Tag Archives: Mindfulness

My Miscellany: Unrealistic Expectations PT. III


Three Part Series, written in 2017, Unrealistic Expectations discusses the pressures we can place on ourselves, but mainly others, in our various dealings with folks. Personally AND professionally.

So in first post, I basically introduced you to the fact that I have slowly burying my girl under unrealistic expectations.  

My goal in posting some things over this weekend is that I could gain a better understanding as to WHY I was doing that, WHAT unrealistic expectations are and HOW I can prevent myself from this type of behavior.

Part II: Unrealistic ExpectationsPart III: Unrealistic Expectations30 Great Relationship Questions
Unrealistic Expectations

Often we have an idea of what our partner should be like.  We might expect them to clean up after themselves, be considerate, to always think of us first, to surprise us, to support us, to always have a smile, to always be present.  Not necessarily these expectations, but almost always we have expectations of our partner.

Having some expectations is fine–we should expect our partner to be faithful, for example.  But sometimes, without realizing it ourselves, we have expectations that are too high to meet.  Our partner isn’t perfect–no one is.  We can’t expect them to be cheerful and loving every minute of the day–everyone has their moods.  

We can’t expect them to always think of us, as they will obviously think of themselves or others sometimes too.  We can’t expect them to be exactly as we are, as everyone is different.

High expectations lead to disappointment and frustration, especially if we do not communicate these expectations.  How can we expect our partner to meet these expectations if they don’t know about them?  More importantly, how can we expect our partners to meet expectations that are too high or unrealistic?  

How do we know if they are unrealistic in the first place?  Here’s a thorough list of unrealistic expectations.  Check off each one you think you are guilty of, or perhaps that someone expects of you.

((I have put !! next to the ones I feel I sometimes engage in, a few more than I thought, being brutally honest with stuff like this can be extremely uncomfortable, but do you really want to lose your love?  I know I sure as fuck don’t.))

Unrealistic Expectations

We will meet all of each other’s needs. (!!)
They will know what I’m thinking or feeling without me having to say (and vice versa).
They will never want to discuss feelings or talk about the future.
We will spend all our time together. (!!)
We will agree on everything.
They will earn a certain amount of money or have a certain status.
I will not budge from my ideals of how they should look.
They will never challenge me.
They will always make me feel happy.  (!!)
We will immediately know that we belong together, so we will definitely get married.
They will always do what I say.
I will not have to change, but they will change for me.
They will be stronger in their faith, so they will always know what to do.
I will only date the person I know God has told me to marry.
It will be easy.

My partner should always give me unconditional positive regard and constant reinforcement (!!)
My partner should always take responsible for all my feelings, happiness, and well- being.
My partner should always compliment me- and always tell me he/she loves me. (!!)
My partner should be the person I imagine her to be- or- who I want her to be.
My partner and I should have all the same likes, beliefs, wants, and needs.
My partner should be able to know what I am thinking, feeling; and always know my wants and needs.
My partner should spend all of his/her free time with me- never apart. (!!)
My partner should be sexual – all the time- anytime. (!!)
Relationship should always have passion and excitement- never boring. (!!)
When I assign my attention, value, and time to my partner, he/she will reciprocate (!!)

Yeah, doesn’t look pretty does it?  Well, if you read my earlier blog post you will know that much of time this is not a conscious choice you make.  There are many factors involved in this type of behavior–unless of course you’re a sociopath, and why would you be reading this blog anyway?  The good news is there’s help.  It’s called KNOCK THE SHIT OFF!

Actually, I’ve got a pretty good mass of information I boiled down here, and then I want to talk about using CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), and Emotion Regulation skills that will tidy up this behavior for you.  Finally, it is very important for you to be honest with your partner and ask them to help recognize when you are engaging in these expectations!  

Before you know it, your relationship will rocket ship to a new orbit—oops, unrealistic–will be at a much more harmonious place than you even thought was possible!

Realistic Expectations

We will have fun together.
We will be open with each other and grow in trust and commitment.
I will remain true to myself as I seek to change for the better.
We will work through disagreements.
We will have a similar view of relationships.
Sometimes we will need some space, but we will always try to communicate well.
We will share core beliefs and values, and enjoy debating areas where we differ.
We will seek to bring out the best in each other.
We will consider each other’s needs.
We will spend time apart.
We will encourage each other.
We will make every effort to talk to one another openly and honestly.
We will share a connection that we will want to nurture into something more.
We will be open to God speaking to us, together and individually, about our relationship.
To be treated respectfully
To have a partner who is caring, supportive, loyal
To share common interests (not all)
To compromise and negotiate when problems arise
To feel safe, secure
To respect personal feelings
To be trustworthy and honest with each other
To be empathetic or sympathetic
To be connected/close, more often than not
To have a satisfying sexual relationship
To be emotionally and physically faithful
To not abuse alcohol or drugs
To feel like best friends

The one thing that shatters relationships and ruins friendships more than any other is expectations.  When we say that someone is not meeting our ‘needs’, we usually mean that he or she is not living up to our expectations.  True needs are very few, but expectations are limitless.

When a person’s behavior does not match your expectations, you can try to change their behavior, or you could let go of your expectations.  The first is an exercise in frustration and causes untold damage to relationships.  The second is also difficult, but possible and worthwhile.  Learn to let go.

Recovery: Solutions

What I Need Solutions For

If you don’t know me by now, I am a 57 year old recovering alcoholic. Although I did not have dramatic issues with withdrawal once I was forced to quit drinking as a result of jail, I did exhibit attributes of both a Binge Drinker and someone suffering from Alcohol Dependence. The cornerstone of an Alcohol Dependence diagnosis is

Recovery-wise.com is best viewed on a computer. The charts, images, flipbooks, and other features I use to make your experience on recoverywise do not fully translate in mobile view. Click here to view site.

“dependence requires tolerance, drinking to ease withdrawal and continued drinking despite recognizing problems.”

Dr. Thomas Greenfield, Ph.D.

Although withdrawal symptoms were not prevalent in my disease, every other box was checked.

impaired controlattempts to quitneglect of responsibilityin spite of legal or social issues
persistent drinkingdenialamount of time drinkinglife had become unmanageable

Add a dash of PTSD from childhood trauma, some Anxiety and some Bipolar Disorder stuff. Viola! But by the grace of God go I. I spent one year in VA Treatment Programs from October of 2016-November of 2017.

Solution 1: A Golden Rule Realized
Golden Rules Around The Globe
Click To Enlarge

It wasn’t until halfway through my 5 month jail sentence that I finally realized it. I could not drink anymore. I had lost just about everything. The old warning from A.A. that continued alcoholism would result in “Jail, institutions, or death. rang true. I did not truly hit “rock bottom” until mid-way through jail! Even going to jail didn’t do it for me.

Bet you didn’t know that for every religion, there are varying Golden Rules that are similar. But there isn’t just the one. Anyways, I’m talking about my new found Golden Rule: I could NEVER PICK UP AGAIN.

I knew that if I was going to turn my life around. If I was going to be able to overcome all of the obstacles my disease had put in front of me; that I had put in front of me, I had to never drink again. If I did, I knew that I would probably just commit suicide and be done with the whole mess. Hell be damned.

Surviving P.A.W.S.
Click To Enlarge

Early in recovery, and sometimes lasting up to a year or two, is P.A.W.S. Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms is a host of emotional and psychological withdrawal issues that can derail recovery quite quickly if not tended to. Most folks suffer from one or more symptoms for about 6 months, but the symptoms can last much longer.

The symptoms vary widely, but they can come at you all at once, in bursts, and even subside only to show up again in weeks or even months. The idea here is to be mindful of disruptions to your emotional and psychological well-being, and then to find healthy ways of coping and managing what you may be experiencing.

SymptomsTiredness, low energy, low enthusiasmMood swings, anxiety, irritabilityVariable concentrationDisturbed sleep
SolutionsBe PatientGo with the flowRelax Practice Self-care

These symptoms ebb and flow throughout a long period of time, making them stealthy and dangerous. It comes down to vigilance and how much self-care and self-awareness is practiced, as to how one fares in the long run (more on this in Solution 3).

Solution 2: The Acronym I Live By

Within 6 months of being in VA Treatment, and from the many lessons I learned in therapy, I developed a framework for solutions that would help me to avoid old patterns of behavior and thinking: the acronym S.N.A.G.M.

practicing meditation
-reading religious texts
-listening to ambient tunes
-walks in nature
-living in the present
-forgetting the past
-not getting caught up in the future -shrinking my world
-breathing exercises
-letting things go
-living life on life’s terms
-serenity prayer
-accepting people, places, and things as they are
-appreciating what I have
-practicing contentment
-seeing the positive things in life
-counting blessings
-redirecting emotions
-slowing life down
-focused attention on good intentions
-thinking things through

As you can see from the S.N.A.G.M chart above, that’s some serious weaponry in my recovery arsenal; and they have served me well. As of this writing, I have 54.5 months clean and sober. I wish I could tell you that I am always firing on all cylinders with S.N.A.G.M., but that would be a lie.

Click To Enlarge

As an interesting side note, if any of you have visited my actual blog-not just read my posts in the wordpress reader-then you might have noticed my gravatar. The gravatar was drawn by my wife, Rebecca, within a few months of meeting her online.

She is an artist, so I asked her to draw me a symbol of S.N.A.G.M.. She came up with a wonderful graphic that is really the centerpiece of my recovery-wise.com and social media. And one day, it will be a cool tattoo on my shoulder!

Life doesn’t fit neatly into an acronym afterall. Does it? As an alcohol I suffer from certain defects of character. Most of which are policed well enough through S.N.A.G.M. However, there are many other times that my old ways of thinking and feeling sneak up on me unawares. Which leads me to solution 3.

Solution 3: H.A.L.T.
Click To Enlarge

Sometimes all of my determination not to be overly critical and judgemental, not to let the environment unsettle me, and not to allow my emotions to become unruly, starts to wane. Why? Because even the best intentions for ourselves get sidetracked inadvertently.

It’s just as important to recognize why recovery can be derailed. Sometimes, if the circumstances are severe enough-if we let them get away from ourselves-relapse can slowly take root. A combination of self-care and self-awareness can help us overcome common obstacles to our everyday well-being and recovery. H.A.L.T. is a tool that helps us accomplish both.

can be a physical
or emotional need
understand what is causing it
and how to express it.
can occur when we are by ourselves
or when surrounded by many people
work overload
lack of sleep
taking on too much
don’t just eat, eat well!
spending time with loved ones
punch a pillow
calmly discuss
avoid isolating
reach out to someone
get out and about
take it easy
get good rest

As you can see, using H.A.L.T. as a kind of preventive and diagnostic measure for ourselves, can lead to us practicing healthy self-awareness and self-care. Of course, you don’t need to be in recovery to benefit from H.A.L.T.. Running down the H.A.L.T. checklist can be a great tool to get yourself back on track, or to help you avoid getting off track in the first place.

Solutions Wrap-Up:
  • Don’t Pick Up!
  • Identify and manage symptoms of P.A.W.S.
  • Use S.N.A.G.M. to live your life more fully
  • Use H.A.L.T. to practice self-care and self-awareness
  • Don’t Pick Up!

Now go out there and get some!

Recovery: Living Sober Pt. III

Recovery Living Sober I
90 Page Booklet

Recovery: Living Sober Book by Alcoholics Anonymous is an excellent resource if you want to learn how to maintain long-term sobriety.

In this three part series, I will present summaries of many of the concepts put forth in this book. It’s only 90 pages, and packed with excellent advice.

It contains, as the subtitle states, “Some methods A.A. members have used for not drinking.”

What I like most about this book is, even if you are not immersed in recovery through regular A.A. Meetings and the sub-culture, you can still benefit tremendously from Living Sober.

Read The Entire Booklet Here
Read Part IRead Part II
19. Remembering Your Last Drunk

One A.A. member puts it this way: “I know that stopping in for a drink will never again be–for me–simply killing a few minutes and leaving a buck on the bar. In exchange for that drink, what I would plunk down now is my bank account, my family, our home, our car, my job, my sanity, and probably my life. It’s too big a price, too big a risk.” He remembers his last drunk, not his first drink.

20. Avoiding Dangerous Drugs and Medications

We are wary of what we take on our own; we steer away from cough syrups with alcohol, codeine, or bromides, and from all those assorted smokes, powders, synthetic painkillers, liquids, and vapors that are sometimes freely handed around. Why take the chance? Chemical substitutes of life simply do not interest us any more, now that we know what genuine living is.

21. Eliminating Self-Pity

This emotion is so ugly that no one in his or her right mind wants to admit feeling it. Even when sober, many of us remain clever at hiding from ourselves the fact that we are astew in a mess of self-pity. We do not like at all being told that it shows, and we are sharp at arguing that we are experiencing some other emotion-not that loathsome poor-me-sim. Such thinking is a great ticket to a barroom, but that’s about all. Crying over that unanswerable question is like weeping because we because we were born in this era, not another, or on this planet, rather than in some other galaxy. The saying “Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink” is apt.

22. Seeking Professional Help

If we now find ourselves sober but still trying to second-guess the really expert professionals, it can be taken as a warning signal. Is active alcoholism trying to sneak its way back into us? Some of us are now aware that our behavior prevented our getting the good advice or care we really needed. May you have the same good fortune in these regards that so many of us have had. Hundreds of thousands of us are deeply grateful to the countless professional men and women who helped us, or tried to.

23. Steering Clear of Emotional Entanglements

OVer the years, we have become strongly convinced that almost no important decisions should be arrived at early in our sobriety, unless they cannot possibly be delayed. This caution particularly applies to decisions about people, decisions about high emotional potential. Another caution: Tying our sobriety to someone we are emotionally involved with proves flatly disastrous. “I’ll stay sober if so-and-so does this or that” puts an unhealthy condition on our recovery. Immature or premature liaisons are crippling to recovery. Only after we have had time to mature somewhat beyond merely not drinking are we equipped to relate maturely to other people.

24. Getting Out of the “If” Trap

Many of us were caught thinking: I wouldn’t be drinking this way…if it wasn’t for my wife (or husband or lover)…if I just had more money and not so many debts…if it wasn’t for all these family problems, etc. Looking back at this kind of thinking and our resultant behavior, we see now that we were really letting circumstances outside ourselves control much of our lives. Tying up our sobriety to any person (even another recovered alcoholic, or to any circumstance is foolish and dangerous. When we think, “I’ll stay sober if–” or “I won’t brink because of–” we unwittingly set ourselves up to drink when the condition or circumstance changes.

25. Being Wary of Drinking Occasions

Great numbers of us (but not all) believe that the sooner we establish the truth of our sobriety with our acquaintances, the better it is for us. We do not have to keep up any pretenses, and most good people appreciate our honest and encourage our efforts to stay fee of our addiction. Occasionally, a really heavy drinker will get pretty pushy about our not drinking. We learn to steer clear of such people. If they do indeed have their own hang-up to contend with, we wish them well. But we need not defend our choices to them or to anyone else. And we do not argue with them, or try to change their minds. Again, our attitude is “Live and Let Live.”

26. Letting Go of Old Ideas

The ideas that got so deeply embedded in our lives during drinking do not all disappear quickly, as if by magic, the moment we start keeping the plug in the jug. Our days of wine and “Sweet Adeline” may be gone, but the malady lingers on. So we have found it therapeutic to nip off many old ideas that start to sprout up again. And they do, over and over. What we try to achieve is a feeling of being relaxed and freed from the bonds of our old thinking. Many of our former habits of thought, and the ideas they produced, limit our freedom. We don’t have to hang on to them any longer unless, upon examination, they prove valid and still truly fruitful.

27. Reading The A.A. Message

There are many good blications on alcoholism, and some not so good. Many of us have also profited by reading in other fields. A.A. neither endorses nor opposes anybody else’s publications. We simply offer our own.

28. Going To A.A. Meetings

Because of the importance of meetings, many of us keep a list of local meetings. We have found that going to meetings is not something to be done only when we feel the temptation to drink. We often get more good from the meetings by attending them when we feel fine and haven’t so much as thought of drinking. And even a meeting which is not tally, instantly satisfying is better than no meeting at all.

29. Trying The Twelve Steps

No matter what type of addict we were, we realize not that we were excessively self-centered, chiefly concerned about our feelings, our problems, other people’s reactions to us, and our own past and future. Therefore, trying to get into communication with and to help other people through the Twelve Steps is a recovery measure for us, because it helps take us out of ourselves. Trying to heal ourselves by helping others works, even when it is an insincere gesture. Try it some time.

30. Finding Your Own Way

As you stay sober, you are sure to think of new ideas not recorded here. We hope so. We also hope that when you do come up with fresh ideas on this subject, you will pass them on. Please do share. The more experience we can all pool, the more problem drinkers can be helped.

The A.A. website is a great source of helpful information, online meetings, and all of their literature. Visit here.

Recovery: Living Sober Pt. II

Recovery Living Sober I
90 Page Booklet

Recovery: Living Sober Book by Alcoholics Anonymous is an excellent resource if you want to learn how to maintain long-term sobriety.

In this three part series, I will present summaries of many of the concepts put forth in this book. It’s only 90 pages, and packed with excellent advice.

It contains, as the subtitle states, “Some methods A.A. members have used for not drinking.”

What I like most about this book is, even if you are not immersed in recovery through regular A.A. Meetings and the sub-culture, you can still benefit tremendously from Living Sober.

Read The Entire Booklet Here
Read Part IRead Part III
10. Availing Yourself of A Sponsor

One reason it is a good idea to have a sponsor is that you have a friendly guide during those first days and weeks when A.A. seems strange and new, before you feel you know your own way about. A good sponsor is someone we can confide in, get everything off our chests with.

11. Getting Plenty of Rest

Many of us have wondered why we suddenly feel like taking a drink, for no apparent reason. When we examine the situation, time after time we find that we are feeling exhausted and hadn’t realized it. Even if we can’t fall asleep, just a few minutes of lying down, or relaxing in a chair or a tub, take the edge off the fatigue.

12. “First Things First”

Here’s an old saying that has special, strong meaning for us. Simply stated, it is this: Above all other concerns, we must remember that we cannot drink. Not drinking is the first order of business for us, anywhere, any time, under any circumstances.

13. Fending Off Loneliness

Alcoholism has been described as “the lonely disease,” and very few recovered alcoholics argue the point. Looking back at the las years or months of our drinking, many of us remember feeling isolated even when we were among a lot of happy, celebrating people. When we have only ourselves to talk to, the conversation gets kind of circular. Taking part in social activities, getting involved with the fellowship, and finding someone to talk to about our problems ensured that we would not slip into the malaise of isolating and drinking.

14. Anger and Resentments

Hostility, resentment, anger–whatever word you use to describe this feeling–seems to have a close tie-up with intoxication and maybe even a deeper one with alcoholism. So, we have to concentrate at first, not on searching for the causes of uncomfortable feelings of anger, but on coping with the feelings themselves, whether or not we think they are justified. W zero in on how to keep such feelings from fooling us into drinking.

15. Being Good To Yourself

Have we been enjoying life lately? Or have we been so concerned about getting better, kept our nose so earnestly near the grindstone of self-improvement, that we have failed to enjoy a sunset? A new moon? A good meal? A needed holiday from care? Now is the time, the only time there is. Unless we cherish our own recovery, we cannot survive to become unselfish, ethical, and socially responsible people.

16. Looking Out For Overrelation

Be especially cautious during moments of celebration or times of just feeling extraordinarily good. When things are going great, so well you feel almost on a nonalcoholic high–look out! Just one drink begins to seem less threatening, and we start thinking that it wouldn’t be fatal, or even harmful.

17. “Easy Does It”

The slogan “Easy Does It” is one way we A.A.’s remind each other that many of us have tendencies at times to overdo things, to rush heedlessly along, impatient with anything that slows us down. We find it hard to relax and savor life. When we do find ourselves up-tight and even frantic, we can ask ourselves occasionally, “Am I really that indispensable?” or “Is this hurry really necessary?” The answer if frequently no. If a strong inner core of peace, patience, and contentment looks at all desirable to you, it can be had. Remind yourself once in a while that maybe “Easy Does It” is this days ideal speed.

18. Being Grateful

Now that we are free of alcohol, we have much more control over our thinking. We have a broader range of thoughts, in minds that are no longer blurred. But the habit of thinking in neurotically depressed ways can stay with some of us, we have found, until we learn to spot it and carefully root it out. Focusing on gratitude, in even the littlest of things, can leave us feeling relaxed and thankful that we can be open to new ideas. Avoiding “Stinkin’ Thinkin” is essential to avoiding the slippery slope of relapse. Essentially, this means paying attention to when we allow our old patterns of negative thinking creep in, and replacing that thinking with some sense of gratitude in the moment.

Recovery Retro: Change The Tape

Recovery Retro

Recovery Retro features posts from my archives 2016-2017, my chronicles of recovery from alcoholism, mental health issues, and substance abuse. After 35 years of chaos, my life in several VA Treatment Programs was anything but boring. Join me as I share with you my most intimate posts about spirituality, living in the now, acceptance, gratitude, mindfulness, and the lessons I learned that keep me sober to this day.

Published 01/09/2017 at 8:00 am – Day 84 of Treatment
My Ruminations Me A To Z

As I go through this morning I found myself starting to become negative about all the groups I have to attend here at the treatment facility.

And then I got real with myself.  I had to remind myself why I am here.  I had to have a little pep talk with myself about my recovery and its aims.

As a recovering alcoholic I am learning I must always be vigilant to what my tapes are playing in my head.  I am learning to recognize negative thinking patterns.  I never really paid much attention to my thoughts.

Now, however, I am in tune with my thoughts and how much they affect my emotions and behaviors throughout the day.  Some call this “mindfulness.”

When I am mindful that my thoughts may be negative, judgmental, or just plain ineffective, I am able to simply “change the tape.”  That is to say, reorient my thinking to go down positive pathways.

thoughtscharacter on justruminating men's blog

Becoming in tune with how you think from moment to moment can help you to begin to change some of the negative consequences in your life.  This happens when you say to yourself “This way of thinking is not healthy for me.”  Then you simply change the tape!

You will be amazed at how much quieter your world becomes.  How much more at peace your life becomes!  So today, rather than bitch and complain about all the groups I have to attend, while I might not embrace them and do cartwheels, I will remember they are essential to my recovery and well being!

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