Jul 15

Staying Accountable

By the time we reach the Tenth Step we have begun to understand the true importance of admitting and then taking responsibility for the state of our affairs.  Our efforts this far have already shown us what honesty and humility can achieve and we have made significant progress toward repairing the damage done to ourselves and others in the past.  Now we are given instructions on how to set a foundation for the future by creating a new habit and a better way to live.

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”  ~  Step Ten

As we approach Step Ten we are usually convinced that through working these steps we are in fact creating a new life.  No doubt our circumstances have changed through recovery because we have changed.  We have learned the meaning and the value of integrity.  We no longer live in denial.  We have found the strength to examine ourselves thoroughly and given every detail of our lives over to the care of a Power far greater than we are.  Through making amends relationships and finances have at least been properly addressed.  Even if they have not been repaired completely we notice that a burden has been lifted.  Perhaps health has been restored or the mind noticeably relieved of wrong thinking.  Our gains may be subtle at first but if we have been thorough up to this point we have experienced some degree of healing.  We are encouraged but we are not by any means finished.

The truth is that we will never be finished and this is why Twelve Step Programs work.  We are forming new habits, moving forward with intention – honest and accountable. The Tenth Step is a commitment to the daily repetition of Steps Four through Nine. We cannot afford to falter or fake our way through day to day living if we want lasting success.  Just as the first three steps continuously teach us to let go of our old way of life the last three will become the cornerstone for building a new one.

Page 84 in the Big Book tells us exactly how to work Step Ten:

  • Continue to take personal inventory. (Step 4)
  • Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. (Step 4)
  • When these crop up, ask God at once to remove them. (Steps 6 and 7)
  • Discuss them with someone immediately. (Step 5)
  • Make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. (Steps 8 and 9).

In working the Tenth Step we devote ourselves to the ongoing process of recovery. Once again the Big Book says it best, “We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter.  It should continue for our lifetime.”  We have turned a corner and chosen a new path that will not fail if we persist.

 “Higher Power, My daily prayer is to best serve you.
I pray that I continue to grow in understanding and effectiveness;
Help me to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear;
Help me to be willing to have You remove them at once;
Make me willing to discuss them with someone immediately;
Making amends quickly if I have harmed anyone;
Turn my thoughts toward helping someone else;
Please help me to keep love and tolerance of others as my code.”

~ Tenth Step Prayer

Steps Ten and Eleven are deeply intertwined, there may even be a bit of controversy about where one ends and the other begins or by which name we should call our practice.  However that detail is of little consequence. Ten and Eleven are practiced together daily.  Sometimes they are taken hourly and when needed moment by moment.

  “Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.”  ~  Promise Ten

 

The following links from Barefoot’s World are helpful for taking inventory and establishing habits for Steps Ten and Eleven:  Step 11 Inventory, all of the Prayers in the Big Book , How To Listen To God and St. Francis Prayer Meditation (12 and 2)


Recommended Reading:

The AA Big Book and Guide for Working the Twelve Steps are recommended reading for anyone in recovery of any kind, not only because they were the first but also for their inspirational and direct content. Two great resources for those working the Steps for codependency are also included here. More books on 12 Step Work from other fellowships and programs can be found in the “Steps” drop down list under “Programs and Literature.”

Featured image for this page taken from Hazelden 12 Step Pamphlet Collection – The Complete 12 Step Collection used by patients in recovery centers throughout the nation, these easy-to-read editions are a sure way to gain a basic, and yet thorough, understanding of the significance of each Step. Pamphlets are available individually or in a money-saving full collection.

Recommended Links:

The questions above are fairly generalized in order to apply to a variety of conditions. The basics are the same but if you are working the Steps specifically for drug/alcohol abuse or codependency the following links may help you to explore further. There are many other formats and workbooks available through a simple web search.

12 Step Worksheets

CoDA 12 Step Worksheets

Barefoot’s Intro to Working the Steps

Jul 13

Coffee Talk

So this is the talk I like to give on coffee.  Don’t worry I’m a fan.  However there is one very important thing to keep in mind as you set up your morning brew that will determine whether you’re drinking medicine or poison.  When it comes to health and nutrition this is an easy place to start making changes that has an immediate impact on the way you feel both mentally and physically.

“Actually, this seems to be the basic need of the human heart in nearly every great crisis – a good hot cup of coffee.” ~ Alexander King

Let’s face it you can hardly go to a 12 Step meeting without passing an enormous pot of coffee and every corner has a Starbuck’s on it these days.  Even in healthcare and holistic environments you will meet many who have no desire to tackle their addiction to the bean.  Whether it’s the ritual, the social attachments or simply the caffeine there is just something about a good cup of coffee (and even the not so good) that we find comforting.  Honestly most of us don’t want to give it up and maybe we don’t have to.  This quote from the Mayo Clinic says coffee may actually provide some significant health benefits,  “Newer studies have also shown that coffee may have benefits, such as protecting against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and liver cancer. And it has a high content of antioxidants.”

Still it does make sense to consider where your coffee comes from, especially the stuff you’re making at home.  The coffee bean is one of the most highly sprayed crops when it comes to pesticides as well as being one of the most absorbent.  Now what’s the absolute best way to “wash” bug spray off of coffee beans?  Hmmm… Maybe grinding it up and running really hot water though it?  Yeah, into your coffee pot and then into your cup.  I always thought shaking was just part of being a coffee drinker but it turns out pesticides can do a real number on the nervous system.  Go figure.

The good news is switching to organic pesticide free coffee makes all the difference. True it can be a little more expensive but not much.  Considering the immediate and long term benefits the cost is negligible.  Same taste, same lift, same everything, without wanting to grind your teeth down to rubble.  Of course all things in moderation, excessive amounts of coffee can still cause anxiety, restlessness and irritability.  Caffeine can also cause and exacerbate certain health problems so as always consult your physician if it’s a concern.  For the vast majority of the population though this is an incredibly easy way to improve the way you feel every day with almost zero effort or sacrifice.

Just give it a try and let me know what you think.  Enough said, time for me to go pour myself another cup.  Cheers!

Jul 03

Making Amends

Step Nine requires humility and courage.  We are prepared though, if we have worked the previous steps thoroughly we are ready.  We take our list in hand, we swallow our pride and we begin the important business of rebuilding our lives.

“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” ~ Step Nine

Making amends is perhaps what we fear most when considering the Twelve Steps.  Most of the work we’ve done so far has been very personal and quite private, between us, God and our sponsors.  Now we are told that we must go out into the world and face the wreckage of the past.  We have learned that we must take responsibility for our actions, all of them, if we are to live with a clean conscience.  True healing insists that we make every effort to do what is right in all things and this is where we begin that work in a more physical form.  We have already made great progress and we have all we need to help us keep moving forward.

The AA Big Book is always an excellent resource as we prepare.  Two passages in particular are helpful to remember before making amends.  Page 77 explains our only goal:

“We are there to sweep off OUR side of the street, realizing that nothing worthwhile can be accomplished until we do so, never trying to tell him what he should do. HIS faults are not discussed. We stick to OUR OWN. If our manner is calm, frank, and open, we will be gratified with the result.”

And page 80 gives additional direction, especially when our amends could possibly cause harm:

“Before taking drastic action which might implicate other people we (1) secure their consent. If we have obtained permission, have (2) consulted with others, (3) asked God to help and (4) the drastic step is indicated we (5) MUST not shrink.”

We take the advice of our sponsor and ask for God’s guidance on where to begin.  As we approach those we have wronged we start by asking permission.  We explain briefly how our recovery has made it clear to us that we must set things right and most often the other person is willing to hear us out.

Proper amends include the following:

  • An admission of what we’ve done and the harm it caused:  “This is what I did and what I did was wrong.”
  • An apology: “I sincerely regret what I did and the way it affected you.”
  • An amendment of the harm done:  “What can I do to make it right?”

In certain situations we have physical amends that need to be made.   In matters of finance, property and objects destroyed or stolen we should do our best to make arrangements to take responsibility for the loss or damage caused.  When feelings have been hurt or trust violated we may have little to offer other than the honesty of our admission and sincerity of our apology.   Sometimes our heartfelt words are enough to begin healing relationships.  The ways in which our amends are received will vary but we will know that we have done our part.  In every case the change in our behavior is what will eventually convince those around us that what we have said is genuine.

Living this new spiritual life includes the ongoing process of making amends.  We continue to make them whenever possible, we hold ourselves accountable for all of our actions and we notice that all of our circumstances improve as a result.

“Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.”  ~ Promise Nine

Recommended Reading:

The AA Big Book and Guide for Working the Twelve Steps are recommended reading for anyone in recovery of any kind, not only because they were the first but also for their inspirational and direct content. Two great resources for those working the Steps for codependency are also included here. More books on 12 Step Work from other fellowships and programs can be found in the “Steps” drop down list under “Programs and Literature.”

Featured image for this page taken from Hazelden 12 Step Pamphlet Collection – The Complete 12 Step Collection used by patients in recovery centers throughout the nation, these easy-to-read editions are a sure way to gain a basic, and yet thorough, understanding of the significance of each Step. Pamphlets are available individually or in a money-saving full collection.

Recommended Links:

The questions above are fairly generalized in order to apply to a variety of conditions. The basics are the same but if you are working the Steps specifically for drug/alcohol abuse or codependency the following links may help you to explore further. There are many other formats and workbooks available through a simple web search.

12 Step Worksheets

CoDA 12 Step Worksheets

Barefoot’s Intro to Working the Steps

Jun 30

Thoughts on Truth

Truth is underrated.  Most of us would like to think that we are basically honest and that we value a clear view of reality.  In fact many of us spend a fair amount of time in search of clarity, trying to grasp what is real and true.  And yet we often find ourselves facing a glaring truth only to close our eyes and turn away….

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away. Puzzling.”    ~ Robert M. Pirsig

I read this quote on Twitter this morning and my little social media tour came to a grinding halt.  I read it several times and then I sat back and considered how much energy I’ve spent looking for the truth as well as how much I’ve spent trying to avoid it once it appears.  It really is a paradox, it makes no sense and yet it seems to be a fairly natural reaction.

The more time I spend in recovery and yogic circles the more I find myself face to face with a reality that I had previously chosen to ignore. This time I look a little closer.  If I really want healing, if I really want peace, then truth is an absolute necessity.  Denial is insidious, it is a very quiet and crafty lie we tell ourselves.  For me these were things that should have been obvious, things I thought I WANTED to know and then refused to see when the “answer” was staring me in the eye.  Why would I choose to look away?

Oddly enough this appears to apply to both the negative and the positive things we seek in our lives.  We want to believe our lie because we think it protects us somehow.  We decide to ignore our potential because it may involve taking action that we aren’t quite willing to take.  We prefer what’s comfortable, or at least familiar, to the painful, the challenging or the unknown, but at what cost?  Is my comfort level in that moment worth everything I stand to lose?  Is it worth everything that could have been gained?  Worth the missed opportunity, the lesson or the calm that was waiting on the other side of the storm?  Why did I ever think that was worth it?

Fortunately it seems that it is never too late.  The truth may unfold in stages, it may seem to be hidden for a time, but as our desire and willingness grows our hindsight is greatly improved and this truth will present itself again when we are ready.  I’m learning that seeking and then facing reality requires not only honesty but courage, wisdom and the peace of mind to see things as they are…. The Serenity Prayer over and over again.   Today I’m facing the ways in which I continue to turn away from the truth when it knocks on my door.  That is a great truth in itself and I welcome it.  I am still very far from perfect and ridiculously far from being enlightened – but I am much more aware, I am willing to open my eyes and this morning I am so extremely grateful to see progress.

Jun 25

Amends List

Now we sit down to take a hard look at the inventory we made in the Fourth Step.  We “redouble our efforts” and make one more list.  In the Eighth Step we prepare to set things right.  We make our list and become willing to make amends to all those we have harmed in the past.  The use of the word all (twice) in this step compels us to dig a little deeper…. there is no room for half measures.

 “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”  ~ Step Eight

That word, ALL, can be a little daunting.  Much of what we have written to this point is a complex mixture of our faults and the faults of others.  Fortunately the Eighth Step tends to lead us toward new insights and a new understanding of the work we did in Step Four.  We begin to realize that we may have played a part even in our resentments.  We start to see the ways in which our faulty thinking guided our reactions or instigated some of the situations where we felt we were wronged.  Common examples include resentments toward family members, law enforcement and authority figures that dealt with our behavior harshly.  Even if we feel that we were treated unfairly we now examine the ways in which our behavior contributed to the surrounding circumstances.  When the actions of another were truly outside of our control we take responsibility for allowing our resentments to build and cause further harm to ourselves and others.

“He can make little headway in this new adventure of living until he first backtracks and really makes an accurate and unsparing survey of the human wreckage he has left in his wake. To a degree, he has already done this when taking moral inventory, but now the time has come when he ought to redouble his efforts to see how many people he has hurt, and in what ways.”  ~ Page 77 of the 12 & 12

This is where the word ALL really comes into play.  In the end it may not be appropriate to make amends to everyone, it may take time before we become willing to make them all but we must list them.  The results of our work in Step Eight are carried out in the steps that follow.  We trust the process.  We trust our Higher Power and pray to be guided further into willingness and appropriate action.

Working Step Eight:

  • Using the Fourth Step Inventory to guide you make a separate list of all persons you have harmed in any way.  Is there anything that needs to be added?  Anyone that was not on your inventory?  Yourself?  Complete your list with rigorous honesty.
  • Next to each name write down possible amends.  Do you owe an admission?  A sincere apology?  Financial amends?  A change in behavior?  List any combination of these or any other amends that you feel would be meaningful and appropriate in fully rectifying the wrong.
  • On another sheet of paper write about anger, resentments or the fear of repercussions that affect your willingness to make amends.  What are your fears?  What holds you back?  What would need to happen for you to be willing?
  • How can you use the previous steps as tools for working this step?
  • Continue to pray for God to remove all defects of character and to lead you into willingness.

The Eighth Step demands that we humble ourselves in order to fully love and forgive ourselves.  Regardless of the other person’s reaction to our efforts we will receive forgiveness from our Higher Power and we will be released from the guilt and shame that has driven our misguided thoughts.  Review your list of amends with your sponsor in detail before you move forward.  An outside perspective from someone who’s been there is extremely important in effectively working this step.  There is no room for half measures if we truly want to be free.

 “Self-seeking will slip away.”  ~ Promise Eight

Recommended Reading:

The AA Big Book and Guide for Working the Twelve Steps are recommended reading for anyone in recovery of any kind, not only because they were the first but also for their inspirational and direct content. Two great resources for those working the Steps for codependency are also included here. More books on 12 Step Work from other fellowships and programs can be found in the “Steps” drop down list under “Programs and Literature.”

Featured image for this page taken from Hazelden 12 Step Pamphlet Collection – The Complete 12 Step Collection used by patients in recovery centers throughout the nation, these easy-to-read editions are a sure way to gain a basic, and yet thorough, understanding of the significance of each Step. Pamphlets are available individually or in a money-saving full collection.

Recommended Links:

The questions above are fairly generalized in order to apply to a variety of conditions. The basics are the same but if you are working the Steps specifically for drug/alcohol abuse or codependency the following links may help you to explore further. There are many other formats and workbooks available through a simple web search.

12 Step Worksheets

CoDA 12 Step Worksheets

Barefoot’s Intro to Working the Steps

Jun 22

Sun Salutations

The Sun Salutation is the most common of all the sequences in the physical practice of yoga.  It is short and powerful.  For both the novice and the veteran this moving meditation connects the body, mind and spirit as it flows with the rhythm of your own breathing.

“Meditation is not a means to an end.  It is both the means and the end.”  ~ Jiddhu Krishnamurti

Traditionally performed at dawn facing the east these twelve postures take less than a minute to perform each cycle.  Twelve repetitions (or six pairs) of the sequence takes the body through a full range of motion in ten minutes.  Simple and suited to nearly all levels of fitness the Sun Salutations are the reset button of the morning, reducing tension as they energize the body and mind.  An easy addition to any daily routine, the benefits of this time tested and honored practice are of great value whether you’re in recovery or not.

Physical Benefits:

  • Increases oxygenation and circulation throughout the body
  • Tones and strengthen all major muscle groups
  • Increases flexibility and promotes muscular relaxation
  • Eliminates toxins
  • Stimulates the endocrine and lymphatic systems
  • Beneficial for reaching and maintaining proper weight

Mental, Emotional and Spititual Benefits:

  • An immediate and powerful way to change your state anytime
  • Develops inner focus and mental concentration
  • Enhances memory, clarity and motivation
  • Reduces cortisol levels to relieve depression, anxiety and stress
  • Increases serotonin levels to promote happiness and a sense of well being
  • Fosters a deep sense of peace and connection with the Divine

Inhaling with each stretch and exhaling with every fold experiment with the following chart or watch the videos at the bottom of the post to begin your own practice.

 

Videos:

 

Jun 20

Thoughts on Religion and Spirituality

Religion has always been part of my life and I have always considered myself to be spiritual but as I get older I find that spirituality and religion are not synonymous.  The God of my religion used to feel pretty far away to me and I thought probably fairly hard to please.  This is in stark contrast to the God of my understanding now. He feels so close and so accepting that I’m not sure how I ever could have seen Him any other way.

 “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”  ~ Albert Einstein

So we enter that strange gray area where I try not to offend those of various beliefs and traditions, especially my own.  This is just how I feel, my opinion and my reflections on my own journey.  Oddly enough one of the most startling revelations for me was the idea that there can only be one God…. Not a new concept until you apply it to ALL beliefs and religions that strive to connect with the source of the energy we call love.  As I began to read and explore the nature of traditions of a more metaphysical nature I came to the conclusion that God must be God no matter what you choose to call Him and that anyone seeking to connect with the loving Source of Life is most likely worshipping the same Being.

Having been raised in the Lutheran tradition I didn’t hear anything at all about metaphysical teaching as it relates to the Bible while I was growing up.  My religious upbringing was quite strict; there wasn’t much room for thinking outside the box of that specific theology.  I did however hear a lot about God and for that I have always been grateful.  Along with a few frightening images of fire and brimstone I was taught that God was with me and that He loved me.  I was also given the incredible example of Jesus to follow and the promise of a life beyond this one.  That in itself was a blessing that I didn’t fully appreciate until adulthood.

My belief in the existence of a loving and all powerful presence in the universe sustained me in difficult moments even though I wasn’t sure exactly where I stood with Him most of the time.  I did find guidance and comfort in prayer, in worship and in the fellowship of the church but I always felt like I was most likely doing it wrong… Not praying in just the right way or not believing quite enough.  I had lots of rules about what God must want from me and how to connect with Him.

Those boundaries didn’t start to fade until I began to study metaphysics and energetic healing.  At about that same time the discipline of meditation started to feel an awful lot like prayer and the physical practice of yoga took on an undeniable quality of worship.  That’s when it occurred to me that I was the one who had been putting limitations on my Higher Power.  Without my restrictions God suddenly seemed much bigger.  Suddenly He had no limits whatsoever.  He was everywhere, in everyone and in everything, even in circumstances that I found unpleasant. He wasn’t just with me He was part of me, or more importantly I was in some way part of Him.  He was there all the time in the peaceful center of all things whether I was choosing to consciously connect with His presence or not.

I still embrace the faith of my childhood and I still have great respect for the study and practice of organized religion.  However, my own religious convictions no longer conflict with the idea that God might express Himself in different ways to different people.  Instead they seem to support that concept more and more with every passing year.  I don’t feel like my beliefs have really changed so much as I see them as expanding. Nothing in this expansion lessens the importance of what I was taught as a child, it takes nothing away from it, instead it verifies what I had always hoped was true about God and religion. In the same way my Christian faith continues to affirm and direct my ever evolving spiritual path.

To me this is the core of spirituality, to make an intimate connection with the God of your own understanding and allow it to grow without any limitations.  There is no greater gift than realizing the constant presence of the Source of Life and belieiving in this Absolute Power to create and heal all things.  This is the only ingredient required to experience the miracles we seek in every stage of recovery… The Presence of God.

Jun 18

Ready and Humble

Steps Six and Seven are often lumped together in recovery literature for good reason but it’s important to remember that they are still two very distinctly separate steps.  We must find the readiness of the Sixth Step to truly humble ourselves in the Seventh.

“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”  ~ Step Six

These two steps are meant to immediately follow the Fifth.  The instructions are stated very simply in first two paragraphs on page 76 of the Big Book.  Step Six is again a matter of willingness.  Once we have gone over our inventory thoroughly and admitted our defects of character we ask ourselves these questions:

  • Am I willing to let God remove them?
  • Do I believe that the God of my understanding can take them all? Every single one?
  • Am I entirely ready?

If the answer to any of those questions is no we pray for our Higher Power’s help in making us ready and willing. Readiness does not imply a need for perfect understanding.  This step is really an extension of the Third Step.  We are releasing our controlling nature and allowing God to do the work in and through us now.  We don’t need to concern ourselves with how and when our defects will be lifted.  Our part is simple and to the point.  Do I want God to remove them?  Do I trust that God can remove them?  Am I ready?  The willingness will surely come if we ask for it and we move forward to Step Seven with everything we are ready to let go of at this time.

“Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.”  ~ Step Seven

The Seventh Step is even more straightforward.  It is a prayer.  This step does not have to be a onetime event.  If there are still some shortcomings you find hard to release continue to pray about them.  When defects and shortcomings come to your attention in the future say the prayer again.  Some form of the Seventh Step Prayer is often used on a daily basis as a reminder to humble ourselves and let God be God.  Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to prepare:

  • What does it mean to humbly ask?
  • How does humility affect my recovery?
  • How does this step affirm the working of the first three steps?
  • What are the benefits of letting my Higher Power take care of my defects and shortcomings?

When we are ready we pray the Seventh Step Prayer:

“My Creator, I am now willing that You should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that You now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to You and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do YOUR bidding. Amen.’” ~ Seventh Step Prayer

Now we allow God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  We have asked for guidance in all things and we know that it will come.

 

“That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.”  ~ Promise Six

“We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.”  ~ Promise Seven

Recommended Reading:

The AA Big Book and Guide for Working the Twelve Steps are recommended reading for anyone in recovery of any kind, not only because they were the first but also for their inspirational and direct content. Two great resources for those working the Steps for codependency are also included here. More books on 12 Step Work from other fellowships and programs can be found in the “Steps” drop down list under “Programs and Literature.”

Featured image for this page taken from Hazelden 12 Step Pamphlet Collection – The Complete 12 Step Collection used by patients in recovery centers throughout the nation, these easy-to-read editions are a sure way to gain a basic, and yet thorough, understanding of the significance of each Step. Pamphlets are available individually or in a money-saving full collection.

Recommended Links:

The questions above are fairly generalized in order to apply to a variety of conditions. The basics are the same but if you are working the Steps specifically for drug/alcohol abuse or codependency the following links may help you to explore further. There are many other formats and workbooks available through a simple web search.

12 Step Worksheets

CoDA 12 Step Worksheets

Barefoot’s Intro to Working the Steps

 

 

Jun 15

Affirmations

Negative self talk is one of great challenges to be overcome in recovery.  Learning to “rewrite” the scripts we most commonly recite in our heads is a necessity for creating change that lasts.  Positive affirmations are an incredibly powerful tool for changing the way you think if you know how to use them.

“What you think upon grows.”  ~ Eastern Maxim

The idea that repeating a certain phrase over and over again will change your life can seem far too simple and maybe even a little silly if you don’t understand the purpose behind the practice.  The truth is that affirmations in and of themselves have no real power; they are entirely useless when used in a halfhearted or robotic manner.  The reason positive affirmations work is only because they remind you on a regular basis that you can choose your thoughts and your thoughts are EXTREMELY powerful.

Whether you know it or not you’re already affirming your beliefs about yourself and your life just about every minute of every single day.  What we consistently think about eventually plays itself out in reality with or without our conscious consent.  So it makes a lot of sense that we should start paying attention to the quality of our thought life.

There are quite a few methods for incorporating the use of positive affirmations effectively but the basic principle is the same.  Whether you write your own or use someone else’s words it’s important to find something that you will use regularly and that you are willing to BELIEVE what you’re saying.  At first that might seem challenging.  I mean why would you even need the affirmation if you already believed it?

And now we come to the direct point of the matter:  It is the desire to express those positive traits and the willingness to believe that those qualities exist somewhere inside you that is so incredibly life changing because they are already there just beneath the surface waiting for reinforcement.

Tips for Creating and Effectively Practicing Positive Affirmation:

  • Choose affirmations that clearly reflect the positive change you’d like to manifest.  Consider writing your own or making changes to those that you find especially appealing to make them more meaningful and specific.  Use words that generate feelings.
  • Make a list of your most common negative thoughts or unhealthy self talk phrases.  List areas for change in your life or character defects that you would like removed and write affirmations that reinforce positive behavior and thought instead.  Using a dictionary and thesaurus can be helpful for finding words that express the exact opposite of your negative thinking.
  • Spend some time thinking about why affirmations work and how you will use them in your everyday life.
  • Write affirmations to be used with Meridian Tapping or Affirmative Prayer and Meditation.  Chose a few words or phrases that are especially powerful to be used as a mantra of sorts and incorporate them into your daily activities.
  • Speak affirmations out loud when possible for several minutes multiple times daily.  Maybe when getting ready in the morning and before bed while looking in the mirror.  Other good times for affirmation, both aloud and silent, include exercising, driving, while falling asleep and most importantly anytime you notice negative thought patterns taking over.

Taking responsibility for our own thoughts and the ways in which we hurt ourselves is part of recovery.  As we practice different forms of self care we start to see new possibilities.   Affirmations can be great reminders of who we are meant to be and how we are meant to live.  Look inside yourself and choose to express all that is good.

The affirmations, books and videos below are provided for inspiration as you begin.  The first video is actually a full length production so you may want to save it for sometime when you can sit back and enjoy the full experience.  The videos that follow are all quite short and very helpful for understanding and creating the state of mind required for effectively using affirmations.  Louise Hay is heavily represented as she is my personal favorite and generally hailed as the queen of affirmation for healing.

Sample Affirmations from Louise Hay:

I lovingly take back my power. I release this old idea and let it go.

I give myself permission to change.

No person, place, or thing has any power over me. I am free.

I create a new life with new rules that totally support me.

I easily and comfortably release that which I no longer need in life.

I claim my power and move beyond all limitations.

All desire for [whatever it is I’m addicted to] has left me and I am free.

 

Favorites from Jane:

My Higher Power constantly guides my will and my life to the highest good.

I choose my thoughts and feelings.  I choose happiness.  I choose peace.

The past is over.  I’m creating my future with my thoughts and actions in this moment.

Loving energy surrounds me, even closer than breathing. It moves through me and I am healed.

 

       

Jun 11

Confession

Confession really is good for the soul.  It marks the end of living in denial and underscores our commitment to living in truth.  In the Fifth Step we confess the results of our thorough moral inventory.  We now examine what we have written and find the courage to admit the exact nature of our wrongs.

 “Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”  ~ Step Five

Step Five is not just the act of reading Step Four.  It really is an act of confession.  We have already admitted our powerlessness over our current condition and the need for a Higher Power but now we are asked to admit exactly what we have done.  This is a big reality check and at this point it might be feeling a little too real.  It can be hard to admit our part in creating the unmanageability of our lives.  Sometimes it’s hard to admit it even to ourselves.  Sharing the details of our experiences and especially of our own wrong doing with someone else will require courage and faith in the process of working the steps.

Reading through pages 72-75 in the Big Book of AA is a good way to prepare for the Fifth Step.  It explains why it is so important to share this step with another person.  Our admission to ourselves is not enough; confessing to another human being is a part of the healing process that cannot be glossed over.  We are given some advice in this chapter on choosing a person that is trustworthy – preferably your sponsor, but possibly a trusted friend, a pastor, counselor or therapist.   This is an intimate discussion that can be quite time consuming and demands absolute confidentiality.  Page 75 gives us some direction for this conversation and lists some of the benefits we are promised.

Working Step Five:

  •  What are your reservations about Step Five?  Fears?  Trust issues?
  • How can you use the Third Step to give you strength for the Fifth?
  • Why is it important to admit your faults privately through prayer and meditation first?
  • How have you avoided self honesty in the past?
  • Can you admit the exact nature of your wrongs to yourself now?
  • How do feel about admitting this to someone else?
  • What can you do to make sure you feel safe sharing this private information?
  • Who will hear your Fifth Step?  Have you selected a person, time and place that feels right?
  • How can you use the humility required for this step to increase self-acceptance and love for your true self?  Can you use it to increase your compassion and love for others?

“Higher Power, my inventory has shown me who I am, yet I ask for Your help in admitting my wrongs to another person and to You. Assure me, and be with me, in this Step, for without this Step I cannot progress in my recovery. With Your help, I can do this, and I will do it.”  ~ Fifth Step Prayer

Our desire for healing is what strengthens our conviction to move forward.  We are overcoming our fears and learning to trust that the miracle of recovery is worth every effort.  We are beginning to accept what is… We are learning to accept ourselves and our past, realizing the great gift of clarity that comes from admitting our self-defeating behaviors.  Denial is broken through honesty.  This is a step of truth and living in that truth really will set you free.

 “No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit   others.” ~ Promise Five

Recommended Reading:

The AA Big Book and Guide for Working the Twelve Steps are recommended reading for anyone in recovery of any kind, not only because they were the first but also for their inspirational and direct content. Two great resources for those working the Steps for codependency are also included here. More books on 12 Step Work from other fellowships and programs can be found in the “Steps” drop down list under “Programs and Literature.”

Featured image for this page taken from Hazelden 12 Step Pamphlet Collection – The Complete 12 Step Collection used by patients in recovery centers throughout the nation, these easy-to-read editions are a sure way to gain a basic, and yet thorough, understanding of the significance of each Step. Pamphlets are available individually or in a money-saving full collection.

Recommended Links:

The questions above are fairly generalized in order to apply to a variety of conditions. The basics are the same but if you are working the Steps specifically for drug/alcohol abuse or codependency the following links may help you to explore further. There are many other formats and workbooks available through a simple web search.

12 Step Worksheets

CoDA 12 Step Worksheets

Barefoot’s Intro to Working the Steps

 

 

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