The Power of Reframe

By Ken Wells - 09/15/2021


Series Two; Blog Sixty-Four

Deprivation Always Fuels Entitlement”—KW

Being deprived of what you want or need triggers entitlement.  Extreme economic deprivation is a significant factor that ignites war.  Martin Luther King proclaimed that extreme economic deprivation fuels riots which are the voices of the unheard.

Deprivation is an important factor to address in order to manage addiction recovery.  Wallowing with unmet emotional needs kindles a “want what you want when you want it” mentality.

Most addicts do not know how to meet basic emotional needs.  They grew up in families where they were deprived of fundamental childhood needs. As a result, they become incapable of being healthy emotional adults.  They learn to respond by medicating unwanted feelings with their drug of choice. 

For most addicts, life is chaotic.  They live life, out of control.  Need recognition requires that a recovering addict slow down, physically and emotionally, in order to identify what is missing.  It is helpful to practice meditation.  Paying attention to the inhalation and exhalation of breath is helpful to open the mind to feelings and thoughts.  Once an addict establishes this awareness, h/she can begin to identify emotional needs that must be met.

Addicts are vulnerable to victim posturing which is often identified as “stinking thinking” in recovery circles. This thinking is described as “woe is me, I can never get my needs met and no matter what I do I am going to lose.”  This way of thinking is common to many people. An addict who doesn’t know how to get out of this destructive thinking, usually slides into relapse behavior.

Lingering with deprivation triggers victim posture which can lead to relapse.  The key to interrupting this destructive pattern of behavior is reframing, which is the ability to take an adverse moment and rethink the experience. This permits envisioning the best option for resolve when facing a difficult situation.  Many people see the glass half empty rather than half full.  Addicts often catastrophize.  When there is a potential bad outcome, addicts get stuck in negative ruminations. 

Reframing is an alternative to wallowing in victim posture.  It is an adult approach to responding to an unmet emotional or physical need.  This skill set requires ongoing practice.  It is helpful to be accountable to another person as this skill is developed.  Reframing frees you up to see options other than the one that has mired you in the mud of negativity.

Addicts who develop reframing skills are able to practice gratitude which takes what is and makes it more.  Usually, addicts do not experience ideal conditions to meet unmet emotional needs.  However, reframing is a way of conditioning the mind to make the necessary adjustments to meet the unmet need in a healthy way.

Addicts in recovery become proficient with making adjustments.  They become like MacGyver, who in a TV series faced very difficult situations, but with his genius intellect found ways to make unbelievable adjustments and work his way out of difficulty.  Utilizing sensitivity to their own needs, cultivating their own personal brilliance, and reframing skills, addicts make necessary adjustments to meet their adult needs.

In recovery, addicts learn to transform a curse and make it a blessing. The curse is an uncomfortable emotional experience that triggers impatience and anger response.  It can be a trigger to lose yourself in a codependent behavior to take care of someone else so that you can feel comfortable.  It can also be a spark to act out with addictive behavior. 

Training and conditioning helps addicts to slow thinking and remove themselves from harm’s way.  Rather than remaining reactionary, stuck in codependent response or addictive craving, in recovery addicts learn to take themselves out of high risk to avoid getting hurt.  Once safe, they will consider the legitimate need that must be met.  Once identified, they will marshal the power of reframing to meet that need in a healthy way.  This process often requires talking through the disturbed thought with a recovery person. It is not about sharing the gory details of the struggle that may trigger your partner.  Instead, it is talking about the legitimate need with your partner and creating healthy emotional intimacy.  This transforms the curse to a blessing through the art of reframing.

Reframing skills transform the curse of emotional deprivation and avoid destructive entitlement. Through humility, it translates the unmet emotional need into a blessing of fulfilled connection with another.

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