Watch Out For The Near Enemies of Love and Compassion, And A Tip To Thrive Through The Difficult Graduation Season, With Brenda Zane

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Watch Out For The Near Enemies of Love and Compassion, And A Tip To Thrive Through The Difficult Graduation Season, With Brenda Zane

The concept of near enemies is helpful to understand when you’re working to parent from an intentional place and avoid unhealthy patterns with your son or daughter. In this episode, you’ll learn what a near enemy is and hear two common ones that show up when parenting a child with substance use issues. You'll discover why these sneaky and sometimes damaging emotional responses can work their way into your relationships without you even knowing, and a simple test and solution you can start using today.

I then provide a tried and true tip for getting through graduation season without losing your mind and offer two ways you can make it to July with your emotions intact and be even healthier and happier than you were in May. It's a snack-sized, actionable episode that's perfect for an early summer dog walk or quick errand run.

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Welcome welcome. It has been a while since I’ve done a solo episode. So I thought I would spend a few minutes today catching up with you and also sharing a couple of thoughts that have been top of mind lately for me. 
First, I want to share some incredibly great news, which is that we are going to be testing out a community similar to the stream for the guys who are parenting a kiddo who is struggling with substance use addiction. And of course the mental health challenges that go along with both of those. It will be an online community space. It is not a social media site. I know some guys are very weary of that. It is not social media. It’s totally separate from places like Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. And it’s a place where men can connect with each other. Talk about what’s going on, man, to man. And focus on learning what we teach here and in the stream, which is craft skills. In a private and confidential space, and we’re doing this because we know men go through this experience a little differently than women.
So this will be a place where it’s safe for them to open up about all of these things. There’s going to be [00:03:00] guest speakers who are experts in, addiction and treatment and mental health. There will also be workshops just like we have in this stream. And we have already got some great plans in the works for the content and events. So if you have a co-parent in your life, or if you’re a dad who is listening and you want to get more information about this community, we would love to be in touch with you. We’re going to be running a beta program, basically a soft lunch in July. And you can go to www.Brenda and drop your email address there. And we will follow up With more details as soon as we have them. 
Okay. There are two things that I’m going to cover today and they are both relevant. Whether your son or daughter is actively using. In a treatment program, maybe they’re transitioning from treatment. Into a step-down situation or sober living program. Whatever the case you are dealing with lots of emotional ups and downs, the famous roller coaster that we talk about. 
And you may be looking for ways to find some more balanced space in between. Those high highs and the low lows. I like to offer tools and ideas for you when you’re in that really unsettled space. I know I could have used them. Because there is nothing worse than feeling like you want to be [00:04:30] intentional about your parenting, but then not having maybe the understanding of where you might be off track a little bit. 
One of the ways to find this more balanced space, I believe is to understand a concept of near enemies, which I will explain in a minute. And then there’s also. A really practical tip. I’m going to share today that you can take action on. Immediately. And so I think that’s really helpful when you can actually jump in and get some results and some change in the same day, maybe the same hour. 
So let’s start with the concept of near enemies. These are emotions that are mistaken for positive virtues. Things like love and compassion, joy and equanimity. Because they can closely resemble them on the surface. Because these near enemies, masquerade as positive emotions. There are a lot sneakier and harder to spot in ourselves. And in other people. Then the more obvious, far enemies or opposites. So a far enemy would be the opposite of an emotion. So those are things like cruelty or dishonesty or envy. So with this idea for every desirable habit or state of mind, 
There’s a far enemy, which is it’s obvious antithesis. And then there is the more sneaky or [00:06:00] insidious near enemy. What this means is that although something might appear virtuous in the moment. It may actually be subtly deceiving you and the other person who’s involved. So that might be your child. And as you can imagine, This causes more problems over the longterm. So, for example, an inmeshed codependent type relationship might look and feel like love. But it might actually be more grounded in fear and nonacceptance and on the flip side, I kind of easygoing, accepting attitude might appear a lot more like peace and calm. When in fact it might be more rooted in resignation or indifference. 
Why is this concept of near enemies, important to you? If you’re parenting a child who is struggling with substance use or addiction? When you were going through so many stressful and anxiety-filled times, you may not be working from a place of true centerdness or clarity. Since you probably haven’t slept well in a while. And you may be having a hard time focusing and concentrating. So your set point might be off.  You may be reacting instead of responding with intention. And it’s really easy to default to old or easy patterns. This means. That you can get trapped in a cycle that spins [00:07:30] you and your child up into a very dysregulated space. Or you can’t get out of their back pocket. You might be overly involved in their life and their decisions.  Your relationship might start to get transactional. If communication has broken down. Or you might’ve lost your connection with them completely. 
Also, I believe that while we parent from a place of the absolute best intentions, We’re often working with what we have inherited in our past, from our parents and our caregivers and our experiences. So if we experienced these, what I like to call emotional chameleons. As patterns in our lives, we may not know that we’re exhibiting them with our kids. 
And there are two near enemies that I want to go into today, even though there are others, but these two seem to be the ones that I see parents struggle with the most. And the first is the near enemy of love, which is attachment. If we’re thinking from a place of attachment, when we think of love, we’ll see it from a self-centered perspective. It’s the fulfillment of our personal desire to be loved and to be okay. It’s about our needs and our desires being met. Particularly in terms of comfort and security and when those needs aren’t met. Then the flow of love stops too. When you’re parenting from the near enemy of love versus [00:09:00] true love, it means you’re grasping after something or someone and their behavior, because it somehow benefits you. That benefit might be a very rational thing that you want, like calm and peace and reassurance. 
Or it could be that what you’re really seeking. It’s a feeling of pride and accomplishment. Or just wanting your child to fit in just to be normal, to go with the flow, like other kids do. You might be seeking that feeling of look, look at this great ki  I raised, they’re doing all of the right things. They’re meeting all of my expectations. 
And so when our kids keep using. They keep relapsing. They keep making bad decisions. If we are parenting from the near enemy attachment. It’s dangerous because that is a conditional place. And our love is going to ebb and flow with their behavior. If you’re coming from this place of attachment, what you might show is an outward appearance. 
Of affection and lots of attention. Over involvement and constant worry, which is disguised as love. But love isn’t based on those things. It’s not rooted in our own personal needs being met. So it also can’t be based on having ownership or control over someone. And what they are doing or not [00:10:30] doing. 
Instead it’s when you don’t see the world and other people, including your child in terms of how they can fulfill your wants and desires. That you know, you’re coming from a place of actual love. This is kind of deep and it can be uncomfortable to examine ourselves. The second one I want to talk about are the near enemies of compassion of which there are a couple. 
I’m sure you’re like most people and you want others to be free from suffering and you want to help them in whatever way you can. You wouldn’t ever intentionally want to operate from the far enemy of compassion, which is cruelty. But even when you have someone’s best intentions at heart, and you think you’re being the epitome of compassionate. It’s easy to take on an approach that doesn’t actually serve them. And it might even be doing the opposite. You’ll often hear that the near enemy of compassion is pity. And I believe that is true in general. But as I was thinking about it, in terms of parents, with kids who are struggling with substances, I believe the near enemy of compassion is actually what some people will call enabling. I personally hate that word and all of the negative connotations. It can hold for parents. So I like to think about the near enemy of compassion. As unhelpful and unhealthy [00:12:00] facilitation. 
It’s when you think you’re being compassionate and helping your child by rescuing them or allowing a harmful behavior to continue. But in reality, you’re doing what you’re doing because you can’t bear to see them struggle, or you don’t want them to feel the natural consequences. And this dynamic can’t be more commonplace than in a parent who is watching their child harm themselves with substances. You and I both know it is absolute torture. And because we know they’re hurting and there are very real and potentially long-ranging consequences of their behavior. It’s only natural to not want to watch them struggle or rock the boat. Which is probably already a very unstable boat. So we do things in the name of compassion, which are often done simply to avoid what will probably be some short-term discomfort for ourselves, and them. And instead what happens is we can end up prolonging their long-term suffering. So we have to ask ourselves, is that actually compassion or is it a form of self-preservation? 
Now, I know there are a million variations of this scenario and there are times when you, as a parent have to step in and steer things in a safer direction and there are also times. When the compassionate thing [00:13:30] to do would be to step in. And create an uncomfortable situation. And that is the harder thing to do. So, know I am not saying there’s a universal answer that can be applied here. Every single person in every single family is unique. And there’s no way I could say what the right thing for you to do is, and in a minute, I’m going to talk about how you can test your responses and actions. To see if you’re coming from the near enemy. So hold tight on that. 
But there is also one more near enemy of compassion that I want to address and that is despair or overwhelm. Despair is when you fall into rumination and the whole compassion thing goes way overboard. You start to act from a place of drama and getting caught up in all the crazy and insane things that are going on with your son or daughter.  You aren’t the observer of this situation, you are swirling inside the situation. It’s empathy, overload, it’s compassion, fatigue, and all the other names that we have for things. When we take on the suffering of others to the point of personal English. And when you step in and take on or swim around in someone else’s suffering, you might feel accepted or you might feel like you’re being part of the solution. 
And it seems like you’re doing them a favor.[00:15:00] But what’s often being offered. Isn’t actually compassion because you’re more concerned with your own feelings than attending to the other person’s actual needs. It can be a form of distraction for you from having to do the real hard work required when you’re parenting a child who is struggling and at risk. And you become so busy and so entwined in the chaos and the drama that you avoid looking at the work that you need to do on yourself. 
Also importantly, if you are drowning in unnecessary worry and strain about someone else’s life and someone else’s choices. The chances are that you are showing very little compassion towards yourself. And when you do that, you end up in a downward spiral of self-doubt and fear and exhaustion. 
Now, do you want some good news? Because there is good news in all of this. The way to deal with near enemies. It’s actually really straightforward. It all starts with becoming aware of them, which you’re doing now. And once you’re aware of them, it’s a lot easier to avoid them. And instead show up with the genuine, real emotion. 
So here is a very simple acid test for either of the near enemies that we just talked about. 
What you can do is take a good, honest look at your responses and your interactions and see if they are causing you to be more or less empathetic with the other person. Does it join you closer to them? Or does your response separate or keep you apart from each other? 
To do this acid test, I will tell you it needs to be done from a deeply genuine place. You [00:18:00] have to be radically honest with yourself. And with your intentions. Even when it really sucks to do that. For example, you might say you’re letting him smoke pot in the house because you think it’s safer than saying no. And having him smoke somewhere else. But is it truly that, or are you avoiding the battle that you know is going to take place? If you hold your ground? 
Or are you supportive and kind and loving until she comes home drunk? And then she gets the silent treatment and there are lots of dramatic sighs and door slamming? Is your mood and your attention dependent on her behavior. Again, this requires you to take a radically transparent look at yourself which gets super uncomfortable at times. But if these near enemies sound familiar to you just accept that you’re doing the work that you need to do now and to recognize them. And then you can change. 
That’s honestly the best thing to do. Don’t listen to this and get stuck in a puddle of regret and disappointment at yourself. Dust off. I know that you’re growing and you’re learning. And see how you can change your next interaction. The very next interaction you have, you can apply this. And this is how change happens. Just one interaction at a time. 
Now shifting gears a little bit. So this is technically the second thing I said I wanted [00:19:30] to talk about, but it probably feels like the sixth. So sorry about that. The first was near enemies. Now the second thing is, can we just talk about May and June? Because if you are listening in real-time, we are smack in the middle of one of the hardest times of year for you as the parent of a child who is kind of quote-unquote off the rails. I probably don’t even have to say why I want to talk about May and June, because if you are here listening to hopestream, you’re already rolling your eyes. 
This time of year can be really painful as you watch your friends and other family members share their very happy. Very proud pictures and announcements of graduations, proms parties, college selection reveals. All the great stuff other people are celebrating. 
And this is true of not just May and June. So if you’re listening and it’s August or February, and you’re scrolling through social media and it’s having a negative impact on you, no matter what you’re seeing. This is for you, right where you are as well. This is when I think it’s good to know that you have full permission to temporarily go on a social media fast. It doesn’t have to be forever. But if you’re getting caught up in the feelings of jealousy and resentment and sadness and everything else that goes along. With these [00:21:00] heightened reminders. That this is a time when your son or daughter was supposed to be on a different path. 
It is okay to step back and shut it down. You do not need to watch all of this play out on your phone. There is no word in early July, for those of you who endured watching it all, there’s no gold star or anything like that. So if it’s hard and you’re not truly enjoying it and celebrating with these other people, I consider it a bold act of self-care and delete or just move the app icons into a separate folder. And move that folder to the last screen on your phone. You know how there are those apps somewhere on the last screen of your phone that you forgot you downloaded two years ago? Yep. Just put Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, even Pinterest. Just stick them all back there where you’re not going to see them and be tempted to tap them open multiple times a day. Better yet just delete them because when you re-install, you’re going to get the new version. And everything will still be there. 
Then I think it is really important to allow yourself a small grieving time when you need it. Just trying to white-knuckle through this season. Might not be the healthiest approach. And of course there are people who you are truly happy for. And you know what? You can acknowledge them in other ways, [00:22:30] than liking their posts on Instagram or Facebook. So if you need a few times a week or a day, acknowledge that where you are right now, isn’t where you thought you would be your son or daughter might be on a different path than the kids that you’re seeing in these posts. And they can still be okay. 
This is not the final chapter in their book. So don’t get too caught up in the fact that you’re not celebrating their milestones at the exact same time as everyone else. Your family’s timeline might look different and in the end it will be exactly right for you. So give yourself that time. Maybe you can make a small and meaningful ritual of it taking a walk or writing in a journal, talking to the dog about it. And don’t drown in it. But take a few minutes, just process where you are and then close it up so you can focus on the next thing. 
And the next thing is before you delete or move your apps, don’t do it yet. Before you do that. Go into your phone settings. And look at your screen time dashboard somewhere on your phone. There’s a little spot where you can go and you can look and see how much time you spent in each app. Look at your social media apps and write down how much time you spend on average each day on those apps. 
Then you’re going to give [00:24:00] yourself a gift. Of that same amount of time and find something that you love to do. And spend an equal amount of time doing that. You will be amazed at how much this is going to change your life. I promise. Replacing two hours of Instagram scrolling. With an hour walking in the outdoors and an hour. 
Planting plants or biking or cooking or creating art or whatever you love to do. We’ll be transformational. Come July. He might actually just decide to stick with your social media fast. And keep doing all the good things that you have now rediscovered with that time. 
Okay. That is what I have for you today. So for a quick review, 
We talked about two near enemies, which are the sneaky chameleon, like emotions that are mistaken for positive virtues. 
The first one we talked about is the near enemy of love, which is attachment. 
And the second one was what I call unhealthy or unhelpful facilitation. Which is the near enemy of compassion when you’re parenting a child who is struggling with substance use. 
Then we talked about the radical act of self-care that you can take in May and June to limit your exposure to the whole graduation scene, and that is to delete or move your social media apps so that they are not front and center on your phone and in your life. 
And [00:25:30] finally, no, that you’re allowed to take a little bit of time when you need to grieve the loss. Of what you might’ve hoped for or expected with your son or daughter during this time? 
Thanks so much for being here again, if you’re a dad or if you know of a dad who would be interested in learning more about our upcoming beta program for the new community, please head over to And drop your email there and we will be in touch. 
I hope you take extremely good care of yourself today. You deserve it. You are an amazing parent for showing up here. For learning all that you can about how to help your son or daughter and yourself. And I will meet you right back here next week. 
One resource that I haven’t mentioned is an ebook that I wrote called hindsight three things I wish I knew when my son was misusing drugs. It’s full of information that I so wish I had had during my experience. And it’ll give you some insight into why your son or daughter might be doing the things that they’re doing right now and how you can have a better and more healthy response to that. It’s a hundred percent free.
You can download it from
 Thank you for listening, for sharing these episodes with people. I truly appreciate it. And I look forward to meeting you right back here next week.

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