Posted on

Monday Thoughts 10/26/2020

Impossible and extremely difficult are as unalike as the desert and the ocean.”  ~~Richelle E. Goodrich

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”  ~~Eleanor Roosevelt

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” ~~Dr. Benjamin Spock
_______________________________________________________________

#5 I am what I think.

I am a capable, competent, caring and compassionate woman.

_______________________________________________________________

Statement #5 is the essence of the WFS New Life Program and one that continues to enlighten different aspects of sobriety and recovery. It is extremely freeing to understand and know that each of us is in charge of our own thoughts no matter how uncomfortable or difficult that they may be.

Last week a wonderfully independent, enthusiastic friend, loving mentor and strong woman passed away after a contented, full life.  My whole body felt the sadness immediately. Sitting with these feelings of grief, my thoughts turned to her life.  I recalled the many past conversations and life events. What an honor it has been to have shared in her insights, outlook and giggles.  A long ago, retired elementary teacher, she had the playfulness of a third grader yet displayed the insights of a master who knew what people needed on the inside. Life was a question and she craved learning. Listening was a skill that she possessed, which she absolutely delighted in.  People were drawn to her genuineness.  Living her life with purpose and passion, her guiding light will forever be bright.

Of course, the tears have flowed yet Statement #5 has been instrumental in processing thoughts and emotions.  It is because of the WFS New Life Program and all the incredible 4C women who practice the Statements and live life just like she did, love grows and expands.

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

As I read Karen’s message, I was touched by the impact her friend had on Karen’s outlook in her New Life; how Statement #5 helped her process this deep loss.  It brought into focus how many amazing women I have met over these 33 years and the incredible impact they have had on my life.  I have been writing Monday Thoughts since 2007 with our beloved Nancy Cross and before that, articles for Sobering Thoughts.  It is the WFS program and the women who practice it that have inspired me all of these years. Putting Statement #5 into action was a turning point for me.  When I recall the words I used to describe myself before WFS, I cringe.  I am what I think was a litany of negativity.

Almost a year ago, our group answered questions related to Statement #5 and I know my answers would have been quite different before WFS. This is why I date everything so when I do an exercise such as this, I can see the personal growth I have made and also where I need to focus on additional positive change.  Life presents so many opportunities for gaining insight into who we are, how we see ourselves participating in our New Life and the need to recognize how much we have and are becoming 4C -5C women – adding Courageous!  Here are the questions:

1.     I am capable of:

2.    I am competent in:

3.    I am caring about:

4.    I am compassionate about:

5.    I express courage by:

This has been a trying time for many of us as we travel on an uncertain journey with much isolation and perhaps questioning our coping with it.  In this time, I find myself asking what fulfills me and how am I taking action to incorporate that in my life.  I may not be able to do it now yet I can dream and hope because I am capable of making plans, competent in carrying through when the time is right, care enough about myself to know a plan is practicing self-care, realize what my passion is deep in my soul and am courageous enough to have the patience and perseverance to be hopeful my plan will happen in due time.  I would never have had this mind set before WFS.  So beyond grateful for changing my definition of me from negative, discouraging and dismissive to one of loving, caring and hopeful.  As the saying goes, it’s priceless.

I’d like to close this message with these 2 additional questions:

1.    What fulfills you?

2.    Do you have an action plan and patience filled with hope that you will be able to fulfill that dream when the time is right?

Bonded in creating our own personal, positive definition of who we are, Dee

Posted on

New WFS Meeting – Lewiston, ME (Thursday)

WFS is proud to announce the start of a new in-person* meeting!

Lewiston, ME

Thursdays at 12:00 PM

starting 11/5/2020

Please email 1126@womenforsobriety.org with questions and to obtain details for the meeting.

Please join us in extending our gratitude to the volunteer Certified Facilitator who has made the commitment to bring the New Life Program to her local community!

If you are feeling inspired to bring WFS to your local community, please review the requirements for becoming a Certified Facilitator and contact facilitator@womenforsobriety.org for assistance.

*due to the COVID pandemic many meetings are currently meeting online

Posted on

Monday Thoughts 10/19/2020

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved.”  ~~John Dewey

“I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.”  ~~Maya Angelou

“If you choose to not deal with an issue, then you give up your right of control over the issue and it will select the path of least resistance.”  ~~Susan Del Gatto
_______________________________________________________________

#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.
I now better understand my problems.
 I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.
_______________________________________________________________

Sobriety and Statement #4 in action fuel determination and decrease worry.  In our WFS Reflections for Growth booklet our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick writes “Worry is the antithesis of overcoming.  We worry when the conditions overwhelm us.  Overcoming is when we overwhelm the problem.”

The beginning of problem solving in my New Life came in early sobriety.  Right away my focus was on staying sober every day and I did not take on anything large.  The WFS Online Forum connected and introduced me to women who were taking charge of their life and problems. The input from veteran WFS sisters was invaluable and life changing. Soon I was practicing new tools and beginning to feel capable. Like a sponge I soaked up information that would help cement my progress and instill balance.

Here are a few tools and techniques to aid in problem solving gleaned from competent women:

1.      Define the problem.   What is the core issue?  Is there more than one issue?  Choose one to focus.

2.      Whose problem is it?  Does this issue truly belong to you?

3.      Apply the SMART technique to the problem.  Smart is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Action/Attainable, Realistic and Timely/Time frame.

4.      Evaluate results.  Did your action/inaction solve the issue?

5.      Journal the problem.  Sometimes just writing it down gets it out of our head to where we can think clearer or with fresh perspective.

6.      You are not alone.  Chances are you are not the first person to experience this issue.  Reach out, talk about the issue with someone you trust.

7.      Listen for feedback. While some people may tend to try to solve a problem for us, is there a solution that you have not tried yet? Listen to feedback or different perspectives.

8.      Shelve an issue but add a deadline.  Maybe you do not have all the information needed yet to solve the issue.  Hold off but stay mindful that you will return to it.

9.      5 Why’s. This technique aids in identifying root causes.

10.   Release shame blame or guilt.  None of these will help solve a problem and can stand in the way of moving through it.

11.   Reframe the story.  You are the author of your mind and your story. You can edit and reframe how you tell an experience/story.  Look for the helpers.

12.    Embrace gray areas/alter expectations.  Instead of strict black and white thinking, embrace gray areas and alter expectations for increased balance.

13.   Consider additional support.  Some issues or problems can be difficult to maneuver alone.  Consider professional support and/or therapy to move through the problem when feeling stuck or unable to solve.

What other tools do you use to problem solve?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

So many fabulous tips on problem solving.  The 5 whys intrigued me as I sometimes get lost in the problem/issue that the core root is not obvious to me.  Identifying the core root helps me take responsibility for my actions and also in creating needed changes in my thoughts/actions.  One of my whys in respect to my current situation would be why I am continually frustrated with a certain family member.  The first why would be I have not set firm boundaries. The second why would be not wanting to hurt that person when they are in a vulnerable place.  The third why is I feel inadequate in providing guidance that will be heard.  The fourth why is in some way I feel responsible. The fifth why is I’m angry at myself for not setting those firm boundaries in the beginning.  This leads me to my core issue – I feel responsible (guilty) and yet it is out of my control.  So, while I recognize the problem really isn’t mine, it affects my life greatly.  A very challenging situation yet there are 12 other phenomenal tips to work with from Karen’s message.  It’s ironic and so appropriate for me that tip #10 follows the 5 Whys as that tip reflects the guilt I am feeling. Tip #10 is a good reminder that guilt does nothing to help me move forward.

It’s been said that there is a payback when we continue to hold on to a situation or person that hurts us.  I think that is another important consideration when it comes to problem solving.  I often ask myself what benefit am I getting out of keeping things the same way.  My answer is usually fear of destroying the relationship or making the wrong decision.  That leads to the question of what would be the consequence of such an outcome.  How important is the relationship that continually holding back a hurt becomes acceptable?  How would discussing a problem authentically and respectfully be so harmful that it would end the relationship?  Yes, problems bother me only to the degree I permit which begs the question, just how much am I permitting?  How do I create a balance so the fear becomes less and I become the author of my story going forward?  Much to figure out and that is the beauty of the WFS program.  It asks us to be honest with ourselves, to uncover our fears and discover the power within us that makes us what we’ve always been – 4C women capable of making positive changes, reducing our fears, learning from our mistakes and standing strong in our own power!

Bonded in healing and helping each other in problem solving, Dee

Posted on

Monday Thoughts 10/12/2020

“The less attached you are, the more peaceful you are.”  ~~Anonymous

“Learn the difference between connection and attachment.  Connection gives you power, attachment sucks the life out of you.”  ~~Anonymous

“Let go of expectations.  Let go of your attachment to outcomes.”  ~~Anonymous
_______________________________________________________________

#3 Happiness is a habit I am developing. 

Happiness is created, not waited for.
_______________________________________________________________

Before my New Life, attachment meant nuts, bolts, and screws; today it takes on a different and unexpected yet empowering definition.  The WFS New Life Program and Statement #3 in action enable happiness to flow from within and connection to flourish.

Understanding that I was holding on to people, things, expectations, and concepts was a new consideration in sobriety and recovery.  This gem of perception enabled new interpretation and acceptance of what was, instead of what I wanted to be attached to.  Instead of “needing alcohol to live life,” I was able to embrace sobriety and connection followed.

By redefining the meaning of attachment that something is given, whether it be a memory or experience, a portal for happiness is created.  With an eye open to possibility, the act of clinging can be reduced, and happiness increased.  Oftentimes, Statement #3 relates more to contentment than happiness, yet deep down, it can be true that contentment creates happiness. Today, 4C women all over the world create their own happiness and contentment by releasing unhealthy dependencies and attachments while defining their lives.

Here is some helpful information to release attachments to feelings by Lori Deschene:

Understand that pain is unavoidable. As the saying goes, pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

Vocalize your feelings. Feel them, acknowledge them, express them, and then let them naturally transform.  Even if you want to dwell in anger, sadness, or frustration—especially if you feel like dwelling—save yourself the pain and commit to working through them.

Write it down. Then toss it out.  You won’t always have the opportunity to express your feelings to the people who inspired them.  That doesn’t mean you need to swallow them.  Write in a journal.  Write a letter and burn it.  Anything that helps you let go.

Xie Xie. It means thank you in Chinese.  Fully embrace your happy moments—love with abandon; be so passionate, it’s contagious.  If a darker moment follows, remember; it will teach you something, and soon enough, you’ll be in another happy moment to appreciate.  Everything is cyclical.

Yield to peace.  The ultimate desire is to feel happy and peaceful.  Even if you think you want to stay angry, what you really want is to be at peace with what happened or will happen.  It takes a conscious choice.  Make it.

Zen your now.  Experience, appreciate, enjoy, and let go to welcome another experience.  It won’t always be easy.  Sometimes you’ll feel compelled to attach yourself physically and mentally to people and ideas—as if it gives you some sense of control or security.  You may even strongly believe you’ll be happy if you struggle to hold onto what you have.  That’s okay.  That’s human nature.

Just know you have the power to choose from moment to moment how you experience things you enjoy; with a sense of ownership, anxiety, and fear, or with a sense of freedom, peace and love.”

How do you release attachments in your New Life?  Do you recognize past attachments?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Oh, those darn attachments!  When reflecting on past attachments, I now understand how they kept me stuck to what was and not even imagining what could be if I worked through the past to let go and heal.  The energy it took to hold onto attachments was suffocating.  I did not realize it at the time because I had not grasped the concept that I was the creator of my own happiness, peace, and contentment.  In my mind, only the past offered that.  HOWEVER, if that were completely true, if I really looked hard at my past, I might have asked myself why I chose to drink to numb my pain, my hurt.  I also learned through practicing Statement #3 that there were happy moments in my past yet most (not all) of them were from what others had done for me.  In other words, I placed most of my happiness on the shoulders of others.  What a burden that must have been for them.  The biggest lesson I learned from Statement #3 is that happiness comes in moments and it is the awareness of those moments that we need to nurture.  The foundation of contentment and peace that I was building was becoming a solid groundwork for the awareness factor.  I also realized that others can add happiness/joy to my life yet it is my responsibility to create a solid foundation towards creating it.

I love that Karen pointed out that pain is inevitable.  It is like grief.  We all experience it.  How we work through it, heal, and build an internal dialogue of positive self-talk is crucial.  I do not ignore pain the same way I do not ignore those happy moments.  They are all a part of teaching me ways to cope and ways to appreciate in real time.  It creates a feeling of authenticity.  Pretending I am in a place of peace when I am not is being untrue to myself and to my support system that cannot help me if I am not being honest.  It is such a balance of receiving support when I need it and sharing my joy when it happens.

What gives you peace of mind and helps restore you?

What is one of the funniest things that has happened to you that makes you smile whenever you think of it?

If you could plan one thing that you know makes you feel joy/happiness, what would that be?  Even with the pandemic, we can still dream, hope, and make a happiness plan.  I love going to Christmas Shops, taking in all the beautiful decorations/ornaments, music (there’s always music playing that makes me so happy) and going to zoos as I love the playfulness of the animals.  While I may not be able to do that now, just researching and planning for it makes me feel great joy in my heart and I am smiling now just thinking of when it will happen.

Bonded in creating our happiness, contentment and peace, Dee

Posted on

Monday Thoughts 10/5/2020

“Don’t be afraid of your fears.  They’re not there to scare you.  They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”  ~~C. Joybell C.

“Being a positive person doesn’t mean you don’t feel negative emotions.  It means you have faith in your ability to get through tough situations, hope for better days and the willingness to see beyond the drama.”  ~~Leticia Rae

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.  Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language.  Do not now look for the answers.  They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them.  It is a question of experiencing everything.  At present you need to live the question.  Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”  ~~Rainer Maria Rilke

 ___________________________________________________________________

#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

My first conscious sober act is to reduce negativity in my life.

 ___________________________________________________________________

In the past, sobriety and recovery terrified me.  The thought of giving up alcohol felt like the end of the world; it was that powerful and kept me from taking any action.  Yet today, I would not trade my recovery for anything.  Statement #2 in action assists in preventing relapse and lays a foundation for balance.  Recovery has given me this New Life and I continue to connect, learn, and feel fulfilled, something that was desperately missing while drinking. 

The WFS New Life Program encourages self-exploration and Statement #2 leads the way.  Sometimes negativity can feel paralyzing at first, then the flight or fight response can kick in but the 4C women on the WFS Forum taught me to sit and examine these thoughts.  It felt so uncomfortable at first, and the desire to lash out was strong.  But after reflecting on the negative thoughts, they lost their strength and my fears diminished.  This was a brand-new way of experiencing life Instead of being tightly attached and wallowing in negativity, I was learning to move through it.

 Here is a simple practice from J. Korda that can aid in movement through difficult thoughts or emotions:

1.      Bring to mind a frustrating interpersonal event.  It can be anything that you found irritating, such as a small interaction or hearing unpleasant news.  It should be something that, when you think about it, fills your mind with thoughts of how unfair or difficult life can be or how unhelpful others can be.

2.      Instead of retelling the entire story in your mind, just hold a single image that best evokes the irritating nature of this experience.  What you are doing here is inviting the emotion of frustration or disappointment to arise.  At the same time, keep yourself comfortable, with your arms and legs relaxed.

3.      Hold the provocative image in your mind and patiently activate your feelings of irritation, frustration, or disappointment until you can feel them stirring somewhere in the front of your body—in the belly, chest, throat or face.  Try to create a welcoming environment for these feelings.  Resistance only makes the anger stronger and more painful, and it will stimulate the ‘unfairness of it all’ thought that got us nowhere.  Create a space where the emotion can play out, without trying to get rid of anything.

4.      Every time your mind tries to intervene and retell the story, or launches into criticisms or ideas about the way the world should be, bring it back again to the body.  If you can locate feelings of frustration or disappointment in your body, you can send soothing, nurturing messages from the mind to the feeling itself: ‘It’s okay.  You’re allowed to feel that way.  You’re safe now.’  Connect with the anger the way you would talk to a child you love and who is upset.  It’s not the words that matter here.  It’s the caring voice and calming awareness with which you greet your feeling that matters.”

This week invite at least one negative thought to move through and examine the process.  Share your experience with other 4C women from the WFS Forum or your Face to Face group or journal your experience.  Set a goal to move through something each week and chart your journey. 

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

When I think of negative thoughts destroying only myself, I think of the negative words I would use in the past to define myself before WFS and recovery.  They certainly shattered any possibility of building up my self-esteem or worthiness.  They only added to my using alcohol to turn off the loud negative words shouting in my ear – you are unworthy, unlovable, inadequate.  I love the exercise Karen shared, especially point 4.  I truly believe that denying our feelings, which is very different than staying stuck in them, can lead to them growing larger, leaving the opportunity for healing, understanding or personal growth at a standstill.  The use of alcohol or drugs simply and temporarily covers up the pain without any forward growth toward self-love.  I have found that acknowledging, rather than numbing my feelings, has helped tremendously in accepting my self-worth.  Also, learning to talk to myself as I would a friend or loved one, with compassion and gentleness, has taught me awareness of my negative thoughts/self-talk.  For me, awareness of my daily self-talk was the key to creating lasting change. 

I was asked in a book group to reflect on the challenges/struggles I have overcome and how they defined me.  My first immediate thought was recognizing how much I have grown and changed from the days of not liking myself, to seeing only the negative of who I believed I was for so long.  In fact, I was so accustomed to automatically going to the negative that I actually didn’t realize how much I was blocking the process of change and growth.  My second thought was extreme gratitude for WFS and the tools that taught me to change my definition of me from the negative ones to the positive ones I have today.  And I know I have grown because I have that positive mental list in my head that answered the questions easily.  This is a big change from the list of years past.   WFS taught me awareness and how to practice positive self-talk.  How would you answer the questions?  Are you aware of the words you use to describe/define yourself?  How have they changed?  If you feel that there hasn’t been much change, perhaps doing the exercise Karen has shared will work towards silencing the negative definition of you and changing each word with who you are today and not someone else’s old, untruthful definition of you?  It’s worth a try! 

Bonded in reducing negativity, Dee

Posted on

Announcing New Regional Meetings

WFS continues to adapt to support women in recovery in this time of public health concerns related to the pandemic!  We applaud these ground-breaking WFS volunteers who are now facilitating Regional Video meetings.  Please use the email for a specific meeting below to get more details.

1116 – St. Louis, MO Saturday, 8:30 AM.  For details contact 1116@womenforsobriety.org
1036 – Asheville, NC Thursday, 06:30 PM. For details contact 1036@womenforsobriety.org
1017 – San Diego, CA Saturday, 10:15 AM. For details contact 1017@womenforsobriety.org
1025 – Champaign, IL Monday, 08:00 pm. For details contact 1025@womenforsobriety.org
1047 – Cincinnati, OH Wednesday, 07:00 PM. For details contact 1047@womenforsobriety.org
1100 – Central Valley California Tuesday, 8:30 AM. For details contact 1100@womenforsobriety.org
1090 – Seacoast NH Wednesday, 7:00 PM. For details contact 1090@womenforsobriety.org
1035 – Twin Cities MN West Suburbs Sunday, 10:00 AM. For details contact 1035@womenforsobriety.org