When we empower ourselves, we become strong enough to deal with life’s daily challenges so they don’t hit us quite as hard.
The word “empowerment” recalls the self-help movement, which is notorious for trendy coinage. “Trendy coinage” has become trendy coinage! Another trendy thing now is lists. You know those lists: 10 ways to be happy, 15 ways to get your guy, 25 ways to look thinner, 20 tips for financial security, 19 ways to cut your grocery bill, 15 ways to live and not merely exist, 12 stressful things to stop doing… etc. I believe one stressful thing to stop doing would be to stop reading these lists. I have had to set boundaries with the lists. I do not need to know 101 ways of doing anything! My maximum allowed tip is usually 10. I prefer 5, but it depends on the subject matter.
This leads me back to empowerment. I did a little research and found, much to my surprise, TIPS ABOUT BECOMING EMPOWERED in the face of addiction. The writer’s role is not that of the addict, but the message remains the same. The list was between 5 and 10, so I went for it. I liked it a lot. Here it is, so you get your list de jour. According to TreatmentTalk.org, here are some ways to become empowered in the face of addiction:
1. Read and educate yourself. There are a number of books on the topic of addiction. Some contain information about the facts of addiction, while others tell a family’s story. Many are worth reading. Knowledge is power, so educate yourself about the disease of addiction.
2. Face Reality. Facing our truth takes courage. I know I was in denial for years with my daughter’s addiction. It did not serve her or myself well. Being in denial just prolongs the agony of addiction and may prevent recovery for years. When you face the truth of your situation, solutions begin to fall into place.
3. Exercise. Exercise has benefits for everyone. It gives us confidence and makes us feel so much better about ourselves. Take a walk a few times a week to get started. I have been a runner off and on throughout my life and I couldn’t recommend it more for feeling strong. Yoga is another form of exercise that offers a physical and mental release from stress.
4. Set boundaries. Imagine having a life where you have clear guidelines on what is and is not acceptable to you. You’ll feel much more in control of your life when you know your limits and can communicate them clearly. When our children are in pain, it can feel very “unparentlike” to not do whatever we can to solve their problem. We support our children’s addiction when we don’t give them the chance to find their own strength and take responsibility for their lives.
5. Get Support. There is nothing better to ease the stigma and feeling of being alone than to attend a support group of parents with addicted children. We can learn from others who have gone before us. When parents share their stories, it helps us learn how to handle our own situation. I always come away from a meeting a little wiser, with a feeling of gratitude. Professional help is another important option to consider. Get an objective opinion from someone experienced in the addiction field.
6. Focus on the Solution. Your immediate thought might be that you cannot solve your child’s addiction problem, and that is true. The solution for now may be that you get yourself healthy, mentally and physically. You may not be able to change your child’s habits, but you can be a role model on what a healthy lifestyle looks like.
7. Forgive. There are many things your children may have done during their addiction that seems unforgivable. They may have lied, stolen, wrecked the car, or been abusive. The list can go on and on. When we forgive, we get back our power that we have given away. It’s now ours to keep and we can use this power to help ourselves become accountable for finding joy in our lives.
These seven tips will help you to feel empowered. Remember, just taking one step at a time can lead to feeling empowered.
After reading these tips, I thought of how I had empowered my family. Had I followed these suggestions? I started out by being honest with my children, grandchildren and extended family about my addiction, where I was in my recovery phase, and how I wanted our lives to be. I wanted to bring together the family that my addiction had ripped apart. We all accepted the reality of my addiction. We forgave one another. We were off to a pretty good start with that! I knew I had to take action; it wasn’t enough to say it, I had to do it. I had to empower myself in order to empower my family. I was resistant to change but stayed open-minded. I read so many self-help books, I almost lost my mind. I’m sure there is a list or a book that could have helped me find it! With my little bit of knowledge, I began to move forward; I began to live what I had learned. I treated myself better with a healthier diet, and I still can’t believe it myself, but I joined a gym. I still HATE to work out, but I see the positive physical and emotional changes it makes. I read 11 ways to set healthy boundaries (I know, it’s over the “list limit”), and I have healthy boundaries that my family respects.
Boundaries have empowered me to say “no” and be OK with it. I stay connected with a recovery community and have decided not to make asking for help my last resort. It’s easy to focus on the solution when these things are in place. I keep a consistent, slow pace on my recovery path, and it is working for me and my family.
When I think of family empowerment, I envision a family standing in a circle holding hands with a continuous flow of strength to each other. Do you have a vision of family empowerment? I hope you read something in this blog that can help you achieve your vision.
“Don’t change other people. Be the change you wish to see in other people.” – Gandhi