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Monday Thoughts 10/18/2021

“I encourage people to remember that “no” is a complete sentence.”  ~~Gavin de Becker

“To be aggressive is to decide for others. To be assertive is to decide for yourself. And to trust that there is enough, that you are enough.”  ~~Edith Eva Eger

“Assertiveness is not what you do, it’s who you are!”  ~~Shakti Gawain

#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems.

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

Standing in strength is just one of the many incredible benefits of sobriety and recovery. In the past there was a time when I either cowered down in fear or aggressively lashed out. There was no in-between. Both were fear responses to problems and neither worked to solve anything. Usually, the situation worsened and left me searching for ways to then escape (alcohol). Yet sobriety and Statement #4 in action enabled a shift from fear, to understanding and a middle ground.

In our WFS Reflections for Growth it states “Children very rarely have many choices. Their lives are dictated by those who raise them. Because we all grow up in an atmosphere of being told what we should do, it is often difficult for us to assert ourselves later in life. Assertiveness needs practice. This is something I will learn and practice. I will assert myself and do this.”  Just as we learn how to live in sobriety, we learn how to stand in our strength.

Here are five ways to incorporate assertive communication into your life by Elizabeth Scott, PhD:

“1. Be Factual About What You Don’t Like

When approaching someone about a behavior you’d like to see changed, stick to factual descriptions of what they’ve done, rather than using negative labels or words that convey judgments. For example:

Situation: Your friend, who habitually runs late, has shown up 20 minutes late for a lunch date.
Inappropriate (aggressive) response: “You’re so rude! You’re always late.”
Assertive communication: “We were supposed to meet at 11:30, but now it’s 11:50.”

Don’t assume you know what the other person’s motives are, especially if you think they’re negative. In this situation, don’t assume that your friend deliberately arrived late because they didn’t want to come or because they value their own time more than yours.

2. Don’t Judge or Exaggerate

Being factual about what you don’t like in someone’s behavior, without overdramatizing or judging, is an important start. The same is true for describing the effects of their behavior. Don’t exaggerate, label, or judge; just describe:

Inappropriate response: “Now, lunch is ruined.”
Assertive communication: “Now, I have less time to spend at lunch because I still need to be back to work by 1:00.”

Body language and tone of voice matter in assertive communication. Let yours reflect your confidence: Stand up straight, maintain eye contact, and relax. Use a firm but pleasant tone.

3. Use “I” Messages

When you start a sentence with “You…”, it comes off as a judgment or an attack and puts people on the defensive. If you start with “I,” the focus is more on how you are feeling and how you are affected by their behavior.

Also, it shows more ownership of your reactions and less blame. This helps minimize defensiveness in the other person, model the act of taking responsibility, and move you both toward positive change.5 For example:

You Message: “You need to stop that!”
I Message: “I’d like it if you’d stop that.”

When in a discussion, don’t forget to listen and ask questions. It’s important to understand the other person’s point of view.

4. Put It All Together

Here’s a great formula that puts it all together:

“When you [their behavior], I feel [your feelings].”

When used with factual statements, rather than judgments or labels, this formula provides a direct, non-attacking, more responsible way of letting people know how their behavior affects you. For example: “When you yell, I feel attacked.”

5. List behavior, results, and feelings.

A more advanced variation of this formula includes the results of their behavior (again, put into factual terms), and looks like this:

“When you [their behavior], then [results of their behavior], and I feel [how you feel].”

For example: “When you arrive late, I have to wait, and I feel frustrated.”

Or, “When you tell the kids they can do something that I’ve already forbidden, some of my authority as a parent is taken away, and I feel undermined.”

Try to think win-win: See if you can find a compromise or a way for you both to get your needs met. In the case of the always-late friend, maybe a different meeting place would help them be on time. Or you can choose to make plans only at times when your schedule is more open and their lateness won’t cause you as much stress.”

This week, look for opportunities to practice assertive communication. It can feel uncomfortable at first yet over time these actions build on themselves and cement Statement #4 in our New Life.



Hi 4C Women,

I almost wanted to respond to this scenario about the habitually late friend that I assertively left the restaurant, gave an assertive and respectful note to the server to give my habitually late friend and hoped she learned that everyone’s time is valuable.  However, I can see that some lessons in approaching others and being assertive needs more detailed guidance and definitely practice.

My granddaughter is habitually late so the specific scenario in assertiveness about lateness touched home and I thought about how I have handled “Amber time” over the years.  I started giving her earlier times but unfortunately that didn’t work.  One Thanksgiving, after waiting for an extraordinary length of time, we just decided to go ahead and eat rather than let everything go cold, especially since she wasn’t bringing anything except her adorable presence to the table and my daughter and I were exhausted from cooking both the night before and the day of Thanksgiving.

Well, that didn’t work out well at all.  Hurt feelings and a not so thankful day.  This message will provide a better way, I am hoping, to future Thanksgivings and gatherings I have never been aggressive yet I have also not been assertive until lately.  Something about aging and setting boundaries has taken hold and I am grateful.  I have always been one to watch my words as I know they are powerful.  Words can hurt or heal and the delivery of them has power as well (point #2).

I believe assertiveness is about respect for each other.  While I consider myself a good listener, it is clear that I need to practice listening first in certain situations before I jump to judgment and then use the “I” message with facts and feelings as suggested.

Think about the last time you were assertive.  Were you pleased with the results?  Is there something you might have done differently after learning the 5 ways shared above.  We are fortunate to be able to continue learning ways to create positive communication in our New Life.

Bonded in empowering assertiveness, Dee

Sister Skills
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Monday Thoughts 7/19/2021

“No is a complete sentence.” ~~Anne Lamont

“I’m allowed to do what’s best for me even if it upsets people.” ~~Unknown

‘I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” ~~Maya Angelou

#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems.

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

The WFS New Life Program and Statement #4 provides a guide or map for growth and understanding. Before sobriety, I lived on the edge and created problems or drama to feel connected to life. In actuality, I was taking myself further away from living fully. Problems felt overwhelming no matter the size. Yet for some others, problems did not exist. Practicing Statement #4 brings feelings of ease and balance.

Learning new skillsets or tools like boundaries can have lasting impact in our New Life. It felt liberating to say no when I wanted to say no, and I began to unlearn some habits that did not reflect who I am at my core. Soon I was seeing problems from a different viewpoint and learning new coping skills, especially from the women in our WFS Online Forum and our face-to-face groups. Every day is a new chance to solve something.

While some problems are within our control, others are not. Yet we can always control our reaction to them like the above quote from Dr. Angelou. We need not be reduced but instead reinforce our beliefs in ourselves and abilities. We grow into ourselves and our New Life, after all, we are capable and competent, caring, and compassionate women!



Hi 4C Women,

I was thinking of last Monday’s Thoughts and how Karen changed the wording to be in harmony with the situation at hand. I started thinking that my change for Statement #4, in accordance with my situation last week, might be, “Family members bother me only to the degree I permit.” This lesson is one I seem to continue learning over and over again and that is, I understand my problems and have no control over other people’s actions or decisions. A difficult lesson, indeed, especially when it comes to family and the emotional history attached. The reason I find it difficult is that many times family problems do impact me. I have to live with them, tolerate them and hope their problem-solving skills get better with the infinite wisdom that I bestow upon them. I hope you are appreciating my bit of sarcasm.

I eventually learned the difference between constant worrying where nothing got solved because there wasn’t a real issue and a valid concern that needed problem solving skills and decision making. I came across a post from WFS online, dated 2009, but not who authored it. If anyone recognizes it, please let me know. Lots of good information and it reinforced how the New Life program is still as invaluable and relatable since its beginning in 1975. There are comments in the post that I’d like to share:

“In order to move out of powerlessness, you must act to understand what your problems are – the nature of them and where they come from. This gives us the power to deal with them – face them instead of being “overwhelmed.” Being overwhelmed by problems is a habit too and a self-defeating one at that. I can choose to change my beliefs if old beliefs are harming me and hindering my development.”

She described that being overwhelmed involved beliefs such as:

1. Other people’s needs come above my own

2. I will be seen as lazy and selfish if I care for myself

3. I can ignore my needs for the sake of others

4. I don’t deserve better

5. I can’t cope

6. Things have to be done in a certain way

Do you connect with any of these beliefs? Can you add to the list?

I love this comment: “None of the statements are things that can sort of be checked off a list as “done” – they are ways of existing or being – practices that help us daily to build and maintain a New Life. Today I know that I can adjust and examine unrealistic beliefs about myself that harm or hinder my progress. I have a responsibility to take care of my whole self.”

The focus of her post was on the action part of not permitting problems to overwhelm us. I had not thought of my beliefs as hindering me yet in reflection, I can say that was my way of thinking many years ago. I allowed myself to be overwhelmed because I had no boundaries on what was plain old worry and a real concern that needed my attention. I’m hoping you will give some thought to how you handle problems, can make the distinction between a worry and a real concern, if your beliefs are holding you back from taking care of your whole self and trusting others to offer input when you’re stuck even though the final decision is yours.

Bonded in understanding our problems, learning to reduce feeling overwhelmed and embracing the support and insight we gain from others, Dee


Finding a Path Forward: A Town Hall for CF’s

Saturday, July 24th, 2021
1:00-2:30 pm US/Eastern
(12:00 pm Central, 11:00 am Mountain, 10:00 am Pacific)

For WFS Certified Facilitators Only

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Monday Thoughts 4/19/2021

“Change your perception of things and you will change your reality.”  ~~Anonymous

“We can’t choose the filters that others choose when they look at us.”  ~~Anonymous

“What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.”  ~~Anonymous

#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems.

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

Perception can be such an illusion; some problems can appear one way, yet can be seen completely different in another.  Sobriety and recovery can have that same perception or filter on it.  Before New Life, sobriety was something dreadful and felt impossible, but on the other side, recovery can feel as natural as breathing.  Problems can be affected by perception as well, and Statement #4 in action helps to identify, experience and move through problems we face.

In the past, alcohol or drugs were band-aids used to cover pain, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.  Today, using empowering techniques, problems gain understanding and can be moved through with new found clarity and purpose.  Changing perspective is one technique that can have shift outcomes or conclusions. Here are some ways to help modify perspective by Lyssa deHart, author and Executive and Whole Life Coach:

1. Other people’s opinion of you is none of your business:

Once you let go of other people’s opinions, you can focus on your own opinions.  This helps you to align you with your values.

2. Look at the impact:

How many times have you worried about something and it never happened?  Like a line from a Tom Petty song “I’m so tired of being tired.  As sure as night will follow day, most things I worry about never happen anyway.”

3. Seek a win/win solution:

It takes a willingness to suspend our own perspective long enough to listen to what someone else is saying.  As we listen, if we can open our minds and listen to understand, we build trust.  Once we have a deeper understanding of what is motivating the other person’s position, we can look at our own deeper motivations.

4. Narrow your focus to what matters most:

Let’s say life gives you an energy pie every day.  Here’s the deal though, you only ever get one pie a day.  How will you slice your pie?  When our attention is focused everywhere, we can get stuck in overwhelm.  Your ability to choose the best course of action can get mired in all the information that you need to make a decision.  By narrowing your focus to the top 2 or 3 things that are important, you give yourself space to breathe and decide.

Where can you shift a perspective in your life?





Hi 4C Women,

A few years ago, Karen shared that sometimes she uses the word “change” in place of the word “problems.”  That has stayed with me.  WFS is all about change – the change in thoughts that lead to a change in our actions/behaviors.  At one time, problems bothered me to the point that it became a habit.  I’ve heard that in order to give up a habit, it needs to be replaced with another one – a healthier one, of course!  Slowly, by changing my immediate response to anything that felt like a huge problem (which was just about everything), I began to recognize the difference between a problem and a concern.

Just exchanging that one word helped me to identify an issue that needed resolving and a non-issue (ordinary, everyday problems) that I could release from my immediate negative response and mindset.  That sure left a lot of time and energy into learning problem-solving techniques to issues that were of utmost importance to me.   There was a time when I feared sharing my concerns with others.  Would they be judgmental, think my solution was ridiculous?  That fear was one I held close to my heart – the fear of rejection.  Slowly, as point 1 suggests, I had to value myself enough, my willingness to take risks in decision-making and while asking for input, understand that the decision is just that – MY decision, my consequences, my learning process.

What I appreciate about WFS is that part of the guidelines is to listen, give input if you have had a similar experience that has been resolved successfully in your life and to leave judgment and advice out of it.  That was part of my healing in facing the fear of rejection.  I felt safe to share, to know I was being heard and that caring, compassionate input was waiting for me.

One last thing I learned about myself.  I can handle those ordinary everyday problems yet if there are 3-4 in one brief period of time, I feel anxious and worried.  How can I do this all on my own?  Sometimes I can’t.  I learned to ask for help.  I learned that it’s okay to feel this way and not to start feeling badly about those feelings as they are temporary.  Just acknowledging that helps so much.

I shared this once before and I’d like to do so again as it helps me make that distinction between worry and concern:

  • 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

Bonded in learning that decision-making is working through concerns and problems bother us only to the degree we permit, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 1/18/2021

“You are allowed to be both a Masterpiece and a Work in Progress simultaneously.”  ~~Unknown

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”  ~~Rosa Parks

“You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying.  What you can do is calm yourself.  The storm will pass.”  ~~Timber Hawkeye

#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems.

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

Statement #4 in daily action encourages trust, effort and understanding.  Before sobriety and New Life, escapism was a go-to response. Drinking or using at a problem created more problems and solved nothing.  Like a fearful child hiding under the bed, it was a repeated option. Yet today, thanks in part to our WFS Statements and the many strong 4C women who embrace recovery and live fully, overwhelming fear does not hold up to the WFS Statements in action.

Understanding that there are options in managing difficulties in life creates feelings of courage, strength, and resiliency.  Obviously, some problems are easier to manage than others, yet at their core each issue comes with an opportunity to grow in mind, body, and spirit.  The feelings of accomplishment when overcoming something that once paralyzed is almost indescribable and lays the foundation for further realization and motivation.

The WFS Online Forum and F2F groups (currently online due to COVID-19) offer extraordinary support when facing a challenge or problem.  Learning about different techniques to solve problems can uplift and encourage.  In my opinion, 4C women are the best cheerleaders! From decision making skills to setting new goals, there is much to learn, practice and apply.  This week take time to reflect on how far you have come and how you manage difficulties with a sober, clear mind.   Is there an area that you need assistance in?  Where do you do well?  Share your insights or detail in a journal.  Below is the “IDEAL” (Identify, Define, Explore, Act, Learn) technique for moving through a problem:

    1. Identify: What is the problem?  Who does it belong to?  Women can at times, take on issues that belong to someone else.
    2. Define: Define the cause. There may be layers to get to root cause. Uncover.
    3. Explore:  Explore possible strategies and options.  Discuss for input
    4. Act:  Put in the effort, try, not everything attempted will lead to a solution.  Time can be a factor as well.
    5. Look and Learn:  Did it work?  What did you learn?  Begin the process again if needed.



Hi 4C Women,

The IDEAL techniques are such an extraordinary tool in practicing Statement #4.  As this is the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, I was imagining all the problems and priorities he had to set to pursue a peaceful way to racial justice.  I worked on the MLK, Jr. committee in Teaneck, NJ, and also created a few programs on racial understanding while I worked at the YWCA.  It opened up a whole new way of seeking solutions to problems and learning how to set priorities in the process.  Karen said it so well – “Understanding that there are options in managing difficulties in life creates feelings of courage, strength, and resiliency.”  What a powerful image of being open to explore options, to make mistakes, learn another “option” and grow in our courage, strength and resiliency.

I have been facilitating WFS meetings since 1989 and I must say that in the beginning, I took on other people’s issues, working hard at solving their problems.  I realized soon enough I was using it as a distraction from solving and setting my own priorities.  I am grateful that I also learned the huge difference from supporting, encouraging and sharing insights from my life experience and actually trying to solve another person’s problems.  In learning this big lesson, I also understood that I was taking away the opportunity for any woman to learn by exploring her personal options and in the process, gain emotional and personal growth.  Again, it goes back to the powerful message Karen shared of each woman creating hew own courage, strength and resiliency.

I was thinking of a recent problem I had and #2 was calling my name.  It involved my ex-husband.  The problem could be solved with patience but it also meant communicating effectively.  The old feelings of being controlled, ignored and feeling ignorant came back full force.  I thought of a few solutions and if they didn’t work out, I had another plan or two.  It is amazing how much that calmed me down and the feeling of empowerment was growing.  Sadly, we don’t communicate and that is something I worked on over the past 27 years of my divorce and 27 years of marriage.  Wow, 54 years of working on communication.  That’s a lot of work.

I am no longer in fear yet I also couldn’t deny old feelings coming back.  Just acknowledging those fears, gave me pause and I told myself I am no longer that weak, fearful woman.  Heck, I almost broke out in Helen Reddy’s song, “I am Woman, Hear me roar!  I share this because I hope every woman reading this message knows and realizes that while the process of problem solving and setting priorities takes time, it is absolutely possible.  Using the IDEAL technique is a wonderful way to do it.

Bonded in problem-solving, setting priorities and being empowered in your personal growth, Dee

Be sure to read the WFS Winter Newsletter

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Monday Thoughts 10/19/2020

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved.”  ~~John Dewey

“I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.”  ~~Maya Angelou

“If you choose to not deal with an issue, then you give up your right of control over the issue and it will select the path of least resistance.”  ~~Susan Del Gatto

#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.
I now better understand my problems.
 I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

Sobriety and Statement #4 in action fuel determination and decrease worry.  In our WFS Reflections for Growth booklet our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick writes “Worry is the antithesis of overcoming.  We worry when the conditions overwhelm us.  Overcoming is when we overwhelm the problem.”

The beginning of problem solving in my New Life came in early sobriety.  Right away my focus was on staying sober every day and I did not take on anything large.  The WFS Online Forum connected and introduced me to women who were taking charge of their life and problems. The input from veteran WFS sisters was invaluable and life changing. Soon I was practicing new tools and beginning to feel capable. Like a sponge I soaked up information that would help cement my progress and instill balance.

Here are a few tools and techniques to aid in problem solving gleaned from competent women:

1.      Define the problem.   What is the core issue?  Is there more than one issue?  Choose one to focus.

2.      Whose problem is it?  Does this issue truly belong to you?

3.      Apply the SMART technique to the problem.  Smart is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Action/Attainable, Realistic and Timely/Time frame.

4.      Evaluate results.  Did your action/inaction solve the issue?

5.      Journal the problem.  Sometimes just writing it down gets it out of our head to where we can think clearer or with fresh perspective.

6.      You are not alone.  Chances are you are not the first person to experience this issue.  Reach out, talk about the issue with someone you trust.

7.      Listen for feedback. While some people may tend to try to solve a problem for us, is there a solution that you have not tried yet? Listen to feedback or different perspectives.

8.      Shelve an issue but add a deadline.  Maybe you do not have all the information needed yet to solve the issue.  Hold off but stay mindful that you will return to it.

9.      5 Why’s. This technique aids in identifying root causes.

10.   Release shame blame or guilt.  None of these will help solve a problem and can stand in the way of moving through it.

11.   Reframe the story.  You are the author of your mind and your story. You can edit and reframe how you tell an experience/story.  Look for the helpers.

12.    Embrace gray areas/alter expectations.  Instead of strict black and white thinking, embrace gray areas and alter expectations for increased balance.

13.   Consider additional support.  Some issues or problems can be difficult to maneuver alone.  Consider professional support and/or therapy to move through the problem when feeling stuck or unable to solve.

What other tools do you use to problem solve?



Hi 4C Women,

So many fabulous tips on problem solving.  The 5 whys intrigued me as I sometimes get lost in the problem/issue that the core root is not obvious to me.  Identifying the core root helps me take responsibility for my actions and also in creating needed changes in my thoughts/actions.  One of my whys in respect to my current situation would be why I am continually frustrated with a certain family member.  The first why would be I have not set firm boundaries. The second why would be not wanting to hurt that person when they are in a vulnerable place.  The third why is I feel inadequate in providing guidance that will be heard.  The fourth why is in some way I feel responsible. The fifth why is I’m angry at myself for not setting those firm boundaries in the beginning.  This leads me to my core issue – I feel responsible (guilty) and yet it is out of my control.  So, while I recognize the problem really isn’t mine, it affects my life greatly.  A very challenging situation yet there are 12 other phenomenal tips to work with from Karen’s message.  It’s ironic and so appropriate for me that tip #10 follows the 5 Whys as that tip reflects the guilt I am feeling. Tip #10 is a good reminder that guilt does nothing to help me move forward.

It’s been said that there is a payback when we continue to hold on to a situation or person that hurts us.  I think that is another important consideration when it comes to problem solving.  I often ask myself what benefit am I getting out of keeping things the same way.  My answer is usually fear of destroying the relationship or making the wrong decision.  That leads to the question of what would be the consequence of such an outcome.  How important is the relationship that continually holding back a hurt becomes acceptable?  How would discussing a problem authentically and respectfully be so harmful that it would end the relationship?  Yes, problems bother me only to the degree I permit which begs the question, just how much am I permitting?  How do I create a balance so the fear becomes less and I become the author of my story going forward?  Much to figure out and that is the beauty of the WFS program.  It asks us to be honest with ourselves, to uncover our fears and discover the power within us that makes us what we’ve always been – 4C women capable of making positive changes, reducing our fears, learning from our mistakes and standing strong in our own power!

Bonded in healing and helping each other in problem solving, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 7/20/2020

“There’s nothing more intimate in life than simply being understood.  And understanding someone else.”  ~~Brad Meltzer, The Inner Circle
“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage.  Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.”  ~~Michelle Obama
“Sometimes it’s not enough to know what things mean, sometimes you have to know what things don’t mean.”  ~~Bob Dylan
#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.
I now better understand my problems.  I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

Sobriety and the continual practice of Statement #4 have enabled me to soar to new heights and experience life in a fresh and constructive perspective.  At the core of this Statement is understanding.  Yet, before my New Life, understanding was something that was unconsciously avoided; more often than not, I was actively seeking ways to expand difficulty or victimhood.  Additionally, I tried to get others to pile up on “my side.”

In our WFS Program booklet it states “The value of this Statement is in learning that we can control our reactions.  There are times we permit ourselves to be bothered by people, things, events, actions, but we can utilize new tools.  By increasing understanding of our problems, we can better choose how and when we respond.”  The New Life Program in action and fellow 4C sisters continue to assist in moving towards understanding by listening and reflecting back balance and introspection.

One of the simplest tools is talking about the problem.  I recall knowing that I had a problem with alcohol for a very long time, but I said nothing about it to anyone.  This exacerbated the problem and created additional problems.  Once I began to understand what the problem was, solutions and choices came to light and I took action.  Today, I find that by talking about problems or something that is bothering me, creates space for solution.  Oftentimes just getting it out of my head is enough for creative answers to begin to appear.

What tools empower you in your New Life to move into solutions?




Hi 4C Women,

Thinking a lot about problem solving which was always difficult for me.  I was afraid of making mistakes, looking foolish in my decision-making so I focused more on everyday problems (which weren’t really problems) so I could distract myself from taking charge of creating necessary change in my life.  My fears kept me from personal growth and learning to get up and try again when I made a mistake in my decision making.   Thank goodness for WFS in guiding me to at least try, to learn, to get up and try again, to not see myself as a failure but a resilient woman taking charge of her mistakes and her successes.  I have used this problem- solving worksheet and I’d like to share it with you.  It is for personal decision making as well as brainstorming if you choose to follow that path.  Hope it helps you as much as it has helped me.  I bolded the part where it described me before sobriety and WFS.

Productive Problem Solving:

What are some barriers to productive problem solving?
What essential things are needed for productive problem solving?
Problem solving model diagram
Tips for productive problem solving
Some barriers to productive problem solving include:

· A “Yes – But” attitude

· Intellectual defensiveness closed to new ideas

· Fear of being perceived as being incompetent

· Fear of one’s ideas being unaccepted

· Inability to be objective about problem

· Fear of being wrong

· Inability to be creative, imaginative or “off the wall” in developing alternative solutions

· Being inflexible or too serious to have fun while problem solving

· Not tuning into one’s “inner child”

Being so chronically immersed or emotionally “stuck” in problems that no feelings or emotions can be elicited

· Believing that one’s emotions and feelings about a problem are “wrong” and should be discounted in problem solving

· Resentment about having to solve the problem; blaming others for causing the problem; no desire to own up to the problem yourself

· Believing that problems are the concerns of others, not me; therefore, why waste my time in trying to solve them

· Mental and/or physical fatigue from trying to cope with problems and finding no fruitful solutions; burnout

· Feeling so stressed, anxious, or tense in the face of a problem that your body systems shut down

· Getting so angry about the problem that all energy and attention is drawn to the anger rather than to the problem

·  Feeling sorry for oneself so much that the “self-pity” overwhelms and obstructs all creative thinking on the matter

·  Getting so down or depressed about the problem that it is impossible to come up long enough to deal with the problem

· Denial that the problem exists

· Bargaining in dealing with the problem; e.g., agreeing to perform certain steps only as long as the solution to the problem benefits you

What essential things are needed for productive problem solving?
A clear description of the problem.

A description of the limiting (or negative) factors involved in the problem.

A description of the constructive (or positive) factors involved in the problem.

A clear delineation of the “ownership” of the problem. Whose problem is it: mine, yours, the other guy’s, my boss’, my spouse’s, my child’s, my parents’, my teacher’s?

A clear description of the scope of the problem: How extensive a problem is it? How long has this problem existed? How many people are affected? What else is affected by this problem?

A clear description of the consequences if the problem were not solved: What is the possible impact on my family, job, marriage, school performance, life in this community, etc., if this problem isn’t solved? What is the worst possible thing that could happen if this problem isn’t solved?

A list of brainstormed solutions to the problem, with each alternative analyzed as to its reality, its benefits, and the consequences for following each one.

A system of ranking each solution to finalize the decision-making process. A rating system for analyzing each solution is developed, e.g., 100% chance of success, 75% chance of success, 50% chance of success.

A clear description of myself as a problem solver when it comes to this problem. Am I procrastinating? Am I avoiding the problem? Am I in denial? Am I shutting down or blocking my creativity on this problem? Am I ignoring it, hoping it will go away? Am I using magical and/or fantasy thinking in addressing the problem?  (This was me before WFS and while I was learning to trust my instincts, accept mistakes and acknowledging successes!)

Determination to follow through on the solution decided upon jointly. This involves full motivation to “take the risk” and pursue the solution to its fullest

Tips for productive problem solving

1.     What is the size or extent of the problem?

2.     How would realty be affected if the problem was left unattended or unsolved?

3.     How are you functioning in handling the problem-solving process?

4.     What have your five senses to tell about the problem, i.e., what you see, hear, touch, smell, and taste?

5.     What does the world of reality look like from within the problem?


When brainstorming solutions to the problem, follow these rules:

1.     Express all ideas.

2.     Deem no idea too wild to be considered.

3.     Quantity is important; every idea that comes to mind should be included.

4.     Getting together with others to brainstorm is desirable.

5.     Criticism or negative evaluation regarding any idea is forbidden until brainstorming is completed.

When ranking alternatives, rate each alternative on (1) possible consequences, then (2) probability of success.

Alternatives              Possible Consequences                  Probability of Success

Behavioral actions   Positive or negative                        Expressed in percentages

Bonded together in learning, sharing and becoming 4C problem-solvers, Dee

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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

#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

I now better understand my problems. 

I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

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?




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

#4 Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.

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

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 [email protected].

Hugzzz and clarity,


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


“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.


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