Archive for the ‘Stress’ Tag

“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!

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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!”

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Quick To Listen – Slow to Anger   5 comments

 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; James 1:19

 QUICK to LISTEN

Listen without delay and sensitively in all interactions.

         SLOW to SPEAK

          Take your time to speak, Think first.

                SLOWER to ANGER

                    When we listen thoroughly and reply thoughtfully,

                    we will quite naturally not be so easily angered.

Slow to Anger

(PLEASE Click the image or HERE for Fullsize image)

Posted October 20, 2011 by Hope in Recovery in Responsibility, Uncategorized

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Arise from Broken   2 comments

There are only two ways to truly fail: Fail to try and fail to try again.

To fail and try again shows even more strength and courage

than to have never failed at all.

I’m Not Afraid of the Dark!   Leave a comment

Well, I was wandering what remarkable words would mark this eventful day, as I prepared to submit the 100th post to this blog, And this is the verse of scripture that cam to mind.

So whatever you find yourself battling this day, how overwhelming, there is One that can and will comfort you. You may be to the point of considering death as a preferred option to the current pain and suffering that characterize every breath that you take.  Call to Him and he will hear; Call to Him and he WILL answer.

You are not alone! There can be no shadow with out a source of light, So turn your eyes to the light rather than the shadows,

Not only is He with you, there are MANY others battling and struggling through the same/similar issues. We can reach out to one another and the agreement of 2 is greater than the sum.

There IS Hope, There IS HEALING!

PLEASE message me if you need support or Prayer, I will gladly join hands and hearts with you. rdtorecovery@gmail.com

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Two Gates – One Choice   2 comments

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (KJV)


Go in through the narrow gate. The gate to destruction is wide, and the road that leads there is easy to follow. A lot of people go through that gate. But the gate to life is very narrow. The road that leads there is so hard to follow that only a few people find it. (CEV)

This passage is set in the midst of Jesus great ‘Sermon on the Mount” and obviously gives us direction regarding the choices and direction of our lives. It is also a very clear picture of our journey in recovery. The only difference is that everyday we are faced with that same decision over and over and over again. I once said, Each step in recovery is one step further away from where/who you were and one closer to who you really are, and where you want to be!” Despite that truth, everyday and at times throughout the day, the “Wide Gate” continually offers itself for us to enter in. Thus AA has slogans like:“One day at a time” and “Do the next right thing”. They are all about recognition of this precise challenge.

That being said, I personally began using a new closing in my correspondence, “One Breath, one Step, one Day at a time.” Ever moment of everyday we are faced with situations and decisions, some so seemingly small that we react without giving them a second thought, others are far more difficult and require more processing. The scary part is, the “small” thoughtless decisions have just as much potential for changing our lives for the positive or negative as the “bigger” and more difficult ones.

Let me share with you a brief example: I was running late to work after lunch one day and focused on getting back as quickly as possible. Because I was in a hurry, I quick
ly decided to accelerate through a red light that had just turned from yellow. Because I was not paying attention, I did not see the one-ton Pick-up that had just exited the interstate and he “t-boned” my front end spinning me 270 degrees, and ultimately totaling my vehicle. Luckily I nor the other driver were seriously injured. That one thoughtless decision could have not only altered, but ended m
y life.

So as the author and poet, Robert Frost said,”Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.“ From the Road Less Traveled”

So how do I go about making sure that I am taking the right path. One clear indicator is that if you are surrounded by others that all seem to be moving through life as fast or faster than you are, then you are probably not on the right path. Where as when you feel like you are alone and struggling just to take the next step, then you are probably in just the right place. The good news that we are not alone on this journey. We are not left to our own devices and wisdom alone as we travel. First and foremost we have our “Higher Power”. I refer to Him as God, the Heavenly Father; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He has provided us with His written and infallible Word and His Spirit He has placed within those that believe. His word on more than one occasion provides instructions for when we do not know “what the next right thing” is.

Matthew 7:7-11“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

When we find ourselves at a crossroads where it is difficult to determine, which path is not just the “right” one, but the “God’ one, all we have to do is ASK!

Even then, if you are still unsure there give you a few simple suggestions:

  1. Love God with EVERYTHING that you have. (Matthew 22:36-39)
  2. Love others and treat them how you would want to be treated.
  3. Examine your actions and thoughts and test them against the “Fruit of the Spirit” – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:21-23)


I can guarantee one thing, at least at the beginning, the “narrow road” will NOT any easy one. But as we overcome one obstacle after another, we get stronger and more confident and the trials slowly do not seem as difficult to manage and overcome. Eventually, sooner than later, if we keep up doing the work, we find ourselves no longer “making mountains out of mole hills” rather we begin to make “molehills out of Mountains”

Rather than mumbling, grumbling and complaining about our situations, let us do as a before mentioned passage of scriptures recommend and

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Have you noticed that having a bad attitude does not help the situation get any better, however, when we keep a positive attitude, we things just seem to “be” better. This scripture and thought reminds me of a comment that I recently saw posted by several friends on Facebook, with some slight wording changes it is:

I am strong because I know my weaknesses, I am alive because I am a fighter, I am wise because I have been foolish, and I can laugh because I have known sadness. I am proud and strong. I made it through the storm and learned to dance in the rain!’

We grow grow stronger and wiser through the trials and hardships. Let me use an analogy: You can’t sharpen a knife by running the blade under water. You must have some kind of sharpening tool with a rough surface which the blade is rubbed against. Rubbing the surface of the blade against the rough surface smooths, straightens and polishes the edge of the blade, sharpening it.

Trials and “storms” are the tools that develop our character, smoothing out our weaknesses and polishing our strengths. When we take the Wide and easy road through life with out these trials we develop no character of our own and never truly define who we are as a person.

So let us be grateful for the potholes, treacherous cliffs (some of which we have fallen off of), and thorn patches because these are the very experiences that have molded us into the strong and capable people that we are today. I know many of you are look at yourself and you do not see strong and capable. I challenge yo to reconsider that perspective of yourself. If you were not strong and capable, where would you be today? One thing I am sure of, it is not where you are!

So, no matter how hard the path seems right now, I urge to wake up every morning and say the following affirmation out loud to yourself:

Today is a new day; I choose to be grateful for all that I have and to follow the narrow road that leads to peace and contentment. I know each step may be difficult, but I will approach each trial confidently, knowing that as I persevere I am become wiser, stronger and ultimately happier!” 

Life Happens!   Leave a comment

life-happens

Posted August 15, 2011 by Hope in Recovery in Uncategorized

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Trauma   3 comments

PREFACE: Please be aware that some may find this article triggering. Read with caution and PLEASE stop reading and seek out support at any point that it becomes overwhelming. It WILL be emotion inducing and some what challenging. However, I believe that you will be glad that you did so.

                 This article is definitely more enlightening, but I do hope that by the end you are encouraged, inspired, instilled with hope and most importantly EMPOWERED to believe in yourself and the strength that resides within.

YOU are NOT a VICTIM!                     YOU are NOT a SURVIVOR!

YOU ARE AN OVERCOMER!

There can be absolutely no denying the impact that trauma has on mental illness and substance abuse. In fact, I would guess that a significant number of readers of this very article, have been touched by some kind of trauma or another. In fact, I would be bold enough to day, that if you personally have not been touched by trauma, every one of us has some one close to us that has.

Well, let’s start with a simple definition of trauma:

  • A serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident.
  • An emotional wound or shock that creates substantial, lasting damage to the psychological development of a person, often leading to neurosis.
  • An event or situation that causes great distress and disruption.
  • Extreme stress that overwhelms a person’s ability to cope.

Trauma is also defined by DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as:

an event in which a person experiences, witnesses, or is confronted with actual or threatened death or serious injury or threat to physical integrity of oneself or others

Trauma can be the result of experiences that are private in nature such as:

  • sexual assault
  • domestic violence
  • Rejection / Abandonment
  • child abuse/neglect
  • witnessing interpersonal violence
  • Victim of Crime (assault, robbery, etc)

Trauma can also be the result of experiences that are more public in nature such as:

  • War
  • Natural Disasters
  • Terrorism
  • Automobile or other Accident

That being said we have ALL experienced some kind of trauma or another. However, it is the personal/private trauma that we think of most and typically has the most psychological effect.

 A Few Facts about Trauma

In mental health and substance abuse service settings

  • As many as 80% of men and women in psychiatric hospitals have experienced physical or sexual abuse, most of them as children.
  • The majority of adults diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (81%)or Dissociative Identity Disorder (90%) were abused as children.
  • Up to two-thirds of both men and women in substance abuse treatment report childhood abuse or neglect.
  • Nearly 90% of alcoholic women were sexually abused as children or suffered severe violence at the hands of a parent.

In childhood and adolescence

  • 82% of young people in inpatient and residential treatment programs have histories of trauma.
  • Violence is a significant causal factor in 10-25% of all developmental disabilities.

In the criminal justice and juvenile justice systems

  • 80% of women in prison and jail have been victims of sexual and physical abuse.
  • In one study, 92% of incarcerated girls reported sexual, physical or severe emotional abuse.
  • Boys who experience or witness violence are 1,000 times more likely to commit violence than those who do not.

From The Damaging Consequences of Violence and Trauma, 2004, compiled by Ann Jennings, PhD.

Trauma, especially when left untreated can have a severe and negative impact on a person’s physical and emotional well-being. Trauma has been linked to…

  • Hallucinations
  • Disassociation
  • Depression
  • Suicidal Tendencies
  • Chronic Anxiety
  • disturbances in mood/self-esteem,
  • Delusions
  • Self-Injury
  • Hostility
  • Flashbacks /Nightmares
  • Assaultiveness
  • Impaired interpersonal  Relationships
  • substance abuse

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OK, enough of the textbook info. What about where the rubber hits the road. In the lives of REAL people not numbers and statistics.  The truth is, traumatic experiences can literally be devastating! A single experience can be disturbing enough on the functioning of an adult, how more injurious is repeated or multiple traumas to the psyche of a child. This is my personal theory, not supported by any research that I know of:

“Trauma is the number one leading cause of poor self-esteem.”

 It reaches in to the deepest places of the individual psyche, pulls it out, rips it to pieces, stomps on it and then hands it back. All that is left is mess and the individually is usually unable to even recognize her/him-self after the fact.  All one is left with is pain, anger, fear, and self-doubt. At this point it feels like there is absolutely no hope at all.

My friends, look around, this sounds paradoxical, but if you are at the bottom, then that is a GOOD thing.

It is a good thing, because if you are at the bottom then there is only one direction to go and that is UP!

My personal “traumatic” experiences are rather minimal, but I have known and helped many through very intense and overwhelming experiences.  I do NOT claim to be a trauma expert, but want to offer some encouragement and insights for helping those that have these experiences to fully overcome them; even it is a “baby step” at a time.

So, where to begin? The first step and most important step is recognizing that you do not have to be a “victim” of the trauma in your past. Simply having survived and come out of it at least somewhat functional, you have proven the strength of your character. Despite how powerless you feel now, you are stronger than you believe at this point in time.

YOU are NOT a VICTIM!                      YOU are NOT a SURVIVOR!

YOU ARE AN OVERCOMER!

I once heard it said something like this: “The mark of an individual is not what he/she has accomplished, who he/she was in the community, how much money he/she made, but what adversity had he/she overcame!

Let me say it a little differently:  “Your past has shaped your view of yourself and the world around, but it does not define who you are now, or your destiny.

The first and hardest part of coping with trauma is separating ourselves from it! We must find a way to start rebuilding our “self” from the inside out. Here are a few practical steps from my article on self-esteem. (Click the link to open the article – will not close this one).

  • List 5 positive things that other people have said about you.
  • List 5 positive things about yourself.(Attributes or accomplishments)
  •  Share a compliment with 5 other people.
  •  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.

 Next and likely just as difficult and I know more painful…. We MUST get in touch with the depths of the emotions associated with our traumatic experiences.

 **WARNING**

Do NOT try this at home!

Do NOT attempt to do this ALONE!

As long as we continue to hide from, cover-up, stuff and self-medicate the feelings associated with our trauma, we will continue to suffer just like we were in the midst of the event over and over again. It is like a never ending flashback of pain and suffering. However, when we face them head and push our way through them, yes it is going to be VERY painful, and we want to quit and give-up. We say to ourselves and even to those around us, “It’s not worth it”. But hang in there. The pain is severe, but if you will endure, then you can break the power and control that those strong emotions have had on you leading to ongoing suffering. Now is the time to be totally honest with yourself and the PROFESSIONAL that is helping you. There is no such thing as wrong or inappropriate emotions. Every feeling that you feel related to your experiences is valid and need to be expressed, processed and released!

You will NEVER forget, but with time and work, those memories will not be painful and debilitating. You are on a long and treacherous journey, much like climbing a steep mountain with nothing but a cliff on one side and falling rocks on the other. But if you can hang on and keep pushing yourself, when you get to the top, the view is worth it. When you finally start feeling like you are getting “ahead” of your past, you will simply be amazed of how STRONG you will feel. The beauty and confidence that have been hidden by pain and fear.

Be patient with yourself, you did to get to this point in your life overnight and unfortunately overcoming it does not happen quickly nor easily either. But, celebrate and reward yourself for small victories and accomplishments along the way. Every obstacle that is overcome, makes you stronger and more prepared to overcome the next. Soon, instead of “making mountains out of mole hills”, you will be “making mole hills out of mountains!”

In closing let me close with one final recommendation

Each day wake up, believe and strive to demonstrate this simple affirmation:

 “I and I alone choose my destiny, I control whether I am happy or sad. I am responsible for me and me alone. I choose to live MY life; I choose to write my own story!”

We have to LIVE in the present looking forward with hope for the future. I urge you my friends star LIVING and take your life and destiny back from the traumatic events and perpetrators that have haunted you for TOO LONG!

 YOU ARE WORHT IT!

Your past may have set you going down a certain path, but you are still the one in the driver’s seat!

 The scars of yesterday are the badge of honor and strength of today and the proof of potential for tomorrow.

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