These are the parts of yourself that need treatment. I’ve spoken to many people who have named various “bad” parts of themselves, including themselves in active use. These are the parts that are embarrassing and maybe you wish didn’t exist. You don’t like them, and neither does anyone else. Society locks them up, hospitalizes, medicates, ignores, makes fun of, forgets about, denies, uses, leaves behind, protects against, lashes out at, fixes, throws away and is disappointed in them.
An example: “The Thief”- One male I spoke to recounted how he can stop using but cannot stop compulsively stealing. I asked his age when he started stealing and what his life was like before and after the behavior. He spoke of being neglected by his parent, going to school dirty, never having nice possessions and being made fun of. He was too young to buy things himself, so he took stuff. Problem solved. Somewhat. We reflected for a while and this man came to realize that the thief in him saved the dirty abused neglected child. Without the thief, he would have to feel all the emotions of the original young part of himself. The thief seems bad but helped him. Many women start prostituting to have independence and support themselves. They feel desirable and in control. One woman told me, “It is the only job that I could never get fired from.” She became tearful explaining that she held a job that she loved at Dollar General but lost it because she relapsed.
Many behaviors work great in our younger years then cause problems in adulthood. With treatment we can become aware of why we act as we do and identify more functional ways to meet our needs. We may have outgrown the old behaviors, but not realized it. When people get out of the lifestyle of addiction, they often realize that they like a peaceful ordinary life more than the excitement, material things and power of active use. They start to see though the illusions that were running their lives. They realize what is true and what falls away.
Group Exercise: Identifying Old Behaviors / Establishing New Behaviors
|Choose an unacceptable behavior. Write the age the behavior started. What were you like before this behavior?||What needs did the behavior take care of? What good things happened emotionally, physically, and socially for you? What is the name of the part of you that acted this way?
|What is a new way you can act to take care of your needs?
|What would you lose if that part of yourself changed? Boredom? Feeling vulnerable? Being happy with less? Feeling unsure it will work? Concern about your safety?|