““One of the gifts that came to me early in my healing process was a little expression that helped me start changing my perspective. That expression was, “I don’t have any problems I have opportunities for growth.” The more I stopped focusing on problems and obstacles, and started looking for the gifts, the lessons, attached to them, the easier life became.
I became a part of the solution instead of getting stuck being the victim of the problem. I started seeing the half of the glass that was full instead of always focusing on the half that was empty.
Every problem is an opportunity for growth.
My subconscious Codependent attitudes and perspectives caused me to take life personally – to react emotionally as if life events were being directed at me personally as a punishment for being unworthy, for being a shameful creature.
Life is a series of lessons. The more I became aligned with knowing that I was being given gifts to grow from – the less I believed that the purpose of life was to punish me – the easier life became.
Everything happens for a reason; there is always a silver lining.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls
Since it is Thanksgiving time it seems only appropriate to talk about one of the most important tools in the recovery process – gratitude. Being grateful for what we have, and keeping things in perspective, is vital in the struggle to stay in the now and enjoy today as much as possible.
There are two aspects of empowerment that come into play here. One is; that empowerment involves seeing life as it is and making the best of it (instead of being the victim of it not being what it “should” be – Serenity and Expectations – intimately interrelated); the other is realizing that we have a choice about where to focus our mind. (Empowerment and Victimization – the power of choice)
To have a healthy, balanced relationship with life we need to see life as it really is – which includes owning and feeling the pain, fear, and anger that is a natural part of living – and then have a Spiritual belief system that helps us to know that life events are opportunities for growth, that allows us to choose to focus on the silver lining rather than buy into the belief that we are victims.
Society teaches us to view life from a perspective of fear, lack, and scarcity. Rather we view life from that place of fear or go to the other extreme and deny that we feel any fear – either way we are giving power to the fear, we are living life in reaction to the fear.
Growing up I learned from my male role model that a man never admits he is afraid – at the same time that my role model lived in constant fear the future. The disease voice, the critical parent voice, in my head always wants to focus on the negative and expect the worst just like my father did.
This programming to focus on the negative was compounded by the fact that I learned conditional love (that I would be rewarded or punished according to what I deserved – which, since I felt unworthy, meant I had good reason to expect doom), and that I had to learn to disassociate from myself in childhood. I had to learn to go unconscious and not be present in my own skin in the moment because emotional honesty was not allowed in the culture I grew up in. All Codependents learn to find things outside of self – drugs, alcohol, food, relationships, career, religion, etc. – to help us stay unconscious to our own emotional reality, but the primary and earliest way almost all of us found to disconnect from our feelings – which exist in our bodies – is to live in our heads in fantasy (Worry is negative fantasy.)
Since I could not be comfortable in my own skin in the now without feeling the feelings, I spent most of my life living in either the past or the future. My mind was almost always focused on regret for past or fear of (or fantasy about) the future. When I did focus on the now it was with self-pity as a victim – of myself (I am stupid, a failure, etc.), of others (who victimized me), or of life (which was not fair or just ).
It was wonderfully liberating in recovery to start learning that I could choose to see life in a growth context. That I had a choice to focus on the half of the glass that was full instead of giving power to the disease which always wants to focus on the half that is empty. When I focus on what I have, and have been given, that I am grateful for – instead of just focusing on what I want that I don’t have – it helps me to let go of the victim place my disease wants to promote.
What works for me is to remind myself of the difference between my wants and my needs. My Truth is that every day that I have been in recovery all my needs have been filled – and there has not been a single day that all my wants have been met. If I focus on what I want that I don’t have then I feel like a victim and make myself miserable. If I choose to remind myself of what I have and how far I have come then I can let go of some of the victim perspective.
Ninety-eight per cent of the time when I am in fear it means that I am in the future. Pulling myself back into the now, turning the future over to my Higher Power, and focusing on gratitude, frees me to have some happy moments today.
When I was about two years in recovery there was a time when I was talking to my sponsor on the phone. I had just lost my job, my car had died, and I had to move out of my apartment in two weeks. Talk about tragedy and impending doom! I was laying in bed feeling very sorry for myself and very terrified about how painful it was going to be when I became homeless. After listening to me for a while my sponsor asked me, “What’s up above you?” It was a stupid question and I told him so. I was pissed that he wasn’t giving me the sympathy I deserved – but he insisted that I answer. So I finally said, “Well, the ceiling.” And he said, “Oh, so your not homeless tonight are you?”
That was the Truth – I wasn’t homeless that night. My sponsor helped me to pull myself out of the trauma drama in my head and start focusing on taking action. Putting out resumes, making phone calls, putting out the word that I needed help. That is actually what working the Third Step is about – asking for help. And in asking for help I am aligning with Metaphysical Law. (Working the Third Step -ASKing for help) And when the two weeks was up, I had something to drive, a job, and some place to live – and none of it was because my ego figured it out. My Higher Power always has a plan in place even when I can’t see any way out.
We all have much to be grateful for, to give thanksgiving for, if we just choose to look at the half of the glass that is full. So, have a grateful Thanksgiving.”
This is from an article on my website that I rewrote slightly for this blog. I am also going to include an excerpt from one of my Update Newsletters where I talk about gratitude because this little story illustrates how important it is not to take for granted all the things that we have to be grateful each day – like, your body parts working, or your car starting.
“”Yesterday after having to ask 6 people before I found someone who was willing to jump start my car which wouldn’t start after stopping for gas while taking Darien to school, I went to the VA for a doctors appointment. Beside the main entrance to the VA is a sign: “It takes the courage and strength of a warrior to ask for help!””
Another message from my Higher Power that asking for help is working the third step.” – From a post on Facebook Nov 30 2010
There is something that I share with phone counseling clients and in my Intensive often that I believe I have written about some place, but can’t find it – which may mean it is in one of the millions of words in one of my password protected sites (where I can’t do a search to find things.) It has to do with how at one point when I was living in Cambria I had a sprained ankle and couldn’t take my daily walk on the bluffs by the ocean that were such an important part of my physical, mental, emotional, spiritual nurturing and recharging of my internal batteries. And for some reason while I was incapacitated with this ankle injury it occurred to me that I didn’t ever think of my body parts unless they weren’t working – unless there was something wrong with them. Made me realize that I need to start being grateful every day that I can walk. That I can see and hear and all the things that I take for granted until something goes wrong with my body. So, my car starting was another one of those things that I take for granted until something goes wrong. Remember to be grateful for your car and your body working today. 😉
My car was not starting about every 4th or 5th time I tried to start it. I was afraid it was the starter or wiring in the ignition – didn’t think it was the battery. But it turned out that is what it was. So, another $150 that I really couldn’t afford – but I am very grateful for having a car that starts every time now.” Joy2MeU Update Newsletter January 2011