“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.”
Karen Kaiser Clark
“When someone comes looking for the old you, pulling triggers, but cannot find you, that’s healing.” Unknown
“Everything good that has ever happened in your life happened because something changed. So don’t be so fearful of change, ok?”
#8 The fundamental object of life is emotional and spiritual growth.
Daily I put my life into a proper order, knowing which are the priorities.
Sobriety and Statement #8 paired together offer a path of change and growth. In fact, one of my favorite quotes is simply an acronym: Choose Having A New Growth Experience = CHANGE. Yet before my New Life, growth was unheard of. I felt that was for other people and the only priority was escaping in alcohol.
In our WFS Reflections for Growth booklet our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. writes “Change is that part of life that sometimes pushes us away from a period of security into a period of insecurity.” Sobriety is an empowering change, although it didn’t feel like it at first. My mind and body screamed at me to go backward but I already knew that pain. It was time to have a new growth experience.
Oftentimes growth ebbs and flows like the tide, sometimes wildly crashing in, and other times slipping in slowly. Whichever way change takes place, the results can be the same; feelings of insecurity unsettle the status quo.
Here are a number of ways to cope with uncertainty by Christine Carter from Greater Good Magazine.
1. Don’t resist: We are living through challenging times. But resisting this current reality won’t help us recover, learn, grow, or feel better. Ironically, resistance prolongs our pain and difficulty by amplifying the challenging emotions we are feeling.
2. Invest in yourself: The best resource that you have right now for making a contribution to the world is YOU. When that resource is depleted, your most valuable asset is damaged. Self-care is not selfish.
3. Find healthy comfort items: One of the most important ways we can invest in ourselves is to comfort ourselves in healthy ways. If we are to stay flexible, we need to feel safe and secure. When we feel uncertain or insecure, our brain tries to rescue us by activating our dopamine systems. This dopamine rush encourages us to seek rewards, making temptations more tempting. Think of this as your brain pushing you toward a comfort item…like a glass of alcohol instead of a reasonable bedtime. Or an entire pan of brownies. Or an extra little something in your Amazon cart. Make a list of healthy ways to comfort yourself. Reflect on what you are grateful for, watch something funny, call a friend.
4. Pay attention: The opposite of uncertainty is not certainty; it’s presence. Instead of imagining a scary and unknown future, we can bring our attention to our breath. From there, we can check in with ourselves. Notice what emotions you are feeling, and where in your body you feel those emotions. Bring curiosity and acceptance to your experience.
5. Find meaning in the chaos: Meaning and purpose are wellsprings of hope. When the world feels scary or uncertain, knowing what meaning we have for others and feeling a sense of purpose can ground us better than anything else.
Hi 4C Women,
Absolutely love what Karen has shared. Such great and doable insightful coping tools in how to gain emotional and spiritual growth as written by Christine Carter. At the beginning of my recovery journey, I valued the guidance of each Statement yet wasn’t sure how to actually make it happen. These coping tools provide a clear guide to both start and continue integrating Statement #8. As I read each of these coping tools, I was reminded that growth is a continuum.
Change was one of my greatest fears as I felt any change, even positive, would only validate the negative definition of me that I had created. If I required changing how I viewed myself then I was right about my definition of myself. Looking back, I wonder why I was so fearful of seeing myself in a positive way, and why I would rather continue to see myself as worthless. I believe it goes back to my need for personal spiritual growth. As long as I was unable to forgive myself, how could I value myself through personal growth? So, I treaded slowly into change and thought, wow, now I’m finished with my personal growth. However, I learned that as life changes, different challenges occur. I must continue to grow and change as well. I am grateful for that life lesson. I also learned another invaluable life lesson in self-forgiveness. While I could not change the past, I could change my behavior and responses to people and situations in the present. It’s actually an empowering feeling which I have always loved about WFS. I am an empowered woman which goes to coping tool #1 – Don’t resist. I related to the prolonging of pain and what a difference it made when I stopped resisting.
Think about what you are resisting and why. If you have stopped resisting, share what that has meant to you. What have you learned about yourself in the process?
I can always tell when I am in chaos by my surroundings. It’s a good thing because I have learned to use my surroundings as a clue to pay attention to my needs. The question is why am I neglecting my needs and what are my plans to change that? What clues let you know when you are in chaos or heading toward chaos? What self-care plans do you have in place? Sometimes it’s about taking a break. I call it a mental health retreat, giving myself time to reflect and heal.
My spiritual growth has given me hope and my personal growth has given me a purpose. I have also learned that my purpose changes as I change. I am not stuck in a purpose that no longer serves me. There is freedom and joy in that. Think about your purpose. Has it changed? How is it serving your personal or spiritual growth? For those who might fear any change, I hope that those who have welcomed and experienced positive change through the WFS New Life program will share how they became willing to change and how it made a positive difference in their lives.
Bonded in willingness to change, to redefine our personal and spiritual growth as we open up to new opportunities for growth, Dee