Posted by: innerpilgrimage | December 2, 2010

It’s The Safety Dance!

Holiday Eating Season Countdown: 31 Days

      I’ve been doing some thinking about the nature of being a safe person versus an unsafe person.

      A Christian-based therapeutic solution is available from Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I picked up the workbook about safe people when I went to my 12-Step bookstore a few months back. While I do not hold the religious tenets they do, the book still holds some very sound concepts about being a safe person for others which I, as an agnostic, find very useful. A Christian seeking boundaries-setting with safe and unsafe people will find Dr. Cloud’s and Dr. Townsend’s books very useful to encourage one’s faith within the Christian church, and I encourage Christians who are looking for help with boundaries to pick up the book Safe People and the associated workbook so they can grow a deeper relationship with G-d within the faith. I’ve met some amazing Christians in recovery, and I have found that I admire people who hold faith with Christianity, rather than simply belong to a church for the purpose of identity. Humility before G-d is probably the primary difference between a religious Christian and a faith-filled Christian. And, to me, a faith-filled Christian can get me into his or her church any day because that Christian “walks the walk” and follows Christ and the teachings of Christ over the rules set forth in the church organization.
      Okay, so book plug done, I’ve been considering the nature of being a safe person in my dealings, and I have come up with 12 ways (based on the Cloud-Townsend models of Unsafe versus Safe People flagged behaviors) that I can practice being a safe person on a daily basis.

(1) Be completely honest when I talk to people and actively appreciate the honesty of others.

(2) Do not gossip or share confidences or private information about anyone to others.

(3) Listen. Change mental gears to actively listen and accept feedback from others. An HP message may be within their words.

(4) Take responsibility for my choices and accept the consequences, good and bad, with grace. Every event is a learning experience.

(5) Be “We” focused, not “I” focused. Take a moment and consider the value of what I have to say to maintaining an honest, open, and trusting relationship before I speak about something uncomfortable.

(6) Forgive freely. No one is perfect, and by practicing forgiveness of others, I can learn to forgive myself.

(7) Learn. Every person, place, or situation is a potential growth opportunity. Be open to the possibilities.

(8) Be humble. Never assume authority over someone else or give authority over myself to others. Actively consider if I am seeking grandiosity or submissiveness in that moment for the purpose of manipulation. Shift mental gears toward equality instead of an authority/subordinate relationship.

(9) Be active in my own recovery, and try to make progress every day.

(10) Encourage others to grow. Don’t advise. Instead, sit down with someone and be a mirror for their problems, so they can solve it themselves.

(11) Stay open emotionally, even if I have been triggered to shut down emotionally. I don’t have to let a person cross boundaries, but I don’t need to put up walls, either. Take a moment to commune with my Higher Power if I have to, but don’t withdraw emotionally and isolate. That will only build resentments, which build walls between me and other people.

(12) Trust my Higher Power and listen for my Natural (Inner) Child’s guidance through instinct and intuition. By staying open to my Higher Power’s guidance, I will be able to approach even unsafe people from a place of spiritual inner strength and HP-sourced willpower.

      I think this was some pretty good footwork and progress for today. I am considering that I am starting to put the idea of not fighting or running from a character defect into practice. Instead, I am looking toward a productive and growth-based solution. These things I listed above are “common sense” things I consider part of my empathic self. If I am to represent program simply by going out there, I have to represent the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of the program.
      Physically, I lost 100 lbs. in OA, so I represent the potential of weight loss through food abstinence. Mentally, I am seeking a life of action rather than reaction, keeping my mind focused on my growth in recovery. As I turn away from addict behaviors, I replace them with productive and purpose-driven behaviors. Spiritually, I can display a life of calm serenity through recovery instead of a life of emotional chaos through addiction.
      That last one is really hard because I have lived a life of submission to food and to approval addiction. Though I have a year of abstinence and slow-growth recovery in OA, these are the first days of my SLAA recovery. I do not know when my first day of SLAA abstinence will be (I did spend time looking in the mirror at myself and questioning my attractiveness . . . still seeking approval, despite scolding myself for doing that instead of turning to my HP and people in either program). I want to be a distressed damsel and have someone tell me what to do (submission). Of course I will rebel, seeing as “No One can tell ME what to do!” (grandiosity). So this has to come from within, practiced on a daily basis. And as I practice being a safe person, something I really want to become, I think I may find that maintaining bottom-line behavior withdrawal will be easier to maintain. After all, part of being a safe person is not shopping for targets (as opposed to shopping at the red bullseye department store).
      Also, today, when I was acting out by staring at myself in the mirror, I did a 40-point gratitude list, adding as #41 that I am going to be having that birthday at a healthy weight for my height–something I have not done in two decades. It was rapid-fire gratitude, coming up with whatever was off the top of my head that was not based in approval-seeking. It was a good list, and I look forward to doing another tomorrow.
      Well, that’s my progress for today. My name is Jess and I am a food addict and approval addict.



  1. Hi Jess,

    When it comes to god I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, an addict once pointed out to me that I was sent to my 12 step program from god because g–o-d spells out gift of desperation. that s exactly what I was given the gift of desperation made me admit I had a problem and that I needed help and that I could not do it alone. Just thought this was an interesting side-note.

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