See my post as I uploaded an example of a relationship map and how to do one.
The 12 Steps, like anything else outside ourselves, including alcohol, food, etc. are just a tool that can be used in a productive way or misused. I have seen my patients who are open to receiving the wisdom from them have breakthgoughs in their recovery and really feel they have a community of equals who are supportive.
One quote I always remember and use with lots of things is, “take what you like and leave the rest, in other word, if you like going to the meetings and listening to others but you don’t like all the steps, you can still benefit from meeting.
The big stumbling block for a lot of people is the whole “god/higher power”. I think the concept of a higher power was developped to help people with alcohol addiction to understand that there might exist a power outside themselves that could be more powerful than the most powerful thing in their life — their drink of choice-. It is about surrendering. Anyway your higher power could be the pizza parlor down the street or your own desire to heal and stop self destructive behavior. Basically we all have limited power in our lives, which we observe and learn everyday. (Life is what happens when you’re making other plans. John Lennon)
I found this great version of the twelve steps that doesn’t mention god or even a higher power and uses the journal, and thought it was worth sharing:
The Twelve Step Journal
These are the 12 steps as outlined in the book The Twelve Step Journal, by Claudette Wassil-Grimm, M.Ed..
- We admitted we were powerless over our addiction/compulsion – that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We came to believe that, like all human beings, our power was limited and we needed to learn to let go and learn from others.
- We made a decision to let go of control, assume a spirit of goodwill, seek the wisdom of responsible others, and discover our true “voice within”.
- We made a searching and fearless inventory of our strengths and weaknesses.
- We admitted to our journal, ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to listen to wise counsel and seek that still small voice within to guide us to change our behaviors which have been harmful to ourselves and others.
- Humbly began the process of deep change so we could overcome our weakness.
- Made a list of all persons we have harmed, became willing to make amends to them all, and to forgive those against whom we have held grudges.
- We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so whould injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- Through meditation and journaling we continually seek to clarify and improve our own judgment and to consider the best direction and purpose our lives can take.
- Having developed deeper wisdom and an appreciation of the spiritual as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The Relationship Map is very simple in structure: it is a mandala (sacred circle) drawn on a colored square piece of paper with a smaller circle inside it.
I have found it very useful to do this “intervention” with many adults patients, especially people working on their relationships with other people and learning to set better boundaries. The goal is to build/establish a balance between rigid and loose boundaries, thus “flexible” boundaries. If you imagine a barrier that feels like a brick wall, that is a rigid boundary. An overflowing puddle is an image of a loose kind of boundary, whereas a flexible boundary would be some thing that can move and tighten and loosen based on the circumstances of the here and now, so it is a balancing act, and we all have challenges working on our boundaries. The people who seem to find this exercise the most helpful and useful are those whose boundaries are too loose. They merge easily with others and have a hard time setting limits and saying no. Things like giving people money with no consideration of their own finances, overly caretaking, doing things that later make them feel resentful and upset, but caught in a bind where they feel they have to be “nice” and saying No I won’t do that, or I don’t like when you do that, or I disagree with you, feels like they are being “mean”.
We all have had challenges at crossroads in our lives where we look around and question our relationships and sometimes “weed the garden” and get rid of anything toxic, which could be very deeply rooted.
The first step is to pick a colored square piece of paper and put a paper plate about the size of a face on it and trace a circle. Right away you have a symbol of the self, a mandala. Then I invite you to write your name in the middle with the colored sharpie of your choice and put a heart or other shape around it. Then you write down qualities about yourself such as kind, creative, optimistic, good friend, compassionate original,adventurous, kind or whatever you come up with. It’s a time I will observe to my patient, “You forgot such and such” and give then additional qualities I know to be true about then that they overlooked.
Next, you draw a smaller circle with isn’t the big circle. The big circle can be conceived of as a barbed wire fence with xs in it and then the area outside it you write toxic zone. That is the area to put the people you can’t interact with at all anymore who have become poisonous. It is very therapeutic to have your therapist witness you place bad abusive people in your life in the toxic zone. I am not a proponent of the theory that forgiveness frees you. I actually believe there are people who are so damaging to you that you cannot forgive their actions unless that person realized how terrible s/he has been to you and take responsibility and apologize which, is not a frequent thing. So putting even your own parents in the toxic zone and bring supported about setting a form bound site of no longerletting them into your life is a very powerful aspect of healing.
Another dimension of this relationship map involves, what you start with, whom you put where, and whether you include your therapist herself in it. I also give people an opportunity to suggest people include dead people or animals as well with a different color or shape around them. Some of the nuance of the use of the circles is where you put the person. a person could be right on the line, meaning they are going in one direction or another soon but you’re not quite sure, or someone you just met would be appropriate to put in the outer circle. When someone puts new people in the inner circle, it provides a great opportunity to discuss their patterns of trusting right away and letting people in too quickly perhaps.
The other great thing about this relationship map is that you put the date on it, and make a new one a few months later. I usually have the patient do the whole thing and then bring out the older one and we can see what has happened, who has moved where, who has disappeared altogether, who has appeared, etc.
Below are images of an example of how to make a map like this.
Having a visual diagram is actually a very powerful way to take a good look at the relationships in your life and re evaluate what you want from others and, most importantly, who deserves to share your good qualities that you wrote in the beginning…