Why Learn the 7 Steps? More Retreat details inside!
How has your perspective shifted since our last email/blog? If you are like most of us, exposure to the Loving Path begins to have an impact, even if only in theory, almost immediately!
As promised, here are five concrete differences BALM can make in your life and that of your loved one once you immerse yourself in these teachings:
- Your blindside: Everyone has a blindside. When you first got to the BALM programs, you had a blindside about the fact that you were using energy in ways that were unhelpful and often harmful to yourself and your loved one. You may have thought that the more you yelled and screamed or begged and cried, the greater chance you had to get through to your struggling loved one. Or you may have had the idea that if your loved one got in trouble as a result of their using, it was your job to clean things up by getting them out of jail, getting them a new job, computer, car, etc. Through BALM, you learned that this is not true. You found out that calm works better than emotional outbursts when you want to get through to your loved one, and taking care of consequences for them can keep them from taking responsibility for their behavior.
- Your loved one’s blindside: Your loved one’s blindside is that they are unable to see or use the consequences of their behavior as a motivation to stop using. They are not bad people purposely trying to destroy their families. As you know, when in recovery, they are often amazing. On the other hand, when actively engaged in their SUD, their behavior can be tornado-like, destroying everything in its path – family peace, finances, business, job, reputation, etc. Yet, when a distraught family member cries, screams, and tries so hard to tell them just how much they are doing to destroy the fabric of the family, they often stare, make a face that says “too bad”, and use the family chaos as an excuse to go out and use some more.
- How BALM helps: When a family member learns how to Be A Loving Mirror with their loved one, they don’t react to bad behavior. They see it, deal with their own emotional reaction internally, jot down what they see, script a BALM conversation, and calmly share the facts of their loved one’s behavior directly with them. Whereas before, family members cried and complained among themselves and either screamed or pretended all was well with their loved one. Once they become BALMers, they plan BALM mini-interventions to let their loved ones know what their using behavior looks like and is causing. These calm, loving, fact-based conversations, go under the radar of their loved one’s defenses and go right to their heart. Over time, speaking fact to denial breaks down the grip denial has on their loved one’s mind. These 7 Steps to BALM are the path to sanity for the family!
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- Opportunity to Vent
- Being related to or in relationship with someone whose drinking or drug use is out of control can be exasperating. “Sometimes I just feel like I am going to explode!” is a statement we often hear from families dealing with a loved one’s behavior. While venting to a coach, sponsor, or therapist can relieve some of the pressure, it doesn’t solve the problem in the long run. And venting directly to a loved one can be disastrous, since, as stated above, your venting at them can give them an excuse to go and use some more. So, what’s the solution?
- BALMers learn to vent strategically! BALM is a method of strategic, planned venting, without any of the negative side effects.
- By getting calm inside, observing the facts objectively, dealing with your own emotions, documenting what you see, scripting a factual conversation and, without any hint of sarcasm or anger, sharing them with your loved one at the right time in the right place, you get to vent in a productive, powerful way. (Yes, it’s easier said than done. But it’s exactly what BALMers who use the 7 Steps to BALM do, often to great effect!)
- As a result, the need to vent in destructive ways diminishes, and the habit of Be A Loving Mirror grows!!!
- Stay out of Denial
- In the BALM programs, we say, “Denial is the glue of the use-disordered system” In other words, it’s what keeps the loved one and the family in the addiction.
- Here is how it works: The struggling loved one does something driven by their SUD/addiction. You see it. You say, “You just stole that scarf from her. I saw you do it.” He or she says, “What? Are you crazy? I would never do that! I was just looking at it!” You say, “Oh, of course. Sorry.” They steal. You confront. They lie. You believe them (or pretend to do so, ‘for the sake of peace or non-confrontation’). As soon as you say you believe them or apologize for accusing them, their addiction-hijacked brain relaxes, as in “Whew! Got by that one!” And things stay exactly as they are.
- BUT if you see them steal the scarf, get calm, say, “I saw you take the scarf.” They say you are crazy. and then you calmly say, “This isn’t a debate, it is a description. I saw you take it.” Then, drop it and document the behavior for a BALM conversation. Every time you gently yet clearly refuse to believe a lie, their denial gets a little crack in it. Then, when you have your BALM conversation and bring it up in the context of other behaviors you have noticed, the crack grows.
- There is no guarantee that their denial will end. But as you have learned, when you stay out of denial, your upset decreases substantially AND they have a much better chance of making better choices in the future.
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- Love has the Chance to Grow in You in the Healthiest of Ways
- My sponsor has always taught me that my ONLY obligation to another adult human being is to BE LOVING! I have taught my sponsees, clients, and students this over the years and have strived to live with this in mind.
- BALM behaviors bring love to the fore in your consciousness. When you live from love you increasingly live in peace, which brings us to the fifth and most powerful personal benefit of BALMing.
- BALM Builds Within Us an Imperturbable Ocean of Calm
- We who practice BALM have found that we become the peace and love that we practice, and lo and behold, that peace and love have always been there. In fact, they are who we are at our core.
So, what is the benefit of practicing BALM?
In the Al-Anon book, The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage, (mentioned in the first email of this series), it only takes a few days for the husband to go through a shift and re-enter family life. In my family, it took three months for my husband to go into treatment. (And, many years later, after the end of a relapse, I learned that the family’s role becomes even more important in sobriety – but more on that in my next blog.)
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In BALM families, we find that when one person changes, the dynamics change for everyone. Yet, the way that change looks is different for each family. Often, the person with the SUD begins to move in a more positive direction as well.
When you practice BALM, you become the peace you wish to see and that peace spreads to everyone you meet, giving your loved one an anchor to grab onto during his or her darkest days, and hopefully bringing enough light into their lives to help them change their minds and choose recovery along with you.
And once they are in recovery, you continue to be that light in your family. Recovery is the time to grow strong in your BALMing. And mindfulness is key – but more on that in next week’s letter!
Till then my friends, look for the next email in this series and continue to BE A LOVING MIRROR!