GOT SEX, SECURITY or SOCIAL PROBLEMS?

Anxiety Attack Worry Less Now

When our survival instincts for procreation, security, and community exceed their proper function, we want what others have, lust for sex and power, and become exceedingly angry when our demands aren’t met. (Bill Wilson) *

Many of us have valiantly tried to satisfy our overblown needs through our own efforts. For example, my selfish search for emotional security drove me to sick relationships, overwork, and manipulation. In the end, I hurt both myself and others.  

So, how then do we grow out of the patterns that threaten our romantic life, safety, and productive relations? First, we must sincerely want to find a better way to live. Then, we look at our own part in our unhappiness, and take actions to become the person we want to be.

Most important, we find like-minded people to give us unselfish support as we come to trust a loving, protective power to fulfill our needs.

What’s the Problem with Exaggerated Needs?

We begin our journey by listing each survival instinct, along with the personal cost of trying to force the world to fulfill it. See if any of these needs and consequences apply to your life (add to the list, if you wish).

  1. Unmet Emotional Needs cause low self-esteem, perfectionism, addiction, self-harm, anxiety
  2. Threatened Material Security causes inflated ambition, dishonesty, overwork, worry, stress
  3. Dysfunctional Social Relations result in codependency, prestige-seeking, competitiveness, gossip, failed relationships, conflict
  4. Dishonest Sex Relations lead to promiscuity, disease, selfishness 

Driven by fears of losing what we so desperately need, we may have been selfish, dishonest, and resentful. To free ourselves from these patterns, we write about the following questions and share our answers with a trusted person (therapist, clergy, sponsor, or spiritual advisor).

In what ways did I hurt others or myself,? Where was I . . .

  • Selfishly seeking my own security, social needs, or sexual gratification; and ignoring others’ feelings?
  • Dishonest with myself and others about my motives to satisfy my security, social relations, sex needs?
  • Fearful of not getting my needs met, and trying to control people and things so I could feel .more secure?
  • Resentful about my frustrated demands for security, social relations or sex?

This work helps us see the futility of expecting the world and others to fulfill our needs. No matter how hard we’ve tried, it just hasn’t worked, as it’s caused harm to ourselves and others. After sharing our shortcomings with a trusted confidant, we go to work to overcome our negative patterns.

If we’re addicts, alcoholics, workaholics, overeaters, gamblers, or regularly numb ourselves from life’s disappointments, we need help. In my case, I found a skilled therapist and the 12-step programs of AA, Al-Anon, and ACOA.

Self-Compassion

As I met with others who had faced similar challenges, I realized I wasn’t the only one confused about how to keep myself safe and secure; that everyone’s instincts caused them and others trouble.

I came to see my old hurtful actions as misguided attempts to fulfill my own needs. For example, in my alcoholic home, I decided, “If I’m perfect, everyone will like and admire me, and I won’t feel so alone and afraid.” I went on to get good grades, advanced degrees, and professional awards. Eventually, those efforts led to anxiety, alcoholism, drug addiction, chronic pain, and three divorces. Clearly, my attempt to ensure my own happiness was failing.

Loving Support and Security

As I joined with healthy others, I found I was not uniquely bad; I had been merely a desperate mess. Many of my recovering friends had done worse things than I had, and they had become good, reliable, caring people. Perhaps, with help, I could be a better person too.

Through the loving care of others, I began to own my strengths. For example, through my people-pleasing, I developed social skills that had to be balanced with self-care and boundary-setting. Ditto with my perfectionism; I certainly knew how to work hard–an asset–but only when I combined it with adequate rest and self-forgiveness.

Being immersed in groups of happy people who are healing their lives led me to my own source of security–a power greater than my fears. I was relieved that no one pushed me to believe in their definition of a “higher power.” Eventually, with guidance from my sponsor, therapist, and other spiritual teachers, I began to trust in an ever-present love that fulfilled all my needs.

These days, I often take a quiet moment to connect with this benevolent, caring power. In times of trouble, however, when I’m afraid my needs couldn’t possibly be met, I rely on my healthy friends to stream that positive power into my life and mind.

Knowing that love is always available gives me great security, and I’m ever grateful for that.

*NOTE: The ideas presented here are based on the Step 4 Inventory of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Gigi Langer security

Gigi Langera person in recovery, holds a Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education and an MA in Psychology from Stanford University. Through her writing, coaching, and speaking, Gigi has helped thousands of people improve their lives at home and at work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and Murphy, her cat.

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Get Gigi’s new book, “50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking.” Available in audio, e-book, and paperback (5 Stars on Amazon). Click HERE

  • “This book is a winner.” Karen Casey, Bestselling Hazelden author
  • “Valuable, heartfelt manual.” — Publishers Weekly (BookLife)

My 2020 Inventory: Don’t Hold Back!

“Searching within myself, I will patiently, trustingly share myself with others.”Karen Casey (Best-selling Hazelden author)

Back in the 80s, my favorite spiritual author, Karen Casey, wrote “Each Day a New Beginning” for women in recovery, and it has sustained me through these many years. The quote above is particularly relevant as I start this year. I now see clearly (20 20 vision, right?) a major way I’ve been resisting God’s will. Here’s a quick inventory of my tendency to hold back.

  • Recently, I realized I’ve never memorized the Step 7 prayer exactly as written. Soon after that, a stranger in a 12-step program gave me a card with the prayer on it. So, I started saying it.
  • I also noticed a creeping opposition to doing things I was called to do. Whispered lies crept into my mind: “Oh, that would be too much work.” “I just don’t feel like doing that.” “Haven’t I done enough?”
  • By resisting those nudges, I knew I was letting my self-will override God’s direction. So, I put a sticky note in my car: “Thy Will Be Done; Not Mine.” I see it many times a day.
  • Perhaps it’s been sinking in, because I now offer you my 4th & 5th step inventory: My fearful self has always told me to “Hold Back!” Hold back smiles to strangers. Hold back chats with neighbors. Hold back calling others on the phone. Hold back compliments, etc.
  • When I get the opportunity to do kind acts, I usually talk myself out of it. I tell myself I’m an introvert, or that I’m not good at “small talk,” or that I don’t have time.
  • But mostly it’s about (1) the false belief, “If I give love away, it might never return; there’s not enough to go around” and (2) fear of getting enmeshed, controlled, hurt, or inconvenienced. (Yup, I grew up in an alcoholic home.)
  • My 6th step character defects are self-will (pride) and fear (insecurity). In short, I’ve resisted God’s will to love and serve others; and  I haven’t trusted my Higher Power to keep me safe and secure.
  • I now say the 7th step prayer: “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength as I go from here, to do your bidding.”  

Long ago I learned that God can supply every need, and that my worth and safety are established by my Higher Power. But, being human, I forget. In recovery, we learn that our happiness is dependent upon our spiritual condition. As Karen Casey wrote, “Sincerely touching the soul of someone else can tap the well of happiness within each of us.” That’s my plan for 2020!

Gigi Langer Worry Less Now

Gigi Langer, PhD.  Many years ago, I used alcohol, romance, and professional accomplishments to soothe my frayed nerves. Over time, I discovered effective tools from therapy, recovery pro­grams, scientific research, and a variety of philosophical and spiritual teachings. I share those techniques in my blog and book so you can find peace of mind and wisdom, no matter what is bothering you.

Worry Less Now Cover

My award-winning book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now, describes how I and others have defeated the faulty thinking leading to dysfunctional relationships, perfectionism, addiction, and worry about loved ones. Gain practical strategies, personal stories, and guided activities. Amazon: 5 stars (51 reviews) (Buy Paperback, e-book, OR audiobook HERE)

REVIEWS:  Karen Casey, best-selling author of Each Day a New Beginning (Hazelden) “Even though I have been in recovery for more than 4 decades, and didn’t think another self-help book would make it to my treasured list, I was wrong. This book is a winner.” Anonymous Reader: “Your Book certainly transformed my life!  All I can say is, THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES OVER”