The Joys of Sobriety

Good morning. I hope the two-part series on PTSD despair brought you solace… comfort, and that you were able to see there are actions you can take to help you out of despair.  Today nothing really jumped out at me in the search terms, and I am going to write about the joys of sobriety.

Perhaps the biggest joy initially for me was the lack of hangovers. Mine had been extremely severe for about seven years, so not having them was a very welcomed relief. Today, it is nice to wake up clear and wide-eyed, ready to enjoy the new day without nausea, without vomiting, without a splitting headache. You, too, will revel in this new-found result of sobriety.

The faces of my sobriety changed as time went on, and for about six months, I was on what is referred to as a pink cloud, where everything is grand, where everything was so exciting, seen for the first time in years with eyes of wonder and awe. Yes, I felt the pain of my grief from the unrequited love, but it was interspersed with the joy of sobriety, so much so that it gave me the overall sense of well-being for a few months.

You may experience the pink cloud. If and when you do, enjoy it to the fullest. It is helpful to combat the feelings of angst that will arise as you begin to feel more and more of your feelings. Speaking of the angst that will appear in sobriety, know that it is passing, it will pass, and what you are left with is incredible freedom, incredible peace.

Think of the period of angst as one in which you are healing from old wounds so you can start fresh, start anew with your life. Stick with sobriety through this difficult period because the rewards are tremendous. First is the lack of hangovers, as we said, and then the pink cloud. Then, there is a depth to everything you do, everything you see, where you feel connected to the world around you, as well as the people in it.

In sobriety, you become able to see others with softness, gentleness, kindness, and compassion. When you heal, you become more and more interested in helping others, in being of service. You think less and less about making sure you get what you want, because it just comes to you.  You become more in-tune with the physical world around you, as you begin to notice plant life, architecture, scenery.

Sobriety leads to a positive attitude, an attitude of gratitude. You see everything that comes along with gratitude… you are grateful for all that occurs, as you know it is for your highest good, even though it may not feel like that at times. Sobriety helps your relationships, as you are less judgmental and critical of yourself and others. You have less to argue about, less fault to find.

In fact, sobriety eventually allows you to take full responsibility for your feelings, your actions and behaviors, and you are fueled by this in your ability to maintain a positive, grateful attitude. You look forward to life unfolding for you, taking action, while letting go of results and letting life flow to you.

Yes, sobriety is filled with joy after you go through the angst of examining and repairing the past. Perhaps the best thing is the feelings of goodwill that you have toward yourself. Your self-pity will have resolved. You will feel good about who you are and you will recognize you are worthy of good things, that you are a worthwhile person, not the worthless one you were told you were.

There is a saying in recovery circles, “Don’t leave before the miracle happens,” and that is so true. I invite you to stick with your sobriety so that you, too, can experience the miracles and joys of sobriety.

 

 

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How to Open Your Heart More

“How to open your heart more” was searched for 4 times yesterday morning, so I thought I’d address that. I apologize for no post yesterday… I started this and the day got away from me before I could develop the blog. So, here we are today, in this moment, and let me write about how to open your heart.

The first thing needed to open your heart is willingness to do so, willingness to go there. Once you are willing, the whole world opens up, and you are able to see the things around you that you couldn’t see before. You see your physical world more intently; you see others with eyes and heart of gentleness and kindness.

Once you are willing to open your heart, the next stage involves identifying the wounds you have endured during your lifetime, and the feelings that accompany these wounds. Look closely at your fear and how it holds you back in life. Look closely at grief you may be experiencing, a feeling associated with loss of any type.  Allow yourself the time to look at these feelings and try to be straight while you do so. Try to just “be” with them, without numbing them out with substances or activity.

Now, feel compassion for yourself for the wounds you have received and endured. See yourself with gentleness, kindness. Do not slide into self-pity… this is not a pity party I am suggesting. More, it is an objective assessment and acknowledgment of the damage you have received. Now it’s time to start seeing the world around you with gratitude. Be grateful for the simplest things and soon that gratitude will expend to larger things in your life.

Now you are equipped to begin a self-appraisal, looking first at your positive traits, behaviors, and actions. Really praise yourself for these things. Then, look at your negative behavior, the things you do for which you are mad at others for doing, when you do the very same things yourself. For your bad behavior that was hurtful to others, take ownership of that behavior. Be responsible and accountable for it by letting go of any resentments, and apologizing, if indicated.

This tool is invaluable as one to use on an on-going basis, throughout each day. It becomes second-nature to see yourself honestly, objectively. Rather than allowing this appraisal to be a jumping-off place from which to beat yourself up, use it instead as a method of keeping yourself right-sized… not bragging or boastful, nor insecure and self-reproachful. Use a self-appraisal to locate where you are in your world, both outer and inner.

Once you learn to follow this process, you will have opened your heart so very much. There is one more tool to use to get to deep peace and freedom, and that is forgiveness. Forgiveness allows you, without condoning what was done, to put to rest your heart-burning resentment, the thing that keeps you simmering with anger just below the surface. Once you come to forgiveness, you will begin to be really free, able to open your heart even wider.

So, this is the process to go through to open your heart. How does it work for you? Do you have a different method? What works for you? Leave a comment and let us know.

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The Purpose of Resentments

Good morning! I hope today is a pleasant day for you. I was affected by three search terms this morning: why is it important to respect rights of others, what purpose do resentments serve, and how does compassion help. Wow. Three very important issue and I’d like to address all three today.

Let’s start with why is it important to respect rights of others? In a nutshell, my response to that question is because it is the considerate, kind, and appropriate way to treat others. We each, in my opinion, have the right as people to be treated as if we matter, to have our rights as people  treated with respect, to be respected for who and what we are. That is, unless we are harming others, and that I don’t respect.

But consider this, if we want our rights respected, we need to offer it to others first. Then it will come back to us. When we respect another’s rights, they thrive and grow, becoming all they can be. For example, my rights to have a safe and happy home, to be treated as a valuable being, were not respected while I was growing up. As a result, as an adult I had great difficulty being myself, let alone growing into my greatness. It was only after learning to respect myself that I overcame that early treatment and have been able to grow.

The rights we each have, in my opinion, are to be treated as valuable human beings, worthy of consideration and kindness. We have the right to be in safe environments, rather than ones in which physical, verbal, sexual, or emotional abuse are present. Consider that you want your rights to be respected and, therefore, you need to respect another’s rights for that respect to be returned to you.

Let’s look now at the purpose of resentments. In my case, my resentments served the purpose of keeping me a very closed and self-centered person, seeking attention in the form of pity. My resentments gave me something to spend my energy on. It gave me the free license to be critical and demeaning toward others.

Perhaps the most important role that resentments play for us is allowing us to avoid being responsible and accountable for ourselves. We place the blame for our woes or failures on another and that takes the attention and the heat off of us. After all, it is difficult to look at and own our own behavior, especially when it is poor behavior. This is the only benefit to keeping resentments and, in my experience, when cleared of them, I experienced great freedom and peace.

How does compassion help? Well, for me, compassion was the precursor to forgiveness. Compassion softens everything, allows us to see others as humans – fallible. Often, we can see our own behavior being played out by another, and that leads to compassion not only for the other, but for ourselves as well. Yes, compassion is a softening emotion, easily practiced when we look at our own foibles and bad behavior.

How does compassion help you? And do resentments serve a purpose for you? How about respecting the rights of others… what do you see as another’s rights? Leave a comment and let us know.

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How Showing Compassion Led to Renewed Affection

How to show compassion” is a search term from this morning that I would like to address, and it follows nicely on the heels of yesterday’s post. Today, I am going to talk about how I have had to show a lot of compassion in the past two days, all the while being worried I had lost someone near and dear to me in my life.

I’m talking about Izzy, my Izzy-girl, Mama’s Izzy. She is my cat of five years. I got her from my vet’s wife who spent her time adopting feral cats. Izzy was a feral kitten when I first met her. I had never had a feral and I had no clue how to deal with one.

What I have come to learn over the years is that I have to let her initiate any affection that exchanges between us. In other words, I cannot approach her first to pet her; rather, I have to wait until she comes around for pets and affection. I have had to learn to give my love in the way that she needed it, not the way I wanted to give it.

Izzy got her name because of her spunk, her feistiness. She was named after Izzy in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. Do you remember how spunky the main character, Izzy, was? That’s why I named her Izzy. It has suited her well. Izzy was pretty standoffish and defiant when I first got her, and this continued all the while there was another kitten in the house. Then, about 4 years ago, the other kitten, Emily, got out of the house and disappeared. Since that time, Izzy changed from that defiant, standoffish being to an amazing bundle of affection.

Oh, the affection has to be what she wants, on her terms. For example, she will not sit in my lap, nor can I touch her belly to rub it. Occasionally, she will allow me to scratch her ears and rub her neck. She has a routine whereby she parades in front of me when she wants a pet, and she will seek that out. If I initiate a pet, she will often shy away from me.

I used to take this personally, as an affront, that she put off any affection I extended first. Then I learned to see her with compassion for her background, deciding that she had a rough eight weeks of life to make her so leery of a human being. I began to be grateful that she would show me any affection at all, that she would allow me to be affectionate with her.

Since adopting that attitude, our relationship has soared. She follows me around, sits on the desk with me while I’m working, or sits behind me on the floor. She even comes in for pets when I go to the bathroom. Then there’s our bedtime routine. She hops on the bed and extends her paw, asking for pets, for attention, and we spend a great deal of time engaging in pets while I murmur terms of endearment.

I write about Izzy today because two days ago, all of this changed and I was frightened that I had lost her forever. I began to get afraid that all the ground we made had been lost, and that I would be spending my time with a feral cat living and hiding in my home, coming out only to be fed.

What happened was, she escaped out the front door two nights ago and she was gone all night. She may have come to the door to get back in, but I didn’t know about that if it happened, as I had gone to bed and locked the door. I felt awful doing that, but had to go to bed and certainly couldn’t just leave the door open.

She showed up the next morning for her breakfast, but her whole demeanor had changed and stayed changed for two days. Anytime I got within ten feet of her, she bolted, running for the cupboard she hides in when she gets scared. If I called her or said endearing words to her, she scowled and bolted. I began to get a complex and was quite confused about how to win her back. I quickly realized that, if it was going to happen, it had to happen on her terms, in her time-frame, but that didn’t stop me from getting pretty concerned that I had lost the connection we shared.

I was used to her putting me off when I returned from a trip, but she always warmed up to me within a couple hours of my return. And she never bolted from me, never shied away from me like she has been doing for the past two days. Never, even when she was a kitten. I was greatly saddened and was at a loss to know how to handle the situation. I finally decided to just let her be and see what happened. I began to feel compassion for whatever triggered her terror of me. I felt compassion for this wounded little being.

Then this morning,  everything changed. She started talking to me when I got up, and not in an angry tone. She hopped on the bed for pets, and started following me around, parading in front of me, looking for more pets. Wow, my Izzy is back and I am extremely grateful! By seeing her with compassion, it allowed me to be patient with her, allowing her the space to return in spirit. Now I just have to figure out how to treat her for fleas, cause she’s scratching quite a bit this morning. It’s a difficult task to trick her into letting me pet her while I apply the flea medicine on her neck.

That’s ok, I’ll figure it out. I am just glad I was able to show her unconditional love and compassion, and that she has returned. What a great start to the day!

 

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Compassion – the Forerunner to Forgiveness

Yesterday, I spoke about forgiveness and said that to get to forgiveness, one needs to feel and show compassion for the one who has wronged you. Compassion is sorrow for the sufferings of another, often accompanied with the urge to help. You can feel deep sympathy and tenderness for the other, but you might not want to help them, and that’s okay. You can still feel compassion.

I discovered how compassion can lead to forgiveness quite by accident. One day, after about 2 years sober, I was doing my second or third self-appraisal, in essence a performance evaluation. I was considering the few relationships I had had with men, and what I did to lead to their demise. One of the things I identified was the way in which I would get drunk and scream at these men how worthless they were, that they would amount to nothing.

I was appalled when I remembered this! I was responsible for the ravaging of their soul and it was a bitter pill to swallow. I felt compassion for them for having to endure what I inflicted. I also felt compassion for myself because I actually said those words to them, but I meant them about me; I felt worthless and that I wasn’t amounting to anything. I felt compassion for the wounded soul I was.

One day soon after this realization, the thought hit me that my father might have actually said those words to me repeatedly because he felt them about himself. After all, that had been the case for me, why not him also? I began to realize he endured his own wounds at the hands of his father. Suddenly, the door was opened a crack to compassion for him, another wounded soul.

With the door opened a little bit, I kept returning to that feeling of compassion and soon, after about another two years, I had found my way to forgiveness for both of my parents for the treatment I received while I was growing up. The feeling of peace that washed over me was tremendous. Years of pain and misery melted from me. The key to my forgiveness was the compassion I felt for my father as a wounded person himself.

You, too, can look with compassion at the one who wronged you. The chances that they received their own wounds is high. Think of them as you would think about any wounded person, feeling sorrow and sympathy for them. When you extend compassion to them, you will experience forgiveness, and this will lead to more peace.

 

 

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Why Is It Important to Show Compassion to One Another?

why is it important to show compassion to one another? This was the search term that got my attention this morning. The reason I wanted to write about it is that I feel so strongly that we need to show more compassion to others in our lives. It benefits us and it benefits them.

Showing compassion is having a softness in your heart for the plight of another, a softness for their woundedness. When we see each other as wounded people, we can begin to understand other’s actions and behaviors. That does not mean we condone what they have done necessarily, it just means we can understand someone a little bit more. As with anything that is wounded, we offer compassion.

This has two benefits. First, it frees us up of our angers and resentments, and allows us to travel in our heart to forgiveness. This is an emotionally freeing experience, at least it was for me after 35 years of huge rage and bitterness. Not only is forgiveness emotionally liberating; it has health benefits, as well. People who have forgiven have less chance of developing cancer and their risk for heart disease is lessened.

While forgiveness through compassion benefits you, compassion shown to another allows them to feel noticed and acknowledged for their pain. Often, all we each want is acknowledgment for our strife, the difficulty we are experiencing. We just want to know we are heard, that we are not alone. So to extend words such as, “I’m sorry you are experiencing difficulties,” reassures another that they matter, that they have been heard.

Compassion is important to  show to others because it evokes peace among us as people in the world. I think it’s that simple. What are your thoughts? I invite you to leave a comment.

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Why It’s Important to Show Compassion

Two people searched for issues related to compassion, so I thought I’d address it today. It has been my experience to find relief from angst once I started showing compassion for myself and others.

Compassion is the pre-cursor to forgiveness… Once you can experience and offer compassion, you can move on rather effortlessly to forgiveness. Webster defines compassion as the sorrow felt for the sufferings and troubles of another, usually accompanied with the desire to help. It is beneficial when shown for yourself, as well as for others.

When I experience compassion, my heart softens toward another. I am able to consider their plight, the difficulties they have had to experience in life. When I come at it with that attitude, I feel sorrow for them, knowing that they, too, suffered. I say “too” because I am usually steeped in my own sorrows.

Yet, when I can get out of myself and consider another’s difficulties, it is with a softened heart and mind that I do so. As I said, compassion leads to forgiveness. I feel especially compassionate when someone has dealt with the same things I have dealt with that caused emotional pain. For example, when I realized that my father had been told as a child that he was worthless, it helped to understand why he was telling me I was worthless, which led to me feeling worthless about myself. My heart was able to soften when I realized he was reenacting his own wounds, that his words were said in pain.

What about compassion for yourself? How does it apply to you? Well, if you look at the situations which have caused you emotional strife, then you can feel sympathy for yourself. Be careful, however, not to slip into self-pity. There is a fine line between self-pity and sympathy for yourself.

Sympathy, compassion, is expansive, while self-pity is contracting. Feeling sorry for yourself gets you nowhere except into the victim mentality. You do not have to be a victim in life; you can be sympathetic toward your woes, which leads to compassionate beliefs toward yourself.

Some wonder if it is not being selfish to feel compassion for themselves and I say it is not. It is self-ful, a way to fill yourself up with positivity, a way to celebrate yourself and your needs. Anything which helps you grow and heal is not selfish, it is preferable behavior to feeling sorry for yourself and being bitter.

Today, look with a softened heart at all your difficulties, to the difficulties of the people around you who are suffering from their own wounds. Feel their woes, or yours, with your heart. Offer others and yourself compassion. It is a way to “be” in the world that will soften your feelings and outlook.

Since compassion is the pre-cursor to forgiveness, I invite you to learn how to further sympathy, turning it into forgiveness. I invite you to sign up for my free forgiveness article, there to the right of the blog. I believe it will be of use to you.

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Living with Gates Flung Wide – Ah, Peace

Yesterday, I talked about how to forgive… an actual process to use to get there. Once you find forgiveness, you will move into all the wonderful benefits of freedom and peace. You will begin to live with the gates of your heart flung wide open.

What do I mean by this? Well, first of all, you will begin to see the world around you with wonder… awe and wonder. You will seek out that attitude, applying it to everything you encounter.

When you find forgiveness and begin to see things around you with wonder, you will live in grace. Grace is a feeling of goodwill and is a favor which is bestowed upon you. It is a virtue given to you by the powers of the Universe, or God, or whatever you call the divine in your life. It settles quietly… gently… like a soft and comforting cloak.

It is hard to describe what it feels to live in grace, but one thing that happens for me is that everything falls easily into place. I have a deep sense of knowingness that life in its essence is perfect, and I sort of float from one thing to the next, not in a dizzy state, rather, in a calm and conscious way.

When you can find forgiveness, your life begins to be lived in joy… great happiness. Joy is a feeling of great pleasure or delight. You know when you are living with joy in your life when the little things become so pleasurable for you, that you wear a smile on your heart throughout the day.

And, finally, you will know peace. This is a feeling that all is well. It is felt at a deeper level. Regardless of the strife that arises, you know that everything is as it is intended to be, and you are alright in the world. It is a sense that pervades all others.

These are the things that you will experience once you go through a self-appraisal, and begin to learn to express compassion for others and yourself… once you find forgiveness for others and yourself. It is a truly beautiful space in which to live each day.

This is a state-of-mind that I have looked for all my life. I tried for 26 years to find it in alcohol and drugs and I thought I was experiencing joy all those years. What I realized after a few years of sobriety is that I didn’t have a clue what joy was, what wonder or grace was, and I certainly never experienced peace while I was drinking.

In other words, what I have found since forgiving and doing my grief work is a feeling that is so far greater than anything I had ever imagined possible. The journey to get to this point becomes well worth it once you get to this point.

For those of you who are dealing with long-standing anger or resentment, it is possible to get through that to another place, a place where you feel relaxed with others, with yourself, with the world around you. I wish you well in your journey and hope for you the path to forgiveness and peace.

 

 

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Finding Compassion in Sobriety and Sobriety in Compassion

Very interesting the search terms that were used yesterday to find my site. Two of ten known ones were about how to show compassion and six of the ten were about sobriety. I was planning on continuing today with compassion, so that’s why it’s interesting what showed up in the results.

Over half counted were interested in sobriety, so I will include sobriety in my discussion… I am always happy to talk about sobriety because it is such an awesome addition to the journey.

Compassion is another one of the actions you can take that will help to push open the gates of your heart. That compassion, once you learn how to do it, is needed for both others and yourself. It’s a double -laned highway on the way to forgiveness. Through forgiveness, you will find peace. I am jumping ahead. Let me refocus…

As you develop new ways to be in the world for others and yourself, consider adding compassion to the tools you use to promote peace within. I found I had no clue what compassion was nor how to show it until I was a few years into sobriety.  At some point, I began to notice the wonderful feeling of goodwill I had toward others, where my heart went out to them in a truly genuine way.

Without sobriety, I was too into myself… my fears, my ego, myself. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to be much concerned with what was going on with you. I am talking about concern that was more than superficial. I am talking about concern that makes me want to hear more of your plight, in an effort to determine how I can be of service to you.

This same concern for others that I show has to be shown to myself, also, in order for me to stay sober and to find more peace in my life. The same is true for you. You have to start learning to show yourself compassion in situations, for example, where you behaved badly because of some wound that was touched, some chord that was struck.

In that situation, if you can recognize that you were a wounded person in the moment you erred, needing some love and understanding, triggered to return to an original wound, then you can offer yourself compassion. Even, especially, offer yourself compassion for the ways in which you err against yourself with your negative self-talk, the criticisms, and beating-yourself-up.

This is virtually impossible to do if you are drinking and drugging, which is why sobriety becomes so important. You see, once you realize you have a wound that needs to be healed, the pain from that wound is exposed to the light and the pain may be intense. You want to deaden that pain, and perhaps use substances to do so.

But deadening the pain only prolongs the process you need to go through to heal and get to the other side of your angst. I experienced many times, again and again, that by exposing my pain and being willing to look at it, and to feel it, that it dissipated, resolved. I’m not saying the pain wasn’t excruciating at times, because it was and I wanted desperately to drink or dull the pain in some way or another.

Yet, my sobriety was my number one concern and I did not want to go back to the horror of my last several months of drinking. I did a LOT of journalling, brisk walking, and attending meetings of my support group. I did that for the first year and a half of sobriety. It helped. I also had a CD of soothing music, classical banjo and guitar, and I played it non-stop in the evening and night to soothe me.

I was showing myself compassion at the time, but didn’t know it as such.

You, too, can begin to become aware of how to treat yourself and your wounds, with great compassion. It will add to your sobriety, and your sobriety will add to your ability to show compassion to yourself. It feels really good. I invite you to try it for yourself.

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Compassion in Sobriety – Part 2

The second part of the definition of compassion states that it is sympathy or sorrow shown toward another or others. I propose that this definition be expanded to include ourselves.

Our first thought may be, “this is selfish.” But if you think about it, why shouldn’t we each have access to the same sorrow and sympathy to which others have access, when it comes to our realizations about our downfalls and the wounds behind them?

By showing ourselves compassion in this case, we allow the grieving process to begin. If we grieve about our downfalls and the wound(s) associated with it, if there is a wound, we avoid going into self-pity. Thus, we keep ourselves from playing small.

Instead, we can step into being with our humanness. In other words, we see our flaws, our errors, and we take action to correct them, to improve the traits that need improvement.

When we’re in self-pity, we cannot take action. We become paralyzed because all of our energy is going into ourselves. This is when selfishness applies. Having spent most of my life in self-pity, I can now see that it was very selfish of me and it definitely kept me playing small.

The issue of playing small is one which I just learned about in a two-day intensive workshop called Double Your Practice in 90 Days, conducted by Jesse Koren and Sharla Jacobs. This seminar is part of a series referred to as Rejuvenate Training. I had the revelation that, in regard to my efforts in marketing myself as a speaker and a coach, I am playing small, rather than standing tall in the gifts that God has given me.

One such gift is the ability to see the details within the whole picture. It is that gift which allows me to see these details about how compassion aids the journey to sobriety and peace, while holding a space for the overall desire for sobriety and peace. And I have also been given the gift of being able to articulate my thoughts in writing, and then, in speech. So, coming from the space of wanting to be useful to others, I write and I will speak.

It has been fear that has kept me from doing more than the planning stage of my new endeavors to be a speaker and a coach, kept me from making calls to schedule talks, for example. I am afraid of the attention I may get, afraid of rejection, afraid I don’t know what I’m talking about.  These are the fears which hold me back. They are false evidence appearing real.

What can I do about it? I can apply compassion for that hurt child whose history includes the experiences which resulted in these feelings. I can experience the sorrow and grief I feel over the loss of a happy childhood. I can get angry over the rejection, the false statements.

In the end, when I’ve gone through the grieving process, I can get to a place of peace about it, a place of acceptance. And this allows me to heal, so that I can show up for myself in the world. When I can show up for myself, then I can show up for you, and I am able to become of service to you. It becomes a continual dance between showing up for each other and ourselves that is beautiful and evokes peace. So, tell me, why would showing yourself compassion be selfish?

Today, look at the list you created yesterday. Look at each way in which you feel sorry for yourself and figure out why doing that makes you small. Then trace that wound that leads you to be small, back to its origin. When you discover what that is, determine what feelings you are experiencing because of it. Apply compassion. Let yourself feel sympathy and sorrow for yourself and the person who endured the wound(s), and who experiences those feelings. 

This seems like a lengthy process. At first it may feel awkward and clumsy, and it may take time to do. With practice, it becomes easier and less time-consuming. I invite you to try it. It will further your sobriety and will contribute to your peace.

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