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Monday Thoughts 7/19/2021

“No is a complete sentence.” ~~Anne Lamont

“I’m allowed to do what’s best for me even if it upsets people.” ~~Unknown

‘I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” ~~Maya Angelou


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

I now better understand my problems.

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.


The WFS New Life Program and Statement #4 provides a guide or map for growth and understanding. Before sobriety, I lived on the edge and created problems or drama to feel connected to life. In actuality, I was taking myself further away from living fully. Problems felt overwhelming no matter the size. Yet for some others, problems did not exist. Practicing Statement #4 brings feelings of ease and balance.

Learning new skillsets or tools like boundaries can have lasting impact in our New Life. It felt liberating to say no when I wanted to say no, and I began to unlearn some habits that did not reflect who I am at my core. Soon I was seeing problems from a different viewpoint and learning new coping skills, especially from the women in our WFS Online Forum and our face-to-face groups. Every day is a new chance to solve something.

While some problems are within our control, others are not. Yet we can always control our reaction to them like the above quote from Dr. Angelou. We need not be reduced but instead reinforce our beliefs in ourselves and abilities. We grow into ourselves and our New Life, after all, we are capable and competent, caring, and compassionate women!

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I was thinking of last Monday’s Thoughts and how Karen changed the wording to be in harmony with the situation at hand. I started thinking that my change for Statement #4, in accordance with my situation last week, might be, “Family members bother me only to the degree I permit.” This lesson is one I seem to continue learning over and over again and that is, I understand my problems and have no control over other people’s actions or decisions. A difficult lesson, indeed, especially when it comes to family and the emotional history attached. The reason I find it difficult is that many times family problems do impact me. I have to live with them, tolerate them and hope their problem-solving skills get better with the infinite wisdom that I bestow upon them. I hope you are appreciating my bit of sarcasm.

I eventually learned the difference between constant worrying where nothing got solved because there wasn’t a real issue and a valid concern that needed problem solving skills and decision making. I came across a post from WFS online, dated 2009, but not who authored it. If anyone recognizes it, please let me know. Lots of good information and it reinforced how the New Life program is still as invaluable and relatable since its beginning in 1975. There are comments in the post that I’d like to share:

“In order to move out of powerlessness, you must act to understand what your problems are – the nature of them and where they come from. This gives us the power to deal with them – face them instead of being “overwhelmed.” Being overwhelmed by problems is a habit too and a self-defeating one at that. I can choose to change my beliefs if old beliefs are harming me and hindering my development.”

She described that being overwhelmed involved beliefs such as:

1. Other people’s needs come above my own

2. I will be seen as lazy and selfish if I care for myself

3. I can ignore my needs for the sake of others

4. I don’t deserve better

5. I can’t cope

6. Things have to be done in a certain way

Do you connect with any of these beliefs? Can you add to the list?

I love this comment: “None of the statements are things that can sort of be checked off a list as “done” – they are ways of existing or being – practices that help us daily to build and maintain a New Life. Today I know that I can adjust and examine unrealistic beliefs about myself that harm or hinder my progress. I have a responsibility to take care of my whole self.”

The focus of her post was on the action part of not permitting problems to overwhelm us. I had not thought of my beliefs as hindering me yet in reflection, I can say that was my way of thinking many years ago. I allowed myself to be overwhelmed because I had no boundaries on what was plain old worry and a real concern that needed my attention. I’m hoping you will give some thought to how you handle problems, can make the distinction between a worry and a real concern, if your beliefs are holding you back from taking care of your whole self and trusting others to offer input when you’re stuck even though the final decision is yours.

Bonded in understanding our problems, learning to reduce feeling overwhelmed and embracing the support and insight we gain from others, Dee


 

Finding a Path Forward: A Town Hall for CF’s

Saturday, July 24th, 2021
1:00-2:30 pm US/Eastern
(12:00 pm Central, 11:00 am Mountain, 10:00 am Pacific)

For WFS Certified Facilitators Only
READ MORE

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Monday Thoughts 7/12/2021

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make.  It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.”  ~~Robin Sharma

“Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”  ~~Unknown

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.”  ~~Amelia Earhart


 #3 Happiness is a habit I am developing.

Happiness is created, not waited for.


Recently, feelings of agitation have crept their way into some conversations.  Upon discussion and internal investigation, applying Statement #3 was the solution.  Holding certain expectations had led to an increase in frustration and since none of it was under my control, I could only change my response.  Wanting to be happy instead of being right allowed me to let go of that frustration and reclaim feelings of ease and balance.

Before New Life it was easy to blame other people or circumstances for my unhappiness.  Yet this removed my ability to move through whatever the situation was and brought about feelings of emptiness.   By shifting focus and releasing blame, developing healthier habits began to take center stage.  Much of it came about because of something simple, like kindness.

There are some life situations or occasions where happiness may feel difficult or impossible, much like when moving through deep grief or sudden sorrow.  At these times it is helpful to adjust Statement #3 to fit your needs.  Instead of “Happiness is a habit I am developing, I might focus on “Self-care is a habit I am developing or “Compassion is a habit.”  By tailoring this Statement to fit our needs, we are acknowledging and validating our feelings while taking important actions toward balance.

Hugzzz

Karen


Good Morning 4C Women,

I love the interchanging of words that Karen suggested for Statement #3.  Goodness knows I certainly needed them this past week.  I had to laugh when my first change in wording was, “Happiness is my family actually following through on my words of wisdom!”  Of course, reality sets in and I have to accept that this thinking might be better suited for Statement #4 (problems) or #13 (responsible for myself), so back to happiness as I choose to create it.

What I so love about WFS is its flexibility in practicing the action part of the statements.  While the first part is the belief – believing I am able and willing to develop the habit of happiness; the action part is for me to create and not wait on others or even situations to achieve those “moments” of happiness.

Jean Kirkpatrick described her awakening to knowing it was up to her to create happiness when she realized every sentence about happiness in her early recovery started with, “I’ll be happy if…”  Just as I jokingly and honestly said “I’ll be happy when…”  Think about how you approach creating happiness.  Do you find yourself consistently saying “if” and “when” or have you been able to embrace the action part of Statement #3 to I “am” creating, not waiting for?  While Jean understood that material things we saved or planned for could bring joy, a sense of achievement, I know that Jean wanted each of us to dig deeper, to go beyond the material belongings.  One of the greatest joys, achievements, for me was becoming sober, experiencing authentic happiness.  No pretending, just feeling it.

Do you recall the first time in sobriety that you found yourself giggling, laughing hard and loud, experiencing pure joyfulness and even questioning how this could be happening sober?  That’s the beginning and as we keep moving forward, it’s amazing to discover it wasn’t a fluke, that we really felt genuine happiness.  It opens us up to discovering new activities, new adventures, possibly returning to former fun activities to find out if they still bring the joy we once had and creating healthy relationships because we are being open and true to our source of happiness – ourselves!  In all the changes WFS offers to us, one of the greatest rewards is how we view ourselves.  I know with each passing day, month and year, I became happy with the woman I was becoming.  I learned the coping tools for when the negative thoughts came in – you remember Ed, my inner critic from last Monday’s message – well, without WFS, how would I have researched and discovered that I had the ability to name and tell my inner critic that he was not welcomed to lie about me anymore?  How could I search for my happiness without tips from WFS on how to start and continue on that path?

Friends absolutely add to my happiness, but they are not the sole source of it as it was in the past.  I was completely dependent on others to provide my happiness and that became quite a burden for them and a huge disappointment for me if they didn’t live up to my expectations of them.  I am so fortunate to be surrounded by supportive women in my life.  It truly adds to the happiness factor.  I also appreciate that when I am feeling sad, angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed, that it’s perfectly fine and healthy to acknowledge those feelings. In fact, expressing my feelings has helped me to understand myself a bit better as I work on the “why” of those feelings.  I do not ignore or run from them or use substances to numb and bury them. These feelings are not wrong or bad, words I do not ever use because WFS helped me realize that these feelings are an authentic reaction to life.

It’s also a huge gift knowing it’s safe to express and acknowledge ALL feelings and that in itself creates balance in my life.  It’s not all negative as I use to believe, and I am not waiting for someone else to fill the empty space of unhappiness.  That is my responsibility.  As a friend said, “I’m the captain of my ship.”  So, where I choose to go sailing in this life and how I respond to all of it is up to me.   My journey is sprinkled with the reality of life’s events/situations, and I am in a much better place to handle it as best I can.  Well, I can especially handle the happy moments!  As Jean said, “We can change our thinking, which will change our behavior.”

Bonded in creating happiness, joy in our recovery and believing that we deserve it, Dee


WFS is Hiring for a Volunteer Coordinator Position!

 

Click here if interested to apply by July 14th

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New WFS Meeting – Denver Colorado

WFS is proud to announce the start of a new Regional Video meeting!

Denver, Colorado

Thursdays at 7:00 PM

starting 7/8/2021

Please email 1131@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 volunteer@womenforsobriety.org for assistance.

 

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Monday Thoughts 7/5/2021

“The way you choose to think and speak about yourself (to yourself and others), IS A CHOICE!  You may have spent your whole life talking about yourself in a negative way, but that doesn’t mean you have to continue that path.”  ~~Miya Yamanouchi

“Self-stigma can be just a big a problem as the negative attitudes of others.” ~~Megan A. Arroll

“We were free of self-judgment when we were babies, and yet at some point, we developed a sensitivity that taught us to react with self-consciousness and negative self-talk.”  ~~Elaina Marie


#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

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


In our WFS Program booklet it states “As women in recovery, we are learning that negative thoughts can be harmful.  We were probably ruled by negativity for long periods of time, which took the form of defensiveness and fears.”  When I first got sober, it was difficult to understand that I had or even felt fear but as my brain and body healed, glimpses of negativity began to be uncovered.

Unbeknownst to me, I had become my own worst critic. Oftentimes I made up what I thought someone else might be negatively thinking or saying and simply walloped myself. It didn’t take long to create a negative thought pattern and alcohol easily cemented this into habit.  I was self-destructing yet didn’t see or even feel it.  Sobriety and Statement #2 in action helped change that course and laid a foundation to build healthy self-talk and awareness.

This is the beauty of the WFS New Life Program.  We begin to make small changes, even with just our thoughts, and we are able to reduce negativity while embracing sobriety and recovery.  Here are 4 ways to aid in reducing negativity from Jennice Vilhauer, PhD:

1. Notice the critic.

To gain control over your inner critic you have too first be aware of it. During every conscious moment we have an inner dialogue with ourselves. Much of our thinking is so automatic and happening so rapidly that we barely notice it before we move on to the next thought. Making the conscious effort to slow down and pay more attention to your thoughts will help you notice when the critic is present. Your emotions will also cue you to the presence of the critic. Negative emotions such as doubt, guilt, shame, and worthlessness are almost always signs of the critic at work.

A good exercise to try for one week is to simply keep an inner critic log, either in a small notebook or on your phone. Every time you notice yourself being self-critical, just note two or three words about the situation—got up late, meeting with boss, fight with mom, lunch choices—and what the criticism was—I’m lazy, I’m a bad employee, I’m not a good daughter, I have no self-control. Once you are aware of the critical voice, you will be in a position to stand up to it.

2. Separate the critic from you.

The inner critic doesn’t want you to notice it. It thrives best when you mistake it for being part of your authentic self. However, you weren’t born with an inner critic. The critic is a voice that you have internalized based on outside influences and learning, such as other people’s criticism, expectations, or standards. One way to separate from the critic is to give it a name. Any name will work; to add some levity you might even try using a silly name like The Old Hag. What is important is that by separating it from your own identity, you are on your way to freeing yourself from its influence.

3. Talk back.

Talking back to your inner critic is an important part of taking away its power. Simply telling the critic you don’t want to hear what it has to say begins to give you a sense of choice in the matter. When you hear the inner critic start to speak, tell it to go away. Tell it you refuse to listen. Tell it that you know it is a liar. Tell it you are choosing instead to be kind to yourself.

4. Replace the critic.

The best way to defeat the critic is to have an even stronger ally on your side. You need to grow an inner voice that acts as your own best friend. In order to do this, you need to start noticing the good things about yourself. No matter what the inner critic has told you, you do have positive traits, although it may take you some effort to retrain yourself to see them.

Because of the way our brain works, we all have an automatic selective filtering system that will look for evidence in our environment that matches up with whatever we believe to be true about ourselves. We will then disregard other evidence to the contrary. If you are always saying to yourself, I am an idiot, you might actually do a lot of smart things, but you will still zero in on the small mistakes you make (e.g., locking your keys in the car). You will fixate on those things because they match up with what you say to yourself.

To break this automatic tendency, you have to first make the deliberate effort to say something different to yourself and then actively search for evidence that the new statement is true. When you hear your critic saying I am an idiot, talk back and tell the critic that isn’t true. Then replace the statement with something you know is true, such as, Sometimes I do smart things, and come up with as many examples as you can to support this new statement. The critic doesn’t like to be wrong. The more examples you come up with to support your alternate view, the less it will come around.

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Years ago, Nina and I presented a workshop on The Inner Critic at the WFS conference followed by Be Your Own Best Friend the next year.   Nina always told me that we teach what we need to learn.  I must admit that each workshop we presented together became a life lesson for me.  In doing research and sharing ideas, I realized that doing these workshops became a hidden gift of learning for me.  After The Inner Critic workshop, I created a name for my inner critic and that name was and is, Ed, my ex-husband.  After way too many years of being intimidated, feeling inadequate, I feel empowered to tell him he has no power over me when negative thoughts begin to take over.  He may not be the one who said the exact negative words, but he is the last one that left an imprint on my thinking that I was unworthy, invisible, unlovable.  I jokingly ask, what is he going to do – divorce me?   I visualize him sitting on my shoulder when a negative, untruthful definition of me begins creeping in.  I recognize them as old false messages.  I will tell him to shut up and flick him off my shoulder, followed by a smile.

Through my growing up years the feeling of intimidation was quite strong and in reflection, I wonder if I chose a man to marry that would challenge those deep feelings of not good enough.  I believed messages from people in authority, my biological father or those my age who judged me.  Because I didn’t have the tools to reject these negative comments, I automatically believed them as true.  It took WFS, therapy and belief in my own capabilities to stop the negative thoughts roaring in my head.  I have come to the conclusion that thoughts unexpressed create negativity for me.  If a boundary has been crossed, a put down of my character or condescending words, I have the choice to discuss it then or when I am ready or sit in silence with the false negative definition of me starting to grow.  The situation may not be safe to express your feelings and that is when the support of WFS sisters comes into play along with positive self-talk.  Sometimes I just say “OUCH!” to the person and that is a universal word that means whatever you said or did caused me pain.  No long explanation, just ouch.

I encourage you to practice the 4 ways Karen shared to aid in overcoming negative thoughts that destroy only yourself.  Let’s face it, many people are so unaware of the hurt they cause, go on their merry way and we are left with the pain.  We are in a powerful position to change our thoughts, to practice positive self-talk, to address the person in a calm but direct manner and to have the support of 4C women in this wonderful New Life Program.

Bonded in reducing negativity and empowering our personal self-love thoughts, Dee