Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sober Living

Abstinence is NOT sobriety. Abstaining from drugs, alcohol or an addictive process like
gambling or sex is the beginning stage of recovery, the foundation to living a sober lifestyle.
Sobriety is the long, challenging, but rewarding journey of living a life of integrity, service to
others, spiritual development and accountability. Many addicts can have periods of being
“clean”, and can fall into the trap of false hope that they ca n stay clean by simply resisting the
urge to use. But treatment specialists know that, time and again, addicts will fall back into their
addiction if they are not learning, practicing and living by the tenets of a sober life. Alcoholics
Anonymous (AA) and many other 12-step groups provide a structure, a community, for addicts
to learn the life skills and develop the spiritual foundation to help them sustain their abstinence
and develop a healthy, truly sober way of living. Being sober includes fostering respectful
relationships, being transparent and honest in what we say and do, and shedding the
self-centeredness that marks the addict’s movement through the world. Only through sobriety
can addicts hope to connect with others, with their Higher Power, and find the strength to make
using truly a part of their past, and not a constant threat to their present. Abstinence allows us to
put on the running shoes, but sobriety gives us the strength, faith and hope to finish the race.

Friday, January 20, 2017

From the Inside Out

We all want to be liked. Having friends, getting positive feedback, knowing people enjoy our company feels ​good. We gain a sense of esteem and value from others’ appreciation of our talents and presence. Many clients have told me that the flattering opinions of others helps them feel they matter. Unfortunately, relying on others to “fill us up” leaves us vulnerable to becoming an empty vessel. We can't guarantee that we will always hear accolades from “adoring fans”, but we can be assured that our ​own voices are constantly available to us. 

The loudest critic resides in our minds. Whenever someone else rejects or dismisses us, it's our own
​self-regard that tells us to disregard that feedback, or to clutch it in a death grip. If a part of us is already doubting that we are smart, or talented, or powerful, we will seize on others’ criticism and begin to give it weight. We are unable to embrace criticism that we don't suspect could be true. To counter these emotional threats, we must practice providing ourselves with the positive scripts that celebrate our successes and note our gifts. We have the most powerful cheerleader within us at every moment. When we can build our inner resilience and confidence by recognizing our own worth, the voices outside become less relevant. Our value becomes an inherent part of us, unassailable by the messages from the world, and we are “filled” to overflowing. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

ME Time -- the second 50 years

“I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming...suddenly you find -- at the age of 50, say -- that a
whole new life has opened up before you.” - Agatha Christie

My family is taking every opportunity to remind me that I will soon be turning “the big 5-0.” We
pass a speed limit sign: “Mom, even the sign is warning you that you're going to be 50!” My wife
filled out an AARP application in my name. And asked if I had earned the senior discount at the
movie theatre. I don't mind (much), though, because I'm continuously reminding THEM, that,
come February 9th, they and their needs are going to have to get in the back seat, because life
will be ALL ABOUT ME.

Mine, All Mine

For as long as I can remember, I've told myself that, when I turn 50, I'll have truly earned the
right to call my life fully mine. I have no idea why I chose such an arbitrary number, and not 30,
or 45, or even 15. Indeed, I support clients in owning their lives fully and authentically from the
moment we begin work together, and I wholeheartedly believe we all have a right to live by our
own truth and vision of who we are and what we want. Perhaps it's being raised in a more
traditional family, where the women were expected to be -- and enjoyed -- caretaking their
families. Maybe it's my “nurturer”personality -- for years, I didn't sit down, eat, or wrangle the
rights to the remote control until everyone else had their turns. And I don't regret the decades of
putting others’ needs first. I gained fulfillment, purpose and a sense of achievement knowing my
efforts helped my family members feel cared for, supported, and celebrated. But now it's MY
time. Whether it's a nap in the middle of the day, or saying “not interested” to an invitation, I've
given myself permission to do what I want, when I want. My family is used to hearing my
opinions, and they would be surprised if I suddenly censored myself when it comes to claiming
my values or beliefs. But I'm not entirely sure how any of us will react when, for the first time, I
push myself to set my needs squarely before theirs. They tell me I should have done this years
ago, that I never needed a particular birthday to dawn in order to assume the universal right to
meet my own needs. And as much as I am anticipating saying “I'm not doing that because I
don't want to,” I wonder if I'll hesitate when my choice impacts the comfort or preference of
someone else. What I do know is that I'm excited to find out. I'm pretty sure that this blooming is
going to be FABULOUS.