Maintaining Sobriety Through the Doubt

Shadows of Doubt

If you’re anything like I was, you will have some serious doubt as to the existence of Source. You will have some serious doubt about whether sobriety is worth it. You will want to start drinking because the stuff that surfaces is just not worth dealing with. It’s too painful and the anguish you feel is not justified.

Oh, I’ve been there many times, believe me. I used to go around yelling that sobriety wasn’t worth it, just wasn’t worth what I was feeling, this huge pain from old wounds. It was unbearable and my life was better when I was drinking! Far better!

There are two things about that. The first is that I was forgetting that I was vastly unhappy when I was drinking, and, in fact, drank because I was so unhappy. I was unhappy at a soul level and knew deeply that my life was not right.

The other thing to say is that what I later discovered in sobriety was the peace and joy I looked for in drugs and alcohol, only what I found is a thousand times better than I ever could have imagined. And that’s how worth it, it is to stick with sobriety, no matter what comes up for you emotionally.

Take a look at this picture for a minute. What do you see? What feelings are evoked when you look at the side with the shadows and then you look at the side where there are no shadows? I can tell you that when I look at the side with the shadows, I get a feeling of frenzy, disorganization, chaos.It’s just too much for me with the lines and circles together.

On the other hand, when I look at that side that’s through the gate, the side that’s bathed in light, I see calm, I see smoothness. I see relief. But I have had to go through the chaos, the frenzy, the gate, to get to the other side where my heart is bathed in light.

Look at it this way… As the sun changes its position, the shadows will disappear and the right side of the gate will also be calm. Our souls are like the changing sun… As we make changes in our lives, time will pass, and just as the right side became calm over time, so will the part of us that is currently chaotic and frenzied.

The point is, it is well worth keeping with sobriety through all the strife. At least, that has been my experience. It is the best thing I have ever done with my life, this keeping sober stuff – the best thing ever. I hope you choose to dance with sobriety.

Share

Doubt in God

Shadows of Doubt

I had a specific request to deal with what to do when we doubt there is a God, so today I will address my thoughts about that. First, let me say that I have decided to blog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I will start that this coming Monday.

I debated using “power greater than ourselves,” or “great spirit” in the title, rather than God. The word “God” seems to scare away those who do not believe in such a power or spirit. It used to do that to me until I read the book Conversations with God  by Neale Donald Walsch.

This book presented the idea that God existed in everything and everyone, without all the dogma that religion dictates. I could wrap my heart around that! When I believed there was a God everywhere, I felt tremendously light-hearted, joyous. I felt deeply connected with those around me, as well as my surroundings.  

Like many of us, I started as a young child being taken to church and being taught to believe in God and Jesus. Then, my family moved away from my grandparents, and my parents did not continue to take me to church. A few years after I stopped going to church, I found myself praying to God to stop the abusive behavior that was being thrown my way.

He never answered, never stopped the abuse. In response, I stopped believing there was a God and became enraged with Him. If there was a God, how could He be allowing me to go through what I was going through? It made no sense why He would allow my suffering.

That anger lasted for about 30 years, during which time I developed my life under the influence of alcohol and drugs. They became the power larger than myself. Then, about 4 months before I got sober, I read the book Conversations with God. And my life changed forever.

Now-a-days, I believe there is a God that guides me in a Divine plan, designed to take me to my highest good. I speak to this force, this God, throughout the day, acknowledging and thanking Him for all the things in my day that are going well, going as I wish. When I do this, doors keep opening in front of me. 

It wasn’t always like that. Even in sobriety, I went through a period of a few years when I was angry at God again for allowing me to suffer the abuse I did. I saw that it served no purpose except to bring emotional misery to my life. Even though I was angry and did not believe, I prayed to that power to let me die. I was too frightened to commit suicide, had no good means.

This feeling and my praying ceased in an instant after an experience I had one day, and I will speak about that tomorrow. It has allowed me to see my purpose in life and to move forward in joy, eager to be of service to others who suffer or suffered the same abuse I did.

I will also speak of words I was told, suggestions that were made, that allowed me to stop being angry at God and to even believe that some greater power existed. My doubt in God has resolved over time.

I will see you tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share

How to Handle Self-Doubt About Your Dream

Shadows of Doubt

How do we handle self-doubt about our dream, our heart’s desire? This is, interestingly, something that has come up for me in relation to my own dream of becoming a speaker. It seems like I am going through the process of the book with you in relation to following our heart’s desire to fulfill our souls. 

Just like the image to the left, the right side of the image is like our mind when we go into self-doubt. It is filled with “stuff,” chaos, everything going which-way. On the other hand, when we are out of self-doubt, when we are confident in our endeavor, our mind is light and airy, like on the left side of the image.

How do we get to that point? We start by identifying our feelings of doubt. We need to allow them to be, without ignoring or numbing them. As we feel that feeling in the pit of our stomachs, what is going on?

For me, that was sheer terror when I felt that feeling. In looking at it further, I whittled it down again and again until I determined that what I was terrified about was having to speak without my notes, that I would forget what I was talking about, and that I was terrified I would look stupid to the audience, like I had no clue what I was talking about.

Ah, the old ego comes into play. So, I had to ask myself why I am so terrified of looking stupid and I trace it back to repeatedly being told that I WAS stupid, pretty much my entire life. When one hears such words reinforced so much, one begins to believe them.

Now I can look at myself and all the times I was told I was stupid with great compassion. I can hold that child, that adult, in my heart and wrap her with love and compassion. I can tell her that it was a lie, that it was said by troubled people who felt that about themselves, perhaps. But none-the-less, troubled people.

And then, I can look at the others with compassion. Holding us all in a space of compassion allows me to get into my heart instead of my mind. It is at that point that I am able to remember why I am doing this dream in the first place. I remind myself I am becoming a speaker to share my message with people who are struggling, to relay how I got through some very rocky times, and that they can also.

My people are waiting for me, just like your people are waiting for you with whatever gift you have to offer. It becomes about the other person and when it does, your thoughts are off of yourself and your terror, if it is fear which you are feeling. It becomes instead how you can be of service to another. Suddenly, confidence replaces the self-doubt, and you can move forward with your actions in the direction of your dream.

 

 

Share

How to Handle Self-Doubt About Your Dream

Shadows of Doubt

How do we handle self-doubt about our dream, our heart’s desire? This is, interestingly, something that has come up for me in relation to my own dream of becoming a speaker. It seems like I am going through the process of the book with you in relation to following our heart’s desire to fulfill our souls. 

Just like the image to the left, the right side of the image is like our mind when we go into self-doubt. It is filled with “stuff,” chaos, everything going which-way. On the other hand, when we are out of self-doubt, when we are confident in our endeavor, our mind is light and airy, like on the left side of the image.

How do we get to that point? We start by identifying our feelings of doubt. We need to allow them to be, without ignoring or numbing them. As we feel that feeling in the pit of our stomachs, what is going on?

For me, that was sheer terror when I felt that feeling. In looking at it further, I whittled it down again and again until I determined that what I was terrified about was having to speak without my notes, that I would forget what I was talking about, and that I was terrified I would look stupid to the audience, like I had no clue what I was talking about.

Ah, the old ego comes into play. So, I had to ask myself why I am so terrified of looking stupid and I trace it back to repeatedly being told that I WAS stupid, pretty much my entire life. When one hears such words reinforced so much, one begins to believe them.

Now I can look at myself and all the times I was told I was stupid with great compassion. I can hold that child, that adult, in my heart and wrap her with love and compassion. I can tell her that it was a lie, that it was said by troubled people who felt that about themselves, perhaps. But none-the-less, a troubled person.

And then, I can look at the other with compassion. Holding us all in a space of compassion allows me to get into my heart instead of my mind. It is at that point that I am able to remember why I am doing this dream in the first place. I remind myself I am becoming a speaker to share my message with people who are struggling, to relay how I got through rough times, and that they can also.

My people are waiting for me, just like your people are waiting for you with whatever gift you have to offer. It becomes about the other person and when it does, your thoughts are off of yourself and your terror, if it is fear which you are feeling. It becomes instead how you can be of service to another. Suddenly, confidence replaces the self-doubt, and you can move forward with your actions in the direction of your dream.

 

 

Share

It’s Okay to Doubt

Shadows of Doubt

If you’re anything like I was, you will have some serious doubt as to the existence of Source. You will have some serious doubt about whether sobriety is worth it. You will want to start drinking because the stuff that surfaces is just not worth dealing with. It’s too painful and the anguish you feel is not justified.

Oh, I’ve been there many times, believe me. I used to go around yelling that sobriety wasn’t worth it, just wasn’t worth what I was feeling, this huge pain from old wounds. It was unbearable and my life was better when I was drinking! Far better!

There are two things about that. The first is that I was forgetting that I was vastly unhappy when I was drinking, and, in fact, drank because I was so unhappy. I was unhappy at a soul level and knew deeply that my life was not right.

The other thing to say is that what I later discovered in sobriety was the peace and joy I looked for in drugs and alcohol, only what I found is a thousand times better than I ever could have imagined. And that’s how worth it, it is to stick with sobriety, no matter what comes up for you emotionally.

Take a look at this picture for a minute. What do you see? What feelings are evoked when you look at the side with the shadows and then you look at the side where there are no shadows? I can tell you that when I look at the side with the shadows, I get a feeling of frenzy, disorganization, chaos. It’s just too much for me with the lines and circles together.

On the other hand, when I look at that side that’s through the gate, the side that’s bathed in light, I see calm, I see smoothness. I see relief. But I have had to go through the chaos, the frenzy, the gate, to get to the other side where my heart is bathed in light.

Look at it this way… As the sun changes its position, the shadows will disappear and the right side of the gate will also be calm. Our souls are like the changing sun… As we make changes in our lives, time will pass, and just as the right side became calm over time, so will the part of us that is currently chaotic and frenzied.

Rats, I was trying to keep this a short post after mine yesterday, which was somewhat lengthy. Now I see I am at 400 words, and I was shooting for 300. If you’ve stuck with me, I hope it is worth it for you.

The point is, it is well worth keeping with sobriety through all the strife. At least, that has been my experience. It is the best thing I have ever done with my life, this keeping sober stuff – the best thing ever. I hope you choose to dance with sobriety.

Share

Shame and Humility – Humility – Part II

Welcome to my blog. Yesterday and today we welcome guest blogger Stan Stewart, who is talking about humility, the next topic in my book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing. 

continued from yesterday’s introduction

shame
Besides fear, for me the most immobilizing feeling is shame. At least it feels that way.

When I feel shame, my most common expression of it is to hang my head and do nothing. Well, “doing nothing” is relative. What I do is judge myself or distract myself internally — usually with numbness.

I’m sure that shame could have kept me from embarassment or worse when I was younger. Suffice it to say that as an adult, shame does me no good.

When I re-discovered humility in spiritual readings recently, I had an epiphany that being humble looked similar to shame in some ways — at least on the surface. Both are about how “OK” I think I am. The step to humility is about realizing that I don’t need to think of myself as great in order to be okay.

The major difference is that shame and blame are so often tied together. If I think I’m being blamed (or judged, questioned, etc.), I may respond by feeling shame. This means that there is an external connection that I’m making to the catalyst for the shame. Ironically, while thinking that I’m being blamed, I then blame that same source for shaming me. So shame is other directed.
humility
Humility, on the other hand, has an internal source — and I’m thinking that “internal” can include self and divine influences. I am humble when I determine that I do not have to puff myself up in a situation or I am inspired (i.e., spirit has a hand in it) to address a situation with whatever I can bring to it, but without assuming that I am what the situation needs.

Said another way, when I come with attentive patience, I am humble.

My realization allowed me to see shame and humility as opposite sides of the same coin. When shame threatens to numb me out, I can invite humility as a spiritual practice to keep the questions internal, remove blame and accept responsibility. Time will tell how well I will be able to embrace this humble place.

May your shame be engulfed in humility in a way that comforts your inner child and welcomes the fullness of your adult to engage in the world.

*******************************************************************************************

Guest blogger, Stan Stewart, is a musician, teacher, and technologist. As a certified InterPlay leader and lover of improvised music, Stan teaches and seeks integration of the whole self — experiencing body/mind/spirit as a whole rather than split parts of self — in the present moment.

He says, “What is happening for all of me right now is what I have to work with. I do my best to seek the kind of awareness that will allow me to experience and use all that’s available to me in this moment; and that can inspire me creatively and in my service to the world.”

Carolyn and Stan met on Twitter and now take their connection to the blogosphere with this guest post.

Share

Dealing with Doubt

Shadows of Doubt

Shadows of Doubt

“I am mired again in the shadows of my doubt, my fear. I circle and circle and circle around the stones of my heart, caged, unable to pass through to the place where my heart is bathed in light.”

Today, we are dealing with doubt. Specifically for me, it was the doubt of a power greater than myself, doubt in the existence of God. Yesterday, we talked about belief in a higher power when we talked about trust. But our discussion can relate to doubt of anything.

For example, perhaps you doubt that sobriety is the route for you to take. You are the only one that can make that decision. If you doubt that you need to quit drinking, look at how it’s affecting your life.

Maybe you are functional, and still able to work, able to function in life. If that’s the case, then look at your private life for signs that alcohol is not working for you and, in fact, is causing strife in personal relationships or in your emotional life.

It is tempting to say, “That relationship is bad because they did this or that, they are this or that…” If that’s your excuse, it’s time to fetch yourself up and look at your own behavior. Do you drink and then have experiences which lead to another doing this or that? Perhaps they are reacting to you in your drinking mode. Look at it honestly. We’ll discuss honesty in more detail tomorrow.

Meanwhile, if you have doubts that sobriety is for you, let me just say that most of us who have gotten sober were so beaten down that sobriety was the only answer. In other words, those of us who have gotten sober had no doubt that sobriety was needed because we’d lost everything. Perhaps, if you look at it closely, you can elect to get sober without having to lose everything in your life. 

When doubt arises, allow it to become conscious, and look at it as objectively as possible. Realize that it is normal human behavior. But keep your eye on the light beyond the gate, where the stones are bathed in light. Look at the part of your heart and soul where shadows lurk.

Make the determination that you don’t wish to live in the shadows, and pass through to the side of light. Perhaps, you notice your shadows in your heart, your spirit, your soul. There is a way out of that. It’s called sobriety. After a few years of being sober, I was able to dispel the shadows in my heart, spirit and soul because I had healed emotionally. That healing was a direct result of becoming and staying sober.

You, too, can heal your emotional wounds, your personal relationships, and live in the light. The choice is yours. I wish you well in that decision.

Share

How to Trust in God

I would like to preface this post with two things. When I say how to trust in God, I am using the term God to mean a power greater than yourself, and it can apply to any other source of deity that you choose. I also present what worked for me to begin to trust, and do not claim to have all the answers.

That said, let’s look at how to trust in God. I had great doubt about God off and on throughout my sobriety. Yet, a belief in a power greater than myself to keep me sober was essential. Trust for the simple things came easily, but there was still the element that I needed to watch my back.

The photo in the book for doubt shows the predominant side in the shadows. When we doubt God, I believe we are in the shadows, a murky and somewhat dismal place to be. In opposition, the other side of the gate is bathed in sunshine and is the place where we wish to go.

How do we get there? In my experience, I felt that God was punishing me when bad or negative things were happening. I didn’t get that job I so desperately needed; it must be that God was punishing me.

The amount of belief I had that God was punishing me was directly proportional to the amount of fear I had that I would be punished by another. This was directly related to the healing work I needed to do about having been punished while growing up, and I had a lot of healing to do around that issue.

Nonetheless, I struggled to trust, as I knew my sobriety depended upon it. My spiritual advisor gave me the following advice. For me, it worked and soon I discovered how to trust in God.

Every time I took action on something and then let the results go – in other words did not force results – and something glorious happened that was far beyond my expectation or desire, I was told to consider that that was God working in my life. 

I was skeptical, to say the least, but I did this anyway. What I soon discovered was that there were lots of little things happening to me that I did not orchestrate but that moved me along in my healing process. Things like, a healer for the PTSD from which I suffered just showed up on my path. I partook of her services and was healed from my PTSD.

Lots of these type things began to happen and I was noticing them all. After a period of about a year or two, I was realizing that I was trusting that God would do for me what I could not do for myself. I began to see God from the sunny side of the gate.

So, for me, it worked to notice all the things in my life that happened when I didn’t plan them or force them to happen. They occurred with grace. That is what I suggest you do to learn how to trust in God.

Do you currently trust in God? Did you struggle for that to occur? What worked for you to be able to trust? Leave a comment and help another to discover a method that works for them.

 

 

 

Share

Doubt

Shadows of Doubt

“I circle and circle and circle around the stones of my heart, caged, unable to pass through to the place where my heart is bathed in light.”

This describes what goes on inside of myself when I am in doubt. For me, it takes the form of doubt of self and then doubt in a higher power. I am struggliing right now with both of these issues, so let’s look at them further.

When I take action and that action is continually met with a closed door, i.e., things do not work out smoothly and easily, I begin to doubt that I am on the right track. Then I lose confidence in myself and slip into discouragement, and, if bad enough, despair.

I am dealing with discouragement about why people do not seem interested in my book. Requests to have it reviewed and to get newspaper coverage have been met with silence.  Bookstores seem disinterested. The danger is that I lose my enthusiasm to present the book to the public. That enthusiasm is momentarily displaced…

How does one deal with doubt? Perhaps talking with a higher power is helpful for some.  When one questions that such a power exists, it makes it more difficult. That is the current case for me. So, what to do?

Personally, I keep taking action, baby steps, doing the things I can do to move the book along that do not require speaking with others, such as creating a power point presentation. I look at the things that are going right, like being scheduled for two reading/signing events out-of-state. I focus on my gratitude for those two events, and soon, my attitude is changed and I am able to approach others with enthusiasm.

This is how it works for me. How about you?

Share

How to Deal With Self-Doubt

Shadows of Doubt

I am mired again in the shadows of my dount, my fear.

I circle and circle and circle around the stones of my heart, caged, unable to pass through to the place where my heart is bathed in light.

When we doubt ourselves, our actions, and our beliefs about who we are, we erode our self-esteem, our self-confidence, and our very soul. If we know that doubting ourselves leads to these things, why do we do it?

Perhaps it is a reflection, an indicator, of our state of self-worth, our value to self and to the world. With low esteem and confidence levels, we are not stable enough, not strong enough, in who we are to ward off self-doubt. It erodes our very being even further. We question everything we do, perhaps always looking to others for validation rather than to ourselves, or to a power greater than ourselves.

How do we conquer this, this insidious doubt?  Perhaps it begins with a self-appraisal in which we identity the ways in which we doubt ourselves. If we can identify that, we then have a change to correct or change it. In doing the self-searching, it is necessary to be really honest with ourselves, to admit that the way we fell about ourselves is not honest. For if we were honest, we would see that we are delightful beings, fine just the way we are. We are enough as we are.

If, however, we see that we are doubting ourselves inappropriately, we can make the choice to change our beliefs. How do we do this? By recognizing and admitting each time we doubt, and examining if it is true. When we admit the doubt is false, then we consciously make the choice to change that doubt into a positive statement or affirmation about ourselves. Over time, with diligence, we begin to see our doubts diminish and our esteem and confidence rise. We begin to accept ourselves as we are, making changes when we feel it’s necessary. In this process, it is important to be kind, gentle, and compassionate with ourselves.

How do you deal with doubt when it arises? Do you see this method as being useful?

Share