Posts Tagged ‘na’

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Do it scared, do it hurt, do it depressed…

December 27, 2010

I am revisiting the notion of not letting fear, pain, depression, anxiety, or any other invisible inward feeling stop us from doing what we feel is the next right or wise thing to do.

For most of my life, I let unpredictable, unreliable inner feelings act as a traffic light telling me what I should or shouldn’t do next.  I was naive enough to believe those feelings and would often shy from important things in my life that needed to be done.  Important things like filing my taxes on time, opening mail, completing a home project, working out, or fulfilling a promise made to friends or family.

Instead, I often felt paralyzed by fear, depression, or anxiety.  Feeling so overwhelmed that the easiest thing to do was to procrastinate the task and escape into sleep, tv, or in the old days of active addiction and alcoholism, I would drink or drug.  None of these escapes were of any value.  I was seldom rejuvenated and the task avoided was still there.

Then one day, years ago, I was listening to some teaching on pressing through fear or other overwhelming feelings.  A simple suggestion was posed, “Why don’t you just do it scared”? 

‘It’ being the task that you would otherwise avoid or procrastinate on.  So I began to think back and ask myself, how many exams did I write in school while scared?  Pretty much every one.  Or when I was starting out my career and doing interviews, how many interviews did I do scared?  Pretty much every one.  And how many sporting events did I play scared?  Again, pretty much all of them.  So I realized I could, and often have, done many things while scared.  So why not continue in this?

How was it the first time any of us walked into a room of AA, NA, Al-Anon, OA, or any 12-step program, scared?  I would bet all of us.  Yet what did we find on the other side of that fear?  Sobriety?  Help? Hope? A new beginning after repeated failures and painful losses?  Yes, absolutely!

I believe  that  fear and other negative emotions are tactics often used by the sick/addicted part of our thinking to self-preserve the sickness or addiction.  Somehow, it is like our unrecovered self has a mind and agenda of its own, and it wants to continue to live and grow.  So it suggests to us that we should remain immobile and avoid certain tasks.  Often, the very tasks that will give us the most growth, recovery, and victory in the shortest period of time.

I post this because I find myself in a bit of a post-Christmas funk.  My mood has been heavy for a few days since Christmas and some things are bothering me.  I am home early from work and I have some financial matters that really need attending to.  And at this moment, my mind is doing everything to avoid these matters.

So my determination was to acknowledge and expose these feelings for what they are by sharing them on my blog, then press past the anxious feelings and just do them.  Which is the next and only thing on my list of things to do tonight. 

If re-living feelings of fear and anxiousness similar to those I felt at many important moments in my life is the worst it can be, then I know I can handle it.  I just need to keep it simple, shut the brain off, turn the body on, and do it.  Scared, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, or whatever.  It is do-able, even if I am not comfortable.

Ciao.

Chaz

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Powered by Gratitude

September 17, 2010

In the past 2 years, I have been discovering the amazing depth and power of gratitude. 

I’ve discovered gratitude at levels far deeper than can be expressed by words alone.  I am talking about the gratitude that we live, rather than say.  We express it in our actions by doing and the choices we make on a day to day, moment to moment basis.  We begin to see so vividly that the blessing we have received and recovery we have experienced are truly rare and amazing, that gratitude permeates our subconscious and becomes one of the foundational influences of our entire outlook on life.  We don’t just think about it in our conscious mind, we move to feeling it in our emotions continuously.

The power is that we are far less fearful, far more hopeful, and we discover new energy and motivation in life because we feel grateful for everything, and anxious for little.  We can do and achieve things that we used to fall short of.  Why?  Because the negative thoughts that always stopped us in our tracks are now nudged out by gratitude for each moment, each person, each event, and each physical item in our lives.

On a practical level, I have found gratitude helps me maintain a happy marriage, a fun and functioning relationship with my kids, physical fitness, success in my career, and better relationships with everyone in my life.

Again, why?  Because I have let go of so much self-pity that kept me only seeing the negative in each circumstance.  Filtered through fear and self-pity, I would virtually always see the half-empty glass.  My mind would automatically nit-pick the imperfections in my job, my home, my wife, my family, and my health.  Even if I didn’t say it, I would allow the thoughts in my mind that would then translate into behaviours that limited me.  Or worse, led me to give up.

Gratitude on the other hand, especially when we live it rather than say it, keeps us focused on the half-full portion of the glass.  Gratitude leads us to become excited and energized because of what we do have.  So we make use of the blessing of the half-full part of the glass and build a better life for ourselves with what we do have, rather than remain immobilized looking at what we don’t.

An example on a practical level would be times when I decide to act in gratitude for my wife by doing something as an expression of this gratitude.  This may be rubbing her neck while she works at her desk, or telling her I love her at a time when I don’t normally, or doing some of her share of the household responsibilities, or taking the kids out so she can have some peace for a while.  When I determine to act in gratitude, I am careful not to speak it as well.  I feel I don’t want to taint the purity of the expression.  And by doing, it has such an impact on me and her, that the most amazing feelings in both of us begin to emerge.  And our marriage functions better and better.

Another example is my fitness routine which includes cycling for about 10 kms a few times a week.  Self-pity would have me complain in my head about the cold, the rain, dogs, traffic, sweating, and how hard it was.  Gratitude on the other hand focuses on the opportunity to be in shape, the beauty of the area I cycle in, the fresh morning air, the compliments from others, and the feeling of accomplishment that only comes from knowing I completed a task fully.

When I let gratitude guide my thoughts and express itself in my actions like riding longer or pushing harder, I have better workouts and cycling than ever and get better results, which then fuels more gratitude and more action.

Gratitude expressed only verbally will do some good.  But gratitude internalized so deeply we constantly feel it to the point that it becomes one of our defaults of perspective, then expressed in actions, can take us to new heights in every part of our lives.  It has freed me from so many of the shackles of negativity that limited me.

I encourage everyone to seek gratitude beyond words then act on it.

Ciao

Chaz

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We become what we practice

August 25, 2010

One of the strengths of AA and 12-step recovery is the opportunity to practice over and over the principles of this approach to recovery.  Abundant meetings in most areas make is possible to receive a continual steam of support and input for prolonged periods.

Was this not how we became sick and alcoholic in the first place?  We learned something by observation or experience, we did it once, then repeated over and over for a prolonged period?  Until our patterns of thought and behaviour became so entrenched, they were our defaults?  They were part of who we were.

So why would it not take the same to change?  We practiced thoughts and behaviours of self-pity, escapism, resentment, anger, envy, and potentially a hundred other dysfunctions until they wove together to make up the fabric of who we had become.

I did 90 meetings in 90 days at the same daily meeting.  A lot of people have asked, “Didn’t it get boring and repetitious”?  It would have if I let my old thinking tell me it was.  But gladly, I had some support from those who had travelled the path before me who compelled me to try to learn something new each day.  Even if the same people spoke again and again.

To my utter amazement, they were right.  New gems of truth and enlightenment began to emerge out of the same people at the same meeting day after day.  Why?  Perhaps it was because I was changing.  The repetition I heard was slowly breaking down the walls of my old thinking.  And my follow-through on a daily basis began to establish new patterns that further opened my mind.

Learning through practice and repetition is one thing that has kept me in the rooms of AA for a number of years, even though I can’t get any more sober than I was the day I first sobered up.  It took a long time to weave the old fabric, it is taking a long time to weave the new one.  Practice, practice, practice leads to progress, progress, progress.

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We don’t need to understand pain

July 31, 2010

I used to make painful moments and circumstances in life far more painful by expecting to understand the pain.  I rarely do that anymore.  Pain is inevitable in life.  It just happens.  Nobody is exempt.  We choose whether or not we want to turn it into suffering by complicating it.

I used to complicate pain all the time by reading deep meaning into it while it was happening.  Even though this never helped.  I would want to know all the reasons why.  I would want instant clarity.  I felt an injustice was done on me if God or someone didn’t deliver clarity of reason to me right away.

Today, “it just happens” and eventually passes.  It goes away in time, every time.  So I am more prone to just grit my teeth, focus on something else positive, and let it pass.  The amazing thing is that some clarity or lesson usually follows at some point shortly thereafter.  I “let” more be revealed rather than “expect” it.

And if pain is getting me down, I have the secret weapon of surrender.  I turn it over.  Let go, let God.

Life is way better.

Ciao.

Chaz

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Pain + Drama = Self-Pity

March 19, 2010

I find the tricky part of self-pity to be the fact that it is usually rooted in some amount of genuine pain.

Our culture has encouraged us to wrap our pain in drama and the result is usually self-pity.  Betrayal, loss, abuse, injury… they all hurt.  There is no getting around this.  They are however entirely typical and frequent events.  Nobody is exempt.

We unfortunately, whether knowingly or unknowingly, add drama to our pain and thereby, throw a bucket of gas on the fire.  We multiply our pain.  We often say, “It’s not fair, How could this happen to me? I don’t deserve this, How could he?  How could she?  I’ll show him/her, Why me? etc”.

Closing in on my mid-40’s, I have yet to meet the person my age who has been spared some form of painful calamity or gross injustice in life.  I would be wary of anyone who felt they hadn’t.  Illness, loss, injury, divorce, betrayal, financial setback, job-loss, abuse, natural disaster.  Who hasn’t been through one of these?  None are fair and they all hurt.

The day I learned to simply say, “this hurts”, and drop the followup statement like, “how could she? I don’t deserve this? I’ll show them? Its not fair?, etc”… or a real sneaky one, … talking about the injustice over and over with as many people as possible, was the day my pain stopped morphing into self-pity (as often).  Life took a turn toward becoming more manageable.

When we express our pain with the addition of drama, it is usually distasteful to others and they become intolerant.  So we are often unable to find genuine help because we push others away.  Instead, I have found that simply saying, “Man this hurts and I don’t really know what to do about it”, was often an effective way to seek help dealing with the pain.  Especially from those who have walked a similar path before me.

The advice back was often, “You just have to go through it a day at a time”.  This was not what my self-pity wanted to hear.  It didn’t feed the drama.  Yet when I finally learned to go through the pain a day at a time and function as best I could with minimal drama and focus on positives, life did indeed get better and the pain began to subside.  Very quickly in fact.

Others relate to the pain of the experience more than the drama.  So today, I do my best to separate the two, and avoid the drama altogether.  This is the easier, softer way.  Even though the unrecoved parts of my thinking want to run to the drama.

Undramatically….

Ciao.

Chaz

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What lies beneath?

November 9, 2009

No matter how thorough and vigilant we are in any recovery efforts, only time will reveal what really lies beneath our conscious what lies beneathawareness.

I experienced a shocking reaction to a circumstance in my life this week.  My wife is launching a new phase to her business and I have been very involved.  My income is earned separate of her company.  I have however taken on a lot of responsibilities in marketing and administration on a non-paid basis.  I’m doing what I believe a good spouse would do.  With no expectation of return.  No conscious expectation anyway.

Last night, I found myself reacting in some anger and resentment for what felt like a lack of acknowledgment from my wife for all the work I had been doing.  Funny thing was that she is very acknowledging and grateful and expresses it continually.  So why the disconnect?

Upon reflection, I came to realize that I still had some hurts and resentments deep below the surface of my conscious awareness from my marriage.  I had helped my first wife with her business in a similar way and had helped make it a tremendous success.  And in this case, she was extremely sparing with the gratitude and even more sparing with any verbal acknowledgment for my contribution.

It has been years since my divorce and I had all but forgotten about the pain of this particular disappointment in my first marriage.  Yet here it was triggered years later in a way I never saw coming.  In a way that wasn’t even justified.  And when the anger rose, I couldnt at that moment even see why I was angry and resentful.

How many other things lay beneath?  Surely the steps, dialogue with other alcoholics, counseling, and just life will bring some things up.  But certainly it wont happen on our timeline.  I think it is short-sighted of some 12 step proponents to suggest we will.  It will be a lifetime of discovery and we may from time to time get ambushed from within with feelings we don’t see coming.

Thankfully, we have some place to go with them.  To our comrades in arms, to our program of recovery… whatever that may be, and to God as we understand Him.

Ciao.

Chaz

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Self Deception

September 14, 2009

I am amazed at how often challenges and pain derive from self-deception.  Beliefs about self, others, and life that turn out to be incorrect.  Believing errors, overstatements, understatements and lies.

It is often said that “truth sets us free”.  Why?  Is it because if we believe untruths that we stay stuck, bound, imprisoned to whatever dysfunction the untruth brings?

Alcoholism is a great example.  The untruth is that drinking will solve our problems.  The more we tend to believe this, the more damage we do and the deeper in we get.  At least for those of us who are prone to alcoholism.

What about other matters such as pride?  Believing we are something we are not… more capable than we actually are… tougher than we actually are… more clever than we actually are.  Do these deceived beliefs not keep us stuck in problems?  Are the opposites also not equalling imprisoning… believing we are less than we actually are?

If we are not dealing with truth, we are not on the pathway to the way out.  We remain in harms way.  We remain in pain.  Others remain in pain.

Today, I am grateful that people and circumstances shook me to begin to wake me from so many of my self-deceptions.  It is a long process to which I do not believe there is a clear end.  But the journey is amazing.  The unfolding and opening up of life are amazing.

I am glad to know what I am and what I am not.  What I am capable of, and what I am not.  Then living in those truths.  Discovering the truths may be painful, but the result is worth it. 

To me, the processes of shedding self-deception and moving toward living in truths are what recovery is about.

Ciao.

Chaz.