How to Open Your Heart More in Sobriety

How to Open Your Heart More in Sobriety” was in the search terms four times this morning. Well, the term was really how to open our hearts more, and I changed it a little, embellished a bit to add sobriety. I like adding the angle of sobriety in, because sobriety is so often what allows you to live with your heart more open.

Often, people who have been through the hell of hitting bottom and then getting sober, find that they can open their heart more than someone who has not been through hell. It’s as if the person who got sober knows what the other side is, and is so grateful to be out of there, out of that space, that opening their heart becomes a joy.

Perhaps one of the most valuable tools to use to open our heart more is that of honesty about ourselves… our actions and words, our behaviors. When drinking, we tend to be mired deeply in ourselves, concerned about how what everyone is doing is damaging or hurting us. In reality, we are manufacturing our own misery, but most drinkers would become engaged if you said that to them.

Anyway, back to honesty. When we take a real, hard look at ourselves and see our errors, our weaknesses, our bad behavior, we realize we have done the very same things we are mad at others for. In one way or another, we have. Wow. That’s a sobering realization! And once we realize we do the same things others do, we become humble, taking ourselves off that pedestal we’ve put ourselves on, making ourselves right-sized.

There is no need for shame at this point, thinking we’re a bad person. It’s just our behavior that’s bad, and that can be changed. So, once you are honest and open your heart to yourself, you can open it to others more, seeing them with different eyes, realizing that perhaps they, too, have wounds behind their bravado, their bad behavior. When you realize this, you can see with compassion and compassion helps you in your sobriety to open your heart more and more.

I don’t think that we can get to this point of having a truly open heart unless we are in sobriety. In other words, sobriety is what allows us to open our hearts more in life, to life. When we are drinking, we are too wrapped up in ourselves and our little (and big) dramas which we have created in some way or another, that we cannot get out of ourselves enough to see the surrounding world with tenderness, with compassion. We are mired in what the other guy has done to hurt us.

I am watching this very situation occur in realtime with a friend of many years. She lives out-of-state and so, everything I get is from her point of view, or the report of other friends. I have gotten the most recent update from a friend, and the truth is somewhere in the middle, but the drinking friend is driving everyone away through her bad behaviors and actions, and then claiming everyone is deserting her.

In reality, if she looked honestly at her own behavior, her own actions, she would see this and how she is reaping the consequences of her behavior. In other words, she is creating her misery. Tragic situation I am observing from afar, as I watch lives being ruined by the actions of one who is choosing to reject sobriety.

It is with a heavy heart that I wrote about that situation because I know if she took the route of sobriety, she would be able to open her heart more to others, to herself.

At any rate, after honesty is used to help open your heart in sobriety, openness of heart and mind follows. It is crucial to be open to suggestions and new ways of thought once you get into sobriety. And, of course, willingness is the key after honesty and openness are achieved. Willingness turns the key in the lock of a closed heart. You can have all the honesty and openness you want, and until you have willingness, you cannot put your sobriety to work for you.

Once you have looked at yourself with honesty, openness, and willingness, once you have added compassion to the mix, your sobriety will be enhanced and you will be able to open your heart more.

How about you? Are you able to open your heart more now that you are sober? Leave a comment and let us know.

 

 

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Honesty, Openness, and Willingness – Keys for Sobriety

Honesty, Openness, and Willingness, the three things that are key for sobriety. Without these, sobriety is nearly impossible. With these, you have a chance for success.

It used to really irk me that people claimed I was not honest. After all, I did not steal from others, I report my taxes to the best of my ability and knowledge… I was an honest person. But what they were actually referring to was the way in which I presented myself to others. Was I showing to them who I really am, what I really think and feel? Or, was I taking on another’s opinions and beliefs, merely to “keep the peace?”

Hmmm. I was taking on my husband’s characteristics of impatience, self-righteousness, etc., because it kept the peace. I was not letting shine my abilities and beliefs of tolerance, respect, and love toward others. In the eyes of sobriety minded people, I was not being honest.

So, I took this new definition of honesty and began to assess my abilities in that area. Hmmm. I was not being myself, was not showing my true nature of kindness. It took me several years of healing work in sobriety before I was able to be honest with others about who I really and truly was and am. It was a beautiful awakening…

Being open, for me, refers to openness of mind as well as heart. One day, my heart just opened. It came after some time of being openminded. That open-mindedness came from a belief that everything that was being presented to me in the way of books to read, or opportunities, etc., was a gift from God. And I got that belief from reading the book Conversations With God, by Neale Donald Walsch.

Armed with the belief that gifts were being presented to me, I was able to be open to get help from others, to accept medication and EMDR, for example, for my panic disorder, major depression, and PTSD. When I was openminded toward these things, and they turned out successfully, bringing me more and more lightness, that feeling invaded my heart. I could not help but open it, too, to the blessings and gifts I was experiencing.

Wow. What a whole different way this was to look at tinges and to live. A world of difference from the bitter and angry person I had been for some 35 years, blaming my parents for my emotional difficulties. I liked it, and I continue to like it. It took an open mind and an open heart to be able to look at things differently, to be able to be responsible for my own emotions, to be able to take action on my behalf.

But there is nothing that could or would have happened had I not been willing to see things differently. That’s why I believe willingness is the key to sobriety, to a changed life. I believe willingness opens the gate to your heart. It did mine, and that was a miracle, given how angry a person I was.

Once I opened the door and allowed willingness to express my heart more authentically to play out, things began to flow more smoothly for me. I became willing, for example, to consider forgiveness for my parents. This, of course, came after a lot of healing and pre-forgiveness work, a lot of therapy.  When I was in it, I could not see a way out, it was excruciating at times.

On the other side of it, I can see why events and learning situations happened as they did. I see why they, for example, were so painful, because I was clearing out years of pain and heartache. Years of shame and feelings of worthlessness. It was difficult to address my grief over the loss of trust I had in my parents, how badly that wounded me. With willingness, I became able to view things differently. It has made the entire difference in my life of sobriety.

How about you? How do you practice honesty, openness, and willingness in your life, in your sobriety? How does it manifest for you? Leave a comment and let me know.

 

 

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Sobriety Needs an Open Heart and Mind

Having an open heart and mind are essential for sobriety. It is helpful for us to come at life with an attitude of wonderment, open to everything we see and hear.

Making or having a judgment about everything, thinking we know everything, is detrimental to trying to remain sober. It is contempt prior to investigation. Staying open leads to being delighted with everything that comes our way.

I used to have a pretty closed mind, thinking I knew everything there was to know about so many things. I was resistant to new ideas presented to me, always thought I knew best.

Then, when I got sober, I had to learn to practice humility, and I learned I didn’t know much about a lot of things. It was that return to humility again and again that taught me to have an open mind.

The thing that’s so cool about having an open mind is that we begin to see everything with awe and wonder. It is a place of great discovery and fun. Exposure to new things brings on a whole new dimension of richness to our lives.

Usually, an open heart follows an open mind. Perhaps this is because we protect our heart more. When we use the courage we have found and ask for help from our Source, we can get past the fear of opening our heart to let ourselves out and others in.

Do you have an open heart and mind? Where are you closed? Can you take a look at that and make a different decision about whether to have an open heart and mind? It will ease your life to have an air of openness. It will help you find inner peace.

 

 

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Being Yourself and Standing Strong in Who You Are

“Perhaps, rather than thinking I must make my morals, truth, and integrity match another’s, I can determine what resonates with my own heart. When it does, I have the strength of a pillar.”

Being Yourself and Standing Strong

Pillar of Strength

This is the verse that accompanies today’s image and topic, being an individual, being yourself and standing strong in who you are. First, however, you need to determine who you really are at your core.

This can be a challenging task, especially if you live in an environment where who you are is not valued and, in fact, is criticized or demeaned.

I lived in such an environment in my marriage, after leaving a home where I was criticized and demeaned during childhood, so for me, it was a lifetime. I learned to be whatever and whomever the other person wanted me to be. I was very good at it.

Therefore, it was very difficult, after I left my 20 year marriage, to determine what my own values and truths were. I was only able to figure this out by staying sober and sticking through the often excruciating emotional times, until I came out on the other side. So have faith; you will come out on the other side

I recommend journalling to ferret out your strengths, your morals, your truths. That worked well for me, anyway. It allows you to write anything you think or feel without the fear of having it criticized or demeaned, thus devaluing you.

This is a time when you want to be totally honest about what you see. If you are confused about your morals, your truths, set the intention to discover them, and go about your day with them in your mind and heart. When you have an idea, jot it down in your journal. Expand upon it later.

Once you discover your truths and integrity, try to gently express yourself to those around you, sticking up for yourself and your opinions. I recognize that this can lead to arguments with a spouse.

I also recognize that sometimes it is not safe to do this, and in that situation, perhaps it is best to keep your thoughts in your journals, but know in your heart what they are. Then, when you have gotten out of the dangerous situation, you can express yourself to others. Do the best you can in a given situation, and keep yourself safe.

Be fair to yourself when you are doing a self-appraisal. This is where honesty, willingness, and openness come in to play. Be willing to look at yourself with an open mind and heart, thus discovering what your strengths, morals, and truths are. Be honest by not downplaying who you are. It is not bragging or arrogant to honestly admit to your strengths. Rather, here is an opportunity to practice humility.

Do you know your strengths and morals, your truths and integrity? Do you project them into the world? Do you feel the inner strength that produces when you do so? Does it help you find peace? I truly hope it does. I hope for you to resonate with your truths, morals, and integrities so that you are being yourself and standing strong in who you are..

 

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How to Commit to the Journey

Today we are talking about how to commit to the journey you are on, whether that is of awareness, healing, growth, or recovery. The verse begins, “The gate stands open, beckoning me to climb.”

The Steps to Commitment

Journey of Commitment

It goes on to talk about how each step leads further in your journey, offering the opportunity to examine yourself and your life – leaves that have fallen, leaves that will fall, and buds yet to form.

Once you begin the climb and commit to it, you recognize and accept that you will experience both rocky and smooth times, that it will be positive and negative, easy and hard. This is just how life is. It cannot be escaped.

You commit anyway, because you know that the reward of the journey is in each blossom and each leaf along the way. That IS the journey… the blossoms and leaves along the way just keep changing faces as one part of your journey ebbs and another flows. The journey changes, again and again, as you learn, heal, and grow.

You see, when you learn how to commit to the journey, you do not know what experiences and lessons will come your way, but you agree to yourself that you will stick it through. The experiences may be terribly painful, even unbearable. Yet, if you stick through it, you will heal from the pain with time and effort on your part. You will find your way to peace.

If you decide to commit to the journey of healing, I can only offer you what worked for me. I found it useful to engage in activities such as reaching out for help from therapy and support groups, and reading books about the type of pain with which I was dealing. Journaling about my deepest, most agonizing feelings was most useful.

Finding a close friend or confidant to talk with about my thoughts was also extremely helpful. That person became my spiritual coach and learning to rely on that power greater than myself became indispensable.  Learning to use all  the tools we have discussed, such as honesty, openness, willingness, humility, courage… these all helped.

It was most helpful to be useful to others, as that gave me a sense of mattering to someone in the world. What I discovered when I did all these things was that my journey’s face changed from pain and deep despair to that of joy and inner peace. Now, unpleasant situations occur, and I am curious to uncover the lesson to which the journey is guiding me.

I hope I have given you a sense of purpose for your continued journey, and let you know that there is great reward, even in the hard times.

 

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A Sacred Event – A Book Launch

How do I describe how a book launch was a sacred event? Maybe a better way to say it, is that it was spiritual, reverent.

I only know that standing in front of the room with all eyes turned on me was humbling. I felt called to speak to these people and, as such, was not too nervous. It seemed like the right thing to be doing, the next indicated thing.

A hush came over the crowd, as my publicist introduced me. I gulped, and it was show time! After acknowledgments, the talk quickly turned to reading of verses from the book, while projecting its paired image. Starting with worthlessness, I worked my way through honesty, openness, and willingness, past tolerance, to rest on peace.  I was unprepared for the clapping which came when I was done. I felt like an author! That I was being recognized as an author, and a photographer! A special moment in my psyche.

We moved on and I told my story – of brokenness, heart-ache, and disappointment beyond my ability to cope, and that to manage my feelings, I drank. A lot. Before long, the talk turned to my recovery, my becoming sober, entering sobriety… how my brokenness became wholeness.

Faces all turned to me were attentive, awaiting my next words… some smiles, some nods, but rapt, serious attention. It was a gentle atmosphere, one of reverence… there’s just no other word. Spirit was felt and radiated on the upturned faces. I was in wonder, in gratitude for everyone’s reaction to my words, for everyone’s participation.

When I finished, I read a quote about  needing to be our authentic selves first before we can find that safe environment for which we search, one in which we can trust others and open up to them. My closing statement and question was, You are either a victim of your circumstances or you are a powerful, conscious creator. Which do you choose for your life? I pose this question to you…

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Hopefulness As A Way of Life

Ray of Hope

” A ray of light across the bars of my being lights my way, instills hope in my heart”

As we blog our way through the topics of my book, we now arrive at hope. We have begun with great angst – fear, sorrow, and despair. Then, we became aware of ourselves, our situation, how we are in the world. Courage was bestowed upon us when we turned to a sacred force for assistance.

We became willing to look at ourselves with honesty and openness as we performed a self-appraisal, which led us to accept ourselves. As we looked at ourselves, we applied compassion and kindness, the same of which we bestow upon those we meet on our path.

Once we have a sense of ourselves in the world, our role, our interactions, we begin to have hope  – that we are okay as a human being, that others can be trusted, that we can find happiness in ourselves and the world around us. This hope has occurred because of the process we have been through up to this point.  We are beginning to feel more complete and whole, which spurs our hope. We continue to feel hope as we repeat the steps discussed up to this point. It is an on-going cycle that breeds more hope.

What are the ways in which you feel hope in your life?

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As the award-winning author and photographer of her book of inspirational prose and photographs of wrought-iron gates, it is said by others that Carolyn CJ Jones’ book offers inspiration, hope, and empowerment to those in transition, to those souls in the corner who struggle. View the video about the book; stroll through the pages, both of which are located to the right of this blog. Buy the book from Carolyn’s website  and receive free shipping and your personally autographed copy.

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Openness of Heart

openness of heart“Do we spend our lives behind the barriers of a closed gate, protected from the hurt and pain that might come to us?

If we allow our hearts to open, will we see things in a different light?

Will we grow through the barriers of our heart and be able to fully experience the richness of life?”

This prose was written at a point in time when I was overcome by both sadness and wonder… Sadness for myself and others, because I suspected many of us go through life with pieces of our heart closed, to protect ourselves from hurt and pain. Wonder, because I was beginning to learn how awesome it felt to open my own heart to all that was around me… other people, events, nature, designs of buildings… everything.

The ability to open my heart is a process which has happened over time. It started with having an open mind to all that was different and new. For me, this started occurring after I read the book Conversations With God, by Neale Donald Walsch. This book gently, yet powerfully, presented the concept that a higher power, or God, was behind everything, that experiences were opportunities, not coincidences, that God speaks through other people, through songs, billboards… everything. Everywhere, and in every thing, there is that guiding force, God, or whatever you choose to call the powers of the Universe.

I liked this concept; it was soothing to my soul. I relaxed and looked at those around me with less fear, more love and tolerance. My heart had followed my head and it continues to do so. And it’s the little things that bring joy and openness to my heart… noticing a mother smile at her child in a grocery store, watching the eyes of a homeless person light up when I smile at him/her, seeing the delicate bloom on a flower, a rainbow on the wall… The more I am open to all around me, the more joy and wonder I feel and the more my heart opens. It is an ever-present, ever-peaceful spiral.

Early on in the opening up process, I read voraciously and the second author who touched my heart and helped it to open more was Oriah Mountain Dreamer and her book The Invitation. The book is an invitation to open one’s heart… After that, it was Iyanla Van Zant and her book, One Day My Soul Just Opened Up. I identified strongly with the experiences she described. Then there was Eckhart Tolle and The Power of Now. When I live in the moment, I am more open, I live from my heart more.

Today, opening my heart means being available to all that life has to offer on the spectrum of feelings. It means being open to experience polar opposites… joy, sorrow, hope, despair, courage, fear. Openness to feel all my feelings has led to a richness of life I cannot describe. My heart is not always open, and sometimes it is difficult to be open and I struggle. Yet, I can say that it is definitely a peaceful and awesome place to be when I’m there. I have been truly blessed.

What are the joys you experience when your heart is open and receives?

Thank you for joining the journey through my book. Join me next time for Key of Willingness.

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