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Coping with Life Transitions
By Educational Resource Information Center,
ERIC Digests: Short reports on topics of interest in
education by the Educational Resource Information Center.
ERIC Identifier: ED350527
Publication Date: 1992-04-15
Brammer, Lawrence M.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Counseling and Personnel Services Ann Arbor MI.
This Digest was created by ERIC, the Educational Resources
For more information about ERIC, please contact ACCESS ERIC at 1-800-LET-ERIC
This digest covers representative models of life
transitions with their counseling implications. It also presents selected coping skills and attitudes with which to manage
such changes effectively. A transition is a short-term life change characterized by a sharp discontinuity with the past. Thus,
transitions have identifiable beginnings and usually definite endings. Examples are job changes, disabling accidents, marriage,
birth, divorce, victimization, death, moving and travel. These transitions can be positive experiences, such as a vacation,
or painful and tragic such as losing a relationship. Such changes usually are experienced as losses; hence, transitions thrust
the person into mourning. A transition can be voluntary or involuntary, and it can be on-time (as in retirement), or off-time
(as in the fatal illness of a child). Excluded from this definition of transition are developmental changes--growing from
childhood to adolescence, for example--and broad social or political changes.
Three Ways To View Life Transitions: Metaphors
From Classical Literature
Bridges (1980) uses metaphors, mainly from classical
literature, to describe transitions over a lifetime. The journey, for example, is a common image. Homer, the classical Greek
poet, describes in vivid images Ulysses' decade of travel changes. A counseling implication of this type of image is to encourage
clients to see their individual and serial transitions in terms of personally meaningful metaphors, and as significant learning
events on their lifelines.
Social Interaction Model
A second way of characterizing a life transition is
Schlossberg's (1984) social interaction model. She characterizes a transition in terms of its type, context, and impact. She
states that a transition must be examined in regard to:
- The way a person appraises the transition event;
- The nature of the transition itself;
- The coping resources present at the time of the transition;
- The personal characteristics of the person and the
environment (social supports, for example).
These interacting variables then are studied to ascertain
the balance of current and possible assets and liabilities. They also are linked to developmental characteristics of the person,
such as identity, age and maturity. A counseling implication of this model is that the counselor must do a thorough assessment
of these variables to determine where the person is now in relation to the transition, the balance of coping assets and liabilities,
and what resources can be marshaled to help that person cope satisfactorily.
Predictable Overlapping Stages
A third model construes the transition as a process
consisting of fairly predictable stages that overlap one another and that often recycle through earlier stages (Brammer, 1991).
These stages are adaptations of the literature on death as described by Kubler-Ross (1969) and Parkes (1972). Hopson (1981)
has adapted this model of the grieving process to transitions in general.
The stages begin with the entry experience of confusion
and emotional discomfort, along with shock if the loss is unexpected and severe. Following this initial reaction is a brief
period of sadness or despair, often alternating with relief and positive feelings. In a divorce, for example, the person experiences
alternating feelings of sadness over the dissolution of the relationship, but also some relief that conflict and ambiguity
Unless the loss is severe, a period of stabilized moods
is experienced. Defense mechanisms such as rationalization, denial and fantasy, for example, are mobilized. Previously learned
coping skills and resources such as one's support network are tapped. But this stabilization is usually short-lived as awareness
of fears for the future and anger at the transition emerges. Self-esteem usually plummets and feelings of sadness, dread,
or depression take over.
The length of this feeling of depression depends on
the person's perception of the severity of the loss, availability of coping resources, and cultural attitudes about the appropriate
length of grieving. The person is encouraged to perceive this time as a healing period and relief from pressures of work and
responsibility. Self-nurturing and frequent interaction with the support networks are important, but each person must discover
his or her own method of getting through this painful period.
One goal is to let go of the past person, thing, job
or value and take hold of a new object or relationship. These attitudes and resources, combined with the passage of time,
enable the person to regain self-confidence and self-esteem. The person begins to look to the future with optimism and hope.
If this process of healing and taking hold is successful, this stage emerges in a renewal phase characterized by setting new
goals, making plans, and initiating actions. Thus, growth is enhanced through continual renewal efforts.
One counseling implication of this model is the
importance of determining where people are in this process model after the transition has begun. In the first stage, much
support is needed to help people get through their initial shock and the disruption of their lives. People need to understand
the confusing feelings of despair and hope following initial reactions to the transition event. When the subsequent short
stabilization period is experienced, methods of sustaining hope and self-esteem, as well as inoculation from depression, are
needed. Since change frequently is injurious to physical health also, people need to be cautioned to maintain optimal health.
Counselors need to be alert for indications that the person is letting go of the past and is taking hold of the new, so that
reinforcement of these efforts at healing and renewal can be given. Thus, the renewal process and the trend toward growth
and recovery can be accelerated and maintained.
This process often does not proceed in nicely calibrated
phases, and people often recycle through the process. The sequences of these phases are not always predictable. For example,
some people might spend years grieving the losses from their life transitions. A key criticism of this process model is that
it is often oversimplified and the orderly progression of the stages for all people in transition is taken for granted.
Coping Attitudes and Skills
Coping is viewed in the psychological literature as
a form of self-initiated problem solving. Thus, it is clearly distinguished from adjustment and psychological defense, which
are fairly automatic responses to change and threat. Similarly, transformational forms of personal change often come about
through intense life experiences over which people have little control. Skillful "copers" are effective in appraising the
possible threats and dangers in the change event, and can choose among alternative courses of appropriate action (Lazarus
& Folkman, 1984).
Attitudes contribute to a satisfactory coping response.
A key attitude is to view change as a normal part of living, as opposed to a view that the transition is some kind of terrible
curse, unlucky event, or unnecessarily difficult problem to solve. The effectiveness of viewing the transition as a challenging
event, even welcoming it as an opportunity for creative growth, has much support in research (Kobassa, 1979). A man, for example,
who sees his company about to reorganize and consolidate decides that he will use this transition event to move toward the
career he always wanted--a business of his own. Thus, he viewed this move as a challenging opportunity.
People who perceive themselves as being in control
of their lives, and to a large extent over the events in their lives, are among what Kobassa (1979) calls "hardy copers."
A related attitude in the hardy copers' repertoire is commitment--knowing their values and goals, as well as having the intention
of pursuing them diligently. In other words, they know who they are and what they want. The transition is perceived as just
another hurdle to jump along life's raceway. They are willing to take responsibility for their actions and do not blame others
for the transitions that inevitably come into their lives. When becoming ill, for example, they are willing to look for flaws
in their own lifestyles as well as to look for external physical causes.
The length of time required for satisfactory resolution
of a transition depends on a number of mediating factors. Some key ones are:
- The meaning that the transition has for the person;
- The extent to which the person is aware of and expresses
feelings about the transition;
- Previous experiences with transitions and learning
- The availability of support systems;
- Personal coping skills.
Coping skills can be classified in various ways, but
a simple list that incorporates several subcategories follows:
- Building and utilizing support networks;
- Cognitive restructuring, or reframing;
- Solving problems in the rational, intuitive, discovery,
and systems modes;
- Managing stress responses and stress-inducing events.
All of these skill clusters are teachable (Brammer
& Abrego, 1981). The key goal for counselors who are helping people cope with threatening personal change is to teach
them the skills they can use to conceptualize the nature of their transitions (e.g., as a fairly predictable and understandable
process) and the skills to cope with various stages in the process. The principal goal would be self-management of their transitions
since they are such a common part of human existence. A second goal would be to help people inoculate themselves against the
unwanted consequences of their transitions, such as depression, hopelessness, chronic grief, and self pity, or awareness of
being in crisis and out of control.
The goals cited above can be reached not only through
learning specific coping skills and attitudes, but also by acquiring knowledge about the nature of the transition process
through engaging in a self-inquiry when the transition ends. This inquiry includes questions such as, What did I learn about
myself, others and the nature of transitions as a result of working through this transition? The anticipated outcome is that
people would be able to manage their own transitions effectively without outside help.
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One of the themes that I have come back to again and
again during this season of my life is the idea of surrender. For my life to date, this is about as foreign an idea
as you could possibly imagine. My self image is as someone who can make things happen, as a driver, as a ready-fire-aim
kinda of person. Surrender is a sign of defeat for me, an admission that I have no control or no value.
This Fall, I had a series of experiences where I could
really surrender to God, to the world around me, to people who held me and loved me. Don't get me wrong - this was at
once scary and incredibly freeing. I find myself breathing more, listening to life a bit more and even surrendering
in the small moments of traffic jams and down DSL.
Yesterday, I spent a day with 140 other people listening
to Don Bisson talk about surrender. It helped a lot to take some
time to think and pary about surrender. The notes for this are below.
Don Bisson: Surrender
center of consciousness, deals with identity that is inherited & nurtured, logical
ego: fear, anger, control, entitlement
function: choice maker for outer world
strong ego to let go
helps develop a strong ego
Self: center part of psychic whole-ness,
that dimension that is already in harmony w/ God
acceptance, compassion, energy
power which carries us beyond our capacity to know
to an intuition that we have known before
Gift of spirituality is the connection between
ego & self
We can not get it all – go with what
Most of life is conjugating 3 verbs: to
want, to have, to do
us in perpetual unrest, driven by weak ego
The Nature of Surrender
at the heart of most religions & the center of psychological health
ego becomes violent, self-violation, control
surrender is profound, unique & irrepeatable
then consistent fulfillment moment by moment
Surrender is not abandonment
For men, surrender often means failure or abandonment
for women can often translate to submission & ultimately to abuse & invasive power
Surrender can be seen as a dance, being
led & leading, moving together & apart
of choice & grace
God waits for salvation to take place (Marian
initiator humbly waits for a response
moment: permission “let it be done according to your word”
typically do not really know what we are saying YES to
our response comes mystery & adventure in the world we live in
Prayer or any practice is the medium through
which we surrender
actual practice does not matter
When we profoundly surrender, you can not
take it back
of event anchors our whole being
Ignatian: surrender as a function of being
in relationship w/ God
surrender deeply active & deeply passive, non-logical
Can not let go of what you do not have
phase of life: acquisition & achievement
When we get close to a deep surrender, we
often react as if we’ve never done before
in fact be deeper & more frightening, but not new
more intimate the surrender, the more fearful the ego becomes
Social dimension of surrender: ripple effect
on environment & community
has to die before the plant will grow
of God is in peace, love & justice
Dorothy Day: when I feed the poor, I am called a saint; when I ask why they are poor, I am called a communist
I can not say that I love a God I do not see when I do not love my neighbor that I do see
Invitation to surrender is non-linear, often
recursive and reveals a different person
bike riding, it does get easier – always new territory
Deeply feminine quality that drives to be,
rather than only do
Coming to crossroads is a natural part of
moments: painted into corner
Unless we surrender, these crossroads stay
with us & fester
is physical, emotional & spiritual illness
Difficult phrase: the will of God (often
seen as static & singular)
in a safe, we must find the combination
seen as being contrary to all that we want
with ego’s fear that will opposes us or wants us to suffer
are the vessel that holds the will of God
across ego’s fear of living out our deepest desire
in mystery & what can be called the deep self
our destiny is living out God’s deepest desire for us & our deepest desire
Surrender is allowing, drawing from our
dignity to allow God to enter & move in our lives
By the nature of who we are, our relationship
with God begins w/ God
spirituality is responding to God, not conjuring
human permission for something to take root & form
the permission a lover gives another to come close
Being strong enough to surrender, strong
makes us most human & most able to connect to the Divine
we are unable, we are debasing who we are
The Mystery of Surrender
consciousness to move into the darkness (not out of it)
danger is that we live too much in our mind, inflating our knowing
more rooted in the body, nature & the earth
Surrender does not take place between the
ears, but as a full person
Sacrament of the present moment: Every moment
is the home of surrender
Two images of surrender
Ego-centered self: a pig screaming on way to slaughter
Ego mature & rooted: man or woman standing within themselves & allowing their destiny to emerge
Not stoicism or aloof, but standing & allowing
we like it or not, we are constantly letting go
Distinction between collapse & surrender
being engulfed, fall unto unconscious powers, move towards hopelessness
Surrender: embracing & allowing a new cycle, implies birthing & new life, conscious response to
Surrender: ship which takes off, eventually
lets go of rudder, allowing forces & powers to set direction
Process of surrender & healing: no longer
be an echo of what was done to you
letting go pain that often defines us, wholly inadequate for who we are
is not about me, but how I relate to life in a community
for independence keeps us from letting go
for interdependence as the way in which we weave together
Surrender initiates synchronicity, meaningful
interior & outer world
Schools of Surrender
us to radical inaction, almost heroic in the capacity not to act (rather than societal norm)
inaction still demands choices in order to stop
Strong enough ego to recognize need to stop, grounding to see opportunity for something new
Human experience is school for surrender
Focii: love & infatuation, grief & loss, addiction & recovery
Initiation into deeper soul relationship w/ God
the answer, but an invitation that shows us the human struggle for unconditional love
Brokeback Mt: tagline “love is a force
shows the power of infatuation
Infatuation is a fuel, a beginning, an introduction
to deeper longing
organized religion fears the fuel of infatuation
society idealizes infatuation & does not know what to do w/ the fuel
point us to a need for meaning, fuel for the journey
Surrender is about transforming the longing
into greater depth, not eliminating longing
Infatuation illuminates our hunger for God,
provides wisdom & compassion, isolated in our strength
Loss & Grief
is an ongoing process in which the aspects of myself that I have denied or controlled come up, with body taking over mind
reminds us that nothing (that I have or am or are in relationship w/) is permanent
us of the many death & losses that happen every day
us in letting go, encompassing every facet of ourselves
When we are in grief, it has me rather than
me having it
Grief is particularly hard for men –
our society does not give permission for it
pull out the fuses in order to avoid dealing with grief
way of learning to let go
As we grow older, loss becomes more central
to our lives
we choose to avoid, we become more frenetic & run away from truth
Addiction & Recovery
recovery spirituality, 1st 3 steps are all about surrender
steps (surrender) depends on admission of “I can’t”, recognition that “God can”
In addiction, ego is being oppressed by
a force greater than self
of any addiction is idolatry, putting trust in something greater than ourselves
Re-orientation of surrender, from surrender
to addiction to surrender to self, God & community
Narnia: White Witch gives Edmund candy –
to addiction & capacity to surrender all to maintain addiction
most addictive society in the world, compelled
to buy as a way to define ourselves now
We must be discerning to who/to what we
souls are programmed to surrender
we surrender to the wrong entity, we become slaves
Gifts & Limits
of Psychology Around Surrender
important modern construct to help us on road of life
to help & heal the ego, reveals aspects of inner world
is that the [point becomes to strengthen ego
Jung: religion is the capacity to endure
is intrinsically & explicitly irrational
point exists in faith that is beyond ego & reason
Healing does always translate to be in deeper
touch with whole self
Avila: in last stages of faith, even the butterfly dies
Dark side of God: that which is beyond our
Narnia “Aslan is wild, but good”
Even definition of good is beyond our comprehension
Suffering overshadows language of religion
Jungian “love wound” eroded
trust in love and shifted Jung’s intimacy & ability to surrender
one who surrenders to mystery of love
Point is to integrate subconscious, rather
than surrender to subconscious
|A Brief Guide to True Unhappiness
By Dr. TRuth
What follows is a guide for those who, in spite of the
beauty, wonder and majesty of the world around them, persist in self-defeating and destructive behaviors.
While most of my writing deals with attempts to be happy and joyful, I really can’t
neglect those who, despite the love and bounty that is available to each of us, choose the opposite path.
Unfortunately, the following beliefs and behaviors are widely practiced, and are
very effective in making not only ourselves but those closest to us really miserable.
1. Be a perfectionist.|
Don’t allow or tolerate mistakes in yourself and
others. It is important to be especially hard on those closest to you because they are dependent on you for praise and approval.
2. Compare yourself with others.
Remember, the grass is always much much greener
on someone else’s lawn. Contentment and joy lie completely out of your own reach and always will come to others before
they come to you because they are probably more deserving, smarter or better looking. Never evaluate yourself according to
your own progress. Watch others and see how well you stand up when compared to them. After all, other people’s values
and standards are always more important than your own and can really make you unhappy when they don’t go along with
3. When in doubt, chicken out.
If you really want to be unhappy, it is super
important not to confront your fears and doubts. No one will really know that you might feel bad or inadequate and you can’t
possibly look foolish if you stay within your comfort zone. Avoid risk-taking or self-challenging behavior at all costs. If
someone confronts you, whine. That is the most effective way of shirking responsibility. On top of that, you will get nowhere
4. Avoid responsibility completely.
If something goes wrong, absolutely blame
someone else. That way, you can avoid people getting mad at you because it will always be someone else’s fault. If things
go wrong, it will never be about something you did and you can get away with just about anything.
5. When overwhelmed-slack off!
Don’t ever work too hard to accomplish
a goal. It probably won’t be worth it anyway. You can always nap or watch TV. It’s hard to lose contact with soap
opera plot lines. They do get so complicated that they require almost complete and undivided attention. Paying attention to
their stories as they unfold allows you to keep abreast discussions about the characters and you will be able to discuss them
intelligently. Besides, hard work takes effort and why should you expend yourself unnecessarily.
6. Spend money freely and without restraint.
Buy yourself whatever you want.
Don’t hold back. It’s really important to wear the latest trends in clothes and to have the latest technology
in gadgets and equipment. because these things make life important and more meaningful. We all know that material goods and
happiness go hand in hand so why be self-limiting. Go for it.
7. Hold grudges.
The world is out to get you. People are mean and those who
have harmed you deserve to suffer. Take revenge and never let go of any real or imagined hurt. Collect injustices and pay
back all unkindness. Not letting go of pain is the way to go to stay stuck in suffering and will really prevent you from moving
on. Forgiveness and letting go is way too taxing.
8. Take everything personally.
It really is all about you. People probably have
little else on their minds except making your life miserable. All slights that come your way are intentional and purposeful.
Never give anyone the benefit of the doubt.
9.Blame your parents for the condition of your life right now.
This way, you
can escape responsibility for taking charge of your life in the present. This rule goes right along with not forgiving and
letting go.This way, you can accumulate pain and remain immobile. Mom and Dad really did it to you and it is all their fault
that you have problems functioning.
10. Lastly, see everything as black or white, good or bad, heaven or hell.
inflexible and rigid will help you see things the way eight year olds do. You won’t have to worry about going with the
flow, dealing with others effectively, growing up, or understanding the way life works. It also allows you to condemn other’s
behavior because you won’t have to deal with confusing ambiguity or ambivalence.
Remember, if you follow these rules, you will be truly unhappy and will make not
only yourself but those around you, your family and friends, truly miserable.
Opting to utilize these destructive beliefs will absolutely prevent you from living
well and from maximizing your true potential as a magnificent and evolved human being. The choice is yours.
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Tools for Handling Control Issues
What is detachment?
allow people, places, or things the freedom to be themselves.
from the need to rescue, save, or fix another person from being sick, dysfunctional, or irrational.
person "the space'' to be him or herself.
from an over-enmeshed or dependent relationship with people.
to accept that you cannot change or control a person, place, or thing.
and maintaining of a safe, emotional distance from someone whom you have previously given a lot of power to affect your emotional
outlook on life.
of emotional boundaries between you and those people you have become overly enmeshed or dependent with in order that all of
you might be able to develop your own sense of autonomy and independence.
which you are free to feel your own feelings when you see another person falter and fail and not be led by guilt to feel responsible
for their failure or faltering.
maintain an emotional bond of love, concern, and caring without the negative results of rescuing, enabling, fixing, or controlling.
all things in life into a healthy, rational perspective and recognizing that there is a need to back away from the uncontrollable
and unchangeable realities of life.
exercise emotional self-protection and prevention so as not to experience greater emotional devastation from having hung on
beyond a reasonable and rational point.
let people you love and care for accept personal responsibility for their own actions and to practice tough love and not
give in when they come to you to bail them out when their actions lead to failure or trouble for them.
allow people to be who they "really are'' rather than who you "want them to be.''
to avoid being hurt, abused, taken advantage of by people who in the past have been overly dependent or enmeshed with you.
What are the negative effects not detaching?
If you are unable
to detach from people, places, or things, then you:
people, places, or things which become over-dependent on you.
Run the risk
of being manipulated to do things for people, at places, or with things, which
you do not really want to do.
an obsessive ``fix it'' who needs to fix everything you perceive to be imperfect.
Run the risk
of performing tasks because of the intimidation you experience from people, places, or things.
probably become powerless in the face of the demands of the people, places, or
things whom you have given the power to control you.
Will be blind
to the reality that the people, places, or things which control you are the uncontrollables and unchangeables you need to
let go of if you are to become a fully healthy, coping individual.
Will be easily
influenced by the perception of helplessness which these people, places, or things project.
caught up with your idealistic need to make everything perfect for people, places, or
things important to you even if it means your own life becomes unhealthy.
Run the risk
of becoming out of control of yourself and experience greater low self-esteem as
probably put off making a decision and following through on it, if you rationally recognize your relationship with a person,
place, or thing is unhealthy and the only recourse left is to get out of the relationship.
Will be so
driven by guilt and emotional dependence that the sickness in the relationship
Run the risk
of losing your autonomy and independence and derive your value or worth solely from the unhealthy relationship you continue
in with the unhealthy person, place, or thing.
How is detachment a control issue?
is a control issue because:
It is a way
of de-powering the external "locus of control'' issues in your life and a way to strengthen your internal "locus of control.''
If you are
not able to detach emotionally or physically from a person, place, or thing, then you are either profoundly under its control
or it is under your control.
to "keep distance'' emotionally or physically requires self-control and the inability to do so is a sign that you are "out
If you are
not able to detach from another person, place, or thing, you might be powerless over this behavior which is beyond your personal control.
mesmerized, brainwashed, or psychically in a trance when you are in the presence of someone from whom you cannot
feel intimidated or coerced to stay deeply attached with someone for fear
of great harm to yourself or that person if you don't remain so deeply involved.
be an addicted "caretaker,'' "fixer,'' or ``rescuer'' who cannot "let go'' of a person, place or thing you believe cannot care
be so manipulated by another's con, "helplessness,'' overdependency, or "hooks'' that you cannot leave them to solve their
If you do
not detach from people, places, or things, you could be so busy trying to "control'' them that you completely divert your attention from
yourself and your own needs.
By being "selfless''
and "centered'' on other people, you are really a controller trying to "fix'' them to meet the image of your "ideal'' for
will still have feelings for those persons, places, and things from which you have become detached, you will have given them
the "freedom'' to become what they will be on their own merit, power, control, and responsibility.
every person, place, or thing with which you become involved to feel the sense of personal responsibility to become a unique,
independent, and autonomous being with no fear of retribution or rebuke if they don't please you by what they become.
What irrational thinking leads to an inability to detach?
If you should
stop being involved, what will they do without you?
you and that is enough to justify your continued involvement.
What if they
commit suicide because of your detachment? You must stay involved to avoid this.
feel so guilty if anything bad should happen to them after you reduced your involvement with them.
They are absolutely
dependent on you at this point and to back off now would be a crime.
You need them
as much as they need you.
control yourself because everyday you promise yourself "today is the day'' you will detach your feelings but you feel driven
to them and their needs.
so many problems, they need you.
seems so cold and aloof. You can't be that way when you love and care for a person. It's either 100% all the way or no way
If you should
let go of this relationship too soon, the other might change to be like the fantasy or dream you want them to be.
How can being
detached from them help them? It seems like you should do more to help them.
sounds so final. It sounds so distant and non-reachable. You could never allow yourself to have a relationship where there
is so much emotional distance between you and others. It seems so unnatural.
want anybody in a relationship to be emotionally detached from you so why would you think it a good thing to do for others?
that plays together stays together. It's all for one and one for all. Never do anything without including the significant
others in your life.
If one hurts
in the system, we all hurt. You do not have a good relationship with others unless you share in their pain, hurt, suffering,
problems, and troubles.
are in "trouble'' how can you ignore their "pleas'' for help? It seems cruel and inhuman.
When you see
people in trouble, confused, and hurting, you must always get involved and try to help them solve the problems.
When you meet
people who are "helpless,'' you must step in to give them assistance, advice, support, and direction.
never question the costs, be they material, emotional, or physical, when another is in dire need of help.
rather forgo all the pleasures of this world in order to assist others to be happy and successful.
You can never
"give too much'' when it comes to providing emotional support, comforting, and care of those whom you love and cherish.
how badly your loved ones hurt and abuse you, you must always be forgiving and continue to extend your hand in help and support.
is a cruel, inhuman, and anti-loving philosophy of dealing with the troubled people in our lives and you should instead love
them more when they are in trouble since "love'' is the answer to all problems.
How to develop detachment
order to become detached from a person, place, or thing you need to:
emotional boundaries between you and the person, place, or thing with whom you have become overly enmeshed or dependent on.
back power over your feelings from persons, places, or things which in the past you have given power to affect your emotional
over'' to your Higher Power the persons, places, and things which you would like to see changed but which you cannot change
on your own.
a commitment to your personal recovery and self-health by admitting to yourself and your Higher Power that there is only one
person you can change and that is yourself and that for your serenity you need to let go of the "need'' to fix, change, rescue,
or heal other persons, places, and things.
that it is "sick'' and "unhealthy'' to believe that you have the power or control enough to fix, correct, change, heal, or rescue another
person, place, or thing if they do not want to get better nor see a need to change.
that you need to be healthy yourself and be "squeaky clean'' and a "role model'' of health in order for
another to recognize that there is something ``wrong'' with them that needs
to own your feelings as your responsibility and not blame others for the way you feel.
Eighth: Accept personal responsibility for your own unhealthy actions, feelings, and thinking
and cease looking for the persons, places, or things you can blame for your unhealthiness.
that addicted fixing, rescuing, enabling are ``sick'' behaviors and strive to extinguish these behaviors in your relationship
to persons, places, and things.
that many people, places, and things in your past and current life are "irrational,'' "unhealthy,'' and "toxic'' influences
in your life, label them honestly for what they truly are, and stop minimizing their negative impact in your life.
Reduce the impact of guilt and other irrational beliefs which impede your ability to develop detachment in your life.
letting go'' of the need to correct, fix, or make better the persons, places and things in life over which you
have no control or power to change.
Steps in developing detachment
Step 1: It
is important to first identify those people, places, and things in your life from which you would be best to develop emotional
detachment in order to retain your personal, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. To do this you need to review the
following types of toxic relationships and identify in your journal if any of the people, places, or things in your life fit
any of the following twenty categories.
You find it hard to let go of because it is addictive.
The other is emotionally unavailable to you.
Coercive, threatening, intimidating to you.
Punitive or abusive to you.
Non-productive and non-reinforcing for you.
( 6) Smothering
Other is overly dependent on you.
You are overly dependent on the other.
Other has the power to impact your feelings about yourself.
Relationship in which you are a chronic fixer, rescuer, or enabler.
Relationship in which your obligation and loyalty won't allow you to let go.
Other appears helpless, lost, and out of control.
Other is self-destructive or suicidal.
Other has an addictive disease.
Relationship in which you are being manipulated and conned.
When guilt is a major motivating factor preventing your letting go and detaching.
Relationship in which you have a fantasy or dream that the other will come around and change to
be what you want.
Relationship in which you and the other are competitive for control.
Relationship in which there is no forgiveness or forgetting and all past hurts are still brought up to hurt one another.
Relationship in which your needs and wants are ignored.
Step 2: Once you
have identified the persons, places, and things you have a toxic relationship with, then you need to take each one individually
and work through the following steps.
Step 3: Identify
the irrational beliefs in the toxic relationship which prevent you from becoming detached. Address these beliefs and replace
them with healthy, more rational ones.
Step 4: Identify
all of the reasons why you are being hurt and your physical, emotional, and spiritual health is being threatened by the relationship.
Step 5: Accept and
admit to yourself that the other person, place, or thing is "sick", dysfunctional, or irrational and that no matter what you
say, do, or demand you will not be able to control or change this reality. Accept that there is only one thing you can change
in life and that is you. All others are the unchangeables in your life. Change your expectations that things will be better
than what they really are. Hand these people, places, or things over to your Higher Power and let go of the need to change
Step 6: Work out
reasons why there is no need to feel guilt over letting go and being emotionally detached from this
relationship and free yourself from guilt as you let go of the emotional "hooks'' in the relationship.
Step 7: Affirm yourself as being a person who "deserves'' healthy, wholesome,
health engendering relationships in your life. You are a GOOD PERSON and deserve healthy relationships, at home, work, and
in the community.
Step 8: Gain support
for yourself as you begin to let go of your emotional enmeshment with these relationships.
Step 9: Continue
to call upon your Higher Power for the strength to continue to let go and detach.
Step 10: Continue
to give no person, place, or thing the power to affect or impact your feelings about yourself.
Step 11: Continue
to detach and let go and work at self-recovery and self-healing as this poem implies.
To ``let go'' does not mean to stop caring.
It means I can't do it for someone else.
To ``let go'' is not
to cut myself off.
It's the realization I can't control another.
To ``let go'' is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.
To ``let go'' is to admit powerlessness
which means the outcome is not in my hands.
To ``let go'' is not to try to change or blame another.
It's to make the most of myself.
To ``let go'' is not to care for, but to care about.
To ``let go'' is not to fix, but to be supportive.
To ``let go'' is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.
To ``let go'' is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their own destinies.
To ``let go'' is not to be protective.
It's to permit another to face reality.
To ``let go'' is not to deny, but to accept.
To ``let go'' is not to nag, scold, or argue,
but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
To ``let go'' is not to criticize and regulate anybody,
but to try to become what I dream I can be.
To ``let go'' is not to adjust everything to my desires
but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.
To ``let go'' is to not regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.
To ``let go'' is to fear less and LOVE MYSELF MORE.
12: If you still have problems detaching, then return to Step 1 and begin all over again.
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