Copyright © Harry Henshaw, Ed.D., LMHC. All rights reserved.
Success in recovery, or rather, staying in recovery, is dependent upon a variety of factors. For example, it appears that attending daily NA or AA meetings and staying in communication with ones chosen sponsor will definitely assist an individual in successfully implementing his recovery plan. Getting and staying committed to working the 12 Step Program also appears to increase the probability of the person staying abstinent from drugs and alcohol. While the above-mentioned elements of a persons overall recovery plan are crucial to his recovery, another major factor that will greatly influence an individual’s continued abstinence is how he is able to handle the breakdowns that happen in life.
Knowing about breakdowns, what they are and how to manage them, is absolutely necessary for one to stay committed to his recovery plan. Breakdowns are what brought an individual into treatment and eventually created the space for him to begin his recovery. Breakdowns also happen while a person is in treatment and will continue to take place after he leaves. Even after successfully completing a treatment program, breakdowns are almost certain to happen as one returns to the community from which he came. In fact, both the client and his counselor should expect breakdowns to occur after treatment. It is for this reason that knowledge of the structure of breakdowns and how to transform them is very important if not crucial for the individual wanting recovery.
What are breakdowns? Experientially breakdowns start to occur when an event or events happen that the individual believes should not happen or ought to happen differently than how they take place. As a result the individual starts to feel frustrated, angry, disappointed or even sad about what is happening in his life. Inside these types of emotions the person starts to become resentful, creating a story about the event and to which he will eventually begin to blame, be it other people, places, things, situations or circumstances for that which is appearing. A breakdown eventuates into a relapse when the individual believes that his experience is intolerable, feels inadequate with respect as to how to handle it and chooses to use drugs or alcohol to reduce the emotional component of that he is experiencing. In this case, a breakdown and ones inability to transform it leads directly to relapse.
Inside the work of transformational counseling, the process of enrollment will assist the individual in becoming authentic where he was being inauthentic and also allow that person to stay in his recovery. Enrollment is the third component of transformational counseling the utilization of which allows the individual to again move out of his self-limiting belief and back into being his created possibilities. When one begins to experience a breakdown he has gone back into being his self-limiting belief. Their will be the pretense of what is happening and that which is again hidden from him hence the created inauthenticity. The technology of the enrollment process allows the individual the ability to transform the experience by being authentic and as a result regaining his power and freedom through being his possibilities. Utilization of the process of enrollment as with transformation itself is a practice that requires a great deal of commitment. As with any skill the structure of enrollment is taught and it is in communication with the persons coach or even sponsor that its implementation is brought forth into the individual’s life.
The first component of enrollment has to do with recognizing when one is in a breakdown. The key to such awareness is to be found in how the individual is feeling about what is happening in his life at any one moment. There are many times in our lives where we do not stop to monitor or become present to how we are feeling. Sometimes we have a tendency to merely ignore or move away from how we are feeling about something or someone. Breakdowns have certain emotions attached to their design. Those most common are emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, frustration and sadness. The first part of utilizing the enrollment process is to monitor ones feeling state, to become present to how one is feeling and to do so to the point that it becomes part of ones very way of being in the world. Learning how to stay aware of ones emotional state is crucial to being able to successfully transform the breakdown experience that is being created.
The second component has to do with becoming present to the story that the person is creating with respect to the breakdown. While the emotional state of the individual is very important to become aware of, listening to the story that he is creating is also equally of importance. Within a conversation of transformation, every emotion is created by a thought. When there are negative emotions present in a person’s life as he is experiencing a breakdown there are also corresponding thoughts taking place. The thoughts that are taking place will appear as a story in the person’s mind. Within a breakdown the story will be other oriented, involving external people, places, things, circumstance or situations. Within the structure of the story, inherent to it, will be the belief that the external events are the real or true cause of how the person is feeling. It is with these thoughts that the breakdown and inauthentic way of being exists, a pretense that it is about another, hiding what it is truly about. As mentioned above, blame and resentment will eventually result. Becoming present to the story is vital if one is not to impulsively act upon it and as a result bring its destructive consequences into existence with respect to his life. Becoming present or an observer to ones story is crucial to transforming a breakdown.
The third component involves becoming present to ones self-limiting belief, to the source, to that which actually created the breakdown. Becoming present to ones self limiting belief, to that which has determined ones life up until the process of transformation began to take place, is the first component in the process of transformational counseling. Even though the distinction of ones self-limiting belief will create the space for the person to begin to create his life anew, it does not go away, become fixed or get cured. The self-limiting belief, much like a virus that has appeared in the human body, continues to exist. As with any idea that we have or create about us, it is also a way of being. We be or exist by what we think and more specifically by what we think about ourselves. What we are familiar with is being our self-limiting belief in the world. It is familiar for us to think and feel that the world is more powerful and real than we are and furthermore, that it is something that must be controlled and even survived. We will eventually experience a breakdown given our sense of inadequacy with respect to the world as this is how we have been in the community in the past. However, once the self-limiting belief is again distinguished the inauthenticity begins to weaken or be dissolved.
The fourth component of enrollment involves creating a possibility inside the breakdown experience. This act of creation can be to invent a new possibility or enroll oneself back into a person’s previously chosen possibilities. Creating possibilities for ones life is the second component of transformational counseling. However, once we get it that we are being our self limiting belief, that the source of the breakdown is the self limiting belief and not that which the story tends convey, it is at that moment that we can generate a possibility to be at that moment, a possibility to stand inside given the breakdown experience. It is by generating a possibility by our spoken word that the experience itself will transform. The breakdown only happens because of who we are being. It is by causing a possibility to come into existence through our word that the inauthentic way of being completely dissolves and with it the breakdown itself. It is with the creation of a possibility that the person’s power and freedom are once again restored.
The final component of the enrollment technology is acknowledgement. Once the experience is transformed it is important for a person to get the victory that his possibility has made for himself and his life, to acknowledge the difference of such a victory. Acknowledgement is about getting how the created or invented possibility has transformed the breakdown from what it was to that which is truly a breakthrough for the individual, especially with respect to the event or experience occurring. Acknowledgement is about getting the power of our word for allowing us to transform breakdowns into breakthroughs, to once again become our possibilities. It is this acknowledgement that strengthens ones process of transformation leaving the person’s power, freedom and self-expression fully restored. Acknowledgement is about standing in ones possibility, celebrating ones power and freedom having given up being a victim.
The practice of enrollment will make a difference for the person wanting recovery. Applying the technology of enrollment will enable the person to transform a breakdown when it happens and as a result avoid the destructive and possibly even lethal consequences that would have happened as a result of staying in a breakdown. For the individual in recovery, staying in a breakdown only increases the chances that he will turn to drugs and/or alcohol to reduce the emotional component of a breakdown. Staying in a breakdown as opposed to being able to transform tends to lead to relapse. Clients at the Holistic Addiction Treatment Program in North Miami Beach, Florida are taught to distinguish their self-limiting belief, create new possibilities for their life and furthermore, how to utilize the power of enrollment technology. The success of utilizing enrollment and even recovery itself, especially in the early stages of sobriety, will necessitate the person staying in contact with his sponsor or counselor especially when breakdowns happen. It is only in communication with another that the individual will continue to be his possibilities in life.
Harry Henshaw, Ed.D., LMHC
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- Breakdowns Broken Down (tomaplomb.blogspot.com)