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Monday Thoughts 10/7/2019

Monday Thoughts

“It is not always possible to do away with negative thinking, but with persistence and practice, one can gain mastery over them so that they do not take the upper hand.” ~~Stephen Richards

“Do not allow negative people to turn you into one of them.” ~~Unknown

“If I am not persistent with my desire to think about other things, and consciously initiate new circuits of thought, then those uninvited loops can generate new strength and begin to monopolizing my mind again. To counter their activities, I keep a handy list of three things available for me to turn my consciousness toward when I am in a state of need: 1) I remember something I find fascinating that I would like to ponder more deeply, 2) I think about something that brings me terrific joy, or 3) I think about something I would like to do.” ~~ Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight


Statement #2
Negative thoughts destroy only myself.
My first conscious sober act is to reduce negativity in my life.


Jill Bolte Taylor, author of one of my favorite books, My Stroke of Insight, utilizes wisdom in combating negativity. By changing the topic of what her consciousness is focusing on, she changes her outlook. Not allowing negativity to overwhelm, she stays engaged and aware, exactly how Statement #2 affirms.

Before sobriety and New Life, it was easy to be wrapped up in negativity, or be drawn to it. For many women, alcohol and negativity tended to go hand in hand but with daily practice of Statement #2, that old connection can be lessened or even closed, and a new path created.

The three suggestions that Ms. Taylor turns to instead of negativity can work for anyone. However, you are encouraged to come up with three of your own and share them on the WFS Forum or in your F2F group. If you are not involved with either of these empowering avenues, you can share or discuss with family or friends. It is a great way to reduce negativity and learn other options to manage your thoughts.

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I love the questions and found question #1 the most challenging in finding something fascinating that I want to ponder more deeply. I jokingly pondered why aging is so difficult with all its aches, pains and restrictions. But then, that seemed a bit negative (lol) and I’m sure Ms. Taylor did not mean that kind of deep pondering. So, I decided to dig deeper as she suggested. I was surprised at how much fascinates me and it’s mostly centered on the question why? Why do we feel our needs are second, why is it so much easier to give than to receive, why are we fearful of rejection, abandonment, unwilling to set healthy boundaries? These are not frivolous questions. I believe they are the stepping stones to real change. For me it is the beginning of paying attention to a negative thought, transforming it by truthfully digging deep for answers and hopefully leading to the path of finding my voice, no longer saying yes automatically when I want to say no, being true to myself. Perhaps my personal question is why do I invalidate myself with negative self-talk when it only continues to hurt. This is how I, and we, learn to turn the negative into a loving positive and mean it, feel it and live it!

In the end, I can see how invaluable each of these questions are in changing a negative thought into a positive one. When I think of what brings me joy and a smile to my face, it’s easier to replace that negative thought.  Hard to be negative when a big, authentic smile is on my face. And it’s even more difficult to be negative when making plans for something I would like to do and then actually do it!

The best part about Statement #2 for me, is that is allows me the time to process reducing my negativity. Words are powerful, use them wisely, lovingly and learn to lift yourself up with positive ones.

Bonded in making a conscious effort to reduce negativity in our lives and our thoughts to promote our well-being and self-love,
your 4C sister

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Monday Thoughts 7/8/2019

Monday Thoughts

“Conflict is the beginning of consciousness.” ~~M. Esther Harding

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” ~~Mahatma Gandhi

“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.” ~~Anais Nin


Statement #2
Negative thoughts destroy only myself.
My first conscious sober act is to reduce negativity in my life.


Statement #2 in action aids in reducing uncertainty. For those who are not quite sure of embracing a New Life, sobriety and recovery need not be feared; one cannot “catch” sobriety from someone else. However, living life free from alcohol or drugs is a healthy and freedom-inducing approach to life with unending benefits.

Yet, without conscious awareness, negativity can feel contagious. Have you ever been involved in a conversation in which seemingly unending complaining was taking place? How did you feel afterward? Did you walk away feeling uplifted or did you walk away feeling drained? Statement #2 is key to reducing negativity.

Beginning where we are, daily conscious awareness creates a portal for progress. Statement #2 encourages the reduction, not elimination of negativity. It is unrealistic to live life without some sort of conflict; this is where consciousness and growth occur. Nonetheless, it is possible to reduce amounts of negativity and feel a greater of balance.

Here are 4 ways which can aid in reducing negativity:

  1. Pay attention: Notice your self-talk. When do you encourage yourself and when do you fall into the habit of criticizing?
  2. Put some distance between any negative self-talk and you: You were not born criticizing your thighs, relationships or actions. Somewhere, somehow you internalized some negative outside influences.
  3. Interrupt any negative self-talk: You can physically put your hand up…remember talk to the hand? Interrupting the negativity empowers you while revoking the power negative self-talk has held over you.
  4. Restore your rightful self: Become your own ally and best friend. Affirm your strengths and abilities. Everyone possesses a multitude of skills and unlimited potential. Exercise and flex your encouragement muscle daily.

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

My mom complained a lot at one time in her life. I tried expressing how this hurt others and damaged relationships with those who loved her. She listened, agreed and minutes later was complaining as though we never had a discussion. When I first read Statement #2, I realized that my mom’s thoughts had become a habit. There was no real awareness and I knew that if I was to stop the generational complaining, I needed to create a lot of awareness of my own thoughts and words. Statement #2 was a wonderful tool to do just that and, in addition, I also began to understand that my complaining had a lot to do with my internal criticism. WFS taught me to build my self-esteem, kick the “inner critic” off my shoulder as it whispered old, untruthful, negative messages and invest my time in affirming my worth. This was a slow process yet I am so grateful for being willing to change and heal from the negativity habit!

In our meetings, we are guided to provide support and encouragement, not advice or judgment. I began to realize that I use to give a lot of advice and unspoken judgment without understanding that most times people really just want to be heard, encouraged and uplifted. I was not much of an active listener and this was a habit as well. As I finally broke that negative habit, I questioned why I could do this active listening compassionately with others, yet not myself? Negativity did destroy me, my relationships, my self-esteem. I also learned that negative thoughts are part of human nature, as Karen said, we are working toward reducing negativity because conflict is a part of living. In order for me to recognize the difference between outright negativity and something I observed as injustice that I felt needed my voice, I started pausing, observing and deciding which it was. Was I complaining or observing an injustice? How did I approach this observation? Was it with a possible solution or just venting? Did it require a solution or just the need to be heard that feelings were hurt, harm was being done? I also learned that if the latter was the case, I found my voice without expectations. I have shared this often. We need to be our own best friend, protect ourselves from other people’s criticism or negativity. For me, the most important part of finding my voice is that I have let the person know the hurt or harm they have done and while they may not get it or even care, they know I am aware and that it is unacceptable to me. Negativity for me today has such a different meaning thanks to Statement #2.

Bonded in reducing negativity, creating awareness, finding our voice and knowing our worth,
a 4C woman

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Monday Thoughts 4/8/2019

Monday Thoughts

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~~Maya Angelou

“Doubt yourself and you doubt everything you see. Judge yourself and you see judges everywhere. But if you listen to the sound of your own voice, you can rise about doubt and judgment. And you can see forever.” ~~Nancy Lopez

“Have you recently been through a challenge, disappointment, break up or disloyalty with somebody in your life? If so, it’s important after you’ve been hurt, to take some time to think like a lion tamer about your pain, so you can tame the possibility of more negativity coming back to bite you again!” ~~Karen Salmansohn


Statement #2
Negative thoughts destroy only myself.
My first conscious sober act is to reduce negativity in my life.


Statement #2 can sound impossible to put into action when feelings of doubt, sorrow or emotional turmoil appear but the WFS New Life Program can help relinquish negativity, embrace balance and growth while laying a foundation for a sense of contentment.

Our WFS Program Booklet states “Our overcoming is in exact proportion to our becoming.” How this is achieved is different for every woman, since each of us have different life experiences but the outcome is the same; overcoming equals becoming.

Identifying negativity is the first action towards employing Statement #2. Being able to recognize how, where, when and why negativity appears provides an avenue to overcome it. Notice there is no “who” in the previous list. While there may be a “who” factoring in the negativity, (he/she said/did/didn’t) the responsibility belongs where?  My first conscious sober act is to reduce negativity in my life.

What does negativity feel like in your life? Fear? Doubt? Anger? Guilt?

What small actions can you take today to reduce negativity?

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Negativity usually appears as anger or frustration for me. When I experience or see an injustice, I am angry. When I feel invisible, I feel angry. The difference is I have learned to be as proactive as possible so rather than staying in negativity, I work on creating an action plan. I also feel a huge difference between the foundation of negativity that I previously built my life on and the awareness now that deep negativity hurts myself, damages what could be healthy relationships and changes nothing unless I change my response and attitude.

It’s important to note that the statement says to “reduce” negativity. It’s an ongoing process as we learn about ourselves, change and grow. I don’t know if any of you have watched the show, Hoarders, but the one thing I have learned from that show is that the only way to change our thinking or behavior is to work through it ourselves, to take responsibility. If someone else does it, we still have the same thinking and behavior and will need to be rescued again. I use the word rescue because that is how I viewed my “blame everyone else” life. As long as they were all responsible for my miserable lot in life, I just sat back and waited for them to take care of me. That belief left no space or opportunity to grow and take charge.  I am not talking about supporting, caring or helping others because we all that need at times. Goodness knows I have been blessed to have that kind of loving support. I am talking about being so negative that no life lesson has a chance to break down the wall of negativity.

I am grateful to have discovered that blaming others, which I became very good at doing, damaged me more than anything. This doesn’t mean that others don’t impact our lives, hurt us and cause pain. For me, it means I have to learn how to react differently and let go of toxic people. I just don’t want me to be one of those toxic people that others want to let go of! Thank goodness for this life-changing Statement. It certainly became one that has made the biggest change/impact on my thinking, attitude and behavior.

Bonded together in building a positive, healthy outlook on our 4C life,
A beautiful 4C woman

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Monday Thoughts 1/7/2019

Monday Thoughts

“There’s no prerequisites for worthiness. You are born worthy, and I think that’s a message that a lot of women need to hear.” ~~Viola Davis

“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”  ~~Louise Hay

“Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.” ~~Brene Brown


Statement #2
 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.
My first conscious sober act is to reduce negativity in my life.


Alcohol or drug use disorders can easily remove feelings of self-worth or value. Repetitive thoughts and/or feelings of failure, much like when awareness of a substance use disorder is realized, can increase lacerate core feelings of self-worth and value. Trying to overcome these negative thoughts can feel like a never-ending swim against a strong current. Yet with Statement #2 put into practice, a portal for building a strong core is opened.

Learning to identify and name our thoughts and feelings can begin the process. For women in recovery, shame and guilt are two of the most common emotions felt early on in the journey. Shame states there is something wrong with me at my center, while guilt says I’ve done something wrong. Shame holds us down by not allowing ourselves to feel what is underneath, such as loneliness, grief or despair. The commitment to move through our negative feelings reduces the destructive effects.

For some of us, negativity was learned when we were young and we carried it into adulthood. Today we have a conscious choice and have the ability to challenge our thoughts. Moving through negative feelings reduces their impact on our core which makes room for self-worth to increase. No longer hiding behind negativity, we can name what we feel, move through our emotions and embrace our New Lives. After all, we are capable, and competent, caring and compassionate women.

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

This has certainly been a week of fighting negative thoughts! This is what I’ve learned so far. Before WFS and therapy, negative thoughts were all about shame and guilt. Now they are about the challenges that come along and how to “reduce” the negative thoughts in problem solving. This is the beauty of understanding that there will always be challenges – major and minor – and learning how to cope with them through seeking positive support, input and encouragement. If I did not have a strong support system, I could see negative thoughts taking over completely. There would be no reduction, just negativity clouding my thoughts and behavior. While negative thoughts do destroy my ability to cope in a healthy way, that air of negativity can hurt relationships as well. I always joked that I probably wasn’t much fun to be around before I started practicing the WFS Statements.

Nancy Cross once wrote not to make our thoughts our prison. For me, that spoke volumes. I am creating my own prison when I stay stuck in negativity. Again, it’s not having the negative thoughts in reaction to circumstances or people, it’s how we respond and especially stay stuck. I tend to start creating my personal gratitude list all the way to the basics and I found that really helps me.

Nancy also wrote about another coping tool and that is keeping an inventory of memories that can immediately make you smile. Occasions where you felt happy, appreciative, cheerful, at peace. Reminiscing those happy moments gives a balanced perspective to your situation. You realize that what appears negative today will change tomorrow. Nothing stays the same.

Each Statement is a guide for change and for me, this one is the one I needed. So grateful for both this Statement and the support of the women I am privileged to know through WFS.

Bonded in reducing negativity,
4C WFS Member

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Monday Thoughts 10/8/18

Monday Thoughts

“One day I looked at something in myself that I had been avoiding because it was too painful. Yet once I did, I had an unexpected surprise. Rather than self-hatred, I was flooded with compassion for myself because I realized the pain necessary to develop that coping mechanism to begin with.” ~~Marianne Williamson

“Failing well is a skill. Letting girls do it gives them critical practice coping with a negative experience. It also gives them the opportunity to develop a kind of confidence and resilience that can only be forged in times of challenge.” ~~Rachel Simmons

“I’m still coping with my trauma, but coping by trying to find different ways to heal it rather than hide it.” ~~Clementine Wamariya


Statement #2
Negative thoughts destroy only myself.
My first conscious sober act is to reduce negativity in my life.


Recently, many women have felt triggered from numerous social and political developments. From the #Me Too movement and past personal traumas to the uncertainty with LGBT and reproductive rights, there is an air of fury along with an increase of raw emotion. Across this wide range of feelings some women are flooded with fear and negativity. Thankfully, the WFS community is a safe and restorative landing place.

Oftentimes, women can feel that intense emotions are negative. Throughout my life, thoughts of rage have led to extreme emotion, which can still feel frightening.  Finding what resides under this anger has opened up healing, bringing understanding and action to light. A continued practice of Statement #2 enables a reduction in negativity.

Negative thoughts are often impulsive and can be reduced through identifying and processing. Instead of turning away from the raw feelings thoughts can bring, even slowly paced processing leads to increased feelings of ease. For instance, try logging negative thoughts into an impulse log. Here is a log with two examples:

Impulsive or Negative Thought: 

  1.  I can’t handle this, I need a drink!
  2.  I am mad at the whole world, I want to hit something!

What am I trying to express with this impulsive or negative thought?

  1.  I am afraid, I am in emotional pain, I feel useless and alone.
  2.  Issues important to me are being dismantled and I feel alone.

What will I do instead?

  1.  I can call another 4C woman, go on the WFS Forum, take a walk, or practice breathing.
  2.  I will call my Senator/public official, join a committee, learn how to run for public office

How do I feel after?

  1.  Instead of drinking, I now understand that I was feeling afraid and doubted myself and wanted to escape this intense emotion, so I called a 4C friend, we talked, laughed and I feel hopeful and very happy that I chose to call her, and she too was happy that I called. We are having lunch together next week. My mind is more at ease now.
  2.  Instead of lashing out or getting into road rage, I found a group, signed up for their emails and am looking into what I can do today. I might run for office in the future but right now I am supporting those running for office whose values echo my own and made friends with two individuals at the last gathering. I feel focused on solutions and am putting my energy into helping advance this cause.

How do you move through negative thoughts? Which way is the most effective for you?

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Love the exercise Karen has given us to process our negative thoughts. I related to her fear of experiencing rage as I have definitely felt that extreme feeling throughout my life. Understanding where that feeling originated was an eye opener. I realized that most of my rage came from feeling invisible, inadequate, rejected and powerless – feelings I carried from childhood into adulthood. And those are just a few that I have identified! I use to stay stuck in those negative feelings until I uncovered their origin.

Now when I feel those negative thoughts rushing in, I stop and focus on the core issue of where the thoughts are stemming from. I discovered that many times it is because I am not in control of the situation which means I am not in control of the outcome. Why this surprises me, surprises me! After all, I have learned a long time ago that I am only in control of myself, my actions, my decisions. So, it goes back to those initial feelings which tells me that if I were visible, heard, adequate and empowered enough, the people I love would follow my guidance and I would feel I had worth because they valued my input.

Now, just in case you’re wondering who those people are, it is my family.  I share this because while I have learned and gained insight over the years, I think my feelings are typical when it comes to family members (spouse, partner, sibling, children and extended family members).  Knowing this in advance, I am able to use positive self-talk, receive support from my friends and the WFS group, and even writing the Monday message helps me. No more running from my negative thoughts.

It’s amazing how my support system can bring me back to common sense, to what I already know deep down inside but for the moment, I lose track of it all. This is why I always emphasize that we are not alone. Reaching out, knowing there are people who relate to you, no explanations, no judgments, what a gift! And sometimes, we just want to be heard. I love being able to turn my negative thoughts around, knowing once again that I am in control of me, not anyone else and it’s my choice to set healthy boundaries as best I can. I am learning to challenge those negative thoughts rather than to be stuck in them. When I challenge, I see the core of “why” and it gives me a chance to create an action plan of how to cope, to create positive change that I am in control of and, as Karen said, focus on solutions and using my energy to advance a cause or find the path to keep creating my New Life.

Have you uncovered the origins of your negative thoughts? If so, how has this helped you turn those thoughts around?
Do you have a support system in place?

Bonded in support of each other,
4C WFS Member