“A lot of the pain that we are dealing with are really only thoughts.”
“You are not a helpless victim of your own thoughts, but rather a master of your mind.”
“One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.”
#5 I am what I think.
I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman.
In our WFS Program booklet at the beginning of Statement #5, four valuable questions lead the chapter. The first question asks, “Do you know your own mind?” Before sobriety and recovery, ignoring thoughts was a standard way of life. Yet today, I understand that my drinking was an attempt to escape the conversations and thoughts jamming up my mind.
In the past, I believed what my mind was saying without reservation and in early sobriety, the top priority with thoughts was much like that of a firefighter. I was going head-to-head against suffocating and heated thoughts that led back to drinking. Triggers appeared to surround me, but I was learning how to challenge what my mind was telling me. What helped more than anything during that time was the knowledge that I could object to intrusive thoughts and replace them with constructive thinking. This was a new concept, and it felt empowering to reclaim my thoughts and wake up sober each day.
Moving into long-term recovery, I shifted into managing thoughts as a daily task. By beginning each day by reading the Statements, I set the tone and focus for the day. It is helpful to remember that no two days are alike; some days may be easier while other days may be more difficult to manage thoughts. When it feels difficult, I revert back to the Statements and choose one as a mantra. Usually, my go-to is “I am a competent woman.” This reinforces and guides my thinking into a more manageable and comfortable space. Additionally, connecting with other 4C women is incredibly helpful, either through the WFS Online forum, face-to-face meetings, or Zoom. Mind your mind every day!
Hi 4C Women,
I love that Karen said there are no two days alike. It took me a while to recognize that and rather than beat myself up for not living the Statement as I thought I “should,” I accepted that this was where I was at on any particular day and tried my best. I didn’t give up and say, “oh what’s the use?” but chose to be kind and nurture who I was at that moment. It was no longer about being impossibly perfect but mostly not giving up. What did change with that approach and attitude is that I no longer felt less than, incompetent, unworthy, and all those negative words I used to describe myself.
Along the way, WFS sisters have added to the 4C description, and here are some of theirs and mine:
Courageous in walking into a f2f meeting or attending that first Zoom meeting, to overcome the great fear of not knowing what to expect
Confident in the willingness to change
Committed to change even when those doubts come in
Can do – the thought that replaces doubt and encourages positive, incredible possibilities
Choice maker – I have the ability and coping skills to make healthy choices for my well-being
Credible, becoming credible to yourself and instilling that credibility to others as you keep moving forward on your recovery journey
Changing – what I value about WFS as it guides me to change the most important part of recovery – the inside self.
Communicator– learning to share with a clear mind, getting to know and express your needs, and understanding that you deserve to have those needs met by you as well as in important relationships.
Compromiser – another aspect of communicator that teaches us that compromise is an important part of meeting our needs and others by active listening, and remembering we all have needs. It’s how we communicate and react in a respectful, hopefully, calm manner, that builds healthier relationships.
Creative – While I or you may not be creative in the artistic sense, we have created a New Life!
And all these words add up to my favorite – can do! Whenever I feel overwhelmed or unsure, I tell myself I can do it, or at least I am willing to try. If it’s beyond my capabilities, at least I tried. Best of all, my inability does not delete or take away from all that I have and am working on accomplishing. Its lessons learned, limitations noted and accepted, and on to the next. Mostly, I have found that the image I create in my mind being a 4C woman is the way I begin to show up in this world. That’s powerful and empowering.
What positive words would you add?
Throughout the day, think about how you talk to yourself? Would you talk to a friend in the same manner who was seeking encouragement and support? Remember this if you start to berate yourself and think how does this fit into becoming or maintaining your 4C self? Just as WFS is a program of acceptance, always remember that this acceptance includes YOU accepting yourself this moment, this day as you learn, grow emotionally, and build up that toolbox of coping skills. The thoughts and the words you speak to yourself can be transforming, uplifting, and absolutely necessary.
Bonded in becoming and accepting ourselves as we journey on, Dee
“Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. You’re strong. You got this. Take it day by day.”
“Sometimes when you’re overwhelmed by a situation—when you’re in the darkest of darkness—that’s when your priorities are reordered.”
“In any situation, you have the right, power, and ability to choose your experience.”
#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 foster presence and shifting perspectives while encouraging growth. Before New Life, it was normal to try to evade problems or simply ignore them. This only intensified feelings of anxiety and increased alcohol tenfold. Our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., states it quite well in our WFS Program booklet when she remarks, “Denial became my biggest problem.”
Active addiction changes the way our brains work, and as we begin to understand our problems with a sober mind, it can feel overwhelming, which is completely normal. One of the ways that Jean practiced Statement #4 was to list her problems first, then go back and prioritize them. Focusing on what needs attention first can help direct our energy and lay a foundation for greater balance.
It is important to remember that NO ONE can solve everything all at once. Solving problems is a bit like eating an elephant; one bite at a time. I find it helpful to break down tasks and start with the most challenging first. If I delay, excuses come to mind, and my apprehension increases. This leads to feeling overwhelmed and an accumulation of the freeze/flight/fight response.
Here are four ways to help move through problems:
1. Identify the issue: Be honest. Is it within your ability to manage? Women can oftentimes take on problems that we do not own. Here, boundaries can be a great help.
2. List and prioritize: Have a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly list. For instance, each year, I schedule a mammogram and have dedicated August for this uncomfortable yet vital test. A daily list might include important phone calls or emails, again, doing the most uncomfortable first. For larger issues such as creating or improving a credit score, a timeframe is helpful which can lessen anxiety.
3. Try your options: Maybe there are multiple options for a specific issue, but it can be easy to feel paralyzed with choices. Try something. If you do not succeed the first time, you will have learned what doesn’t work and you tried. Accept success and failure as a part of life’s journey and keep going.
4. Reflect on how far you have come: We have solved many problems already. You learned to walk, tie shoes, and tell time. Same with sobriety and recovery, while you may have many firsts happening, you are also cementing new ways to face challenges. Acknowledge how hard you have worked and embrace gratitude. You are a 4C woman!
Hi 4C Women,
I am so grateful that Karen pointed out how difficult it is in early sobriety to handle authentic issues and problems. I was a worrier so rather than work on solving problems, I kept wringing my hands and solved nothing. In a way, that worked for me. To go deeper and be responsible for my decisions was pretty scary. I had no confidence in my ability to make decisions which started in my teenage years. In reflection, I realized that even as I grew older, I clung to the negative comments made to me and ignored the encouraging ones. It was as though it was my job to validate the negative. I no longer do that!
I have learned to accept the fear of making decisions, learn from my mistakes and enjoy my successes all while building my confidence in problem-solving. In my first year, this was probably one of the most challenging Statements to practice as I wanted to run, numb, and hide from problems. I knew I needed to build my confidence and the only way to do that was just that – do it! I was a bit anxious yet using the techniques Karen shared, was so helpful. After all, if the creator/ founder of WFS could find a way on her own to work through problems and share it with all of us, who was I not to give it a try. Since my divorce 28 years ago, I have made MAJOR decisions that changed the course of my life. Decisions that I never would have made if I didn’t have a clear mind, a fabulous recovery program as a guide, and taking the time and willingness to grow my confidence.
Here are some questions that might be helpful in your decision-making:
What are the consequences of NOT changing this situation or behavior?
What do I feel I have at stake in this situation?
What am I willing to let go of?
What benefit am I getting out of keeping things the same way?
Do I need to review the boundaries I have set and whether or not I am adhering to them?
Have I reached out to my support system for input, comfort, and understanding?
Do I care more than the other person in this situation? If I do, why?
That last question was a light bulb moment for me. I was working so hard at trying to support this person and realized that I cared more, put in more time and energy and nothing was changing except I felt unappreciated and then resentful. Those are my triggers. So back to boundary setting and following through.
Bonded in building problem-solving, and decision-making confidence, Dee
We know you have been anxiously awaiting a first look or replay of these key conference sessions and after much hard work by the volunteers on our conference team, we are happy to notify you they are available!
All conference registrants received an email with the details today.
“It’s only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis.”
“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and inverse proportion to my expectations.”
Michael J. Fox
“The only thing that will make you happy is being happy with who you are, and not who people think you are.”
#3 Happiness is a habit I am developing.
Happiness is created, not waited for.
Sobriety and Statement #3 in action go hand in hand like blue skies and sunshine. Both complement each other and when combined bring a sense of simple joy that may have been previously overlooked. Joyfully, early sobriety can be an extraordinary time of discovery, with unlimited opportunity for shifting perspectives and increasing happiness.
Newly sober, it was important for me to define what happiness is. In the past, happiness was defined by others in the form of expectations, traditions, and even family attitudes. Statement #3 provides a launching pad for discovering my inner joys and the commitment to create them.
In our WFS Program booklet, it states, “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.” What are the results of creating your own happiness? My experience in creating my own happiness has resulted in feeling a foundation of deep contentment within that enables connection. It is a bridge of stillness during rising tides and joyous moments of presence. What will you create today?
Hi 4C Women,
Connectedness is the word I feel has created happiness in my life, to be with women who understand and support me without question or judgment but with compassion. There are times when I am almost grateful for my addiction which surprises people when I say it out loud. Yet, it has brought me a New Life, a purpose, and authentic joy. I’m not sure I would have found this joy without this encouraging, life-changing program of love, empowerment, and especially emotional growth. I believe my life would have remained troubled and stagnant. So, this is why I say I am grateful for acknowledging my addiction and finding WFS. This was truly a life-changer.
Happiness has been a bit of a challenge the past few years for many people and I am among them. During the first years of the pandemic, it was difficult for me to feel the connectedness that brings me so much happiness. I was grateful for Zoom and that if there was to be a bright spot in the isolation, technology proved that we can still be together, share our feelings, give virtual hugs and even have a virtual conference! Life lesson learned – if I could continue to feel and create joy during that somewhat lonely time, I have the tools to create it no matter what the circumstances if I am willing to explore the possibilities. I sometimes have added happiness is mine by a conscious effort (part of Statement #2) while I work on creating happiness. I realize I have to make a conscious effort to create a path to joy/happiness. The important thing I need to remember is that happiness comes in moments. This Statement does not mean that we are to be happy all of the time. That would be impossible, like being perfect is impossible. What I appreciate about WFS is that I can acknowledge all of my feelings. I can work on gaining insight into them rather than numb or run away from them. This is why Statement #3 guides me to have balance in my life, that among the hurt and sadness we all experience at times, we can also feel great joy. For me, the best part is that I also understand that what brings me happiness changes over time. I love that because it provides opportunities to try different things that I would not have considered before.
What have you tried recently in creating happiness/joy?
Are you open to exploring different avenues to achieve those moments of happiness?
How do you handle disappointment if happiness isn’t the outcome of your creation? This question is important as sometimes when our plans don’t work out as hoped, we might judge our decision/choice harshly believing we’ll never get it right. So, I encourage you to learn from that and start trying something else. It’s sort of like the plan for triggers. If disappointment is a trigger, what is your plan to cope with that?
What is the last happy moment you experienced?
I love decorating over the holidays and keep my tree up all year as well as nick-nacks. When I get up each morning, I walk around my family, dining and, living room to take in all the cute decorations that make me smile. My neighbor knocks on my door when there is a beautiful sunset and that moment of nature’s beauty is memorable. I used to love going to amusement parks but my physical health doesn’t fit in with that joy. This doesn’t mean there isn’t something else I can do. Reconnecting with friends or women in WFS that I haven’t seen or heard from, brings me phenomenal joy when they respond to a text or email. Again, for me, it is connecting to others who have crossed my path, loving friendships that have enhanced my life, and being a facilitator that has given me a purpose in this life.
Bonded in discovering our joy, creating moments of happiness, and being open to new opportunities for happiness, Dee
“It’s never too late to turn on the light. Your ability to break an unhealthy habit or turn off an old tape doesn’t depend on how long it has been running; a shift in perspective doesn’t depend on how long you’ve held on to the old view. When you flip the switch in that attic, it doesn’t matter whether it’s been dark for ten minutes, ten years, or ten decades. The light still illuminates the room and banishes the murkiness, letting you see the things you couldn’t see before. It’s never too late to take a moment to look.”
“What we create within is mirrored outside of us.”
#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.
My first conscious sober act is to reduce negativity in my life.
In computer science, the term “garbage in, garbage out” is the concept that flawed or nonsensical input data produces flawed and nonsensical output. So applying this concept to our own thought patterns gives us negativity in, negativity out, which does not feel healthy or balanced. Yet there is a solution. Sobriety and Statement #2 in action help change the negative input.
In early sobriety, oftentimes thoughts are centered on simply staying sober. I challenged myself every day to combat those old patterns. Identifying my thoughts became easier, and slowly but surely new healthy patterns of thought were being input. Just like the line in our WFS Program booklet, “Our overcoming is in exact proportion to our becoming.” Positive thoughts in, positive thoughts out.
With all that is going on in the world right now, it is imperative that we manage and guard our thoughts. It is also important to understand that our energy is different each day, which can affect our thinking and how we respond. Putting Statement #2 into practice can include building healthy input and routines. Avoiding sugar (since it increases cravings), getting enough sleep, eating balanced meals, connecting with other 4C women, meditation, or writing in a journal are all great inputs. Balance in, balance out!
Hi 4C Women,
After sharing last Monday’s Statement #1 with my WFS group, Statement #2 is a great follow-up to being in charge of our well-being, and our definition of who we are. I found in my recovery that negative thoughts were a trigger to feeling unworthy of a New Life. I found additional words that trigger in some old paperwork. I want to share them with you as they were the negative words I fed myself that took a lot of hard work to turn around.
Added to my negative thoughts/triggers list:
I felt shamed
I felt guilty
I felt abandoned
I felt inadequate
I felt overwhelmed
I felt rejected
I felt resentment
The group added “I felt vulnerable”
When you add all of these feelings to the long list of last Monday’s Thoughts, it is understandable that negative thoughts require our full commitment to creating plans to let negativity out and positive thoughts in. Many of our struggles are with family as there is emotional history and our reactions reflect that. This is why I believe practicing Statement #2 is one of the most challenging. However, the challenge is so worth the freedom and empowerment you receive in return. It’s amazing how it became second nature to me to turn off a negative thought about who I was by just saying this Statement.
I encourage you to create a list of I am…. with every single positive characteristic you can think of. Ask those you trust to share the words they would use to define you. Keep that list handy and when the negative thoughts start filling your head, get out that list and have that as your truth – your authentic definition of who you are and who you are becoming.
While you are making a positive list of who you are and creating plans to reduce those negative thoughts, please add fun to your self-care. Many times we overlook the joy that is found in recovery. I have learned that having fun creates positive thoughts so I encourage you to add that to your self-care plan.
Bonded in releasing negative thoughts and empowering your recovery with all the positivity you can muster, Dee