Tag Archives: addiction recovery

Sharing an “Aha!” Moment…

16 Feb

It was 10:35 am this morning and I had just finished a half-hour conference call I’m on every morning with other businesswomen from around the country.  It’s a combination coaching, accountability and prayer call. I love it!

But I’ve been feeling frustrated lately – even though I’ve been doing all the right things as far as “filling my pipeline” (making new sales contacts) and reviewing my goals each morning and night; following other “success tenants” – because I’m still not seeing results. There’s a “Slight Edge” Principle that says if you do just a few things consistently – every single day – that effort will compound over time and produce results.

But there’s a period of “doing the do” that you have to put in before you start to see the measured results come back to you. That’s where I’m at – in the middle of the new course of action. It usually takes 90 days to show results…and A LOT of people quit before they reach that point of return.

So when I got off the call, even though I love the energy and the camaraderie and the coaching, I was feeling restless. I’ve been feeling restless for a while now.

I began pacing rapidly back and forth between my kitchen and living room – which in a one-bedroom apartment is NOT a very large space!

I often pace. I pace to think. I pace to pace. I pace to calm down. I pace to ramp up. It  helps me expend energy. I pace.

I started talking aloud (as I often talk to myself).

“Restless,” I kept repeating aloud…”restless in mind…restless in body…restless in spirit… restless in soul…”

I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at the manual treadmill standing in the middle of my dining-living room.  “Well,” I thought, “if I going to do this furious pacing thing I might as well turn it into exercise and get on my treadmill!”

So I put on a lecture by Dr. Joe Dispenza, the author of Evolve Your Brain – The Science of Changing Your Mind and his newest release, Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One.

At first I had it on my computer speakers, but I couldn’t really hear it over the noise of the manual treadmill belt. So I donned my mp3 player and earplugs and mounted my treadmill for a workout – physical and mental.

I started hearing little snippets of wisdom in-between my conscious readings from the display in front of me…watching and mentally logging numbers of “how far, how many calories, how fast,” etc.

I went for a quarter mile and it felt really good – especially considering I am still dealing with a tear of the medial meniscus from a work-related injury that’s all tied up in Workman’s Comp hearings! (Part of my sense of frustration). I look a lot like Frankenstein when I walk – still – but part of my restlessness comes from knowing that I’ve been stuck too long in “injury mode.”  I realized that I need to get on with healing my leg. I followed my “walk” with some modified lifting of weights (arms) and stationary punches (I’ve REALLY missed my Tae-bo Gold Routine!).

All the while I was listening to Dr Joe’s lecture – one that I have been listening to repeatedly lately. When I finished my physical exercise I felt really good. “Exercise” had been on my days’ list of accomplishments that I had written out the night before. It felt good to have that already done.

Then I sat down and started to write. He was talking about addictions and personality – about how 95% of who we are is acquired from the influences of others, which I know from previous studies with Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha. But I got really excited when Dr Joe started talking about habits – and the definition of a habit as “when the body is the mind.”

When we feel stuck – we have to look at “what have we memorized?” What feelings and experiences have we cemented in – even though we may say we want to change? If we’re not changing it’s because we’ve hard-wired past body-mind programs which then become habits.

If we memorize (hard-wire) an emotional reaction and stay there for a few days – it becomes a “mood.”  If we prolong it further it becomes our “temperament.”  Over a prolonged period of time that temperament – “living by the same emotional reaction” over and over again turns into a personality trait – which means we’re totally living in the PAST!

THAT was my “AHA!” MOMENT!

The 12-Step Recovery Programs refer to a person’s “defects of character.”  I’ve always maintained that I am NOT defective. I am a child of God and God doesn’t make junk!

BUT then I made the connection to what Dr. Joe is talking about…and realized that the “defect” is the faulty emotional reaction that has been hard-wired in our brain based on a past experience that we haven’t been able to free ourselves from. Why?

All emotions produce chemicals in our bodies and in the brain. We can become addicted to those chemicals in the same way we have been addicted to alcohol or other drugs, food, or gambling, or sex, or any destructive behavior. We try to change but we hit a wall because, as Dr. Joe describes it, “I can’t go beyond this emotion because the chemicals are so addictive.”

We can’t go beyond the emotion because someone or something knocks us so far out of balance as to prevent us from being able to make our way back.

That’s living in the past. What is it that the recovering person has to do in order to live sober, happy and free? CLEAR AWAY THE WRECKAGE OF THE PAST! That’s where the 12 Steps come into play.

One of the greatest pitfalls I have seen in working with some alcoholics over the last 32 years is the seeming inability to let go of the guilt and shame of their past. Recovering alcoholic/addicts are reminded to remember their last drunk/usage – so that they don’t return to using. But that doesn’t mean we have to LIVE there!

We don’t have to DWELL in the past to learn from it. In order to liberate ourselves, we MUST Let It GO.

This is true for ALL of us – because our habits are hard-wired memorized emotional reactions from past experiences that no longer serve us except that we’ve become addicted to the chemicals produced by them. (And then we wonder why we keep repeating the same behavior over and over again, even though we set goals and swear off, or swear on – determined to change, yet we don’t).

Dr. Joe asks, “What emotion have you memorized – that you’re living by day after day – that you think is you? That’s not who you are…that emotion is just a record of your past experience.”

So what are “defects of character?” Memorized emotions that we think are us. But they aren’t us – they aren’t who we are – they are what we are holding onto.

So we are not bad people trying to get better – we are good people who have gotten off course. What’s “defective” is our memory of past events – of what we are holding onto – and that can be changed. It’s a choice.

To be continued!
DISCLAIMER: All the opinions expressed in any articles, blog posts and Internet content written by me are my own and do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of any individuals or organizations with whom I associate.

©2012 Deborah Adler. All rights reserved. (NOTE: ALL quotes and/or materials from other authors or sources remain the sole property of the original authors/source.)

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Comfort Equals Stagnation

18 Jan

“The worst curse to befall anyone is stagnation, a banal existence,
the quiet desperation that comes out of a need for conformity.”

— Deepak Chopra

If you think about it, conformity is something we’re herded into from the beginning of our school experience. Whether we started in nursery school or kindergarten, we still received our introduction to “The Schedule.”

We became indoctrinated into “Learning Time” – “Play Time” – “Cookie Time” – “Nap Time.” If we didn’t want to cooperate we were labeled as “trouble-makers.

Non-conformists were labeled as “subversives” in the sixties. At the same time, Malvina Reynolds wrote a wonderful song called “Little Boxes” poking fun at conformity. Here’s an excerpt:

“Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.” *

Conformity is its own kind of prison that traps us into believing we are “normal” – but with limitations, like the walls of that prison. It’s deceptive because we can feel “safe” within its confines – but the fact is, we’re still imprisoned.

This leads to stagnation, which is a form of living death.

In the course of our own personal development, if we aren’t stretching ourselves and moving forward, we’re most probably moving backward. For those of us on a spiritual path, there can be no “resting.” There can be a moment’s pause to refresh, or reflect, but coming to a full halt is the beginning of deterioration of what we’ve built up to that point.

In 12-Step Recovery programs there is a saying, “No Pain, No Gain.” While I don’t believe it should be necessary to experience pain in order to grow, I do know that is it necessary to plunge one’s self into chaos. “Comfort” is not a good fertilizer for growth, whether personal, professional, spiritual or whatever. “Discomfort” is an indicator that we’re living outside the constrictions of the prison of conformity – we’re in “unchartered waters” – so to speak – without a map, a compass, and possibly even a boat or water wings!

But that is the fertile ground where growth takes place. “Necessity is the mother of invention” and we are forced into new ways of thinking, acting, and relating to ourselves and the world. It is in these moments of “discomfort” that we truly discover our inner strengths and capabilities. We discover new truths and leave old myths behind us – like a grasshopper shedding its skin, leaving behind a perfectly formed outline of what it used to be but has grown out of.

We don’t generally like being uncomfortable – that’s why we tend to avoid it. But the alternative is far worse. Stagnation is living death. There can only be one way to grow – get out of our comfort zone.

In practical application, as one who depends on cold calls for prospecting, I have to encounter my resistance to “discomfort” daily – or I experience the consequences, i.e. no income. I love the rewards of successful prospecting, which results in sales. So in order to experience that end result, I have to embrace discomfort.

Same thing applies in recovery from addictions. Getting clean and sober is physically painful. It’s “comfortable” to stay high, and detoxification is a bear – but in order to clear the body of its poisons, one has to be able to get through the pain of withdrawal. Then there’s dealing with the loss of your “best friend” – your drug of choice. That hurts too, mentally and emotionally. But getting past that discomfort means winning and progressing to a better way of living drug/alcohol-free.

“In comfort you are stagnant; in discomfort you cannot control and must meet the occasion called progress and development.” –Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha

-Deborah Adler

* words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1962 Schroder Music Company, renewed 1990.

©2011 Deborah Adler. All rights reserved. (NOTE: All quotes remain the sole property of the original authors.)

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