from addict 2 advocate

Recovery: Life’s Recurring Lessons

 
By: Marilyn L. Davis

“Been there, done that, never want to go there again.”― Carmen Reid

 

Don’t Want to Do It Again

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We have all asked ourselves why things turn out negatively for us, or why the same kinds of outcomes keep happening to us. We may create the illusion that we are born under a bad sign, we are unlucky, or the universe does not like us. We keep having the same experiences, over, and over, and over, like an endless loop. The lessons recur and we don’t understand why. But if we’re honest with ourselves, the reason for the recurring lessons is we didn’t pay attention the first time, or we did poorly in the experience.
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If life’s lessons did not recur or happen again, we would not have a chance to behave differently. 
 
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Similar Life Situations
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Let us say that you have a strained relationship with a family member. You have lied to them, stolen from them, or manipulated them for your personal gains. You have made promises and then broken them. Your actions have harmed them, put them in financial difficulty, or disappointed them, and they are not speaking to you. They have resentments towards you.from addict 2 advocate marilyn l davis
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Changing, and then making amends will allow them to interact with you again, voice their feelings, and by your reactions, they can see that you’ve changed. You could pay them back the money you owe them; keep your promise or no longer try to get things from them through manipulation.
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Without another interaction with your family, and you choosing to do something differently, your family will never know that you have changed. That would be genuinely sad. Be grateful, “this” is happening again.
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I Can Do Better This Time

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Other life situations will come up. There will be a familiar aspect to it. Codependent traits have governed many of your interactions with others. There are people in your life that are just unhealthy for you to be around, but you have never been able to distance yourself from them. Some reasons for this might include:
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  • You did not want them angry with you
  • You did not want to hurt their feelings or
  • You thought you should not state the truth to them
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As a result, the same types of people seem to gravitate to you. You might wonder why this is; after all, you’re in recovery now and you have created illusions about how things “ought to be.”  That’s where some of the problems are; things stay the same, it’s us that has to change. 
 

Deja Vu!

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When you find yourself thinking, “I’ve been here before,” in your interactions and experiences with people socially or professionally, think about the outcome of past situations.  Think about your actions, words, and attitude and decide if you liked the outcome or not.
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For instance, you have been overly helpful to friends in the past; doing things for them that were inconvenient for you, or they took advantage of your generosity.  You now have a co-worker that complains about all she has to do and asks you babysit so she can go grocery shopping.
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How Do Successful People Handle Similar Situations?

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You understand the demands of being a single mom. Therefore, you decide that you can do this, and then find out that she did not go grocery shopping, but out to dinner and a movie without telling you. In the past, you would have been hurt and angry inside but not say anything.
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Although you are afraid she will be mad at your for saying something, your old pattern needs to be broken for you to change. So this time, you tell your co-worker that you felt manipulated and used, and you’d like a friendship based on mutual respect and consideration. from addict 2 advocate marilyn l davis
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You’ll babysit again, but you’d like your friend to be honest in her requests.
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They do not continue with the behaviors, attitudes, or actions that got them negative consequences; they quit butting their heads up against the brick wall! They learn to look at their distorted perceptions of events and make changes to themselves.  They resolve to:
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  • Learn from their mistakes
  • Make the effort to look at what happened
  • Determine why something fell apart
  • Do things differently if they have another opportunity
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Welcome an Opportunity to Do Something Differently

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from addict 2 advocate marilyn l davisThink about the time that your boss made unreasonable demands on your time or a friend gossiped about you. Did you react poorly to them? Instead of discussing the time constraints with your boss, you hung your head in shame and seethed inside.
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You started acting in a passive-aggressive way and obsessed over his rudeness. Instead of talking directly to the friend to decide if there was a conflict between you, you started rumors about him or her, even knowing that they were untrue. You were hurt and reacted poorly. However, you have an opportunity to do something differently when life situations recur. So, you ask your boss when it would be a good time to discuss your work hours.  Not sideways, but straightforward.  And that is change for you. 
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Rather than gossip and be the same person you accused your boss of being, you take your friend out to dinner and talk about the friendship. However, many people do not change; why is that?

Ambivalence about Changing

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Some people are just ambivalent, undecided, or of two minds about change.
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They may have gotten so used to living in unsatisfactory relationships, lived here and there with whoever would let them spend the night. They have money/did not have the money or know the hours of the soup kitchen and where day labor can produce enough money to get alcohol or drugs, or being in trouble with the law. In other words, they have learned to live with the conflicts and uncertainties of not changing and learned to survive.
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Survival is about endurance, carrying on, living to tell the tale another day. It’s nothing more than drudgery. When you see your reluctance to change, ask yourself:
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  • What do I get out of staying the same?
  • What would be enough incentive to prompt a change in my actions?
  • What might I learn through the process of change?
  • What might be the benefits to me of change?
  • What are my feelings about changing?

Changing our Perception Alters the Outcomes


from addict 2 advocate marilyn l davisEach day will bring an opportunity to have a life lesson and more importantly, an opportunity for you to do something differently. 
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Changing your attitude, your perception of people and situations, and making changes to your behaviors, will bring you different outcomes. If you’re stuck and can’t figure out how to view your lessons differently, think of all your resources for change: 
  • Supportive people in your life
  • Encouragement from yourself or others to change
  • Guidance and Directions to change from books and blogs
  • Family, friends, co-workers, employers
  • People in recovery support meetings
  • Google, Bing or Ask: Researching directions for change
Instead of reacting poorly to these similar situations and lessons, try thinking, “Thank goodness for this happening again. I’ve got an opportunity to act differently.” 

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