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Monday Thoughts 9/27/2021

“A part of me wants to keep my eyes closed and pull the covers over my head, block out the light trying to be turned on in my room…. a part of me is so afraid to open my eyes because the very nature of waking up is to be aware, to be accountable, to be responsible for the healing of my life.”  ~~Sarah Blondin

“Invest time and energy in your well-being.  Create an atmosphere of emotional safety for yourself.”  ~~Amy Leigh Mercree

“Are you prepared to put in the time and energy to create change in your life?  Are you prepared to make and keep that commitment?  If not you, then who?  Invest in yourself.”  ~~Akiroq Brost


#1 I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.

I now take charge of my life and my well-being.

I accept the responsibility.


It felt easier to hide under the covers of alcohol instead of moving through difficult or painful emotions, much like a child hiding from real or imagined fears. Yet unknowingly, I was also hiding from living and the beauty of life. Sobriety and Statement #1 in action lay a reliable foundation for recovery while adding connection builds security and cements well-being.

The WFS New Life Program aids women in reclaiming and redesigning their New Life and Statement #1 leads the way.  It states in our WFS Program booklet, “New Life begins with recognizing that we have a life-threatening problem and accepting the responsibility to be in charge of our own lives.  By acknowledging our reliance on alcohol or drugs, we can begin to explore why we sought to escape.”

Throwback the covers and embrace each new day. It is yours to create and experience. Of course, it is unrealistic to expect sunshine and rainbows every day, so learning new coping skills and techniques help us move through challenges and uncertainty.  If you are new to sobriety, develop a plan of action to insure your sobriety and new goals.  Enlist the help of other 4C women by becoming engaged in the WFS Online community or if there is a face-to-face meeting near you, connect in person.  What will you create this week?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

The last quote from Akiroq Brost is the first question I asked myself when I made the decision to quit drinking.  Was I really ready to make such a drastic, strong and committed change in my life?  And of course, the follow up question – if not you, then who?  The answer is all there in Statement #1.    As I built my tool box of coping skills, I realized that while I recognized there were people and situations that triggered me, I also needed to dig deeper and uncover the feelings that created these intense reactions/responses.  I want to share a list from the Gottman Institute that helped me identify those feelings.

What triggered me?

  • I felt excluded
  • I felt powerless
  • I felt unheard
  • I felt scolded
  • I felt judged
  • I felt blamed
  • I felt disrespected
  • I felt a lack of affection
  • I felt uncared for
  • I felt lonely
  • I felt ignored
  • I felt like I couldn’t be honest
  • I felt like the bad guy
  • I felt forgotten
  • I felt unsafe
  • I felt unloved
  • I felt disconnected
  • I felt frustrated
  • I felt a lack of passion
  • I felt trapped
  • I felt like that was unfair
  • I felt like I couldn’t speak up
  • I felt manipulated
  • I felt controlled

I added:

  • I felt a lack of compassion
  • I felt a lack of caring
  • I felt invisible

What would you add to this list?

Identifying feelings is the beginning.  How to create changes in reacting and responding to these feelings is a crucial component of being in charge of your life.  This is not about ignoring feelings.  That’s what got me into trouble to begin with.  It’s understanding perhaps where or why these feelings are so intense that we would harm ourselves by making an unhealthy choice.  Instead, think about some of these triggers.  How can you take charge if perhaps you didn’t feel you could speak up, felt trapped, couldn’t be honest – anything on this list that speaks to you?

Working through these triggers helped me figure out what I needed to do to obtain and maintain my sobriety.  Let’s face it, these feelings will arise throughout our lives.  It’s our response/reaction that will protect our wellbeing and our recovery.  Feelings are just that – feelings.  Acknowledging and having awareness with a plan in mind will empower you and, in the end, be a healing process as you take responsibility and stand strong.

Bonded in empowerment, growth, acceptance that we are in charge of our lives, Dee


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Monday Thoughts 6/28/2021

“The beginning is always today.”  ~~Mary Shelley

“Never feel guilty for starting again.”~~Rupi Kaur

“The future lies ahead, calling us up, offering us a new chance to make a new choice every day, offering us the chance to go another way, to start over.  The possibilities are countless.  All you have to do is just dare to take them.”  ~~Zøe Haslie


#1 I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.

I now take charge of my life and my well-being.

I accept the responsibility.


Maybe you are completely new to sobriety, or maybe you have been trying to achieve more than a few days or weeks sober, or it is possible that you are just exploring sobriety. In any case, welcome!  Women for Sobriety is an empowering tribe of courageous women who understand and can relate to what you are thinking and feeling.  You are not alone!

Our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. writes in a Collection of Sobering Thoughts (Volume 17), “When trying to quit drinking, it is extremely important for us to be around persons who feed us positive messages.  We cannot be around persons, who when learning that we’ve quit drinking say, ‘It’s just about time.’  Comments like that we don’t need.

Self-help groups are extremely valuable because the members reinforce each other’s commitment to a life of sobriety.  Why we are quitting drinking begins to have some appeal.  It may not be much, but we will be leaning in the right direction.  Another very important result of all this is that our defiance and anger lessen.  Even our fears begin to lessen and we start to have some real good feelings about ourselves.  It begins to look like we might make lasting sobriety this time.”  Sobriety and recovery?  Yes, you can!

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

What I deeply appreciate about support groups like ours is that we continue to learn from each other.  I’ve said this before, and I will keep saying it because the insight and life experience of those courageous women who walked into a WFS meeting or into a zoom room are the encouragers for others of how to work towards a New Life.  In one word, their recovery journey brings HOPE when it is needed the most.  In a world where there are struggles, uncertainty and even fear of being able to live free and supported in a sober world, we share a commonality that doesn’t need explanation.  As Karen said, it’s important to remember we are not alone, we are accepted and encouraged to keep trying.

I found my recovery path in WFS over 33 years ago.  As a facilitator, I wanted to be sure that it was a safe place for women to share, to know they would not be judged if they faltered.  Along the way, there was a lot of bonding together as well as sharing of fabulous coping tools.  I met women who empowered each other with uplifting insights and sharing positive characteristics in each other that they themselves had yet to discover.  In the end, we all learned that it was still each woman’s responsibility to take in all this incredible encouragement and support and create the New Life they yearned for and eventually believed they deserved.

What do you consider your major stumbling block in accepting responsibility?

Do you have an action plan to work towards accepting responsibility?

How are you an encouraging supporter and giving back to others what you received in your New Life?

How does HOPE show up in your world?

What responsibilities have you taken on in your recovery that has somewhat surprised and yet created confidence in your capabilities?

What coping tool has helped you the most?

What self-care/well-being actions are you taking?

Remember, it doesn’t matter why you start, it matters why you stay.

Bonded in your willingness to start being in charge of your life and well-being; bonded in playing it forward, Dee


Thanks again for a fantastic conference! We reached over 550 women and raised over $100,000 to bring the New Life Program to women in recovery. If you attended this year’s conference, please don’t forget to fill out the conference evaluation today!

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Monday Thoughts 3/29/2021

“When I got sober, I thought giving up was saying goodbye to all the fun and sparkle, and it turned out to be just the opposite.  That’s when the sparkle started for me.”  ~~Mary Karr

“Well-being cannot exist just in your own head.  Well-being is a combination of feeling good as well as actually having meaning, good relationships and accomplishment.”  ~~Martin Seligman

“Take a shower, wash off the day.  Drink a glass of water.  Make the room dark.  Lie down and close your eyes.  Notice the silence.  Notice your heart.  Still beating.  Still fighting.  You made it, after all.  You made it, another day.  And you can make it one more.  You’re doing just fine.”  ~~Charlotte Eriksson


#1 I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.

I now take charge of my life and my well-being.

 I accept the responsibility.


New Life.  Two simple words.  Words that are packed with change, with possibility, and with being.  It is choosing to try something different.  Alcohol or drugs did not work.  That was messy, complicated, and painful, even dangerous.  New Life is not threatening and much like the above quote, it is quite the opposite.  It is the beginning of fully living.  It begins with a willingness and Statement #1.

Questions can zip through the mind when contemplating sobriety.  When will I have any fun? How will I manage __________?   What about the holidays?  Ruminating on questions like these can be a way to stall and avoid taking charge of your life.  Answers will come, along with understanding.  Early sobriety is a critical time for self-care.  You are beginning New Life, be gentle, adaptable, and curious.

Sobriety and recovery is a time for unlearning and becoming.  Create a real/virtual toolbox or folder and add helpful examples, empowering quotes or articles.  Avoid isolation and stay connected.  Give yourself permission to slow down and experience every hour differently.  Treat yourself like you have the flu.  Rest, eat small meals including protein and avoid sugar. (Sugar can dramatically increase cravings) Be active.  Get up 15 minutes earlier and begin your day by reading the Statements.  Choose one to focus on for the week.  Spend a few minutes either mentally reviewing moments of gratitude or write them down in a journal.  Learn about addiction; it is not a moral failure.  Notice your thought patterns.  Connect with other women in recovery.  Join the WFS Online Forum, or find a local face to face WFS meeting, many are getting closer to gathering in person again.  If there is not one in your area, make it a goal to start one.  Expand your interests.  If you are established in sobriety and recovery, now is a great time to examine your progress, create new goals or push through uncertainty.  Unleash the sparkle in your New Life!

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Since the pandemic, the question most asked is how will I remain sober in this isolation?  The next question, as many establishments re-open, is how will I be able to maintain my sobriety when I am back out interacting and doing activities with others?  It’s as though we’ve been out of practice in sober socializing and it can be scary.  These are unusual times yet practicing Statement #1 has not changed when it comes to being in charge of our lives no matter the circumstances.  It might be more difficult yet it needs to remain a top priority as we learn new ways of coping.

My favorite philosophy of WFS, as Karen mentioned, is that substance abuse is not a moral failure. It is how we coped with life, our feelings.  Now we have and are learning to use positive coping tools to choose a better, healthier, life-changing way to create our New Life.  One thing I never considered initially was to discover what I enjoyed in life, what brought a smile to my face, a giggle that made me feel like a kid again.  I was so serious, which wasn’t a negative thing, yet I didn’t have balance.  I was in a fight for my life and while achieving abstinence was rewarding, I realized I wasn’t having much joy in the celebration of recovery.

So, one day I decided to re-discover what joy meant to me in the present.  It took a while as I started to focus only on what brought me joy in the past until I finally realized that I had this wonderful opportunity to explore new things.  I could build up my “fun, joyful” bank by searching out new ways of bringing that much needed balance into my New Life along with a few fun things from the past such as dancing, decorating my house with snowmen in the winter and bunnies in the spring.  I was still decorating but it almost seemed like a stagnant, joyless chore.   What a beautiful awakening the first Christmas I unwrapped each ornament and knickknack.  The memories started flooding in and my heart was full with an enormous surge of happiness.

When I went to a family wedding, there was a question on the invitation – What song will make you get up and dance?  I said, “Sweet Home Alabama.”  Well, it was played and I danced with pure abandon.  All of this while sober!

As we hopefully move toward being with others on a more consistent basis, it is important to have your well-being, responsible tool box ready and accessible to use.  The transition will be different for each of us depending on our current situation.  Healing and adapting to change is a process and this is the time to practice self-care, reaching out for support as this is a sign of strength, and knowing you have the ability, capability and willing heart to be in charge of your life.

And a problem is telling us there’s something that needs solving.  Accept this part of the statement and move on to finding your personal solution to change from a problem to a resolution that leaves you in charge of your life and well-being.

Are you ready to be in charge?  What and how do you plan to solve the problem that once had you?  It may seem obvious to stop drinking or using drugs but it goes much deeper than that.  WFS was written to create a New Life beyond just not drinking or using drugs.  It is about the inner change that will sustain our recovery.

I took a WFS workshop years ago and I will always remember the facilitator saying, “We will no longer be manipulated by our addiction.  We have free will and are able to make decisions.  We have control over ourselves even if it now seems almost impossible.  You can choose to have control.”  I encourage you to keep this thought close in mind when you feel triggered.  We may have manipulated ourselves and others when we were in active addiction yet we can use that same energy to choose differently, to be in charge.

Be encouraged, be a warrior, be willing!   Dee


WFS Virtual Conference
June 11-13, 2021
Look out for registration opening this week!

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Monday Thoughts 12/28/2020

“When you quit drinking you stop waiting.”  ~~Caroline Knapp

“Recovery is an acceptance that your life is in shambles and you have to change it.”  ~~Jamie Lee Curtis

“There are women succeeding beyond their wildest dreams because of their sobriety.”  ~~Mary Karr


#1 I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.

I now take charge of my life and my well-being.

I accept the responsibility.


This week marks the start of a brand-new year filled with dreams, hopes and possibilities.  The WFS New Life Program and the 13 WFS Statements of Acceptance can guide and support sobriety and recovery no matter if this is your first day sober or your tenth year in recovery. These Statements are the cornerstone of a continuing balanced and beautiful New Life free from alcohol or drugs.

If you are new here, welcome!  Women for Sobriety is an organization of women for women.  We encourage, connect, and believe in you.  We also affectionately call ourselves “4C” women, which stands for being “Capable, Competent, Caring and Compassionate.”  Our website is filled with information that can aid you on your journey and offer ways to connect with other women on the same path.  For an introduction to WFS and to read helpful articles written by our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., click here.  If you would like information on the WFS Community including information on connecting with other women online, click here.  Remember, you are not alone.

Beginning the year with Statement #1 is an empowering way to cement your recovery and focus on continued growth.  What would you like to accomplish this year?  Leave a trauma behind?  Find a new hobby?  Learn a new language?  Connect with someone?  This week write down a set of goals for yourself and reflect on how far you have come from the previous year.  For many, 2020 has been a significantly difficult year filled with uncertainty but there were areas where your strength shown through so embrace that part of yourself.  After all, you are a strong, beautiful 4C woman!

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Even with the ups and downs of 2020, I have seen so much resiliency among 4C women.  The old adage that it’s not that you fall down, but it’s how you get up that matters, has certainly been seen over and over again this year.  I have been privileged to witness women dealing with sometimes extreme isolation and loneliness still having the courage to seek help, to keep moving forward when standing still may seem like the only thing a woman feels able to do at any given moment.  Obtaining and maintaining sobriety can be challenging during typical times but during a time of uncertainty, loss and isolation, it certainly makes it even more challenging.  However, it is absolutely possible, yes doable, with the encouraging and supportive WFS program and the 4C women involved.  What Karen said about not being alone on this journey, this path, is why building a strong support system and sharing coping tools with each other is so crucial and invaluable.  I have found that it also reinforces my desire, my need, to remain sober.  It reminds me of how much better my New Life is and what matters the most to me.  Sometimes we take for granted that we know what matters yet I am always grateful for this push to remember to keep my core values at the forefront.

As we work towards sobriety and maintaining our recovery, it is important to know what our triggers are.  Knowing them helps us to put plans into action before the thoughts of drinking or taking drugs becomes the action.  I found a list of things that may cause or trigger slips/relapses.

  1.    Stress
  2.    Becoming overwhelmed by feelings and emotions; this can happen in therapy as well when uncovering core issues
  3.    Loss of a family member, friend, co-worker, a casual acquaintance or seeing the numbers rise this year from COVID
  4.    Marital and family problems
  5.    Feelings of loneliness, shame, guilt, anger and abandonment
  6.    People’s reactions to changes you are making in your life
  7.    Fear of change and/or living without alcohol/drugs
  8.    Celebrations
  9.    Success
  10.    Habits – automatic reaction, responding

What would you add to this list?

How would or do you cope with any of the above?

You may wonder why even bring up situations/people that may cause or trigger relapse/slips when Statement #1 clearly states we are in charge of our lives and well-being, that we had a problem that once had us.  I believe this year has made me take a deeper look at how women, including myself, are handling difficult feelings and situations.  As I said, it’s important to know what triggers you so that you have a plan, even several plans.  Nancy Cross once wrote, “You don’t recover from an addiction by stopping using.   You recover by creating a New Life where it is easier to not use.  Your addiction has given you the opportunity to change your life.  Take advantage of this opportunity and use it to improve your life.”   Think of the positives that take place when you create this New Life in recovery.  This is what I kept in mind when I first became sober.  This year, I again needed that awareness more than ever.

  1.   Remembering what you said, what you did, how you got somewhere
  2.   Waking up without a hangover or having to make excuses for your absence at work or any event
  3.   Freedom – for me, this meant I was available at a moment’s notice to drive, to listen to someone in need, to say yes to a spontaneous invitation if I chose      to
  4.   Saving money – this is huge.  Some women even decided to put the money they would have used for alcohol or drugs into a jar and then donate it to          WFS.
  5.   Reputation – repairing and rebuilding
  6.   No legal consequences
  7.   Spending time doing things that are fun, creative, rewarding, you are passionate about
  8.   Being a positive role model
  9.   Living by your values, setting healthy boundaries and learning that no is a complete sentence
  10.   Building authentic, healthy relationships
  11.   Making your own choices and trusting your instincts
  12.   Knowing your hard work has created the 4C woman you always were

What would you add to this list?

Bonded in taking charge of our lives and our well-being with intention, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 6/29/2020

“The beginning is always today.”  -Mary Shelley

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for your senses to grow sharper.”  -W.B. Yeats

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”  -Plato

_______________________________________________________________

 #1 I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.

I now take charge of my life and my well-being. 

I accept the responsibility.
_______________________________________________________________

 Welcome to your New Life!  Today is a brand-new day, filled with endless possibilities and it does not matter if you are 20 years sober or less than 24 hours sober, your New Life starts right now.  This day can be anything you want it to be; you are taking charge of your life and well-being. You are accepting the responsibility.

Today, embrace this beginning.  It states in our WFS Program booklet “New Life begins with recognizing that we have a life-threatening problem and accepting the responsibility to be in charge of our own lives.  By acknowledging our reliance on alcohol or drugs, we can begin to explore why we sought to escape.”  In balanced and long-term recovery, escape is not an option, but responding with our ability is.

No matter where you are on your journey, begin today.  If today is your first day sober, connect with the women on the WFS Online Forum.  Write your first post and introduce yourself.  A simple hello is enough!  If you are cemented in sobriety, how about reaching out to someone who has just said hello. During a Zoom meeting this week, share how you moved through your first month sober.  What did you do?  What didn’t you do?  How did your body feel?  Name some feelings and share your most often used recovery tool.  As our Motto says, we are bonded together!

Hugzzz

Karen

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi 4C Women,

With the pandemic and alcohol sales skyrocketing, I am grateful for Statement #1.  This Statement helped me tremendously, especially in the beginning when I felt so intimidated to be in charge of my life.  For so long, I had been made to feel incompetent, inadequate and unable to make the right decisions.  I was honestly quite scared to be in charge of my life, however, I persevered and I survived my mistakes as WFS taught me to view these as life lessons.  I’ve had a LOT of life lessons yet knew and know I would never again give up accepting responsibility for my life and well-being.  It’s a pretty empowering place to be.

Last year our group did a Relapse Prevention Plan while acknowledging that there may be slips and relapses during the recovery process (process is the key word). 

Here’s a sample list of things that may cause slips and relapses:

           Stress

·         Dealing with the underlying issues in therapy

·         Becoming overwhelmed by feelings and emotions

·         Death of a family member, friend or other significant person in your life

·         Marital and family problems

·         Feelings of loneliness, shame, guilt, anger and abandonment

·         People’s reactions to changes you are making in your life

·         Fear of change and/or living without alcohol

·         Celebrations

·         Successes

·         Habits – familiarity

 

What would you add to this list?

This is where coping tools come in once you can identify what could cause a relapse or slip.  What would be a healthy way to cope with any of the above situations/feelings?  Do you have a plan A, B, C or whatever It takes to be in charge of a healthy choice?  There are costs (risks and disadvantages) and benefits (rewards and advantages) to our choices in active addiction.  I have expressed many times that we need to be honest with ourselves and the costs/benefits.  I was reluctant to do this exercise as I saw no benefit in my uncontrolled drinking.  However, my answers explained why at one time I did see the benefits (short term).  An example was drinking gave me an excuse for nothing being my fault, forgetting my problems, the feelings of rejection and being unlovable, immediately numbing pain.  When I did the costs, it became clear how short term and destructive the benefits were.  I didn’t realize how much until I wrote it down.  Long term costs became so obvious, i.e., hangovers, harming relationships, no room for personal growth, no problem-solving skills, health issues, legal issues.  So, while I was more than reluctant to do this exercise, I am glad I did.  There is something about seeing my life in words that has a greater impact on me.  I would encourage you to do this for your own well-being and benefit. 

Lastly, the final part of the exercise was to list the cost and rewards of NOT drinking or using drugs. I found the list of benefits much longer than the costs.  The list of costs was losing drinking friends, no quick fix for emotions and coping with intense feelings – all risky challenges for me at one time.  Yet, the list of benefits became obvious and long term.  They included improved health, memory of what I said or did, saving money, saving reputation, freedom from fears, building or rebuilding friends and relationships, and very important to me, being available.  The freedom of being available, whether it was to pick up my children or listen quietly and respectfully to another’s hurt and needs, was the best gift I received in my sobriety.  I treasure it to this day. 

What is your gift that you treasure in being in charge of your life and your well-being?  I hope you decide to take on the challenge of these exercises and share it with your WFS group or a trusted friend.  It is one way to start the process of understanding your personal costs and benefits.  The answers will provide coping tools in moving forward as you become more empowered in your life choices and well-being. 

Bonded in accepting the process of being in charge of our lives and well-being, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 3/30/2020

“It’s good to do uncomfortable things; it’s weight-training for life.”  ~~Anne Lamott

“The day she let go of the things that were weighing her down, was the day she began to shine the brightest.”  ~~Katrina Mayer

 “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”  ~~Confucius
_______________________________________________________________

#1 I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.

I now take charge of my life and my well-being.
I accept the responsibility.

_______________________________________________________________

In our current state of world events, it is critical for women in recovery to keep sobriety as our number one priority.  Yes, the daily, ever-changing news can invoke intense feelings of uncertainty, unease and fear but with Statement #1 in action we take charge of our lives and well-being.  We accept the responsibility.

Now is the perfect time to examine what your triggers might be.  Emotional triggers can change and evolve in our lifetimes, investigating what activates these feelings is essential.  When we identify what bothers us, we can take responsibility for our balance and well-being.  From Kerry Campbell, founder of the Academy of Well-Being:

“When we don’t recognize our triggers and our unhealthy reactions to them, it can lead us down a long, tortuous path.

Part of my recovering from a debilitating substance abuse problem involved understanding how triggers work and also learning healthier ways of responding to them. This is why now when I feel dismissed or rejected, I give voice to those emotions. I open my mouth and say, “You know, that hurt my feelings because…”

I have found that by giving my pain a voice, I no longer have to turn it inward upon myself and suppress it with alcohol. This helps keep me sober to this day.

Let’s go over a few other emotional trigger examples:

  • A person who felt ignored and dismissed growing up might start yelling whenever they feel they aren’t being heard.
  • A person who had emotionally unavailable parents (or partners) may get insecure whenever someone isn’t there for them.
  • A person who felt controlled in the past might get angry when they think they’re being told what to do.
  • A person who felt helpless for years might panic when they’re in a situation over which they have no control.

Do any of these emotional triggers resonate with you? Ask yourself, “How do I handle it when this occurs?” Many of us turn to food, alcohol, or other substances to dull our pain when faced with unresolved anger or other emotions.

A trigger is simply a stimulus that evokes upsetting feelings, which may lead to problematic behaviors. We all have triggers, and we all have unhealthy ways in which we deal with them. But we have the power to stop our automatic responses and re-route. The challenge is learning to identify our triggers and then recognizing them when they are happening.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~Viktor E. Frankl

Often, our triggers are experiences, situations, or stressors that unconsciously remind us of past traumas or emotional upsets. They “re-trigger” traumas in the form of overwhelming feelings of sadness, anxiety, or panic.

The brain forms an association between the trigger and your response to it, so that every time that thing happens again, you do the same behavioral response to it. This is because what fires together, wires together.

This means when neurons fire in the brain, they wire together the situation, emotions, and responses that caused that firing of the neurons in the first place. Sensory memory can also be extremely powerful, and sensory experiences associated with a traumatic event may be linked in the memory, causing an emotional reaction even before a person realizes why he or she is upset.

Habit formation also plays a strong role in triggering. People tend to do the same things in the same way. For example, a person who smokes might always smoke while he or she is driving; therefore, driving could trigger an urge to smoke, often without the smoker’s conscious thought.

Because our responses to triggers usually occur at the subconscious level, and we are completely unaware of the firing and wiring we have created, we are doomed to repeat self-destructive behaviors until we identify our triggers.

Once we know our triggers and begin to recognize them when they happen, we can see them for what they are—over-reactions to a perceived threat. Then, we can learn to respond in ways that are more life affirming, useful, and healthy for us.

There are two different types of reactions to triggers:

Emotional

We get stuck in negative emotions such as anger, sadness, or anxiety and react in extremely emotional ways—getting violent, yelling and screaming, withdrawing completely, etc.

Physical

We crave certain substances (food, sugar, alcohol, drugs, etc.) This happens because the emotional pain triggers our habitual way of indulging in some kind of physical activity that we are using to suppress the emotion or dull the pain.

When it comes to physical reactions, it helps me to create space by doing something else, for example, taking a walk.

For emotional reactions, it helps me to clearly communicate my feelings. Mostly I had to learn to understand my emotions, acknowledge them, and then give them a voice.

Instead of unconsciously reacting to a trigger/stimulus, you can learn to consciously respond to them by doing what I call The Trigger and Response Exercise.

Start by taking a sheet a paper and creating three columns. Title them: Trigger, Current Reaction, and New Response.

In the Trigger column, write each one of your triggers. You can think of these as things that “push your buttons.”

In the Current Reaction column, list how you normally react when this button is pushed.

In the New Response column, write what you could do as a conscious response instead of your normal knee-jerk reaction.

Below are a few examples:

Example 1

Trigger: When I feel that my spouse dismisses my comments or feelings about something

Current Reaction: I get angry and yell at him.

New Response: I’ll tell him my feelings were hurt.

Example 2

Trigger: When I feel insecure about my body

Current Reaction: I eat a bag of cookies.

New Response: I’ll go for a walk around the block.

Example 3

Trigger: When I get overwhelmed and stressed

Current Reaction: I binge drink.

New Response: I’ll practice deep breathing.

Now that you’ve written your list of triggers and changed how you’ll respond; you’ve got to learn to make these responses your habitual way of being.

Keep this list handy and use it as a guide. You can add new ways to manage your triggers as they come to you.

Don’t get discouraged if you falter, as it takes time to learn new ways of being. Just keep practicing them, until over time, they become your new habits. In this way, you are powerful in that you consciously own and choose how you respond to people, situations, and circumstances. You aren’t blindly reacting anymore.

Life is full of triggers, know this. But, also know you have the choice and the power to respond to those triggers in ways that are healthy and achieve better outcomes. In this way, you transform your life for good.”

These are excellent suggestions to practice Statement #1 while moving through our triggers and increasing our well-being.

Hugzzz

Karen

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Hi 4C Women,

Such great suggestions for learning healthy ways of coping in uncertain times.  It reminded me that it’s not enough to know our triggers but to have new ways of responding.  As Dr. Phil says, you have to replace an old habit with a new one.  It’s finding the new healthy one that requires introspection and a plan.  I was thinking of all the lists I have made over the years of what gives me joy and perhaps I need to incorporate those joys into my action plan. Of course, then there is the time I now have to clear out my office and closets but somehow those were not on my joyful lists!

I will say that I am grateful that we live in a day of technology where we can speak and see each other on many devices.  I grew up in a time of only landline phones, no face time, zoom or google meetings or echo devices. Heck, we didn’t even have computers, answering machines or more than 3 tv stations.  Yes, I am that old!   So, as we wait patiently or impatiently (depending on the moment), there are ways to cope as we uncover and discover those ways that are individually ours.  I wish for each of you to find your path and always remember that we are definitely in this together, supporting and encouraging when we have the strength to do so and to ask for it when we don’t.  Bonded in accepting the responsibility for our lives, Dee

 

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Monday Thoughts 12/30/2019

 

“Don’t wait for something big to occur.  Start where you are, with what you have, and that will always lead you into something greater.”  ~~Mary Manin Morrissey

“Now, every time I witness a strong person I want to know: What darkness did you conquer in your story?  Mountains do not rise without earthquakes.”  Katherine MacKenett

“You can make positive deposits in your own economy every day by reading and listening to powerful, positive, life-changing content and by associating with encouraging and hope building people.”  ~~Zig Ziglar

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#1 I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.

I now take charge of my life and my well-being. I accept the responsibility.

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Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., our WFS founder, accepted and understood that she needed to make changes to her life in order to end the pain that she felt overwhelmed with.  Jean’s alcohol abuse was slowly taking away everything she cherished and valued, so she tried something different.  Through her pain, Women for Sobriety came to life.

It is fitting to begin the New Year with Statement #1.  For those new to sobriety and recovery, this Statement is the launching pad for a balanced New Life.  For those already embracing a life free from substance, Statement #1 is a powerful reminder of the process and the opportunity to reflect on the many changes you have made.

When starting a new job, hobby or lifestyle, various tools are needed in order to move forward.  The same is true with sobriety and recovery.  Looking ahead, each Monday Thoughts will now include a tool that will correlate with this week’s Statement.  This tool will be something to add to your supply of resourceful actions and strengthen your New Life insurance policy. If there is a sobriety and recovery tool that works for you and would like to share, please email me at [email protected]  Here is our first tool of 2020!

Tool for Statement #1:

Create a 4 Point Sobriety Plan for when the urge to drink or use is triggered.  Write down at least 4 things that you will do BEFORE choosing to drink.  Such items on this list can be calling a 4C sister, asking for a chat on the WFS forum, reading the WFS Program booklet, removing yourself from people or situations, or journaling the drink all the way through to the pain. Always carry your list with you or post it in a visible area.  What will you put on your list?

Hugzzz and Happy New Year!

Karen

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Hi 4C Women,

Statement #1 has always been a strong reminder that I “once” had a problem and I have the capability to change that as long as I keep that single word “once” in my head.  It is a forward moving word to me.  The action part of this Statement reminds me that I am in charge “now” and accepting that responsibility when I feel triggered.  I love Karen’s idea of adding a recovery tool to the Monday Thoughts. I hope you will provide her with some of your coping tools that will certainly help others.

My coping tool is to reflect on the woman I once was.  I ask myself what would happen if I gave into my triggers.  How would it be to meet her again, to be her again?  I fought hard for her to become a 4C and courageous woman against tough odds.  The best way to not be her again is to have a working coping tool to leave her in the past where she can be at peace knowing the hard work brought emotional and spiritual growth where none existed before.  The best thing about coping tools is that they can change as we change and we can learn from each other.  When I reflect on the woman I use to be, I remember that when I quit drinking, I thought my world would be perfect, no problems, no issues – just a walk on the beach.   Well, to my chagrin, life not only presented some very tall challenges, I was now expected to be this wonderful problem-solving, great decision maker since drinking was the problem.  No inside changes needed as many who do not have an addiction believe.  Thank goodness for Statement 1 and the entire WFS program.  Drinking took away my clarity, reasoning and even wanting to try to change my life.  So, I had a choice.  Did I want a New Life?  Did I want to work at change?  The more I said yes to my New Life, the better equipped I was to handle life’s challenges without drinking.  Was it easy?  No.  Was it worth it?  Yes!  Life would present challenges whether or not I was drinking but, wow, what an esteem, confidence builder it is to make healthier choices and survive mistakes.  I encourage each of you to discover what it is you want in your life, what you need to discard and how you will manage to cope when it gets tough and to celebrate when it works out the way you hoped.

Bonded in building a New Life for the problem that “once” had you, your 4C sister