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Monday Thoughts 4/20/2020

“You are not a problem that needs solving.”  ~~Eckhart Tolle

“When it hurts—observe.  Life is trying to teach you something.”  ~~Anita Krizzan

“You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying.  What you can do is calm yourself.  The storm will pass.”  ~~Timber Hawkeye
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#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems. 

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.
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As we settle in new patterns of behavior to help manage our lives during this global crisis, Statement #4 in action can be a lifesaver and game changer.  For example, this past week my emotions have been on a roller coaster; filled with hope and ease one minute and seemingly seconds later, feeling gripped by fear, anger and uncertainty.  Through this tidal wave of emotions, practicing Statement #4 enables me to slow down, investigate and move through uneasy or rapidly shifting feelings.

We are not our problems.  A problem is an obstacle, something standing in the way on our path.  It can be easy to enlarge or fixate on problems, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed. In the past, alcohol or drugs removed our ability to solve problems.  Today, the WFS New Life Program enables us to first identify, manage and move through problems.

Here are 4 tools to aid in practicing Statement #4:

1.       Control what is in your control:  You are in charge of your mind, your thoughts and your life.   We do not have control over what other people say, do or believe.  Also, act within your home and world.  Organize, clean or simply enjoy your space.  Create manageable routines and adjust as necessary.

2.       Limit daily news and social media: Give yourself a time limit each day on what you listen to, watch or scroll. Much like managing nutritional intake, provide a “No Social Media/News Zone” and examine how your energy and mental fitness responds.

3.       Connect to positivity: No one knows when we can resume group activities right now, but we can connect to positive actions. Whether story time with grandchildren over our phones or iPads, it is possible to connect to others during this time of uncertainty.  Do you craft? Sing? Sew? Organize? Are you exceptional with Excel? Find ways to give back to your community. Is a neighbor having a birthday? (Hint, just google “birthday parade” and have fun watching the videos)

4.       Move or soothe your body: Walking, yoga, meditation and exercise help move the body, facilitate balance and boost our brains. Each day, carve out time for your physical self, even sitting outdoors connecting to nature can increase feelings of well-being.  Planting flowers and gardening are excellent activities and can have beautiful or even tasty rewards.

How will you practice Statement #4 this week?

Hugzzz

Karen

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Hi 4C Women,

A problem, as Karen says, is an obstacle if we retreat because we are fearful of making a mistake, lacking confidence in our problem-solving skills and perhaps seeing “everything” as a problem, ending up learning nothing and losing the ability to trust our gut instincts.  I sometimes place a number on a particular problem from 1 being a low priority and 10 being a top priority.   I know it sounds just like those customer surveys at the end of a store visit or online ordering yet I feel it helps in determining the value of using my time and energy for a problem at a #3 compared to a #10.  It also helps in visually seeing the importance of a problem.  I can then focus on a solution rather than focusing solely on the problem. It provides a creative atmosphere in my mind to begin problem-solving.  This has helped me in lessening the feeling of being overwhelmed to the point where I can’t function at all and that could become a trigger for me.  So, it’s about generating solutions, comparing the options, make a plan or two, getting input, follow through and evaluate how the decision worked for me.   I don’t know about you but I have learned more from my mistakes which have really shown me that I am resilient and have perseverance.  Those are two characteristics I would not have used to define me in the past.  There are always consequences to a solution so that becomes part of my problem-solving.  Can I cope with the consequence?  That’s important when you make your decision to act.  It helps to know in advance the “what ifs” and being prepared to handle it.  I like to sometimes use positive words/phrases like what is the “best” that could happen or “Imagine if” the best outcome happened.

I recently shared part of a letter my mother wrote many years ago about her journey as a single mom in the 1940s.  I was 2 and my sister, Dawn, was 6.  One night, there was only one can of soup in the house that my mom gave to my sister and me.  She was crying, feeling all alone and blue.  We lived in a narrow row house, 3 floors, one bathroom.  She rented the bottom and top floor while we lived on the 2nd floor, using the bathroom to wash our dishes.  The boarders stopped paying rent, my bio father stopped paying the $10 a week child support and my mother had no one.  There was a knock at the door that night and when she opened it, there was a bag of oranges and apples.  A little while later, another knock at the door and there was my aunt with a bag of groceries.  My mom never shared her struggle so she felt somebody up above must have cared about her to send my aunt and a neighbor with much needed food.  Here’s what really touched my heart.  She says, “We really had it nice though.  I put in my own linoleum and painted the back room for you and Dawn.  Got a sofa bed to sleep on. I got a job working at a factory earning $40 a week and the family was together.”   When I think of the situation we are all in now, I appreciate the courage and strength my mom possessed that I didn’t recognize until I first read that letter and now reading it again.  Plus, my mom didn’t drive and either walked or took a bus. What a difference in how fortunate we are today to have technology to keep us connected, to have a caring support system and knowing it is perfectly ok to ask for help.  I have shelter, food, a car, family, friends and even a new dog I can love.  Her letter helped me so much with Statement #4.   What I am learning is that we all respond differently even when we are all in the same circumstance.  I’m understanding that there is a part of my mother in me and then the part that is struggling with fear, concern and just the unknown.  I also accept that it is okay to experience these up and down feelings.  And while my mother struggled alone, we do not.  We have each other and that is a gift I plan on keeping and remembering long after this is over.

Bonded in strength, courage and learning how to problem solve in these challenging times, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 1/20/2020

“Life is ten percent what you experience and ninety percent how you respond to it.”  ~~Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, Ph.D.

“Often it’s the deepest pain which empowers you to grow into your highest self.”  ~~Karen Salmansohn

“Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.”  ~~Pema Chodron
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#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems.  I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.
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Statement #4 is such an empowering asset in my New Life and has helped manage and solve problems when put into action. Yet, this past week, this Statement helped me see clearly, literally.  Recently I began having trouble seeing from my left eye.  After an exam from my regular optician, it was time to see a specialist.

In the past, problems overwhelmed me to the point of denial, running away or simple non-reaction.   Over time, with the practice of Statement #4 I have become more adept at dissecting problems and examining multiple options and following through. Much like an exercise or yoga practice, my problem-solving skills are strengthening and becoming more defined.

Now what the specialist told me could have sent me running for cover but thanks to Statement #4, I was able to understand the problem and embrace the solution without fear.  Well, way less fear! Turns out the solution is a monthly eye injection.  This is a small price to pay for such a vital facet of the amazing New Life I get to live today.

Statement #4 Tool:  Focus on the solution, not the problem.  The problem is what it is, and multiple solutions may be available.  In the case with my eyes, I focused on the solution; better vision as opposed on how to get there.  Yes, it has a large squeamish factor, but the end result far outweighs the path to get there.  If you have a tool that you use to practice Statement #4 and would like to share, please email karen@teamwfs.org.

Hugzzz and clarity,

Karen
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Hi 4C Women.

This Statement has been such a tremendous guide in determining when I have an issue that needs attention (problem-solving) or just worrying about everything which in the past was a distraction from trusting my gut instincts and being in charge of my life.  I once wrote that my past does not define me, it only tells me where I’ve been.  The same can be said of how I problem-solved in the past before I was ready to admit I hadn’t been willing to consider a different approach to a real issue.  I didn’t trust my gut instincts.  It took quite a while to take risks, to let go of the fear of making a wrong decision, to reach out for input and have more of a win-win attitude than a winner-loser approach.

I believe that words are powerful, especially the ones we say to ourselves.  I started using the word “concern” rather than worry.  I felt concern expressed how I was truly feeling about a person or situation that needed my attention if I was to grow emotionally and set boundaries.  This was especially true when it came to family as I was so fearful of rocking the boat, falling out and not knowing how to get back in in a healthy way.  I learned that when I cared more about healing a relationship or issue than the people involved, I was hurting myself and denying using my energy towards self-care.   It encouraged me to search and research solutions rather than wringing my hands in needless worry with no end in sight.  I also loved the message from Karen a few years ago when she shared that she temporarily changed the word, “problems” to “changes” in her self-talk which helped her move from reluctance to understanding her fear of change, seeing it as a wonderful opportunity for growth.  She shared that change is not the actual problem but her reluctance to change was and she used that knowledge to reflect on whether she was truly stuck or fighting change.  I have always seen WFS as a path to positive change.  Yet, even positive change can be a bit scary, especially in the beginning.  It is amazing to experience the difference of letting problems overwhelm us to understanding why and learning new problem-solving skills, choosing a different approach.  It is truly a New Life!

Here are some questions we have used in our group for Statement #4.

What are the consequences of NOT changing this situation or behavior?

What do I feel I have at stake in this situation?

What am I willing to let go of?

What benefit am I getting out of keeping things the same way?

Do I need to review the boundaries I have set and whether or not I am adhering to them?

Have I reached out to my support system for input, comfort and understanding?

Do I care more than the other person in this situation?  If I do, why and how can I practice more self-care?

Bonded in understanding, changing and trusting our instincts, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 7/23/2018

flowers-in-field

“Done is better than perfect.”  -Sheryl Sandberg

“Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.”  -Alfred A Montapert

“If you can’t go straight ahead, you go around the corner.”  -Cher


Statement #4

“Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.”

I now better understand my problems.  I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.


Before sobriety and New Life, attempts at solving problems involved running away, denial and oftentimes, breaking down in tears.  I felt so inept at solving problems that a mere inkling of a problem brought intense anxiety which I tried to soothe with alcohol.  Of course, this never worked; the problem was still there plus now additionally, the hangover.

In our Program booklet, our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., writes, “Learning that I didn’t have to react to everything with upsetting emotions was an important part of my recovery.”  Discovering middle ground emotions assist in developing problem solving skills which can reduce overwhelming emotions.  Overtime, these new skill sets can lead to increased feelings of balance.

Sobriety and recovery encourage problem solving.  No matter where you are on this 4C journey, a brief reflection on the first month of sobriety brings problem-solving to light. Challenging thoughts about drinking or using while embracing new tools and skills is Statement #4 in action.  From this New Life beginning, the satisfaction of remaining sober is born and can fuel decision making.  This change in direction opens up endless possibilities.

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Over the years, I have started using the word “concern” as it always makes me feel that I am in a problem-solving mode rather than just worrying about anything and everything. Statement #4 has helped me understand that worrying solves nothing although it can be the catalyst for awareness of a real issue that needs problem-solving/decision-making or wasting valuable time for something I have no control over.  I once read a definition by Dr. Edward Hallowell who wrote Worry: Hope and Help for a Common Condition.  I haven’t read the book but his definition stuck with me.  “Worry is nature’s alarm system.  It’s sort of like blood pressure.  You need some level to be alive and healthy.  It’s when the alarm goes off for no reason or the level stays too high for too long – that’s what Dr. Hallowell calls “toxic worry” – that problems arise.  When asked how do we know when our worrying has crossed the line, the answer was to look closely at the sources of our worry when it holds us back from doing what we want, from making decisions or living as fully as we’d like.  I believe those are great guidelines to help us recognize the difference between worrying and concern.

Dr. Hallowell suggests:

  1. Never worry alone:  Making contact with another person and sharing your concerns is often the best way to combat incessant worry.
  2. Get the facts:  A lot of times, worry is based on lack of information or misinformation.  Simply gathering data can help you develop a plan of action or even decide you don’t need to worry after all.  (I suggest also contacting a human being, not just the internet, with the knowledge you need.  -Dee)
  3. Make a plan of action:  By making a plan, you assume control of the situation. “Worry loves a passive victim.”  The more you put yourself in control and reduce your vulnerability, the less you’ll feel toxic worry.

The following checklist is a tool to help us understand the word power of “worry” and “concern” and how it can help us move in the direction of problem-solving.  It is from Ascent Advising website. 

When considering the differences between worry and concern, consider these distinctions:

  • Worry distracts us; Concern focuses us.
  • Worry disables planning; Concern helps us plan.
  • Worry blurs our vision; Concern clarifies our purpose.
  • Worry tends to give up; Concern perseveres.
  • Worry exaggerates; Concern pinpoints problems.
  • Worry focuses on self; Concern cares for others.

Thirty years ago, when I first discovered WFS, each one of the 13 Statements of Acceptance for a New Life dramatically changed my life and Statement #4 was definitely a huge motivator in relieving me of my “Queen of Worry” crown.  What a relief.  I hope you will consider the suggestions and definitions above and learn how to change worry into concern and how to begin making an action plan with the input of those you trust!

Bonded in not permitting problems to overwhelm us,
4C WFS member