Moral Aspects of Treatment Tag

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The Role of People-Pleasing and Codependency in Addiction 

The Role of People-Pleasing and Codependency in Addiction 

 

When you’re working with people that are in early recovery, they suffer from the same kind of orientations and disorders that exist in the culture at large, just usually in a more extreme way. 

 

Over accommodation or people-pleasing

So one of the things that come across a lot is what we call over accommodation or people-pleasing, and it means sort of overextending the boundaries of myself in a way that causes me a deficit for the sake of the other, you know, psychologically call that kind of co-dependence, it’s on that spectrum. And it’s a really big deal.

 

 “A lot of people that you find coming into recovery have felt that they’ve been living for the world and they don’t really get theirs. And so there’s becomes using drug and alcohol.” 

 

Straightening out what your boundaries are 

You know, the metaphor for me is like, okay, I do everything I’m supposed to do. I mean, the world asks of me during the day and at night, I hide in the closet and drink vodka and smoke meth, you know, or whatever it is, that’s for me, the rest of its for the world because the world’s been demanding on me since I was born. You can think about that dynamic. And so one of the things that needs to happen in treatment is you have to straighten that out.  

 

You have to help people become more assertive. 

Assertive is a tricky word. I don’t mean asserting your will on others. But I mean, being clear about what your boundaries are, and being clear about how to draw those boundaries in a way that’s effective in your life. So if you’ve been people-pleasing for a long time, you have to get clear about how to assert boundaries. And you have to be clear about what your rights are and asserting those boundaries. So where people are confused, is they’re confused about where their rights stop and start in the interpersonal reactions. I’ll give interactions. 

 

When I was working in treatment

I remember I walked into a lobby, and there was a woman who I liked quite a bit, who was working there. And she said, “Hey, I sent you a Facebook friend request. Did you get it?” And I said, “Yeah, I got it. I saw that friend request.” And she said, “Well, are you going to friend me?” And I said, “No, I’m not going to accept your friend request.” And she gives me this look like you know, she’s offended. And she says, “Why not?” And I said, “Well, I don’t, you know, I don’t want to.” And she said, “Well, my roommate, who you know, she sent you a Facebook friend request, and you accepted that friend request.” And I said, “Yes, I did.” And what did she say? She said, “Why didn’t you accept my Facebook request?”

 

And you should know this a teaching from my mentor. When somebody says “why” to you and interpersonal reaction. They don’t really mean it. They don’t want to understand it. It’s really a complaint. Right? And so you go, is that a question or a complaint that “why”. I need to clarify that. But in that circumstance, I said, “Can I ask you a question?” She said, “Yeah.” And I said, “Do I have the right to decide who my Facebook friends are?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Okay, good. We’re clear.” 

 

Let me ask you another question. “Were you ever married?” She said, “Yes”. I said “Did you have a wedding?” She said “Yes.” I said, “Did you invite some people to your wedding?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Were there other people you didn’t invite?” “So the other people I didn’t invite?”. “And did you ever have somebody who didn’t invite to your wedding come up to you after the wedding?” And say, “Why didn’t you invite me to your wedding?” And she said, “In fact, I did.” And I said “What did that feel like?” She said, “It didn’t feel good.” I said, “Great. Now you understand this interaction. Right?”

 

And now I’m being a little bit you know, humorous or whatever. But it’s an example of how we get confused in our boundaries of what we’re obligated to do. Where do my obligations stop and start? If I’m in a relationship with somebody, and I don’t want to be with them anymore, which is usually why people break up out of relationships, right? 

 

Usually people don’t want to be in a relationship because they don’t want to be with that person anymore. 

The question that the party asks that is being broken up with is usually “why”, but they don’t mean it. Because nine times out of ten there’s only one answer, “Because I don’t want to be with you anymore.” Obviously, on the other end, that’s hard for you to understand because human beings are naturally kind of narcissistic. And so somebody breaks up with me and I love them and they don’t love me that I don’t understand. But I do understand because there are people who have loved me who I didn’t love in the same way.

 

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The Moral Aspects of Treatment

Remove the Moral Aspects of Addiction Treatment?

 

I talk a lot about the moral aspects of treatment and I am very resistant to removing morality from the conversation about addiction and recovery. I understand why people want to do that. It’s to bring down the stigma to address the confusion around the free will issues, for it to be covered by insurance, I agree with all that. I agree with the reasons. My hesitation is that there is a huge moral component to addiction and recovery, and let’s talk about what that looks like in recovery.

 

In recovery, the moments where we gain the most growth are the same moments where we gain the most growth in life.

 

One of the most pivotal moments of growth in my life, there are moments when I’m in a moral conflict and I’m not sure what to do. What is the right thing to do in this moment? If I’m in a marriage and I don’t know if this marriage is working and I have kids and I’m trying to figure out– I’m- some of them in this world conflict, what is the right thing for me to do? If I’m tempted to go into a career largely for money, but it’s not my passion, I’m in a moral conflict what is the right thing for me to do.

 

The most serious conflicts in our life are these moral conflicts with competing claims on each end.

 

The reason why I’m hesitant to remove that from the conversation is, it is the moral conflicts that induce inhuman beings the most important parts of ourselves. In order for me to wrestle with a moral conflict, I have to draw on all of these different parts of who I am and my personality. Right?

 

So a common conflict and treatment that happens is, my roommate snuck out and got drunk and I know. My roommate comes back and says, “Don’t tell anybody,” and suddenly there’s a couple of things happening.

 

One, I am asked to keep a secret. And in general, secrets, those kinds of secrets are not the healthiest things to keep inside of us.

 

Number two, I’m in this interesting quandary around loyalty to my friend, but on the other end I’m in an interesting quandary about being honest with the people that are helping me: counselors, therapists, the community at large and treatments. I have these competing claims. I also have me. I don’t want to be walking around with lies in myself. I don’t want my friend to get in trouble, which is a normal thing, but I don’t wanna be dishonest, and suddenly I’m in the midst of a moral conflict.

 

What somebody does in a predicament can be the make or break moment in somebody’s treatment experience.

 

When somebody can say, “Hey, you put me in a really bad position by asking me to keep your secret because you act it out and I’m not willing to co-sign that with you, and it wasn’t okay, and you need to go work this out because you’ve put me in a bad situation. You’ve put you in a bad situation. You’re an alcoholic who allegedly is here to get sober. I get that you don’t do this thing perfectly but you need to straighten this out,” right? That’s a high level response. That’s not the government’s fault, but imagine if somebody is used to cosigning everybody’s everything all the time in life, they’ve engaged in a program of recovery. They strike them, they built what we call a moral core, some center about what the right thing to do is. They’re challenged, they’re in the middle. They’re stuck there in the hallway. They don’t know whether to go left, whether to go right. Right? Suddenly it’s like, okay, and they have that conversation. You know what that does for me. That’s everything. That’s the turning point for people’s recovery.

 

The moment when you have the difficult conversation with your parents or your loved one that you’ve never had, we build that moral core.

 

Begin to put yourself in the equation. That’s where we get the most growth. Not only do we get that growth morally, we also get it psychologically. We are moral psychological beings that come hand-in-hand. Right? To be– if you meet somebody who’s evil, which is a moral term whether you believe in evil or not, but behaves in evil ways depending on their level of narcissism and the way in which they act out, you would have a difficult time saying, “Well, that person is mentally healthy. They’re just evil.” Right? In general, those things come together. Right?

 

So, you know, to use the extreme example. Adolf Hitler was not only evil. There’s such a thing exists. He was also mentally ill and a methamphetamine addict. Those things come together. So our moral behavior in our psychological wellness, they’re integrated with each other. We have to understand that. So we cannot remove morality from the equation of recovery addiction. We have to figure out how we incorporate that in the conversation about well-being, psychological well-being, spiritual well-being, etc.

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