Do you know what conflict management is? It is when you are the one who is trying to keep everyone around you happy. You make it your responsibility to keep everyone happy at the expense of your own feelings, your own needs, your own desires. When you manage the conflict to try to keep the peace and keep everyone else content–have you felt that you have lost yourself? And in the midst of losing yourself, have you found that you can”t (in reality) keep everyone around you happy and content? Is there an addict in your life that you are constantly walking on eggshells around? Has it worked? Can you ever really keep an addict content? The definition of an addict is that there is never anything that is enough. Have you felt that way– that you are never enough–nothing you do–is ever enough?
Are you ready to take back your life? With the holidays coming, those who manage the conflict in their families usually find they have to do it in their extended families, as well. What would be the first step to taking back your life? You can begin by learning to value yourself first–instead of the addict (or your kids, your mom, etc.). It is going to be a process. The first step is the awareness that you have lost your voice and your value by giving it away. It is possible that the addict in your life demands that you value his(or her) needs above yours. Unpacking the reasons around that is probably a bit more complex–but it is possible to get your voice back, no matter what the demands are of those around you.
What does it mean to value yourself? When I first came to recovery–I could not answer that question. It took quite some time in my group to begin to understand what it would look like to value myself. I had put everyone else’s wants, needs and desires above my own. It was how I got my value–meeting everyone’s else’s needs and keeping them happy. But as the old saying goes, “You can make some of the people happy some of the time–but you cannot make all the people happy all the time.” Consequently, since I could not keep everyone happy and content–I never could obtain the value I so fiercely desired. That leaves the question, “How do I get value?” It was when I finally came to these realizations, that I simply cannot get my value from other people. I cannot get value unless I value myself first. Even in the church, we have the scripture that says, “love others as you love yourself.” I had to look at the fact that I did not know how to love myself. If you are reading this, my guess is you might not know how to love yourself either. Give that some thought for a few days. What would it look like if you started loving yourself?