Wednesday, August 5, 2015

 Women for Sobriety, Inc.
Concentrate on CHOICES, not changes.


The following excerpt is from the WFS Workbook, “Coping with Stress” by Margaret Pruitt, Ph.D.
Here are just a few ways to handle stress that are listed in the workbook.
A total of 25 are actually in the workbook!


The first step is to convince yourself that you are entitled to relieve the stress in your life.  Assure yourself that you deserve and are able to reduce the stresses that are evident in your mind, your body, and your life.  Many women believe it is their function to hide discomfort--smile and carry on.  A few choose stress, sustain it and wear it like a ‘badge of honor.’  There are healthier symbols of self-worth--calmness, control and competence.

Accept yourself as you are.  Value yourself as a package deal---fat hips and all.  Don’t rush out in all directions to improve yourself.  You can’t be perfect; don’t even try; nobody is.  Instead, aim at describing yourself accurately, allowing yourself to be less than perfect, and allowing others to be, also.  As your ideal is replaced by what you really are---your stress level will begin to go down. Concentrate on choices, not changes.

What you think is what you feel.  An awareness of the powerful relation between thinking and feeling is one of the most important keys to relieving stress.  Since what you think is what you feel, the best way to change your stressful feelings is to change your stressful thoughts.  Remember our cave woman ancestor; her reaction would have been the same if she only THOUGHT she saw a tiger and it was only the shadow of a rock

Challenge your Musts, Shoulds, Deserves, Oughts.  Stressful thoughts are exaggerated thoughts. When you say you SHOULD, MUST do something, you really might mean it might be better if you did.  These terms sound as if it would be dangerous or disastrous if you erred or postponed a simple task.  (There are some actions that are musts.)  There are many labels that women use to refer to themselves that are also exaggerated and stressful---stupid, lazy.  Exaggerated thoughts bring on exaggerated emotions.

Break the habit of Guilt and Worry.  Guilt is self-punishment for the inability to change the past; worry is self-punishment for inability to change the future.  Both waste needless energy and cause needless stress.  Usually guilt follows behaviors that fall short of what we learned as a child was good.  Today, it is your life.  Worry permits us to believe we are accomplishing something when we are really just standing still.  Replace guilt and worry with CONCERN.  Guilt and worry are immobilizing; genuine concern leads to action--control over the problem.  Don’t forget, everyone makes mistakes--they are one of our best methods for learning.

Statement #2, “Negative thoughts destroy only myself.”
My first conscious sober act must be to remove negativity from my life.

Karen’s Perspective +
     Sobriety does not mean the end of stress in my life; it simply means that I am learning new ways to cope and manage my emotions instead of turning to alcohol.
     In my experience, I turned to alcohol for stress relief and for escape.  I had no clue how to manage my thoughts or my feelings and was at a loss as to how to even begin to sort through them.  It was just easier (so I thought) to “drink my worries away.”  It wasn’t easier.  Yet something strange was happening.  The more I tried to evade my upsetting emotions, the more they came at me.  I soon found myself bombarded with chaos; it was here, it was there, it seemed like it was everywhere.  How much more could I take?
     Living in sobriety and my New Life, I discovered how true these words are.....The only way out is through.....and Statement #2 in action takes me THROUGH my thoughts and feelings.  Instead of trying to run away and hide, I am able to manage my thoughts and discard those that do not support my healthy new lifestyle.  By first recognizing my thoughts, I am able to choose.  I can take actions towards empowerment and enthusiasm, and release what no longer benefits me.
     Today I am able to hear what I am saying to myself and cut off negativity at the pass.  Ever watchful, I assure and value my 4C New Life!  Hugzzz, Karen
  • Daily, I manage my thoughts and feelings.
+  Dee’s Insights  +
     Hi 4C Women, It is amazing how much stress we add to our lives with our negative thoughts. We judge ourselves too harshly if we make a mistake or somehow do not live up to our unrealistic expectations.
     I often thought how unworthy I felt and my negative self-talk only proved my definition of myself to be true.  Through the WFS program and sobriety, I finally realized how destructive my negative thoughts had become; how they were nothing but lies that I thought was my truth.  We need to be our own best friend.  I mean, would I ever talk to a friend the way I had talked to myself?  Why did I insist on continually destroying my self-image?
     It took a long time, but I eventually learned to love myself and knocked that inner critic off my shoulder because he is a combination of my own self-doubts and old messages from the past.  I even gave my inner critic a name and whenever negative thoughts and self-destructive words begin to form in my mind, I know it is my inner critic trying to pull me back to a time when I didn’t like myself at all.  I do not allow him to have a voice because I am the one with the voice and it is a positive one, a healthy one.  The inner critic is a tricky guy and he doesn’t give up so easily sometimes, but then I am not that fearful, self-hating woman I once was.  I am a 4C woman and I work hard at maintaining that image of myself.
     My favorite part of Karen’s message is “Guilt is self-punishment for the inability to change the past; worry is self-punishment for inability to change the future.”  I have exchanged guilt for reflection, learning and letting go and worry for concern.  It helps keep me balanced when I am facing challenges, as we all do, and to problem solve rather than get stuck in worry.  –Dee

  • What are the words you use to describe yourself?
  • Are you able to recognize when your inner critic is pulling you back to a time of self-doubt?
Thank you, Karen and Dee, for your words of encouragement and inspiration to start off our week! ~Becky Fenner, WFS Director
Email:   *   Tel215-536-8026   *   Fax:  215-538-9026   *

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