Tuesday, July 10, 2018

“Don’t get upset with people or situations, both are powerless without your reaction.” ~~unknown

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~~Victor Frankl

 “Sometimes it’s best to stay quiet. The silence can speak volumes without ever saying a word.” ~~unknown

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

Life before sobriety and recovery was focused on arguing.  Quick to choose sides, arguments erupted easily and with the addition of alcohol, emotions escalated into all out wars.  Even when alone, it was easy to engage both sides, continuing fights or disagreements in my mind, acting almost as if the amount of time spent fighting would mean winning. (which it never did!) This was an especially painful way to live; emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually.

Statement #2 in action, paired with sobriety can de-escalate or even prevent arguments from taking place.  Understanding emotions and reactions can set the tone to reduce negativity.  While this is a continuing process, a reduction in negativity makes room for different responses and a sense of balance.

Responding differently can include not responding at all.  Instead of going off like a ballistic missile when cut off in traffic, a pause or moment of reflection redirects from attaching to aggression and/or anxiety to simply continuing a drive.  Overtime, the small changes in response can add up to self-compassion and satisfaction. 

The acronym RAIN is a form of mindfulness from Michele McDonald which can reduce negativity in the example of being cut off in traffic:

Recognize what is going on:  A car just cut you off
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is: Refusing to engage or flip off car who cut you off
Investigate with kindness:  Maybe that person is trying to get to a hurt loved one in the hospital
Natural awareness which comes from not identifying with the experience: Simply driving on your way

Hi 4C Women,
I so appreciate how we can practice and internalize Statement #2 as it relates to our own personal lives. It is what creates our individual successful path to recovery. I was not one to express myself as I feared confrontation so my negative thoughts remained focused on my inadequacies - real or imagined. We all have areas of our life for which we aren't trained, knowledgeable or able to comprehend (for me, mostly technology). What I have learned is that it is not a reflection on my capabilities or intelligence. It is actually a sign of strength to be able to recognize we need help and to ask for it. Why would I continue to say negative thoughts about myself to myself when there are areas that I am definitely competent in and others that require assistance, help and input from others who have the knowledge and skill I don't. So for me, I am no longer crippled by a negative thought that in the past kept me paralyzed with fear, fed my intense sense of incompetency and discouragement. This Statement has definitely reduced negativity in my life and I am grateful.  

So, rather than harming yourself emotionally with negative thoughts, think about the strengths, knowledge, life experience and abilities that you do have. And when you do ask for help, you are also building up the confidence of the person you asked in addition to learning something new.  
I picked up this book, "The Law of the Garbage Truck" by David J. Pollay a few years back at the WFS Conference. This is his description/pledge of the law of the Garbage Truck: I do not accept garbage in my life. When I see Garbage Trucks, I do not take them personally. I just smile. I wave. I wish them well. And I move on. And I do not spread garbage to others. I am not a Garbage Truck! I do not accept garbage in my life. In one chapter he said that we don't need to suppress or deny bad memories and negative thoughts when they appear, just smile, wave, wish them well and move on as his pledge says. This exercise helps in not diminishing your joy, your confidence or your belief in what is good and possible in your life.  The next time a negative thought appears, reflect on it for a moment and then try just smiling, waving goodbye and wishing it well as you move on. How does it make you feel? Hold onto that feeling and practice it often!  

Bonded in reducing negativity in our lives,
4C WFS Member
Happy Birthday WFS!
Please take a moment to reflect on your 4C journey as WFS celebrates 43 years of empowering and inspiring women in building a sober New Life. We thought this was a great opportunity to share this article from 1975 about our budding organization. Thank you for sharing your strength, encouragement, and support with all your sisters in recovery and WFS!
Check out Women for Sobriety's official blog.
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