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“Practice the pause. Pause before judging. Pause before assuming. Pause before accusing. Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.” ~~Lori Deschene
Statement #2 in action is an effective balancing tool that can restore ease and reassure during times of uncertainty or chaos. It can be an equalizer and an assertiveness producer, easing feelings of confusion or turmoil. In our WFS Program booklet, it states “Negative attitudes can influence us to the exclusion of other feelings. When we allow negative attitudes to control us, we risk becoming unsettled and may jeopardize our sobriety.”
Balance is an everlasting goal in my New Life after years of instability. It is vital to embrace that what may be balanced today may be quite different in a few years, and I am grateful for the continuing growth through Women for Sobriety. Reducing negativity is a lifestyle to maintain as opposed to a mountain to reach. It is not a one and done, but rather a continuing path to pursue.
Here are 4 ways to practice reducing negativity:
1. Examine your thoughts. Alcohol or drugs removed the ability to think clearly, so use your clarity to examine your thoughts without judgment. You can change what you acknowledge.
2. Challenge negativity. Is this thought accurate? Am I making it personal? Is it an all or nothing line of thinking with no in-between or gray area? Am I comparing myself against another?
3. Provide a time limit and pause. Allow yourself a set time limit with negativity. Set a time per day, per week and honor that limit. The results of practicing this over time is life changing.
4. Pursue and practice gratitude. When shopping for a red car, red cars seem to be everywhere. Same with gratitude. Find something to be grateful for every day, soon it easily appears.
So, what does balance look and feel like in your New Life today? Are you aware of the changes that you have made? Is there an area of your life that needs direct input from Statement #2?
Hi 4C Women,
As we currently live in a world of uncertainty, negative thoughts can creep in so sneakily. I read an article that Dr. Jean Kirkpatrick, founder of WFS, wrote in Sobering Thoughts called, “Those Empty Hours” which referenced Statement #2 and #4. It’s a powerful read and while it was written many years ago, it is so relevant to what we, as women in recovery, are dealing with today. She refers to the empty hours as times of questioning about the meaning of life, our life, asking the question of why and what for. What I have always appreciated about WFS is that, as Jean says, while the WFS New Life program is one of positivity, it does not preclude our days of feeling just simply down and out. Every human heart feels lonely and empty at times. It is part of the human condition. What a relief and wonderful coping tool to acknowledge our truthful feelings, to no longer pretend everything is just fine and hide ourselves from the world in fear of being seen as a complainer, unappreciative or not practicing the 13 Statements. It was denying those negative feelings in the first place that caused me to escape in an unhealthy way. The key for me was the action phrase of Statement #2 – reducing negative thoughts. It is a process just like all of the Statements. Jean understood this. Her way of coping was to do ordinary things to distract herself, i.e., grocery shopping, mowing the lawn (Jean loved mowing her lawn on the farm), reading mystery novels and while she admits it didn’t always work, it did fill up that emptiness that is so overwhelming. Today, with the internet, cell phones and other technical advances, we are fortunate to have a lot more options, especially in reaching out when we need that additional support and encouragement.
Jean ended the writing with these empowering words: We who are trying hard to work at life and living it to the fullest, work through these periods of time and work hard at managing them before we are thrown into self-defeating behaviors. The empty hours, the times of questioning, will probably recur in our lifetimes, but these periods can be used for spiritual growth and for getting to know the way of handling ourselves in these dark moments of our existence. What we must know without a shadow of doubt is that others feel as empty, as questioning, as lonely as we do, and that is surely part of the human conditioning. This acceptance helps; it doesn’t eliminate. This is for us to work at.
While this message is about Statement #2, Jean’s ending is Statement #1 and #13 in a nutshell. It is our work to do and we can! No longer do we need to hurt ourselves with negative thoughts whether it is about ourselves or others. We have a New Life program and 4C women to support us, to share their journey of personal growth and be the encouragers of this world we live in.
Bonded in reducing negativity, Dee
(The full article of Jeans is from Volume 13 of the Collection of Sobering Thoughts)