Hope – Episode 65

Wow!“… we shall hew from this mountain of despair a small stone of hope.” — Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What is hope? How do we find hope when we are overwhelmed by a mountain of despair? Spencer, Maria, and May talk about their experiences of finding hope in the midst of their times of confusion, fear, and despair.

Some of the questions we used to guide our discussion included these:

  • How did you experience hope before you came to the program?
    • Did you “hope for” particular outcomes?
  • Has your conception or experience of hope changed as you have worked the program?
  • Do you see a difference between having a hopeful attitude versus an optimistic attitude?
    • The “Stockdale paradox” is that the POWs in Vietnam who didn’t survive were the optimists.
  • In his “dream” speech, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  said “With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”
    • What does this say to you?
  • Does faith support or engender hope for you? (Faith in a higher power, faith in the program, faith that there are good people, faith…)
  • How can we find hope in a seemingly hopeless situation?
  • Can hope lift us from despair, as King suggests?

Upcoming topics are forgiveness, co-dependency, and Tradition 4. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

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Changed Attitudes – Episode 62

We say “changed attitudes can aid recovery”. But how do we change our attitudes? How does it help? Spencer and Rachel talk about changed attitudes.

 at·ti·tude

  1. a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.
  2. the orientation of an aircraft or spacecraft, relative to the direction of travel.

We used these questions to guide our discussion:

  • What is “attitude” anyway?
  • Do I generally have a negative attitude or a positive attitude?
  • Can you make deliberate changes in attitude?
  • One definition: “Angle of approach”
    • If you use this definition, how does this change your answer?
    • Can you change your attitude by looking at your situation / events / other people from a different point of view?
  • Have you changed your attitudes since coming to the program?
  • How does a change in attitude help me to accept powerlessness?
    • To help me see what I *can* change?
    • To stop “taking it personally”?
  • What tools have helped you change attitude?
    • Steps?
    • Slogans?
    • Other people’s experience, strength and hope?
    • From meetings
    • Literature
    • “open” talks
    • Higher power, prayer, meditation
  • How have changes in attitude helped you
    • In relationships?
    • At work?
    • Dealing with the addict/alcoholic(s) in your live?
    • Living?

Our topic for next week is Tradition 3, which states “The relatives of alcoholics, when gathered together for mutual aid, may call themselves an Al-Anon Family Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation. The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend.” Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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Communication – Episode 56

siblingsDo you have trouble communicating your needs and feelings to your loved ones? Do your attempts to ask for what you want always degenerate into an argument? How have you learned to communicate better in this program? Today, Spencer, Maria and guest host Meishia talk about Communication.

We started with this list of questions.

How did you communicate in your relationships before you came to the program?
What special challenges to communication have you faced/seen in alcoholic relationships?
Which of these communication skills did you have then / do you have now? Listening attentively and openly. Stating your needs clearly. Using “I” statements.
Which of these communication problems did you have then / have you reduced or eliminated? Accusatory or judgemental statements. Expecting others to “read your mind”. Emotional reaction. Escalation to argument or fight
What are “I” statements?  Why would you want to use them? How can they help to enhance communication and avoid emotional escalation?
Are you aware of the non-verbal signals you send?

A well-written contribution from Adrienne sparked our conversation, and we just rolled on from there.

Our topic for next week is face to face meetings – why are they important? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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gratitude attitude – a meditation

I love to drum!

 

Many’s the time that we feasted
And many’s the time that we fasted
Oh, well, it was swell while it lasted
We did have fun and no harm done

And thanks for the memory

 

Ella Fitzgerald — Thanks for the Memory

At a recent meeting, the lead topic was gratitude. As  people started to share around the room, I heard a theme about attitude. And I remembered a definition of “attitude” that I had heard in an AA speaker talk: “the orientation or angle of approach of an aircraft”. In other words, my “attitude” is the way that I approach something. In my case, it is about  how I approach the change in this podcast. I can be saddened, anxious, or even resentful that the change happened. But I can also be grateful for what we have done together. It’s all in my attitude — my angle of approach.

When I take that attitude, I know that there is much for me to be grateful for. We did a fine thing, and we had fun doing it. When I take that attitude, I can start from what we did and continue to build the podcast. When I take that attitude, I increase my serenity and reduce my anxiety.

I am also immensely grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from you, our listeners. I want to reply to each of you individually, and I will. Right now, my feelings overwhelm me with each new email. Please believe that, even if I have not written back, that I deeply appreciate each and every message.

A meditation for November 1, 2013.

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acceptance – a guest meditation by Scott B.

 

“Every good thought you think is contributing its share to the ultimate result of your life.”
Grenville Kleiser, Courage to Change P. 176
My first months in program, I couldn’t gather new tools fast enough. I tried everything I could, anything anyone recommended. One of the personal methods suggested was to repeat to myself; “I am good. I am unique. I am beautiful. I love you,” while looking in a mirror. I had the initial thought that it was cheesy, something crazy people said to themselves. Well, I was feeling crazy, so I took a deep breath, and said it out loud to my reflection. With my low self-worth and self-esteem, I didn’t feel comfortable. I felt awkward, embarrassed and ashamed even in the privacy of my home.
In spite of my mixed emotions, I said each of these four sentences again and again, day after day. I would say it in my car rear-view mirror while stopped at a light, (heaven forbid, never when another car was beside me) worried that someone might see me talking to myself. Faithfully, I kept repeating these phrases even without a mirror, now memorized by rote from many weeks of repetition. The words almost became a mantra.  Internally, I didn’t approach the place of transforming love I had expected to reach (and I expected to reach someplace, anyplace, much sooner). I felt no comfort from my repeated efforts over time.
Disheartened, I concluded that saying these simple things could not possibly work and there was no use in continuing. As time in recovery went by, I would occasionally break out a simple, “I love you.” in the mirror. Still, after all this time, I felt the awkwardness spread through me and my stomach tensed as I looked away. Forgotten in the depths of my mind (lost in one of those bad neighborhoods) my affirmations faded, though I continued going to meetings.
When I experienced what seemed like a long period of no growth in my program, I figured I had plateaued. A friend shared during a meeting that change, lasting change, happens on her Higher Power’s time. All she needs to do is her footwork, go to meetings and be patient. This stuck in my brain like a burr. It would not go away. It echoed in my head daily.
That summer I went on an eight mile walk, in eighty degree heat.  I rested, but I had run out of water about 3 miles from home. Dehydrated, I arrived at my house, filled up on water and poured an ice-cold glass of milk. I sat down in front of my computer. I reached for my mug of milk, my hand moved way too fast, and I spilled the white liquid all over my laptop. The screen went half black, the other half froze and I turned the laptop on its side, unplugged it, and ejected the battery.
Anger rushed through me. Powerlessness surrounded me. The feelings were coming and I couldn’t stop them. I felt overwhelmed. I had heard so many times not to try to stop feelings. It was best to recognize them, feel them and let them go. But I made a mistake! And not just a little one! How could I of all people, be human? The turmoil inside me swirled. Old tapes told me to shame myself. New behaviors told me to laugh and accept it. Before program I would spend months, even years beating myself up over such an incident. Which direction should I take? Help me God, what do I do, where do I go?
The mirror. The mirror? Now? Really? My gut feeling was to walk into the living room and stand in front of the mirror. I felt nudged. I looked deep into my own panicked eyes and said, “I love you, Scott and there’s nothing you can ever do to make me stop loving you.” There was no awkward pause, no feeling of inadequacy. I held my gaze and didn’t look away. A wave of gratitude washed over me. Tears welled in my eyes as I cried and laughed at the same time. My gaze was unwavering until it was blurry and I couldn’t see. Thank-you, God. Thank-you. I kept thinking that the feeling would leave, but there it was; solid in my Higher Power’s Love.
Only in looking back from now can I see that everything contributed to my growth; every meeting, every coffee, lunch and potluck. Each email, text and affirmation. Every conversation, every call to my sponsors, every vulnerable moment. All the Concepts, Traditions and every Step along the way. My Higher Power takes it all in and uses my experiences to change me into who I’m meant to be.
A meditation for October 16, 2013.

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