Archive for the ‘encouragement’ Tag

Carpé Diem 2012   2 comments

A brief thought for the New Year

Carpé Diem – Remember Yesterday, Hope for Tomorrow, Live Today!

We always talk about New Years being a chance for new beginnings, a chance to start over, to do things differently than we have in the past. However, sometimes, the first thing that we have to do is do NOTHING! As we prepare to leave 2011 and enter 2012, I encourage you to join me in a time of reflecting on the the past year. Yes, that includes acknowledging and possibly facing some old pain, but it is also a time to remember the joy and the victories that we have had. In looking back that focus is not to beat ourselves up over our mistakes, but to remember them so as to not repeat them. Most of all I hope looking back is an opportunity to look back and see how far that you have come in your life and recovery. How much more like the person that you WANT to be you are and less like the person that you were. No matter if it is GREAT strides or only a few baby steps, Celebrate EVERY success.

Having “remembered yesterday” we turn our focus to “Hope for tomorrow.” Let me begin by saying I am NOT a proponent of “New Year’s Resolutions”. “Why not?”, you might ask. TO explain lets look at the typical “Resolution Experience”. First things first- the resolution itself; it is usually some expectation that is in realistic an impractical for us to consider trying. They are also often very vague. Examples include: “loose weight”. “Be a better person”, “Stop smoking”, etc. Next, when the New Year rolls around and we set out to start working towards keeping these resolutions we quickly become discouraged as realize how vague and unrealistic these resolutions really are. As a result, we simply give up and quit trying completely. Having done so, we suddenly start hearing all those negative messages replaying in our minds, “I knew that you could not do it”, “You will never amount to anything”, “You are such a failure”, “It’s no wonder no one wants to be with you.” Anyway, I think you get the idea. We end up overcome with guilt, shame and ultimately depression. Not my idea of a good way to start of a new beginning. Let me offer an alternative way of preparing for the year ahead. Goals are a necessity. We have to have something that we are working towards. When you travel you do not leave home without a destination to which you are going. Life/Recovery is the same way; we must have some goals that we are working towards. In this season, or any other as a matter of fact, we need to set clear, specific and attainable long term goals and then corresponding shorter term goals that act as steps to achieving the larger ones.

Let me try to illustrate with a brief personal example. As some of you ay or may not know, I have a dream of taking “Hope in Recovery” in to the community. My ultimate desire is to “someday” become a “motivational speaker” traveling doing workshops and seminars encouraging/empowering consumers of mental health services and providing support and resources to the people that serve them. So that is my “LOOOOOOONG Term Goal.” Is it attainable? Who knows. I hope so. In order to EVER get there are a number of other things that I need to do in the mean time, my shorter term goals. Even some of them have sub-goals as well. One of the important pieces that I feel must be in place to achieve my ultimate dream is that I have to complete the process and get my License to practice as a Professional Counselor. Thus short term goal. However, to do that I must take and pass a licensure exam and then complete internship hours; more sub-goals.

In setting shot term and sub-goals, the MUST be very clear, specific and set a time frame for completion. Deadlines are not for beating ourselves up over if we do not succeed; they serve as motivation to be actively pursuing that goals that we have set for ourselves.

Let me share one very brief example of setting deadlines: In one of his most recognized speeches, then President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961 called for the United States to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. On July 20, 1969, just 8 years and 2 months later NASA’s Apollo 11 mission would land with the first humans on the moon.

So whether it is in your career, education, family and especially in your recovery start thinking about what your long term goals are and what steps, shot term/ sub-goals are you going to need to reach them. That brings me to what I believe is probably the most essential of this process, “Live Today” We can make no progress towards ANY goal doing nothing. As the old statement goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” Similarly, goals, no matter how great or noble, are not worth the paper that they are written on if they are not actively being pursued. It is time to get off the couch, believing and expecting the everything in the world to just “work out’ will we sit and wait. As the famous quote states, “…time waits for no man.”

This is where my tag line comes in: “One breath, One step, One day at a time” Each and every second, minute hour day, is an opportunity to move forward addressing and struggle and obstacle as it comes or to continue to as we have in the past, accepting it all and continuing to be that same person that we always have know ourselves to be. “Live Today” is not just about battling the struggles. Seeing as the present of today is the Past of tomorrow, make sure that despite your striving and work towards your goals, you take to to enjoy the good things that are in your life. Here again borrowing from an old tired cliché, “Stop and smell the roses.” Be honestly grateful for what you have and express it to those around you.

Today is your day!                                 2012 is your year of victory!

If you will only believe… ALL things are possible.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Carpe Diem – Remember Yesterday, Hope for Tomorrow, Live Today!

Posted December 30, 2011 by Hope in Recovery in Change, Hope, Recovery, Uncategorized

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“Neither do I condemn thee”   Leave a comment

Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives.

And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down and taught them.

And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said unto Him, “Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

Now Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned but what sayest thou?”

This they said testing Him, that they might have cause to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not.

So when they continued asking Him, He lifted Himself up and said unto them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

And they who heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the eldest even unto the last, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing in the midst.

When Jesus had lifted Himself up and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?”

She said, “No man, Lord.” And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.” John 8:1-11

Whether it be the voices of guilt, shame and regret that seem at times torment our every thought, or the accusations and judgments of those around us, we must stand confidently knowing there is only one true and just judge and He has forgiven us of ALL transgressions. So be strong in the Lord and hold your head high, stop letting the regret, guilt and shame of past mistakes and sins steal the joy and peace that are waiting for you in the here and now. When we come into faith of Jesus as our Savior, He washes the slate clean in His eyes; He removes our sins from as far as the East is from the West.

“Though you sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Psalm 103:12

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us. Isaiah 1:18

I urge then friends to look at yourself from this day forward as one marred with the scars of your your past rather, when you remember that pain, say a short prayer of thanks, because now they are medals declaring the Love, Mercy and Grace that He has given to you. Then turn and look forward, and refuse to go back to being “that person”, doing “those things”, because that is NOT who you are anymore.


Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Every step forward is one further away from who we were and closer to who He has made us to be! – Keep Going!! 

One breath, One step, One Day at a time,

Gary

Unexpected Gifts   1 comment

Have you every been given a unexpected gift? A gift that you get at a time that there is no special day or time associated with it, no birthday, no holiday. no anniversary, etc. For many that either personally battle with the challenges of addiction and mental illness or have a loved whom does, that is exactly what they get almost every day. Unfortunately is not in a good way. Addiction is a “gift that keeps on giving.” What kinds of gifts does it “bless” the affected with?

  • Physical Illness
  • Emotional Pain
  • Poor Self-Esteem
  • Legal Problems
  • Estranged Relationships
  • Financial Problem
  • Guilt / Shame
  • Hopelessness

Unfortunately, there is no “Day after Christmas” in the real world. There is a strict “no refund, no exchange” policy in reference to these “gifts. Once they have been received, the best that we can do is take them as they come, and attempt to cope with them as best we can. <Kinda like the ugly sweater that Aunt June gave you. You think it is absolutely hideous, but with a smile you put it on and wear it for the day. Then when she goes home you put it in the pile for your next rip to Goodwill.>

Unfortunately as we all know those that battle addiction, do not typically respond to these gifts in a “healthy” or “positive” manner. Many times they are taken as a good “excuse” to continue the negative and destructive behaviors.

This is so typical, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) says this about Substance Abuse (Addiction):

When an individual persists in use of alcohol or other drugs despite problems related to use of the substance, substance dependence may be diagnosed.

This is one pattern of behavior that is needed for a person to be “diagnosed” with a substance abuse disorder.

In my opinion, this is the typical view that has been taken of these “Gifts of Addiction”, the negative and destructive. I want to challenge our paradigm and look at them from a little more positive perspective. Then I want us to look at the greater gifts and rewards that are found on “the other side”, in a life of recovery.

Friedrich Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist, once said,

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.

A couple of similar quotes reinforce this idea.

Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.Arnold Schwarzenegger

I have had to fight like hell and fighting like hell has made me what I am.John Arbuthnot Fisher

Opposition is a natural part of life. Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition – such as lifting weights – we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.Stephen R. Covey

So what am I trying to say? I would NEVER choose to rewind the clock of time relive any of the struggles of the past including their pain, loss anger, etc. However, as strange as this sounds, I would not go back and undo them if I could either. Despite, all of the negatives that resulted, these struggles come with their own “unexpected gifts”. They develop character. Each one of us is the person that we are because of our experiences good and bad not despite them. These same trials foster strength and courage. Having gone through and overcome these trials, we become stronger and stronger with each obstacle that we conquer. With each step that we take onward and upward, we are stronger and wiser when it comes time to face the next one. It is not easy and will take a lot of work and devotion, but in the end we realize that it was all worth it.

That brings me to the ultimate “unexpected gifts”, the gifts that we discover in a life of recovery. In my experience and communications with those that have known both sides of this coin, there is one gift that is far and above the most treasured, “PEACE”. We learn that life does NOT have to be full of chaos! As we grow and get wiser and stronger, we realize that we are capable of much more than we have ever given ourselves credit for in the past. We realize that we DO have something to share with the world that is around us and it is some thing positive, healthy and beautiful! Life AFTER addiction is just that LIFE! We finally start living and being able to enjoy the experiences of each day rather than simply “surviving”. Life after addiction is a life of daily “unexpected gifts”. That is if we will open our eyes and hearts to be watching for them.

So whether it is your past, your present or you future, I challenge you to open your eyes and your heart and be grateful for each of the “unexpected gifts that come into your life.

Thanks for letting me share one with you in these words!

One breath, one step, one day at a time,

What is Hope in Recovery   1 comment

What is Hope in Recovery?

Hope in Recovery is a non-profit outreach ministry with the sole purpose of sharing hope and healing to the hurting, especially those confronted with various forms of mental illness or substance abuse/dependence. It is recognized that these individuals are not the only ones affected by their challenges; they are not in this journey alone. They are a part of families and other social networks. These other networks are an integral part of the individual’s life and recovery and as such should be considered and included in the recovery process.

Hope in Recovery Vision Statement

To develop and maintain a collaborative community of consumers and providers of mental health and/or substance abuse services, in order to create an environment that promotes hope, recovery and personal growth.

I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD.

Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly.

Free those who are abused! Isaiah 58:6 (CEV)

Hope in Recovery Organizational Mission Statement

Hope in Recovery is a non-profit outreach ministry with the sole purpose of sharing hope and healing to the hurting, especially those confronted with various forms of mental illness or substance abuse/dependence. It is recognized that these individuals are not the only ones affected by their challenges; they are not in this journey alone. They are a part of families and other social networks. These other networks are an integral part of the individual’s life and recovery and as such should be considered and included in the recovery process.

This sharing of “hope and healing” is characterized by the following foundational principles:

Enlighten: to share information with others so as to teach them something that they did not previously know, or to assist them in recall of previously known information, in order to allow them to improve the state of their lives.

Encourage: To give help or to inspire with courage. In other words, offering a hand to another whom has slipped and fallen along their way and helping them to get back to their feet.

Inspire: To influence, exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on, to spur on or motivate. Continuing from the previous thought, once the individual has gotten back on their feet; to inspire is to walk alongside and urge them on in their journey, rooting them on saying “you can do it”.

Instill Hope: To give, to share or impart hope. Hope is the belief that something good will happen and success is possible.

Empower: To promote the realization of the strength and courage that resides within, so as to believe in themselves and their potential for success.

This goal is achieved through a number of different avenues and techniques including, but not limited to the following:

  • Written materials
  • Motivational Speaking
  • Educational Workshops and Seminars
  • Personal Interactions – Face to Face, Telephone and Virtual (E-mail, Chat, Social Networks, etc.)


Beautiful   2 comments

“Baby Steps” – Self-Esteem (Re-Post)   5 comments

“Baby Steps” a Lesson in Self-Esteem

After some recent interactions I feel that this is a good time to revisit this concept. It is such a struggle for so many. I actually heard someone say “I don’t feel worthy of getting better.” How much clearer can this epidemic be expressed?

I Hope and pray that your are encouraged and inspired to fight the good fight and take those first challenging “Baby Steps” of reclaiming your self-esteem.

As always, your comments and feedback are welcome and ENCOURAGED

One Breath, One Step, One Day at a Time!

_______________________________________________________________________

Self-Esteem is probably one of the most important yet difficult issues faced by any human being whether you are challenged with a mental illness or substance abuse or not. This is even truer for those that are traveling along this journey of Recovery battling these issues.

It has been my experience that Self-Esteem is so difficult for some of us that we avoid even talking about the issue completely, including ways to work to improve it. I believe that we do this because we are fully aware of the minimal amount of esteem that we have for ourselves. This low-self-esteem is a great obstacle in our recovery.

We will often sabotage our potential and possibility of success, by not fully investing ourselves and thus not giving our very best effort. Why? We do this because we are “Sure” that we are going to fail again. If we are honest with ourselves, then we often unconsciously and at times consciously choose to fail rather than succeed. I believe that we do so for a couple of different reasons.

1. Though it is painful, failure is actually comfortable and familiar. Though it hurts, we know where we are and what is going to happen next.

It is sad but true but, many of us, despite the pain and suffering we will often choose to remain in a state dysfunction out of comfort and familiarity.  On the other hand, if we allow ourselves to succeed, then there is a whole new world of unknowns that we must navigate. Once we start experiencing even the smallest of victories, then we are faced with all new expectations of success placed on us by ourselves and by others. Here again, we had rather fail now rather than fail later and let ourselves or more importantly (to us at the time) someone else.

2. Through our past and experiences, we have grown to believe, “I don’t deserve to be successful and happy”

For many of us we initially heard the negative messages from others, parents, teachers, others kids at school, etc. Messages like: “You’re good for nothing”, ”You’ll never amount to anything”, “I don’t even know why you try”, “ All you are is a screw-up”. These “tapes” have played in our heads for so long that we grow to believe that we really are “worthless” and do not deserve to have anything good happen in our lives. When something does happen to our benefit, we attribute it to “luck” or to the actions to someone else and refuse to accept any personal recognition or satisfaction for the effort which we put forth in order to reach that point of success, no matter how great or how small.

 3. We have developed a since of learned helplessness.

Similarly, we grow to accept and take on these same negative messages and thus believe that we truly are not capable of succeeding.  Therefore, when faced with an opportunity for success, we either consciously or unconsciously sabotage it, insuring that we fail. There by strengthening our belief in our helplessness. I believe that this is where the concept of the “self-fulfilling prophecy” comes in.

A self-fulfilling prophecy is at the beginning, a false belief about a situation which evokes a new behavior which makes the original false conception come ‘true’. Thus the individual will cite the actual course of events as proof that he/she was right from the very beginning

Much of what I have shared thus for is not new to any of you, in fact my guess is that as many of you have read, you have said to yourself, “Oh, that is why I do that”. Well now that we have a little bit of an idea, of how we got to where we are, and why we have stayed here, lets look at some ways to get moving in the right direction.

Most, if not all of us, have been hindered at least to some degree by before mentioned learned helplessness. There is one good thing about learned helplessness… it is LEARNED. If it is learned, then it can be unlearned and something new, different, better can be learned in its place.  We can learn “hopefulness”.  Hopefulness essentially is the opposite of helplessness.

Hopefulness is “Believing, despite what I see in my circumstances, I am capable and worthy of being successful.”

Of course, getting to that point is much easier said than done. Many of us have been hopeless and helpless for so long, we struggle with even the possibility of hope.

Self-Esteem has to be build from the ground up and learning to walking in it really is a step by step process. Let me borrow from a life experience and lesson that we have ALL learned from.

When a child learns to walk, he/she does not turn 10-months old and just start walking independently. There are MANY smaller steps that have occurred over the months leading up to day.  He/she rolled over, scooted, crawled, pulled up to stand, etc. He/she took one “baby step” after another until he/she got to the point of taking those first steps. Even then, once he/she starts walking, there are going to be falls, bumps, and bruises.  Does the child give up? NO. He/she cries for a bit, but then gets up and tries again. Slowly but surely, he/she gets better and better, more stable, and ultimately more and more confident.

We must translate these same “baby steps” into our recovery. As we start out, we slowly put one foot in front of the other, a little wobbly at first and reaching out and relying on our support systems to a degree. We begin with simple say day to day challenges: getting out of bed, taking a shower, eating, going to support groups or meetings. If faced with more difficult decisions we seek counsel from among our peers and support. As we grow more confident and stable in making these simple day to day decisions and solving problems, we gradually start taking on more difficult ones. Again, we are becoming more and more confident in the process. Just as with the child learning to walk, we are learning that there is hope, we can be successful and it really is not as scary a place as we thought that it was. We have learned to be hopeful, seeing ourselves and our circumstances from a optimistic perspective, seeing the good that our lives can be and how we can be an asset to those around us.

I want to leave you with a few practical exercises to help as you begin “crawling” in your self-esteem:

  1.  List 5 positive things that other people have said about you.
  2.  List 5 positive things about yourself.(Attributes or accomplishments)
  3. Share a compliment with 5 other people.
  4. Do something unrepentantly kind for someone that you perceive to be  “worse off” than you.

As you complete each “step” take out a pen and journal about how completing the activity made you feel. Take note to how you feel about your self before and after each activity.

 “We have to walk before we can run!”

He’s Got Your Back!   2 comments

This is quite a simple and I believe straight forward post, but none the less I hope it encourages and inspires you in reading as much as it as me in writing it!

No matter where we are in our lives: Good times, going through the motions and just existing or in the pit of loss and despair, the Lord God Almighty is there with us. “He has our back”. Well I guess that is not quite entirely true, He does not JUST have our back, He has our front, top, bottom, left, right, inside and out! He SURROUNDS us!

______________________________________________________________

We may be overcome with anxiety and fear or secure in peace and security.

           but He is there!

We may be dining at the finest restaurant or eating out of a trash can.

          but He is there!

We maybe fighting the demons within or singing with the angels.

         but He is there!

We may be warm and comfortable or restless and freezing,

        but He is there!

No matter where we are, the condition of our inside or the condition of our outside –

       He is there!

No matter of our emotional status or our state of mind,

      He is there!

______________________________________________________________

Psalm 23:4,6

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.

Surely Your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,

Psalm 91:11-15

11For He shall give His angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways.
12They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample underfoot.

14″Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he hath known My name.
15He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

Psalm 139: 1-3,5,7-9

1You have searched me, LORD,
  and you know me.
2You know when I sit and when I rise;
  you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3You discern my going out and my lying down;
  you are familiar with all my ways.
5You hem me in behind and before,
  and you lay your hand upon me.
7Where can I go from your Spirit?
  Where can I flee from your presence?
8If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
  if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
  if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10even there your hand will guide me,
  your right hand will hold me fast.

Romans 8:35,38-39

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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