Posted on Leave a comment

Monday Thoughts 1/25/2021

“The only approval you need is your own.”  ~~Amanda Gorman

“What do you mean I have to wait for someone’s approval? I’m someone.  approve.  So, I give myself permission to move forward with my full support!”  ~~Richelle E. Goodrich

“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked.  Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”  ~~Louise Hay


#5 I am what I think.

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


Beginning early in life, seeking approval from outside of my self was a path that easily led towards manipulation, imbalance, and low self-esteem.  Not fitting in, disapproving, never enough, hopeless; these were just some of the ever-present thoughts before sobriety and my New Life.  Living life on a track of self-denial and discouragement was the result of alcohol use and increasing isolation.  Once condemning thoughts took over, life felt increasingly bleak, uneasy, and depressing yet Statement #5 in action helped to change course and move into empowering directions.

Becoming aware of thoughts enables the ability to shift lanes in thinking.  Initially, it felt overwhelming to decipher what I was saying internally.  It was like walking into a room where hundreds of people were shouting all at once.  Yet by reciting the Statements (out loud helps me the most) each day, quieting down thoughts became easier.  This gave me a calmer lane to steer thoughts. This daily practice continues to keep thought awareness in the forefront so they may be channeled and challenged.

Knowing my own thoughts enables approval of them.  I can ask myself “Does this thought take me closer or further away from sobriety (or a goal)?”  This has prevented relapse many times.  A meditation practice also keeps thoughts from becoming overwhelming and can offer pause.  Even just five minutes a day can assist in thought management.  Here are a few helpful techniques to aid in practicing Statement #5:

  • Opposite thinking:  Angry thoughts?  Shift thoughts towards something that has brought you joy.  Writing it down focuses the mind even more.
  • Imaging: Distressing thoughts? Imagine being in a place of comfort.  Fully describe in your mind what this place is like.  Is it a beach?  What does the sky look like?  What do the waves sound like?  Fully embrace this place.
  • Get moving:  Being physical can offset thoughts.  One time I grabbed a broom and started sweeping when fearful thoughts were overtaking my mind.  Almost immediately my thoughts were focused on the floor instead of the imagined fears.
  • Snap it out:  Wear a rubber band on your wrist and whenever unruly thoughts enter, snap the band.  It is a physical sensation to stop unwanted or unhealthy thoughts.

What assists you in practicing Statement #5?

Hugzzz

Karen


Good Morning 4C Women,

I love the quotes that Karen shared with us.  Each is a fabulous way to start the day along with reading the 13 Statements.  Like Karen, there was a time when speaking anything but negative self-talk seemed an impossible task.  What I said to myself in the mirror each morning was anything but positive.  It is, as Karen says, the action process of each Statement that begins to change our thoughts and our actions.

For Statement #5, it is critical to see ourselves as 4C women, one thought, one image change at a time.  I have heard over the years that it feels conceited or selfish to love yourself.  That is certainly a challenging battle to overcome yet, just like sobriety and recovery might have seemed impossible, learning to love yourself is doable.  It, in fact, is critical to your well-being.

Have you ever made a list of what you love about yourself today and how you currently practice self-care, self-love?  If you are struggling with listing what you love about yourself, think of those closest to you that you love.  Do you see a pattern of qualities that you love about them?  Can you attribute those qualities to yourself and learn to love and accept yourself in the same way?

Making a self-love list is a good start to sorting out the truth of today and dismissing/releasing the negative messages of yesterday that are no longer supporting your well-being, your sobriety. In fact, many of those old, invalid messages are from people who were themselves unhealed, creating fear within you of being abandoned, unworthy and unlovable.  If it wasn’t for the 4Cs, I am not sure if I would even have known where to start.  Yet, I began to believe that I was compassionate and caring.  Believing I was competent and capable took a bit longer.  But that is the beauty of emotional growth – it is a process and we do this individually and with purpose

Questions to consider that I found in my huge mound of papers.  Not sure from when or where yet I believe they are questions to get you started or continuing on your 4C journey/path to self-love, self-caring:

What do you need to be more at peace with yourself, living from a place of love instead of fear?  (i.e., forgiveness, setting boundaries)

What am I holding onto that isn’t serving me anymore?

What fulfills you?  Not sure, think of how you spend your time and is it fulfilling you?  How can you incorporate the things that fulfill you into your life more?

What is your truth (or essence) when everything else is stripped away?  This is who you believe you are, not anyone else’s definition of you, especially the negative messages from the past.

What do you do to make yourself feel better?  This is really important when you are feeling down and getting stuck in negative energy.

How could you love yourself enough to … forgive yourself, nourish yourself, move your body, feed your soul, live in the moment?  In other words, start loving yourself enough to take care of yourself the way you deserve.

Answering these questions and using the techniques Karen shared will be helpful in the process of catching our negative thoughts and having a way to turn them around quickly with positive self-talk and self-love as the result.

Bonded in strengthening our self-love to know that we are 4C woman today and every day, Dee


Learn more about presenting here.

Apply Now

Posted on Leave a comment

Monday Thoughts 1/18/2021

“You are allowed to be both a Masterpiece and a Work in Progress simultaneously.”  ~~Unknown

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”  ~~Rosa Parks

“You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying.  What you can do is calm yourself.  The storm will pass.”  ~~Timber Hawkeye


#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems.

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.


Statement #4 in daily action encourages trust, effort and understanding.  Before sobriety and New Life, escapism was a go-to response. Drinking or using at a problem created more problems and solved nothing.  Like a fearful child hiding under the bed, it was a repeated option. Yet today, thanks in part to our WFS Statements and the many strong 4C women who embrace recovery and live fully, overwhelming fear does not hold up to the WFS Statements in action.

Understanding that there are options in managing difficulties in life creates feelings of courage, strength, and resiliency.  Obviously, some problems are easier to manage than others, yet at their core each issue comes with an opportunity to grow in mind, body, and spirit.  The feelings of accomplishment when overcoming something that once paralyzed is almost indescribable and lays the foundation for further realization and motivation.

The WFS Online Forum and F2F groups (currently online due to COVID-19) offer extraordinary support when facing a challenge or problem.  Learning about different techniques to solve problems can uplift and encourage.  In my opinion, 4C women are the best cheerleaders! From decision making skills to setting new goals, there is much to learn, practice and apply.  This week take time to reflect on how far you have come and how you manage difficulties with a sober, clear mind.   Is there an area that you need assistance in?  Where do you do well?  Share your insights or detail in a journal.  Below is the “IDEAL” (Identify, Define, Explore, Act, Learn) technique for moving through a problem:

    1. Identify: What is the problem?  Who does it belong to?  Women can at times, take on issues that belong to someone else.
    2. Define: Define the cause. There may be layers to get to root cause. Uncover.
    3. Explore:  Explore possible strategies and options.  Discuss for input
    4. Act:  Put in the effort, try, not everything attempted will lead to a solution.  Time can be a factor as well.
    5. Look and Learn:  Did it work?  What did you learn?  Begin the process again if needed.

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

The IDEAL techniques are such an extraordinary tool in practicing Statement #4.  As this is the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, I was imagining all the problems and priorities he had to set to pursue a peaceful way to racial justice.  I worked on the MLK, Jr. committee in Teaneck, NJ, and also created a few programs on racial understanding while I worked at the YWCA.  It opened up a whole new way of seeking solutions to problems and learning how to set priorities in the process.  Karen said it so well – “Understanding that there are options in managing difficulties in life creates feelings of courage, strength, and resiliency.”  What a powerful image of being open to explore options, to make mistakes, learn another “option” and grow in our courage, strength and resiliency.

I have been facilitating WFS meetings since 1989 and I must say that in the beginning, I took on other people’s issues, working hard at solving their problems.  I realized soon enough I was using it as a distraction from solving and setting my own priorities.  I am grateful that I also learned the huge difference from supporting, encouraging and sharing insights from my life experience and actually trying to solve another person’s problems.  In learning this big lesson, I also understood that I was taking away the opportunity for any woman to learn by exploring her personal options and in the process, gain emotional and personal growth.  Again, it goes back to the powerful message Karen shared of each woman creating hew own courage, strength and resiliency.

I was thinking of a recent problem I had and #2 was calling my name.  It involved my ex-husband.  The problem could be solved with patience but it also meant communicating effectively.  The old feelings of being controlled, ignored and feeling ignorant came back full force.  I thought of a few solutions and if they didn’t work out, I had another plan or two.  It is amazing how much that calmed me down and the feeling of empowerment was growing.  Sadly, we don’t communicate and that is something I worked on over the past 27 years of my divorce and 27 years of marriage.  Wow, 54 years of working on communication.  That’s a lot of work.

I am no longer in fear yet I also couldn’t deny old feelings coming back.  Just acknowledging those fears, gave me pause and I told myself I am no longer that weak, fearful woman.  Heck, I almost broke out in Helen Reddy’s song, “I am Woman, Hear me roar!  I share this because I hope every woman reading this message knows and realizes that while the process of problem solving and setting priorities takes time, it is absolutely possible.  Using the IDEAL technique is a wonderful way to do it.

Bonded in problem-solving, setting priorities and being empowered in your personal growth, Dee


Be sure to read the WFS Winter Newsletter

Posted on Leave a comment

Monday Thoughts 1/11/2021

“The best time for new beginnings is now.”  ~~Unknown

“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”  ~~Dolly Parton

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”  ~~Maya Angelou

“The best time for new beginnings is now.”  ~~Unknown

“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”  ~~Dolly Parton

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”  ~~Maya Angelou


#3 Happiness is habit I am developing.

Happiness is created not waited for.


Happiness today feels real and authentic thanks to the WFS New Life Program and Statement #3 in particular, yet before my New Life it felt ephemeral and unreliable.  It felt like the other shoe was about to drop at any moment, so living in fear became the norm.  Like a dazzling and beautiful butterfly, I was forever trying to catch happiness and hold it close, but it was gone even before realizing it was there.  Alcohol and drugs can have that effect.

Understanding that we create our own happiness and that it comes from within is a concept that can bring freedom, balance and contentment.  Before sobriety, it was easy to assume that things, people or alcohol (drugs) were the key to happiness but the fact is that lasting happiness originates from inside.  In our WFS Program booklet our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. writes, “Happiness never came to me until I learned the secret of making it for myself, of finding an inner glow that somehow made all other things right.”  Even in the midst of uncertainty (fear), we can move through difficulty and maintain balance.

An example of keeping a sense of balance comes with my sweet, canine companion who wagged his tail into my heart just a few years into sobriety and recovery.  Recently he has been diagnosed with cancer.  While this news can be anxiety inducing, there is an underlying sense of ease.  Instead of drinking at an issue to escape it, managing and moving through emotions with a sober and clear mind allows for the moment to be experienced, even savored and expressed.  This is where the crossroads of growth and understanding meet.  So, while time may be limited, there is no limit to the amount of pure joy, happiness and love that unfolds from within.

Hugzzz

Karen


Good Morning 4C Women,

I learned a lot about myself in practicing Statement #3.  At first, I was quite reluctant to accept that I was responsible for creating my own happiness.  I learned two things from accepting this responsibility.  One, it is actually possible and two, I can experience happiness from others as long as I am in the moment of appreciating and embracing the joy they are bringing to me.

Previously, I leaned solely on others to bring me joy so I was always waiting, putting a burden on others to make me happy.  The word habit was the key to changing my thought process.  I sort of overlooked that word when I realized that most of my drinking decisions were based on habit.  A bad day at work, an argument, a disappointment, rejection, loss and an endless number of situations created the habit of responding with drinking to avoid and quiet those feelings.  So, if my habit was to expect others to make me happy, my new habit had to be for me to find what brings me happiness and develop a new habit.

As many of you know, I am a keeper of papers – lots of papers.  I found a questionnaire on happiness that I filled out back in 1993.  I always try to date my papers so I can see what personal growth I have made and learn where my current focus needs to be.  I got divorced in 1994 after 27 years of marriage so the answers from 1993 give me a lot to reflect on in 2021.  And remember, these questions were on happiness!  Unfortunately, I cannot remember where these questions came from yet I think they are just as relevant today as they were back then.

Before the questions, there was a list of 5 Foundations for Happiness:

Self-Acceptance, Personal Growth, Environmental Mastery, Positive Relationships with Others, Purpose in Life.

What do you think of these?  Any you would add?

Here are the 2 questions:

10 things that give you joy/happiness/pleasure:

Identify 20 things you’re grateful for:

I listed 17 things that gave me joy.  I am sharing this with you because if I had not dated this questionnaire, I would have never believed that I could list that many things when going through a divorce.  I had been sober for 5 years and practicing the WFS Program which is why I know I was able to list so many.  I had developed a habit of creating happiness through Statement #3.  Some of the answers are quite comical as technology has certainly advanced since 1993.  Some of my answers were foods that are microwaveable (guess there weren’t that many in 1993), answering machine, panty hose that fits, plus size clothes in petite (that goes back to the panty hose that fits).  I listed 21 things I was grateful for and those were more serious except for I don’t have to iron because of wash and wear and men with long hair.  I have no idea about why I was grateful for men with long hair but not having to iron is still something I am grateful for.

I hope you are able to answer these questions with thoughtfulness, a bit of humor and finding that you are developing a habit of creating your joy, happiness, contentment – whichever word fits you.

Bonded in developing a new, healthy, well-being habit of happiness, Dee

Be sure to read the WFS Winter Newsletter

Posted on Leave a comment

Monday Thoughts 1/4/2021

“Don’t ever make decisions based on fear.  Make decisions based on hope and possibility.  Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn’t.  ~~Michelle Obama

“You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.”  ~~Indira Gandhi

“Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.”  ~~Gretchen Rubin


#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

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


In our WFS Program booklet for Statement #2, it reads, “Our overcoming is in the exact proportion to our becoming.  Negative thoughts can destroy us in so many ways.  An important aspect of negative thoughts for us is that such thoughts often precede using or drinking.  A state of ‘what’s the use?’ or ‘who cares?’ can initiate an attempt to escape reality.”  Moving through uncomfortable thoughts or emotions can seem overwhelming yet as the quote says, ‘overcoming is in the exact proportion to our becoming.’

This was a new and different response to practice in my New Life.  In the past, I often rallied complaints with others to try to get them “on my side” in order to validate how right I was or that I was a victim.  This did nothing to process difficult emotions, it only intensified them.  Drinking became a “faux-solution”; it numbed the mind while cementing painful emotions.  This negativity became a way of life and I felt miserable, which created an unhealthy cycle.

The WFS New Life Program and Statement #2 paired with sobriety offer a way to move through difficult emotions while creating a balanced new way of living.  While the process of moving through difficult thoughts and emotions can be different for every woman, the results of reducing this negativity can be the same.  The end result is that we invest in ourselves and create a sense of well-being that was not present before our New Life.  This week take time to visualize and carry out how you will move through challenging thoughts/emotions or feelings of imbalance.

Here are 4 tips to practice Statement #2

  1. Name and identify thoughts and emotions.  Before tackling a difficulty, it has to be named.   Guilt, shame, rage, disgust…this is the beginning of moving through them.  (see attachment)
  2. Sit with your named thoughts and emotions.  Take the time you need to process but set your intention to move through them.  Understand that some things are quick, while others, take more time.
  3. Take necessary actions.  Writing, journaling, talking with a 4C sister or practicing making boundaries can be a way to process difficult emotions.
  4. What does it look like on the other side of the challenging thought or emotion?  Look for and embrace growth.  Chances are while you go through the emotions, you will grow through the emotions.

 

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

A phrase Karen used stuck out for me – “cementing” painful thoughts/feelings.  The image that came to my mind was breaking that cement with all my might, freeing myself to feel, to work through the pain and heal.  It took me a while to be able to identify those deep-seated feelings.  The feelings wheel is such a great tool and I encourage you to utilize it to help you identify and understand the core and origin (when possible) of your feelings.

I use to call the center feeling words “surface” feelings.  They were easy to identify but digging deeper helped me to understand that my painful wounds were profoundly buried and needed to be set free.  This is how my healing work began.  Whenever I could identify the origin, I began to understand that some of these deep feelings were very old messages, sometimes from people who were no longer here or even in my life.  I kept the negative thoughts and feelings prominent in my mind as though they were brand new.  I began to question why I chose to continually hurt myself.

I may not be able to change harmful, hurtful words or actions from the past but I sure can set boundaries to protect my heart and squash those negative thoughts before they became cemented again!  If was the keeper of negative thoughts, I also held the key to release them.  As I looked at the feelings wheel, I realized that I lived in fear and sadness most of the time.  My goal was to heal from that space and move onto Happy.

Thanks to WFS, I was able to do that.  What kept me going is that my work was to “reduce” negativity in my life and that felt like a huge burden lifted off of me.  I could and did work at my own pace.  No pretending I had left negativity behind completely.  Life doesn’t work that way.  It’s a process and one I could handle a little bit at a time.   This is why I have great dislike for the phrase, “Just get over it.”  My response is “I’m working through it!”  So, that is my guidance for you – work through it, heal as you work and have a goal of freedom, happy, contentment, peaceful – whatever word authentically describes what you want and need to reduce negativity in your life!

Bonded in reducing negativity and healing as we work through the process, Dee