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Monday Thoughts 10/21/2019

Monday Thoughts

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”  ~~Lily Tomlin

“You’re only human.  You don’t have to have it together every minute of every day.”  ~~Anne Hathaway

“It’s OKAY to be scared.  Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.”  ~~Mandy Hale


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.


Lately, life has felt overwhelming and uncertain.  Fear of the unknown and personal expectations have ruled daily thoughts.  Facing uncertainty is not easy but opening about struggles brings understanding and deep connection; exactly what Statement #4 is all about.

The WFS New Life Program and Statement #4 in action prevent relapse and cement recovery.  Needing to add action to this Statement, reaching out has become a top priority.  Isolation is detrimental to sobriety.  Additionally, doing the following exercise from page 23 of the WFS Beginner’s Collection aids in shifting focus from worry and doubt to overcoming and confidence.

Exercise:  Write about specific problems that once worried you, how they were solved, and if they were solved in the way your worrying about them indicate.  Reflect on some of your current problems, then brainstorm possible solutions for your problems.  Finally, reflect on if/how your worrying has ever solved your problems.

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

There are problems/constant worrying and then there are concerns.  For me, problems/constant worrying became a distraction so I didn’t have to make decisions or problem-solve authentic issues in my life. It was more about my fear of the unknown, wanting to control the outcome when I never considered possible solutions.  Just wringing my hands, venting constantly and carrying around a cloud of darkness. I was always making the proverbial molehill into a mountain, a giant boulder!  When I did that, I made sure there was no time to handle a real issue.  Before WFS, I used alcohol to handle it all and then not only did I still have the concern, the problems that required no problem-solving, were still there in my mind, taking up unnecessary space.

When I first started moderating, I felt it was my responsibility to solve everyone’s life problems – again, still distancing myself from learning how to problem-solve my own life issues.  This is why I am so grateful to WFS for teaching me ways to disseminate the difference between my chronic worrying and concerns that needed my attention.  I learned to reach out by sharing my concerns in a safe environment, seeking input, creating a pros and cons list to help me in my decision-making.

What I have learned is that with sobriety, I can be available to support others, to give my input as I, too, need input.  It’s a beautiful balance of support, caring and learning how to make healthier decisions.  I still use distractions when I feel overwhelmed but usually it’s organizing something I’ve been putting off.  Sometimes that distraction alone gives my mind a much-needed break.  It’s all a process and being patient with ourselves is the compassionate way to handle it.

When considering the differences between worry and concern, consider these distinctions by Dr. Hallowell:

  • Worry distracts us; Concern focuses us
  • Worry disables planning; Concern helps up plan
  • Worry blurs our vision; Concern clarifies our purpose
  • Worry tens to give up; Concern perseveres
  • Worry exaggerates; Concern pinpoints problems

Bonded in learning not to let problems overwhelm us and learning how to make healthier decision-making, problem-solving solutions in a safe place with our WFS sisters,
your 4C sister

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Monday Thoughts 7/22/2019

Monday Thoughts

“Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. You’re strong. You got this. Take it day by day.” ~~Karen Salmansohn

“Life is very interesting. In the end, some of your greatest pains become your greatest strengths.” ~~Drew Barrymore

“Nothing is more beautiful that the smile that has struggled through the tears.” ~~Demi Lovato


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.


One of the things that I love about Statement #4 is that it doesn’t state that every problem needs to be figured out all at once. Oftentimes, there can be a lack of information or even timing, so making informed decisions is not available right away.

Being able to move through problems instills strength, resiliency and wisdom. It is such an amazing feeling to reach the other side of a challenge or problem; the satisfaction runs deep and fuels further strength and abilities.

Curiously, I have discovered, that each problem has a solution, otherwise it would not be a problem. Sometimes as mentioned, more time or information is needed, but there can be a solution and it is up to each of us 4C women to discover what that solution is. Happily, we do not have to do it alone. We can reach out for support anytime. What strategies do you use to solve problems? What bites of wisdom have you gleaned from solving a past problem?

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

There are problems and there are serious concerns. I have always appreciated Statement #4 because it helped me eliminate the so called “problems” that weren’t really problems but a distraction from focusing on concerns that needed attention. I also learned that, as Karen says, even a concern may require more information, timing and positive input from caring supporters. Sometimes just taking time away or saying out loud what we are concerned about can be freeing. In the past, my worrying about everything drained my energy for real problem-solving. I withdrew from problem-solving because that meant I had to eventually make a decision and I wasn’t confident enough to trust that process. WFS taught me that skill and most importantly, that even when the decision wasn’t the right choice, that I could learn from it – it wasn’t the end of the world. A WFS member once said, it’s not the end of the world until it’s the end of the world! I think of that so often when I am faced with a life-changing decision.

Margaret Pruitt, former WFS Board member, wrote a booklet for WFS many years ago on coping with stress. One of her suggestions was “Give yourself the freedom to change your mind. Re-assessing is a mark of flexibility, not instability.” Another was “Break the habit of guilt and worry. Guilt is self-punishment for the inability to change the past; worry is self-punishment for the inability to change the future. Both waste needless energy and cause needles stress. Replace guilt and worry with concern. Guilt and worry are immobilizing; genuine concern leads to action. Don’t forget, everyone makes mistakes – they are one of our best methods for learning.” Those words stuck with me and I am grateful for her words of wisdom that changed the way I chose to practice Statement #4.

Bonded together in learning problem-solving and decision-making skills,
a 4C Woman

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Monday Thoughts 4/22/2019

Monday Thoughts

“Either I will find a way or I will create a way; but I will not create an excuse.” ~~Anonymous

“Running away from a problem only increases the distance from the solution. The easiest way to escape from a problem is to solve it.” ~~Unknown

“When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions.” ~~Steve Jobs


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.


Thinking about it, a solution is the last part of a problem. Sometimes they can be difficult to see at first, but as in the above quotes, solutions can be simple and not some extraordinary math conglomeration that needs a large whiteboard to be solved. Sobriety and recovery can be similar, the solution is to not do something, yet sometimes we can complicate the process in a number of ways.

Statement #4 is empowering. It conveys strength by stating the problem can only bother me to the degree I permit. It rests the responsibility right where it belongs. While no one can control their entire being, each of us are responsible for our reactions. Excuses are no longer needed. This is truly liberating!

Jean writes in our WFS Program Booklet “Learning that I didn’t have to react to everything with upsetting emotions was an important part of my recovery.” Instead of knee-jerk reactions, there are options. Instead of black and white rigidity, there are gray areas in-between. Have you been conditioned to respond in a certain way to a problem? What if you responded differently? How has Statement #4 helped on your journey of New Life?

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Before WFS, I saw most everything as a problem and immediately became overwhelmed. I complained, felt life was unfair and drank to avoid seeking any solution. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was unwilling to react in a proactive manner or consider that I was making a mountain out of a molehill. Everything felt like a disaster so when real issues arrived, I was completely unprepared to handle them. I was too busy worrying about the problem of my life when I could be the solution to my life. It was eye-opening to finally get it that I was able to understand my problems and actually learn problem-solving skills and decision-making when it was necessary. Not everything was an earth-shattering problem.

I learned something else along this journey – I am a competent woman and can usually handle 1-2 major concerns but even a competent woman can be overwhelmed when perhaps a 3rd or 4th concern arrives at the same time. It’s okay to be overwhelmed and even more okay to ask for help when needed. I am not the only 4C woman who has learned invaluable lessons from WFS. I have a whole sisterhood with life experiences, great ideas and love to help me in a time of need. What a gift and relief! It also helps to discern what is truly a concern or even a crisis or perhaps an ordinary problem that does not require my time, an immediate decision/response or, for that matter, any decision at all. Sometimes things have a way of working themselves out. It’s knowing if that’s the situation and that’s part of learning from your life experience as well as the input of others in a non-judgmental way.

I appreciate Karen’s questions and hope you feel encouraged to answer them in order to make full use of Statement #4 as you grow and learn about your strengths, wisdom and abilities.

Bonded in better understanding our problems, learning to seek help and becoming proactive decision-makers,

A beautiful 4C woman

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Monday Thoughts 1/21/2019

Monday Thoughts

“The road to success is always under construction.” ~~Lily Tomlin

“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.” ~~Rikki Rogers

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” ~~Eleanor Roosevelt


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.


Women in recovery have incredible strength and are able to overcome problems of every size and shape. Sobriety and the WFS New Life Program, especially Statement #4 in action, offers connection, understanding and the creation of solutions.

Alcohol or drugs sever the ability to problem solve and distort what the problem may actually be. With Statement #4, strategies can be developed and each success builds on the next. By practicing this Statement, we can choose better understanding instead of doubt or disaster. We can learn to ask for help. We can discover some problems do not even belong to us.

Statement #4 can also encourage us to reach down to our core and learn about our beliefs. We also have the opportunity to challenge those beliefs if they do not benefit us.  Henry Ford once said “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” If we feel deep down, or fully believe we have the ability, success is within reach.

How are your problem-solving skills different today than before your New Life? Have you challenged any outdated belief systems?

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Statement #4 always reminds me of setting priorities, especially when there are real concerns to be addressed. When everything feels like a problem, how can we discern between a need to problem-solve and let go of what we have little or no control over. I have a couple of ways I cope with feelings of frustration such as journaling, writing a letter I won’t send, crying to release the tension rather than give it more power, reaching out to those I feel safe with and trust. I am also a list maker. It is another one of the coping tools that has helped me when I feel overwhelmed and need to prioritize. At this moment, I am in that place. So, I make a list and ask myself the following questions which I have used often in prioritizing.

  • 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?

These questions help me tremendously in organizing my thoughts and begin looking for possible solutions and moving away emotionally from “problems” that are out of my control and most importantly, not valuable use of my time and energy. If you are facing a concern that needs your attention, I am hoping some of the coping tools I have used and the questions listed will help you prioritize and begin to problem-solve as needed.

Bonded in creating priorities and problem-solving skills,
4C WFS Member

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Monday Thoughts 10/22/18

Monday Thoughts

“You have dealt with so much and done the best that you can, take a moment now to appreciate how strong you are.” ~~Karen Salmansohn

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting the first one.” ~~Mark Twain

“Understanding can overcome any situation, however mysterious or insurmountable it may appear to be.” ~~Norman Vincent Peale


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.


Years ago, while raising alpacas, one of the most valuable tools in the field was balanced breathing. Alpacas are herd animals without a strong ability to protect themselves; they rely heavily on processing information related to their surroundings. Alpacas notice the little things like the breath of a 4 legged or 2-legged thing near them. Balanced breathing was just as important as a sharp pair of clippers!

Fast forward to today. My yoga instructor repeatedly states that our breath is our fuel. A quick Google search will tell that our breath sustains life by providing oxygen needed for metabolism and removing by-product carbon dioxide. Breathing also affects motor control and plays roles in physiological and psychological regulation. In a nutshell, breath is life. With something this important, this can be a natural place to begin when faced with a problem, large or small.

Statement #4 can be put into practice immediately upon discovering a problem. Just like alpacas banding together tightly when sensing something off, we can take a deep breath and band together for support. Reaching out to the WFS Online Forum, in face to face groups or a 4C sister, we find compassion and strength. Adding in slow, steady breathing can prepare our mind and body for understanding and problem solving.

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I’ve heard it said often to just breathe when a strong feeling seems to stop us from doing what is so necessary for life – like breathing!

My way of practicing Statement #4 is to replace “problems” with “worry” and to make the distinction between worry and concern. It’s been said that worry is problem oriented and concern is solution oriented. As a former worrier, I was reluctant to give up this approach as that would also mean I would have to actually be in charge of finding solutions to real issues/concerns. It was much easier (or so I thought) to see my whole life as a problem that could never be solved. I still go back to worrying now and then and that is usually when I have put way too much on my plate. I compare it to one of those “all you can eat buffets” for one low price. Well, I’ve learned the price is much too high even when it’s low! Thank goodness for the WFS group and my friends to help me (not judge me) get back to problem solving real concerns. If I am trying to control another person’s behavior, that is a red flag that I am distracting myself from taking care of the only person I can control and that is me. I can set healthier boundaries, I can make choices that support my well-being and I can ask for help from those I trust.

I want to focus on productive problem-solving as that teaches us so much of what we are capable of, how open we are to new ideas, what risks we are willing to take in this new approach, learning the difference between worry and concern and believing we are problem solvers with great follow-through as we practice Statement #4.

Here are some ways to start the productive problem-solving for concerns/issues that require our attention:

  • Clear description of the concern.
  • Clear delineation of the “ownership” of the concern. Whose concern is it?
    A clear description of the scope of the concern. How extensive? How long has it existed? How many people are affected?
  • A clear description of the consequences if concern is not solved. What is the impact on family, job, marriage, school, life in the community, etc.
    List brainstormed solutions to the concern. This is where your trusted support system is helpful.
  • A system of ranking each solution to finalize the decision-making process.
    A clear description of yourself as a decision-maker. Are you procrastinating? Avoiding the issue? Are you shutting down or blocking creativity? Are you ignoring it, hoping it will go away?
  • Determination to follow through on the solution. Are you willing to take the risk and pursue the solution to its fullest?

Hope this is helpful if you are struggling with an issue. If it helps for now to use the word “problem,” please consider doing that. Much success in moving forward in your ability to make decisions, seek support and take risks.

Bonded in being powerful decision-makers,
4C WFS Member