anger. Vacillators must learn to find soul words on the feelings words list and ask for a holding time before the anger erupts. Often the anxiety is about something the Vacillator is ruminating on so be aware of preoccupied states and ask for help with the anxiety. This is a key to the Vacillator’s growth.

Vacillators like to feel needed and if they are not angry at their spouse they can hold their spouse quite comfortably. The Vacillator’s tendency to be in an “all good” or “all bad” mood or state of mind can make the Vacillator unpredictable in their willingness to give to their spouse. Vacillators can find more middle ground if they are willing to give or receive a holding time, when they aren’t “in the mood”.

Holding time for Controllers and Victims

Chaotic attachment and childhood trauma go hand in hand. This group usually had lots of difficult experiences and little to no comfort when they were kids. Tenderness can bring buried pain to the surface so these folks may unconsciously avoid comfort. Gentle, empathetic touch and kindness may make the Controller or Victim very uncomfortable. Their tears are deeply buried and holding time can bring them to the surface. It’s difficult to look back at painful memories but buried trauma is carried in the body and it takes a lot of effort to hold inside. Grief and comfort help heal these painful memories and free the body to be fully alive and relaxed in the present moment.

For women or men who were trapped as kids or sexually abused, holding can sometimes be a trigger. It’s important to discuss any negative feelings that arise during a holding time as these reactions can be reminders of childhood trauma.

It takes a level of safety to engage in holding and if there is physical or emotional abuse in the current relationship, it isn’t safe. Holding is a vulnerable giving of oneself into the arms of another. In some cases the regulation of emotions and the ability to have a calm conversation needs to be the first goal.

In the next few weeks we will give you some specific ideas for holding times. Write to us and let us know if you try these exercises. We would love your feedback.

Special Announcement
We are pleased to announce that the audio version of the How We Love book is now available at christianaudio.com!

Holding Times – Part 2

Why Holding is Difficult for Avoiders and Pleasers?

Avoiders find holding time awkward as they most often grew up with parents who showed minimal to no affection and offered little comfort. If coached, they may be willing to try and hold their spouse, but certainly would not ask for a holding in return. One avoider husband I know held his wife as she shared some painful memories. She cried a lot and all those emotions were a bit overwhelming for him, but he is trying to grow and he did a good job. When she later asked to hold him he said, “I don’t dwell on pain, I just move on.” Now being an avoider myself, I understand this thinking. We worked hard to not feel pain, so why dig it up? There are three compelling reasons.

First, if we are going to be transformed into the image of Christ, we need to be able to feel. (See last week’s blog).
Second, holding gives an opportunity to receive what was missed as a kid. Nurture. Comfort. Being heard. Being known. Avoiders have no idea that nurturing can relieve stress. They have to experience comfort in order to value it. Third, avoiders end up resentful because they are always being asked to give something, but need little to nothing in return. I cannot tell you how often I hear from the spouses of avoiders, “He or she does not need me.” Avoiders need to learn to receive. There is no better way than to allow your spouse to hold you.

Holding Time for Pleasers:

Pleasers are givers not receivers. Of all the types, they have to give to soothe their own anxiety about others being unhappy or distressed. They are hyper attuned to the needs of others; a skill they learned in childhood. By the time marriage occurs, they have had years of practice in the giving, caretaking role. As a result, they never ask for much and are absolutely terrible receivers. They are so unaware of their own feelings and needs that it does not occur to them to ask for comfort when they are stressed.

Now most of you know that Milan is a pleaser and I am an avoider. So, how easy do you think it was for us to learn to do holding times? The answer should be obvious. It was difficult.
Neither of us wanted to be vulnerable, but we knew it was an important skill we were missing in our marriage and parenting.
So, we kept at it. Over time it got easier, safer and we felt more competent.

What did we do when strong emotions of grief emerged during a holding? We agreed that holding time was not a time to fix or problem solve. The goal was to learn to be together, listen, validate and comfort. If your spouse feels an emotion, say what you see. “I see this makes you tearful and sad.” “I see your eyes welling up with tears.” Give permission: “I’m glad you are sharing those feelings with me.” “This is a safe place for you to feel.” “It makes me feel needed and special when you are vulnerable with me.”

I wish we could describe the results and the blessings of giving one another comfort. It has been more than worth every awkward moment. As we get older, we find life brings more loss. We have a safe place to feel the sadness and process the grief. We have healed many of our childhood wounds as we have comforted one another through painful memories.

Next week we will look at Vacillators and Chaotic love styles and holding time. So, how’s it going for you? Have you tried it? Let us know how it goes. You have to make yourself uncomfortable in order to grow.

Blessings!

Holding Times – Part 1

Holding Times

WEEK 1
This month we are talking about holding time. This is by far one of the most important skills we ever learned in our marriage. We always demonstrate a holding time in our workshops and the responses range from excitement to downright terror. We have had some interesting responses from our readers on this subject. Some describe that holding time is hard for men, especially when they are the receivers. Some men learned as children that it is weak to show emotions or ask for help. In addition, a lot of women give their man a double message. We want our husbands (or the men we are dating) to be close, vulnerable and willing to share their inner self. At the same time, we also want our men to be strong leaders, providers and care takers…… in other words, “don’t be weak.”

Let’s think about Jesus for a moment. He is strong and vulnerable. Jesus healed, provided, shared his thoughts and feelings and was definitely a leader. Even though he knew before hand that it was His purpose to come into the world and die for us on the cross, he struggled emotionally when the time came. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked for his three closest disciples to watch and pray with him. He told his friends he was distressed and in agony. He lay prostrate with his face to the ground and he wept with loud crying and tears. We know his friends fell asleep but even so, the God of the universe showed his inner turmoil and asked for help.

Men need encouragement to be like Jesus and ask for support. Women, tell your man that he can be both strong and weak. When you can see he is stressed, ask to nurture him. Ask him to lay his head in your lap and touch him tenderly and pray for him. If he is comfortable sharing verbally ask him about his top three stressors and how those situations make him feel. If he’s reluctant, just try to create some moments of safety, encouragement and comfort.

Next week we will talk about each of the love styles and why holding is difficult for each style.

Until then…. God Bless and keep growing.

Surviving the Holidays – Part 3

Here is point 3 about being an adult around your parents during the holidays.

3. You can set boundaries and say “No,” to your parents even if you get a poor response.

Let’s begin by reviewing what boundaries are all about. Henry Cloud and John Townsend have written extensively on the topic of boundaries. The following overview is taken from the book by Henry Cloud, Changes that Heal. He devotes a chapter to the subject of boundaries.

HEALTHY BONDING WITH BOUNDARIES:

Setting boundaries requires the ability to maintain one’s own identity and selfhood while connecting with others. An intimate relationship needs vulnerability and closeness as well as the freedom to move apart and be separate. In a healthy relationship, each person is supportive and encourages the uniqueness and growth of the other. In other words, closeness does not equal sameness. Boundaries are not about telling other people what they can and cannot do. You cannot control anyone but yourself. Boundaries explain to others what your response will be to their attitudes, behaviors and actions. “Dad I want you to know if your language gets foul when we are visiting we will have to take the kids and leave. Our desire is to have a great visit and enjoy each other.”

FUSION / ENMESHMENT
Thinking about a relationship with no (or few) boundaries will help in understanding boundaries. An enmeshed or fused relationship is an unhealthy bond in which boundaries are violated and any individuality, separateness, or differences are viewed as a threat and are not easily tolerated. Dependence may be exaggerated and the ability to function independently is limited. Can your parents let you be different from them in your values, views, opinions or choices? Can you peacefully agree to disagree?

IF A PERSON DOES NOT DRAW BOUNDARIES:

If you have difficulty setting boundaries with your parents (or in general), here are some feelings you may experience.

1. You may feel as if you are owned by others and cannot say “No,” to a request.

2. You will be confused over who’s responsible for what. You will assume responsibility for others feelings, attitudes, and behavior. You may also believe that others are responsible for how you feel and behave.

3. People who have problems with boundaries often feel they have the power to control the emotions of others. They think, “I can make everyone happy if I just try hard enough. If others aren’t happy it is my fault.” Are you overly responsible for your parent’s happiness?

SYMPTOMS OF BOUNDARY PROBLEMS

Here are some symptoms you will notice as an adult if you did not learn to say, “No”, think for yourself, make decisions and develop your own understanding of who you are.

1. You may have a sense of confusion or disorientation toward life feeling scattered, double minded, and confused. You will allow others to be the master of your life.

2. You may feel trapped with few choices, often in a “no win” situation. If you think about it you are probably very afraid of rejection.

3. Over time your “over-giving” will cause anger, bitterness and resentment.
Sometimes, resentment may be manifested in health problems. While you are always doing for others, you receive little in return. As an adult, you are not good at knowing what you need or asking others to help you.

4. You may experience depression, panic, or become exhausted if you cannot set boundaries. A person without boundaries often does not confront problems or set limits on the bad behavior of others. Tolerating way to much from others can bring on negative emotions over time.

WHAT KEEPS US FROM SETTING BOUNDARIES?

1. Fear of aloneness. Perhaps you may have experienced abandonment and will give up many parts of yourself to keep from feeling alone.

2. Idolatry. When another person becomes indispensable and rejection feels intolerable, something is wrong.

3. Guilt. Others may know how to manipulate you and withdraw love any time you move toward healthy separateness. If being independent in any way is tied to a loss of love and you are made to feel guilty when you try to be your own person.

4. You believe you love others when in fact you are enabling. Enabling is taking responsibility for another’s feelings, behaviors or choices that are rightfully theirs. You may enable another to be irresponsible by taking responsibility for their attitudes, feelings and actions. Giving to an abusive person who denies responsibility for their bad choices makes the problem worse. If you don’t set limits on bad, unhealthy or even evil behavior, it only gets greater.

TASKS TO LEARN TO DRAW BOUNDARIES

1. Learn to choose non-controlling people to bond with. Have more than one supportive relationship so when you feel rejected for setting limits you will have other people who can support you through it. This is very important.

2. Learn to say no! Postpone an immediate yes. Rather say, “Let me give it some thought and I will get back to you with my answer.”

3. When you begin saying no, you will have an abundance of this strange new possession; time for yourself! Use this time to develop yourself, your interests and the talents God has given you.

4. Learn to tolerate the rejection or disapproval that may come with having your own voice.

Can you say, “No,” to your parents? Can you tolerate their disapproval if you make a choice they don’t agree with? Can you calmly hold to your opinion when your parents pressure you to think the same way you think? Can you stand up for your spouse if your parents are unkind to them? Can you tell your parents you are responsible for how you discipline your kids?

We are not saying our parents don’t have wise advice that we can benefit from at times. We are asking, can we be our own person, an adult with a voice around our parents? If not, predict one thing that will likely happen as you engage with your parents and practice how you would set a boundary. Role play before the event. Then when the opportunity arises, say it!

Blessings!

Surviving the Holidays – Part 2

December 10, 2015

We are discussing how adult or child-like we feel and act around our parents. Last week we discussed the roles we played in our families growing up and pondered if we are still playing that role as an adult. Here is our second point about being an adult around our parents.

Point #2. You can be honest with your parents about how your relationship could improve whether they choose to listen or not.

If we can be honest with our parents, we can probably be honest with anyone.
It takes a vulnerable and courageous person to speak the truth, in love, to one’s parents. I always advise clients not to do this unless they can tolerate the worst possible outcome. If you were honest with your parents in a loving way, what would happen? Most folks fear rejection, abandonment or anger would result from telling their parents the truth. Being an adult means you can stand on your own and tolerate your parents’ response, whatever it is. It’s always worth a try to ask for what you want. Even if you do not get a desired response it’s a step of growth for you to be honest.
What should you be honest about? The focus should be on one specific thing your parent(s) could change that would improve their relationship with you. Try and tell them something you appreciate before and after you make this request. Ephesians 4:15 tells us to “speak the truth in love.” Love is gentle and kind and rejoices in the truth. (I Corinthians 13).
Remember, Jesus fulfilled his destiny even though at one point his mother and brothers thought he was crazy. (Mark 3:21). Jesus suffers rejection and disapproval every day. Part of being an adult around your parents is to stand up for what is right, regardless of their response.
I have worked with many families whose parents had a lot of faults but did the best they could. I have worked with a few families where parents crossed the line from dysfunctional to evil. In these cases it may be necessary to cut off all contact. Jesus spoke harshly against evil and in Matthew 18:6 Jesus says;
“If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a large millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned at the bottom of the sea.”
Personally, it took me (Kay) two years to work up the courage to be honest and have an adult voice around my Dad. I was 34 at the time. It didn’t change our relationship, but it changed me.

Blessings to you!

Surviving the Holidays

Surviving the Holidays

Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas! Tis the season to be jolly….right? If only it were that easy. The holiday season can be challenging especially if you have difficult family members whose behavior is predictably problematic. Perhaps those challenging folks are your parents.
For the next few weeks let’s focus on dealing with difficult people around the holidays. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you anticipate family gatherings.

Can you remain an adult around your parents?

Families are like magnets. We may be grown up on the outside, but feel like a kid on the inside when we get together with parents and siblings for the holidays. I can remember my friend, Sue, taking me to visit her family during the holidays. My normally extroverted, engaging, humorous friend became a quiet, withdrawn bump on a log. Perhaps it’s because her mother never stopped talking for one second. Sue went into an old role of the detached daughter who had given up any hope of being heard. She lost herself around her parents.

When we left, I pointed out the change. “Sue, I experience you as a person full of life with creative, inspirational thoughts and ideas and lots of energy. The minute we walked through your front door, you became a disconnected zombie. Where did Sue go?”

Sue was surprised by my observation. Sue sighed, “I guess that’s true.” I learned a long time ago just to let my Mom drone on and on. She never asks me one question and I always leave feeling disappointed. There is so much about me she doesn’t know.” I always feel depressed after I am with them.

“Have you ever been honest with her about how you feel?” I inquired.
“No, I can’t get a word in edgewise,” Sue moaned.

Sue became childlike around her mom. As an adult Sue has never been honest with her Mom and pointed out her Mom’s inability to listen or her desire to be known.
Let’s use Sue’s experience as an example to learn from. Here are four ways to determine if you are an adult around your parent(s).

1. Your personality, values, demeanor and opinions are the same with your parents as they are with other people.

2. You can be honest with your parents about how your relationship could improve whether they choose to listen or not.

3. You can set boundaries and say “No,” to your parents even if you get a poor response.

4. You learn to accept what you parents can and cannot (will not) give. You can predict how they will behave and not be disappointed when you leave because your expectations are realistic.

Let’s talk about the first point today and in the next few weeks we will talk about points 2-4.
1. Your personality, values, demeanor and opinions are the same with your parents as they are with other people.

Be a detective if you will be with your family this Christmas. If you took your friends home for Christmas would they see the same person they know or someone different? Most of us adapt to difficult situations growing up by playing different roles.
• Good Kid: I made sure not to burden my parents and cause them stress.
• Clown: I used humor to reduce conflict and stress.
• Invisible One: I tried to avoid conflict and stress by hiding and didn’t expect much.
• Perfectionist: I attempted to avoid criticism or disapproval and get attention by doing things perfectly.
• Hero: I accomplished great things so my parents would be proud of me and feel like they were great parents.
• Confronter: I was passionate about the truth no matter the consequences.
• Scapegoat: I took the blame for everything and everyone.
• Surrogate Parent: I had to take care of situations that were beyond my ability to manage well because I was just a kid. Too much was expected of me.
• Surrogate Spouse: I had to be there for one of my parents in his/her spouse’s absence emotionally and/or physically. Perhaps I became the counselor as my parent(s) shared their problems and expected me to listen.
• Black Sheep: I was labeled the bad kid for acting out and doing my own thing. I rebelled against the system.
Which role did you play? Are you still playing it? What would happen if you stopped? If you wanted to stop how would your behavior have to change?
Sue played the role of the “Invisible One” in her family. Outside her home she grew out of this role and learned to become more whole. Around her family she unwittingly returned to what was familiar and comfortable.
More to come next week!

NEW! – How We Love Group Study!

We are pleased to announce our newest resource: How We Love Group Study!

The new How We Love group curriculum is an in-depth study for large or small groups. Sessions are designed around DVD footage, discussion, and skill building. We have retained much of the original How We Love DVD workshop but this curriculum includes over an hour of new video and emphasizes the comfort circle from the very first week. HWL Groups are designed to help you understand your love style in your marriage or dating relationship, or discover what when wrong in your previous relationships so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes.

The Leader Kit Includes…
• 3 DVDs – Covering nine sessions
• 1 Detailed Group Leader’s Guide
• Group Email Templates
• 1 Participant Study Guide
• How We Love Chapter Guide Bookmark
• Comfort Circle Bookmark

The Participant Kit includes…
• 1 Participant Guide
• How We Love Chapter Guide Bookmark
• Comfort Circle Bookmark

We are really excited to share this Study with you. This new format is interactive and allows couples to observe and practice the Comfort Circle from the very first week!

For more information including further details, cost and FAQs, please click here or visit howwelove.com and click on the Groups tab at the top of the page.

How Does Our Faith Help with Addictions?

How Does Our Faith Help with Addictions?

How do we incorporate God into the healing process? First, we have to know we have a God who understands. One of my favorite verses in the bible is Hebrews 4: 13-16.

“And there is no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in times of need.”

We can’t hide from God. He knows our addictions. More importantly he knows the struggles of life on earth. Recently a prisoner cried in group as she told about the absence of any consistent, loving, parental figure in her childhood. Her mom was abused sexually as a child. Her mother loved her but was incapable of being a mother as she was still a child inside an adult body. Her dad committed suicide when she was young. “How could a loving God let all this happen?” she sobbed.

I asked permission to answer her question from my Christian perspective. She consented and I gently told her the following. “This is a broken world. Brokenness does not get made right until heaven. But, my Jesus did not sit on this throne in heaven and look down with disgust at what a mess we have made. MY GOD ENTERED THE MESS. He came into the world, born to a poor family. He was misunderstood. His family thought he was crazy. He was abused physically. He was a wanted man. The Pharisees wanted him dead. He was falsely accused and took the punishment for something he did not do. He hung naked on a cross enduring public and private shame.

He was betrayed. He was abandoned. He had an emotional breakdown in the garden of Gethsemane. He asked for help from his three closest friends who fell asleep. He was hungry. He was tempted. He felt the weight of sickness and pain. He was lonely and rejected by many. My God sympathizes with this prisoner and her pain. He lived on this earth and experienced pain and brokenness firsthand. He understands so it is safe to ask Him for help.

Ultimately, he died for sin. Sin is the root of the whole mess. He offers forgiveness and restoration to broken relationships.

Just take a moment. This week make it a point to talk to God. Come just as you are weak and broken. Tell God you cannot overcome your addiction without His help. Tell him about your childhood pain. Tell him about the feelings you are so afraid to feel. The feelings you don’t know what to do with. The feelings you medicate. The feelings you need to distract yourself from. Name them. Pray for a group and a mentor.

Ask for patience as healing is always a slow miracle-rarely a fast one. Thank Him for entering the mess and for understanding the pain and struggle of living in this world. Picture him with the exact feelings you just named. Picture a scene in his life where he felt the same feelings you struggle with. Thank him for being a God who was willing to suffer so he could understand. Now picture Jesus comforting you tenderly, lovingly, patiently. Now visualize God being a refuge for you. Picture some sort of shelter. See yourself there with Jesus. Use these pictures when you are tempted and want to use a cheap substitute for the real thing. Pray for help and courage and then call your sponsor or mentor. It may be the most daring thing you ever do.

Vulnerability: The Key to Overcoming Addictions

Vulnerability: The Key to Overcoming Addictions

I think you can see, we are all very prone to addictions because they give us relief when we don’t know how to get it relationally; from God or others. We may be medicating present pain, but often, there is a childhood root to the pain we currently feel. For example one of my prison ladies said this week that her most prevalent childhood feeling was “overwhelmed” and “confused”. These feelings were mainly centered on a mean, abusive older brother from whom she was never protected as both parents worked. He often took his anger out on her. She currently works for a controlling, intrusive woman who is unpredictable and unreasonable. She leaves work feeling overwhelmed, confused and used. Her battle starts on the drive home. I’ll just have one drink before I go home. Soon, she is on her way to the nearest bar for a drink before she goes home to the kids. One too many DUI’s landed her in jail. The alcohol gets rid of the bad feelings but her kids pay a big price. Until our group time, this incarcerated woman did not realize the feelings she was battling and needing to medicate had been present for a long time before she ever got this job. Her boss just acted as a trigger to stir up an old yucky pot.

Addictions are about getting rid of bad feelings and feeling good; at least for a while. There is always a negative consequence. Our childhood home trains us in how to deal with painful feelings. Can we take them to relationships or are we left to find a solution on our own?

The healthy solution? Painful feelings need to be acknowledged, tolerated and processed within a safe relationship. Sounds easy, but most of us did not have childhood experiences that equipped us with the skills we need to do this. Today we will talk about getting help from people. Next week we will think about getting help from God.

Why is Alcoholics Anonymous one of the most effective treatments for addiction to alcohol? It has a higher success rate than any other program. Personally, I think there are three reasons.
1. You have to admit you are powerless over your addiction and that you need a “higher power” (Jesus and the Holy spirit in my opinion). Facing this truth means you are no longer in denial about having an addiction and you are admitting you need to go to a group. You will never beat and addiction until you admit you have an addiction and you need help.

2. There is honesty and vulnerability. The first time I went to an AA meeting was thirty years ago. I went to fulfill a school requirement and I left the meeting with a heavy heart because I knew this is what the church should be doing. I had never heard people share with this level of honesty and brokenness in church. Over the years churches have made progress, but have a long way to go. You won’t beat and addiction without honesty and vulnerability and showing others the weak broken places inside you. Shame is a big part of addictions and shame is only healed when we are loved in our sad, broken places.

3. You have a sponsor. This is the most critical part. It is where you learn that you need someone further down the road as a mentor and you call your sponsor when you are in trouble and are overwhelmed with negative feelings and want to run to your addiction. In most AA groups you must choose a sponsor (ask someone to be your sponsor) and then your sponsor will require you call them for 30 days in a row.

I can just feel some of you recoiling at that. This is training in connection. Call…even if you don’t want too. Call….even if you think you don’t
need too. You are being trained to reach out and ask for help. This is the key to overcoming your addiction. Success is not about being free from the desire to use or act out. Success is reaching out for help to overcome that desire IN THE MOMENT OF NEED.

Let’s go back to our prisoner. She gets out of prison, joins a group, acquires a sponsor and calls her for the first 30 days. She journals about her childhood experiences and learns to grieve her brother’s abuse. She reads these entries to her sponsor and to her husband. Sometimes she cries. At other times she is angry. She is cleaning out the wound. Eventually, it will be less of a trigger.

She knows her most vulnerable time is the way home from work. She has agreed to call her sponsor as soon as she gets in the car to travel home. She talks about the difficulty of the day and the interactions with her boss. She admits her craving for a drink but chooses the comfort of connection instead. Her kids are thrilled to see her, on time and sober.

I can hear a lot of you saying, “But my addiction is not alcohol”. It does not matter. It is the principles that are important here. There are many groups for different issues. The point is, you absolutely cannot do it alone. So make a choice today to find a group and a sponsor. Next week, I’ll discuss the spiritual part of healing.

What Masters You?

What Masters You?

There is a great verse in the bible we should all be aware of. It is found in
I Corinthians 6:12. “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me but I will not be mastered by anything. Paul is speaking here of Christ’s work on the cross freeing us from being judged by the law. The encouragement here is to choose what is profitable which I cannot do if something has mastery over me. Addictions, always get to the point of having mastery over us. The addiction controls us no matter how we may tell ourselves this isn’t so.

Compulsion is the word often used to describe this behavior. It means:

A FORCE that makes somebody do something.
COMPELLING…an act of compelling or the state of being compelled.
PSYCHOLOGICAL FORCE, usually an irrational force that makes somebody do something, even when it is against better judgement.

Do you have mastery over your behavior, or does it have mastery over you? Do you tell yourself, I’m not going to do such and such only to give in with rationalizations later?
Why are we compulsive? Because, addictions relieve stress and distract us from difficult emotions. If we stop the addictive behavior, negative feelings surface and drive us toward finding relief. To get relief we turn to our addiction.

If you have an addiction it is meeting some need. What is that need? What is it that you don’t want to face, don’t want to deal with? What feelings are you medicating?
I work in a prison ministry and have he opportunity to meet with a group of ladies who are incarcerated. Many of them are in there for some sort of addictive behavior and they have been caught one too many times. They see the destructive costs. They have poor health and many have lost their children and relationships due to their addictions. Almost all vow to change and not let these addictions rule them any longer. I have one over-riding thing I lovingly try to drum into their heads over and over least they forget it. This is what I say:

“UNTIL YOU KNOW THE NEED YOUR ADDICTION MEETS AND GET THAT NEED MET THROUGH HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS WITH GOD AND OTHERS YOU WILL GO BACK TO YOUR ADDICTION.”

This is why Milan and I make such a big deal about learning to get comfort and relief from relationships. If you are a parent, the best way you can prevent your kids from becoming addicts is to comfort them and teach them how to deal with difficult emotions. As adults they will more likely turn to people rather than things when they need relief.

If you don’t know how to get relief from people you are very vulnerable to addictive behaviors because addictions do what God intended relationships to do. They are a cheap substitute for the real thing. Do you have an addiction you long to be free of? Here is the first step to freedom. Determine what feeling you are trying to get rid of when you turn to your addictive behavior. Are you lonely? Bored? Overwhelmed? Depressed? Sad? Ashamed? Insecure? Inadequate? Anxious? What is the feeling that stresses you and prompts you to turn toward additive behavior? Then ask yourself one more question. Is that a feeling you often felt in childhood? If the answer is “Yes”, then you need to understand the pain you are avoiding is about the present and the past. Next week we will talk about what to do next.