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Monday Thoughts 10.3.22

“Saying no to others is saying yes to yourself.”

Jack Canfield

“No is necessary magic. No draws a circle around you with chalk and says, ‘I have given enough.”

McKayla Robbin

“No is a complete sentence. It does not require an explanation to follow. You can truly answer someone’s request with a simple No.”

Sharon Rainey


#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

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


NO is a powerful word with two simple letters, yet the desire to add something afterward can feel like a natural extension. Growing up, I felt the need to validate any NO uttered with something…. anything. The word NO hung in the air, and the silence following it felt distressing. The more I tried to soothe someone else with my NO, a part of myself was lost along with personal boundaries. However, sobriety and Statement #2 in action changes that.

Learning to adjust to a New Life without alcohol or drugs begins with NO. This is a healthy boundary that gets stronger each time it’s used. NO can challenge negative thoughts, reducing anxiety and/or fears. NO announces that you care for yourself. NO begins to feel more comfortable and settles into a routine. NO engages trust in ourselves. In our WFS Program booklet, it states, “Our overcoming is in exact proportion to our becoming.”

Here is a brief excerpt from Dr. Zoe Shaw on boundaries:

“Boundaries are internal—and sometimes external—lines that separate yourself and your will from someone else’s. People with healthy boundaries value themselves as much as they do someone else. People with unhealthy boundaries either undervalue or overvalue themselves in comparison with others.

A physical boundary clearly communicates: This is how close you can get to me, and this is how much of my body I will allow you to engage with.

A professional boundary clearly communicates: This is how I will communicate with you, and these are my lines for connection and negotiation.

An emotional boundary clearly communicates: This is how deeply I will share my world and feelings with you, and this is how much of yours I will entertain.

A personal boundary clearly communicates: These are the actions I will tolerate in my relationships, and these are the ones I will not.

Expect people to impinge on your boundaries. Your self-care goal this month is to learn to better set and communicate your boundaries and to hold strong when others push against them. Although boundaries may feel like a series of noes, every time you say no to something you are really saying a resounding yes to yourself and any opportunities that will better serve you both in the now and in the long run.

A boundary is not a rule that you impose on someone else. It is a line that you draw for yourself.”

Hugzzz,

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Boundaries – a skill to promote our self-care in a powerful way. I appreciate the descriptions of specific boundaries that Karen shared. It helps to define the goals for a particular situation and guidelines on how setting boundaries impacts relationships once the boundaries are clearly defined.

It was quite difficult to start setting boundaries as I was such a people pleaser. I love how Karen ended her message with what a boundary is and is not! I am going to keep that in mind when I question why boundaries are so challenging to set and keep, to remember that boundaries are a line I draw for myself. It seems the most difficult is with family because there is emotional history and sometimes complicated, conflicting feelings.

I have learned so many life-changing lessons through WFS. I have learned that sometimes boundaries need to be re-established, and reset. I know this when I feel my boundaries have been invalidated by another person’s words or actions. I used alcohol to escape my feelings of inadequacy and believed I was not entitled to set boundaries. I just wanted to keep the peace and that only led to more self-destructive behavior. I forgot what my needs were in this downward spiral and truly lost my voice. WFS provided a way for me to take back my power in small increments until one day I realized that I had not only uncovered my needs, I was able to express them. That was my first adventure into risk-taking and it felt so empowering. I also learned that if I permitted negative thoughts to be the predominant message I spoke to myself, speaking my authentic needs became intimidating and kept me stuck.

WFS helped me discover that I was worthy of meeting my needs and Statement #2 reinforced that negative thoughts about who I am truly hurt me more than anyone. I began to recognize that I had it within me to meet my own needs. It doesn’t mean that I stop expressing my needs. For me, it means that I can move on, and love myself enough to meet my needs as best I can. I am all about healing relationships whenever possible unless the relationship has become so toxic, it is harmful to my well-being. I also realize how important it is to set boundaries that promote healing. So, again, I go back to the most difficult boundary setting for me – family. These are the boundaries I keep revisiting, work on keeping the communication open, and listening to understand how my boundary is being perceived. Nothing changes without being able to communicate our feelings, our needs, and our path to achieve positive change in developing healthy relationships. I feel expressing my needs is how I show self-respect and honor myself.

What is the most challenging boundary you have set?

What was the outcome? How did it change your relationship with that person?

How would you describe a “healthy” relationship when it comes to your boundaries?

Have you been able to identify toxic people causing harm to your well-being? Have you been able to let go of those relationships? If not, why? This is a deeper question for greater introspection.

Are you open to listening to another’s perception of the boundary you set?

Are you willing to revisit or reset a boundary? This question is important, especially if you learn that the boundary you originally set is not clearly understood by the recipient of the boundary.

What have you learned about yourself in setting boundaries?

Bonded in setting boundaries that reduce negativity in our lives, put our well-being first, and create healthier relationships, Dee


 

Aloha Rock Stars!

We would like to invite you to the third event sponsored by The Creative Crew!

A glorious, autumn showcase of handmade items by our sisters are for sale. There will be knitted items, pine needle baskets, quilted items, a glass piece, greeting cards galore, and other delights.  Buy something for a gift and at the same time support Women For Sobriety, Inc. (WFS)!

Some items will be auctioned and others are offered at “Buy It Now” for a set price. All funds (100%) support WFS.

What you need to do: 
·Register or Sign In to the Holiday Sale Catalog at The Creative Crew Holiday Sale.
TIP:  If you registered for prior events like The Creative Crew Blooming Sale, your login is still active. If you do not remember your password, you can request an email to reset the password.
·You may now preview items online as they are added to the catalog!

The Creative Crew Holiday Sale opens at 11am Eastern US, on Friday, November 4 … and closes with the auction ending at 10 pm Eastern US, on Saturday, November 5.

The Creative Crew
Enthusiastic Creators
Women For Sobriety, Inc.

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Monday Thoughts 7.4.22

women for sobriety i will reduce negative thinking

“Pay attention to what you pay attention to.”

Amy Krouse Rosenthal

“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.”

Sharon Salzberg

“What we create within is mirrored outside of us.”

Shakti Gawain


#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!

Hugzzz

Karen


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


Swag still available, remember to keep bloomin’

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Monday Thoughts 4.4.22

women for sobriety woman thinking with journal decorative image

“Relationships with negative people are simply tedious encounters with porcupines. You don’t have the remote knowledge how to be close to them without quills being shot in your direction.”

Shannon L. Alder

“Your thoughts become your desires; your desires lead to your actions; your actions change your life.”
Bodhi Sanders

“Change your attitude and you change your life. You cannot control what happens to you in your life, but you can always control how you respond to it. The way you choose to respond is a reflection of your attitude. By changing your attitude, you also change your perspective and change your life.”

Roy Bennet


#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

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


What does it feel like to be around someone who is constantly negative? Does it feel light and airy? Do you want to spend more time with them or do you feel drained, knowing those sharp porcupine quills are heading in your direction? Take a moment to reflect on the energy you bring into a room, into a relationship, into an experience. Is there anything that you need to let go of? Statement #2 in action helps to identify, manage, and release negativity.

In our WFS Program booklet, it states “Our overcoming is in exact proportion to our becoming. Negative thoughts can destroy us in many ways. An important aspect of negative thoughts 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 from reality.” Our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. knew how important it was to reduce negativity and created this Statement to follow directly after taking charge of our lives. 

This week, pay attention to your thoughts. Jot some down in a journal or list a few with bullet points. Do you see any patterns arising? Are you able to embrace how far you have come already? What kind of energy do you bring when you walk in the door? Can you find the value or lesson within a negative situation? How does it feel looking within yourself? At the end of the week, save what you’ve learned and check back often to review. Maybe you have overcome something you thought would never leave. Receive your accomplishments and stay on the lookout for those pesky quills!

Hugzzz

Karen


Dear 4C Women,

Dr. Phil has asked many times on his show, “how much fun are you to be around?” Before recovery, I would say not much unless I was under the influence. I thought I was a lot of fun then. The first time I experienced fun sober, I was completely taken by surprise. It was one of those aha moments filled with hope and the possibility for authentic joy in the future – as a sober woman! It dawned upon me that I had such negative self-talk, negative feelings about who I was, and just feeling empty and sad especially when I was alone and letting the wall of pretense down. From my life experience, I understand negative thoughts and negative patterns. Sometimes when I reflect on my childhood, I wonder if some of my experiences led me to be fearful of fully expressing myself. I recall one time when I was around 12 and expressed anger. My mom and sister burst out laughing because I never expressed anger so this was comical to them. I was always the “good” girl who quietly behaved, not causing any trouble. That experience taught me that my authentic feelings wouldn’t be taken seriously and to hold those feelings close to my chest. So, pretending became my way of fitting in. Through WFS, I have learned to express myself, share my feelings without fear, I could feel joy sober, and even be funny at times! I feel true to myself.

I have also learned to take responsibility for my part in a negative reaction – not guilt or shame for my reaction. Unhealthy guilt and shame are blockers to learning.  Healthy guilt is acknowledging we may have harmed or hurt someone with our words or actions and we take responsibility. In fact, I have learned a lot about my capabilities in handling negativity, whether it is mine in thinking reactively or it is coming from another person or situation. In the past, I would not have been open to exploring any of this. It was either all of my fault or theirs. As I mentioned last week, I wore my blame crown proudly in order to not take responsibility for my part which left a void for learning. WFS is all about change and this is one of many changes I will be forever grateful for. I consider myself a seeker of information and within that seeking, I am also a discoverer of the lesson. 

Nancy Cross talked about button-pushers as teachers. That was a concept I had not thought of until she wrote about it. Button pushers as teachers? And that’s when another aha moment came to light. Those button-pushers taught me to let go or stand up to a principle if my heart says it is worth it. And to do so as calmly and respectfully as possible. I have learned that if the relationship is important enough, I will share my thoughts. If not, I hit the delete button on the button pusher. I choose not to waste my time and effort with those who are not open to listening or the possibility of understanding my point of view. This is a process as every once in a while, I feel the instant reaction start. I try to understand that person’s point of view as I want them to hear and understand mine. It’s a two-way street yet in the end, it is our choice to let negativity be the only response or reflection, growing, understanding, listening, and learning to be the response. 

How much fun are you to be around?

How do you currently respond to button-pushers?

What is the lesson you are learning about yourself as you pay attention to your thoughts, and your reactions to negativity?

Bonded in reducing negativity, being open to finding the lesson, releasing the porcupine, and loving yourself through it all, Dee


WFS Annual Weekend Conference Registration OPEN!
Save $50 with an “early girl” discount before 4/22!

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Monday Thoughts 1.3.2022

women for sobriety decorative image woman stretching

Monday Thoughts

Negative thinking is contagious.  Do your best not to dwell on negativity, it will consume you and prevent you from becoming your best self.”  ~~Germany Kent

“Believing in negative thoughts is the single greatest obstruction to success.”  ~~Charles F. Glassman

“Don’t ever stop believing in your own transformation.  It is still happening even on days you may not realize it or feel like it.”  ~~Lalah Delia


#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

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


What? Me? Negative? Uh, no way. Never.  These are some words that were frequently a part of my vocabulary before New Life.  Denial kept me locked in active addiction for years, yet moving into sobriety was the beginning of CHANGE, an acronym for Choose Having A New Growth Experience.

Sobriety and Statement #2 in action create a sense of balance and can offer ease and contentment.  Starting with awareness of thoughts, which can feel overwhelming at first, opens the door to identifying, understanding and lastly, managing thoughts.

In our WFS Program booklet it states “Negative thoughts can destroy us in 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 from reality.”

Here are some examples of negative thinking along with opportunities to change them:

1.      All or nothing, or black/white thinking:

“I will never be able to _______.”  Instead, “I may or may not achieve ______ the first time I try, but I will do my best and can learn along the way.”  What is in the gray area in between?  Will this line of thinking help or hurt me?  Or take me further towards or further away from sobriety?

2.      Catastrophizing:

“It will be a disaster” or “It will never work.” Instead, “I am open to experiencing what is in front of me.”  Or “I have everything I need within me to succeed or move through this.”  Challenge these thoughts and embrace growth.

3.      Shoulding or blaming:

“They/he/she/I should do/don’t/be__________”.  Instead, let go of judgments or blame and focus on compassion “They/he/she/I am trying to understand and they/he/she/I am not their/my behaviors and/or embrace that you do not have all the answers.

4.      I’m not good enough:

“I don’t measure up.” Instead, name your strengths.  No one but you has your set of insights and understanding.  You are an important part of the human experience and you are worthy of receiving what you want in life.  You are capable, competent, caring and compassionate.

Hugzzz

Karen


Dear 4C Women,

Negative thoughts are a natural thought process.  It is how we hold onto them, how they cloud our thinking/decision making and hinder our ability to learn not only how to stop them from becoming harmful but also ways to change our thinking process.  It is what I appreciate about WFS.  We are given tools to help us achieve a positive attitude when it seems impossible.  I mention this often because I feel so strongly about it and that is how critical it is to acknowledge our feelings.  How can we learn to change our thoughts, our actions, if we don’t acknowledge authentic feelings?  If I am angry, disappointed, sad or a myriad of other feelings, how can I gain insight as to why if I pretend they don’t exist?

I have been struggling with anger and disappointment over a family issue and it’s taking a lot of digging deep to figure out why I am so affected and what is within my control to change it.  What I’ve discovered is the only control I have is how I approach it after I uncover the deepest feeling.  That feeling is fear.  It would be so much easier if it were my personal issue because I have control over my response, my willingness to be proactive and do what I feel needs to be done.  Thankfully, even though I am filled with fear, I have learned to speak my voice, to be heard.  And therein is the most challenging issue of all – to be heard when I speak my truth, to be understood. Yet I won’t let that possibility of being dismissed or ignored stop me.  My words may not be received as I hoped yet if I say nothing, then nothing changes, no seed is planted for a better communication and a path towards healing.   As I look at Karen’s examples, I realize I have experienced all of the negative thoughts and gratefully, have been able to put into action many of the empowering suggestions she made.

This is from the Inner Critic (known also as our inner dialog, scripts or tapes) workshop Nina and I presented at a WFS conference:

Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Patrick Overton

To stop the inner critic, the negative thoughts, start creating an awareness when the inner critic begins its attack and change the message asap!  You can name your inner critic as I have and when it appears, I look over my shoulder and flick it off with a few strong words.  I have the ability to reduce its impact but only if I am aware of its presence.  Old messages, old tapes are a big clue that this is no longer your truth in the present.

This is from the Inner Critic (known also as our inner dialog, scripts or tapes) workshop Nina and I presented at a WFS conference:

Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Patrick Overton

To stop the inner critic, the negative thoughts, start creating an awareness when the inner critic begins its attack and change the message asap!  You can name your inner critic as I have and when it appears, I look over my shoulder and flick it off with a few strong words.  I have the ability to reduce its impact but only if I am aware of its presence.  Old messages, old tapes are a big clue that this is no longer your truth in the present.


2022 Women for Sobriety Conference – Call for Presentations
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Monday Thoughts 10/4/2021

“You are not your feelings. You just experience them. Anger, sadness, hate, depression, fear. This is the rain you walk in. But you don’t become the rain. You know the rain will pass. You walk on. And you remember the soft glow of the sun that will come again.” ~~Matt Haig

“I gave myself permission to feel and experience all of my emotions. In order to do that, I had to stop being afraid to feel. In order to do that, I taught myself to believe that no matter what I felt or what happened when I felt it, I would be okay.” ~~Iyanla Vanzant

“Feelings or emotions are the universal language and are to be honored. They are the authentic expression of who you are at your deepest place.” ~~Judith Wright


#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

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


A rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions has washed through me the last few weeks; we said goodbye to our cuddly, chocolate chihuahua, Tigger. Yet it is because of sobriety and recovery, and practicing the WFS Statements that I am able to accept, understand and process what I am feeling, no matter how uncomfortable or scary the emotion.

Before my New Life, grief frightened me. Somehow, I thought if grief got close to me it would swallow me up. I worked hard at keeping it at bay or not feeling it, whether it be shoving it down deep inside or trying to smother it with alcohol. Of course, grief worked its way to the surface no matter how much I drank or tried to hide it. The WFS New Life Program and especially Statement #2 create a portal for processing difficult thoughts and emotions.

My relationship with Tigger felt different because I respond differently. Living in sobriety when he arrived in our home felt special. This dog would know the real me. I felt grateful and cherished this four legger with new perspective, so when he was diagnosed with cancer late last year, we made the best of it. Saying goodbye is never easy but living the Statements has helped me walk into these difficult emotions and begin to move through them. Giving myself permission to experience the depth of my emotions by sharing feelings, journaling and listening to guided grief meditation is a form of self-care and an empowering way to reduce negativity. The emotional pain may still be present, but today I stand in sobriety and strength.

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Trust = ourselves, our intuition, our feelings that signal when we need healing, support and self-care. I have learned a lot about myself through Statement #2. I realized that my thoughts were constantly negative which projected into my conversations and self-talk. I really wasn’t aware of it until I started practicing this Statement. It took a lot of pausing before spewing my negativity. I eventually created a balance because I didn’t want to deny my feelings of frustration, anger, disappointment, etc. That denial is how I justified my drinking rather than learning how to express myself in a calm, clear manner. If I experienced typical feelings of being unheard/ignored, rather than become completely negative or drinking the thoughts away, I worked on a plan for change. My words became my empowerment. I had a choice to express myself confidently, not in anger, but in my truth. It took a while to feel comfortable doing that and every now and then, it can still be quite challenging.

The important lesson is that I am willing to continue learning and practicing. Negative thoughts, especially about who I am as a person, can cause such pain and I knew I had to stop believing old messages that no longer served me. The moment my self-talk becomes self-demeaning, I stop and ask myself, is this who I am right now, this moment, or is it a false description from someone else in my long ago past? It’s a lot to overcome yet I rather work on that then be stuck with unproductive messages that stop my positive, self-affirming progress in its path. Nancy Cross once sent a message that said, “Don’t make your thoughts your prison.” Wow! I had the keys to unlock the prison I was holding onto with my negative thoughts. I still use that phrase when I catch myself in that once in a while moment.

In the end, it’s about setting boundaries with your thoughts and your relationships. Whether it’s yourself repeating negative definitions of who you are (false definitions) or relationships that keep you stuck in negative thinking by putting you down, keeping the past in the present, remember you have the keys to unlock those thoughts, the tools and courage to make the necessary boundary changes.

Something to think about. Changing your life starts with changing your mind. Who you think you are is who you will become. True transformation begins when you understand that you alone are in charge of your reactions-even in the most difficult circumstances (Author Judy Lief)

1. Your own thoughts can trap and undermine your potential for growth. What unhealthy thought patterns would you like to examine and unravel?

2. When you focus your thoughts, they have more power. What one thought would you like to hold in your mind this month?

Bonded in courage, truth, growth, boundary setting and the keys to unlock it all, Dee


Conference Planning Watch Party!

Grab your popcorn & join us for a night of fun as we gear up for the 2022 Conferences.  Do you remember how magical Conference 2021 was?  Wouldn’t you like to be part of the behind the scenes effort?  Join us to learn all about Conferences 2022 & get involved!!

Saturday, October 9, 7pm EDT

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89424437953?pwd=N3Y4OHZpblp1OFYzNGFOc25kT0NvQT09

Meeting ID: 894 2443 7953

Passcode: 529849

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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

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Monday Thoughts 4/5/2021

“Feelings or emotions are the universal language and are to be honored.  They are the authentic expression of who you are at your deepest place.”  ~~Judith Wright

“You don’t have to be a positive person all the time.  It’s perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared and anxious.  Having feelings doesn’t make you a negative person.  It makes you human.”  ~~Lori Deschene

“I need to see my own beauty and to continue to be reminded that I am enough, that I am worthy of love without effort, that I am beautiful, that the texture of my hair and that the shape of my curves, the size of my lips, the color of my skin, and the feelings that I have are all worthy and okay.”  ~~Tracee Ellis Ross


#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

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


Have you ever watched a toddler express themselves?  One moment they can jump at the chance to try something new or be absolutely wide open in varying degrees of delight or distress.  Kids are swept up in the moment; living in the present without regard to how they are perceived.  Little ones have not learned how to emotionally regulate themselves or disconnect from their feelings. Somewhere along the lines of learning and growing, we can learn short cuts to experiencing this natural process.

Addiction is an attempt to escape this progress.  Instead of experiencing and moving through thoughts or emotions, alcohol or drugs in effect, put a barrier in front of this development. This can lead to an excess of negativity. For instance, instead of feelings of wonder or curiosity, we can react with an overabundance of worry or dread to something different.  In our WFS Program booklet it states “Negative thoughts can cripple our spirit and paralyze thinking.  They often come from feelings of inadequacy.  We invite bitterness into our lives when we think negatively of ourselves.”  Here is where Statement #2 in action aides us in creating and then maintaining balance.

Challenging negative thoughts begins with awareness of them.  In sobriety, our mind is clearer and we have access to our thought process.  Here are 4 tips in managing negative thoughts:

  1. Examine your thoughts: Slow down and examine what you are thinking.  It is natural to feel overwhelmed by thoughts when you first start to acknowledge them.
  2. Identify patterns:  Write down your thoughts.  Are some of your thoughts repetitious?  Look for patterns.
  3. Challenge usefulness of negative thoughts: If your thoughts are telling you that you are not worthy, challenge that thought by asking how that thought helps you.
  4. Add affirmations:  Counter negative thoughts by affirming something positive about yourself.  If you are unable to do _______and your thoughts say you are useless, counter it by affirming that you have the ability to learn, practice and then achieve your goal.

 

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I am a firm believer that words are powerful.  They can hurt and they can heal.  I think back to a meeting I had with my guidance counselor as a high school junior.  She looked straight at me and told me I was not college material.  What I heard and internalized is that I was stupid.  I took the commercial course in my senior year and because of my strength in shorthand and typing, I got one of the highest scores in my application to work in Washington, D.C.  Even though I was proud of my accomplishments, I truly never felt completely confident and thought any minute they would see I was a fraud as I saw myself.

Sadly, negative thoughts permeated my life.   When I started working at the YWCA in NJ as a secretary, I never dreamed I would eventually be promoted to the Director of the Women’s Center Dept.  I was still waiting for them to realize they made a mistake, waiting for the director to call me in to her office as the counselor did in high school and tell me I wasn’t leadership material.  In fact, after one year I got my first negative review being told I was a maintenance person, nothing new established.

I remember going to my first WFS conference that year and feeling so defeated.  Well, that conference was a life changer.  It finally sunk in that I had the choice to change my thinking or continue devaluing myself.  By the end of the next year, I created 17 new programs and brought WFS to the YW.  Initially, Statement #2 asked us to “remove” negativity from our lives.

I am so appreciative of the new wording in asking us to “reduce” negativity.  For me, reducing seemed natural and in line with WFS philosophy that I would not deny my feelings but work through them.  The second quote Karen shared with us speaks to my heart because feelings are just that and what I have always loved about WFS is the ability to acknowledge and express our feelings authentically.  There were days when I was always looking for the other shoe to drop because I felt I didn’t deserve anything good in my life and the consequence would be a negative outcome which I truly believed I deserved.  There was no being in the moment, enjoying a positive experience.  In reflection, I realize that I missed a lot of wonderful moments due to my negative thoughts.

I finally began to bask in the positive moments.  What I realized is that I still had strong negative thoughts about me, my worthiness and that was when I understood the process of reducing negative thoughts.  If I were to learn how to love myself, those negative thoughts about my being had to be exchanged with positive, life affirming words.  Karen’s questions 3 and 4 are exactly what is needed to start the process of self-love from negative, self-devaluing words to uplifting, empowering words.  And while negative thoughts destroy our well-being, it can also harm relationships, friendships and our ability to set boundaries.  Loving ourselves, promoting our well-being can heal ourselves and our relationships.

What empowering words are you using to define yourself?

What is in your tool box to reduce the negative thoughts either about yourself or life in general?

Are you ready for a negative reduction and an increased positive buildup?

Bonded in making positive thoughts the habit you are developing, Dee


June 11-13, 2021

The WFS Virtual Conference 2021 will feature three Keynote Speakers this year, as well as 18 different presentations over the course of the weekend! Six WFS Zoom meetings are scheduled! Saturday is not only filled with presentations, but also the WFS Auction will be held as a virtual silent auction! Later Saturday evening we’ll Say YES! to WFS with a paddle raise fundraiser as well as some fun lead by the WFS online facilitators. This year there will be Ice Breaker activities the week before Conference as well. Hope to see you there!

Agenda (not including Icebreakers) – all times US/Eastern:

Friday, June 11
7:30-9:30 pm Opening Ceremony & Keynote Speaker Rebecca Ray
9:15-10:15 pm WFS meeting

Saturday, June 12
8:30-9:30 am WFS meeting
10:00-11:30 am Breakout Sessions I –choose from 1 of 4 presentations!
12-1 pm Keynote Speaker Mary Beth O’Connor
1:30-3 pm Breakout Sessions II Choose from 1 of 4 presentations!
3:30-4:30 pm WFS meeting
5:00-6:00 pm WFS Auction!
6:00-7:30 pm Celebrate the Possibilities! Fun-Fundraising-Entertainment
10-11:00 pm WFS meeting

Sunday, June 13
8:30-9:30 am WFS meeting
10-11:30 am Breakout Sessions III –choose 1 of 5 presentations!
12-1 pm Keynote Speaker Ester Nicholson
1:30-3 pm Breakout Sessions IV — choose 1 of 5 presentations!
4:00-5:00 pm Closing Ceremony
5:30-6:30 pm WFS meeting

Register Now

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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

 

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Monday Thoughts 10/5/2020

“Don’t be afraid of your fears.  They’re not there to scare you.  They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”  ~~C. Joybell C.

“Being a positive person doesn’t mean you don’t feel negative emotions.  It means you have faith in your ability to get through tough situations, hope for better days and the willingness to see beyond the drama.”  ~~Leticia Rae

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.  Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language.  Do not now look for the answers.  They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them.  It is a question of experiencing everything.  At present you need to live the question.  Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”  ~~Rainer Maria Rilke

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#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

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

 ___________________________________________________________________

In the past, sobriety and recovery terrified me.  The thought of giving up alcohol felt like the end of the world; it was that powerful and kept me from taking any action.  Yet today, I would not trade my recovery for anything.  Statement #2 in action assists in preventing relapse and lays a foundation for balance.  Recovery has given me this New Life and I continue to connect, learn, and feel fulfilled, something that was desperately missing while drinking. 

The WFS New Life Program encourages self-exploration and Statement #2 leads the way.  Sometimes negativity can feel paralyzing at first, then the flight or fight response can kick in but the 4C women on the WFS Forum taught me to sit and examine these thoughts.  It felt so uncomfortable at first, and the desire to lash out was strong.  But after reflecting on the negative thoughts, they lost their strength and my fears diminished.  This was a brand-new way of experiencing life Instead of being tightly attached and wallowing in negativity, I was learning to move through it.

 Here is a simple practice from J. Korda that can aid in movement through difficult thoughts or emotions:

1.      Bring to mind a frustrating interpersonal event.  It can be anything that you found irritating, such as a small interaction or hearing unpleasant news.  It should be something that, when you think about it, fills your mind with thoughts of how unfair or difficult life can be or how unhelpful others can be.

2.      Instead of retelling the entire story in your mind, just hold a single image that best evokes the irritating nature of this experience.  What you are doing here is inviting the emotion of frustration or disappointment to arise.  At the same time, keep yourself comfortable, with your arms and legs relaxed.

3.      Hold the provocative image in your mind and patiently activate your feelings of irritation, frustration, or disappointment until you can feel them stirring somewhere in the front of your body—in the belly, chest, throat or face.  Try to create a welcoming environment for these feelings.  Resistance only makes the anger stronger and more painful, and it will stimulate the ‘unfairness of it all’ thought that got us nowhere.  Create a space where the emotion can play out, without trying to get rid of anything.

4.      Every time your mind tries to intervene and retell the story, or launches into criticisms or ideas about the way the world should be, bring it back again to the body.  If you can locate feelings of frustration or disappointment in your body, you can send soothing, nurturing messages from the mind to the feeling itself: ‘It’s okay.  You’re allowed to feel that way.  You’re safe now.’  Connect with the anger the way you would talk to a child you love and who is upset.  It’s not the words that matter here.  It’s the caring voice and calming awareness with which you greet your feeling that matters.”

This week invite at least one negative thought to move through and examine the process.  Share your experience with other 4C women from the WFS Forum or your Face to Face group or journal your experience.  Set a goal to move through something each week and chart your journey. 

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

When I think of negative thoughts destroying only myself, I think of the negative words I would use in the past to define myself before WFS and recovery.  They certainly shattered any possibility of building up my self-esteem or worthiness.  They only added to my using alcohol to turn off the loud negative words shouting in my ear – you are unworthy, unlovable, inadequate.  I love the exercise Karen shared, especially point 4.  I truly believe that denying our feelings, which is very different than staying stuck in them, can lead to them growing larger, leaving the opportunity for healing, understanding or personal growth at a standstill.  The use of alcohol or drugs simply and temporarily covers up the pain without any forward growth toward self-love.  I have found that acknowledging, rather than numbing my feelings, has helped tremendously in accepting my self-worth.  Also, learning to talk to myself as I would a friend or loved one, with compassion and gentleness, has taught me awareness of my negative thoughts/self-talk.  For me, awareness of my daily self-talk was the key to creating lasting change. 

I was asked in a book group to reflect on the challenges/struggles I have overcome and how they defined me.  My first immediate thought was recognizing how much I have grown and changed from the days of not liking myself, to seeing only the negative of who I believed I was for so long.  In fact, I was so accustomed to automatically going to the negative that I actually didn’t realize how much I was blocking the process of change and growth.  My second thought was extreme gratitude for WFS and the tools that taught me to change my definition of me from the negative ones to the positive ones I have today.  And I know I have grown because I have that positive mental list in my head that answered the questions easily.  This is a big change from the list of years past.   WFS taught me awareness and how to practice positive self-talk.  How would you answer the questions?  Are you aware of the words you use to describe/define yourself?  How have they changed?  If you feel that there hasn’t been much change, perhaps doing the exercise Karen has shared will work towards silencing the negative definition of you and changing each word with who you are today and not someone else’s old, untruthful definition of you?  It’s worth a try! 

Bonded in reducing negativity, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 4/6/2020

“A negative attitude drains, a positive attitude energizes.”  ~~Lindsey Rietzsch

“Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.”  ~~Proverb

“Try giving up all the thoughts that make you feel bad, or even just some of them, and see how doing that changes your life.  You don’t need negative thoughts.  All they have ever given you was a false sense that suffers.”  ~~Gina Lake

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#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

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

_______________________________________________________________

The WFS New Life Program encourages change and adaptability which is exactly what is called for during this time of uncertainty.  Statement #2 in action is essential right now and many women are changing how they spend their days; from limiting daily news to taking extra precautions when needing to go out.

Repeated exposure to negativity creates a shortcut in our brains.  Just listening to warnings over and over can create a” groove” if you will, for quick responses to uncertainty or fear.  It is a normal function of our brain.  It works to keep us safe from dangers like facing a bear or burning a finger on a hot stove.  Once you feel that intensity, you can heed your internal warning system and run away or not touch the stove.  With each repeated exposure, our brains learn and send signals to keep us safe.

Yet, when it comes to our emotional and mental well-being, some shortcuts can become defined and have the opposite effect.  As shortcuts are made, they can become faster and we can move from well-being to panic in milliseconds.  These feelings can be intense and can distort facts. Logic can be lost while the heart races and you break into a sweat with worry, but in fact, you are safe in your home.

How can we apply and practice this Statement today?  First, pause and take a deep breath.  When worry intensifies or panic appears, stop what you are doing.  Take stock on what is happening in this moment around you.  Be still.  Let the feeling move through you and focus on stillness instead of running around in panic mode.  Know that the feeling will pass and ask yourself what good will come out of holding onto negative thoughts.  Challenge your thinking and ask yourself questions.  The more you practice reducing negativity, the more your emotional intelligence rises.

Stay healthy, be well.

Hugzzzz

Karen
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi 4C Women,

This Statement changed the way I spoke to myself when I felt inferior, intimidated or unworthy.  Old messages would come flooding back and I was frozen in fear and inadequacy.  It took a while to change those immediate negative thoughts.  I realized that I also had a negative “attitude” and it was like a complete circle.  My self-talk was negative and my attitude went right along with it.  I pretended a lot back then that everything was “fine” but I was also in full swing with the blame game.  I didn’t recognize it as a negative attitude until I found WFS.  This is not to say that I was not hurt or damaged from the painful words and actions of others.  No, that was authentic pain I kept alive and well long after the damage was done.  I took over where they left off.  WFS provided the turning point in my thinking and attitude.  When I reflect on the untruthful messages from the past, from people who are no longer in my life, Statement 9 made me realize that to keep those damaging messages alive and well in my head was needlessly continuing the pain.   I won’t deny the pain occurred from real life events/people but I finally realized I needed healing, not punishment.  I was blessed with compassionate people along the way who gave me the needed time and loving support to start the healing process.   I still believe in sharing the pain with others who don’t judge me but who understand and encourage.  We all need that.  I also learned that healing is a process.  It’s not a straight path and I’m glad I know that because I might have gone back to that quick self-judgment at a low moment without that knowledge.

I want to say,” Don’t Lose Hope!”  Change is possible with a willing, compassionate heart and loving yourself as you are today, at this very moment.  We are living in a challenging time and our recovery is a top priority for when this is over, we will have learned a lot about ourselves, our resiliency, our courage and our truths as 4C women.

Bonded in reducing negativity, surviving and thriving, supporting and encouraging ourselves and others with positivity, Dee