Do you like yourself? – Episode 279

Do you like yourself?
Can you love yourself?
Can you trust yourself?

In a recent meeting, the topic was Step 5, “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” One member shared that she often had a hard time even liking herself, and that this was a barrier to working Step 5. If she hated herself for some of the things she had done, how could she ever admit them out loud?

I definitely identified with that feeling. There are some events in my life that I felt a lot of shame about. That I did not admit in my first 5th step. One, in particular, that I didn’t admit in my second 5th step, had haunted me for over 30 years. Every time I remembered that incident, a flush of shame and self-loathing washed over me. Finally, probably after a meeting in which the reading included the saying that “we are only as sick as our secrets,” I realized I had to talk about it. I met with the person I had done that 5th step with and said “I’ve got some more.”

It wasn’t easy. I had admitted it to my Higher Power and to myself, but never to another person. But it was something I felt I had to do. The amazing thing is that since that time, the memory of this event has lost its power over me! I’m still not pleased that it happened, but I don’t feel the shame that it used to impose on me. That hard admission brought me some peace and some more love and compassion for myself. Even for the 40-years-younger me that made a really poor decision (doing the best with what he had.)

And then, a day later, the sermon topic was “Trust Thyself”. Oh, boy, there’s a message: loving myself and trusting myself, all in the same weekend. You know, the feelings I have that lead me to not like myself and to not trust myself are very similar. You’ve probably heard those messages from the judgey part of yourself, too: “You’re not good enough.” “You can’t do it right.” “You can’t do it at all.” “You’re always wrong.” “You’re so stupid.” “What were you thinking? I can’t believe you’d do that!” And so on, and so on.

In her sermon, our minister presented the “4 Cs” of trusting yourself. Well, I’m a sucker for alliterations, so I perked right up! What are these 4 Cs?

Clarity: Seeing ourselves and the world for what we (and it) really are. In the program, this is Step 4 (probably 5, 6, and 7 too.) Also, Steps 8 and 9 bring more clarity.

Connection: Get out of my isolation. I know that I can’t always see myself clearly, and I need someone else to help me. In other words, go to a meeting, call a friend, get a sponsor (and use them!) And, of course, there’s the connection to a Higher Power we find in Steps 2 and 3!

Compassion: This is also about getting out of myself. When I can have compassion for other people, and when I can identify with their fears and pain, but also their joys and successes, then I can start to see the same in myself. And I can start to have compassion for myself. I would never talk to someone else the way that I sometimes talk to myself.

Commitment: Make a commitment to keep away from the negative self-talk, to continue to work on the first 3 Cs. Step 10 is my commitment to continuing to seek clarity. Steps 11 and 12 are commitments to connection and compassion.

Yup, there’s the recovery part of the program (steps 2-12) captured in 4 Cs. How did this work in my Step 5 experience?

I gained clarity by taking an inventory of the incident. What was motivating me? Which of my needs were involved? I began to understand the “exact nature of my wrongs” in this incident. In talking with my friend, I got a little more clarity as I explained what happened, but I also made connection with another person — I was not alone. That person’s loving acceptance of my sharing deepened that connection, and assured me that I was not a broken person. This helped me to have compassion for my previous self. And you know what? I liked myself a little better. And I trusted myself to be able to do the right thing a little more.

Readings and links

I read from Courage to Change, May 22 and January 24.

After the service, I was talking to the  minister and she mentioned Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. I was pretty sure I had mentioned that here, and indeed: episode 122, Imperfection.

Upcoming

Thinking about acronyms and alliterations as a topic. You know, acronyms like QTIP, FEAR, etc. Alliterations like “3 As”, “4 Ms”, etc. What is your favorite Al-Anon acronym or alliteration? Why? 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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Feelings, Recovery, Compassion, and Forgiveness – Episode 192

Diana shares a powerful story of recovery, of discovering her own feelings, and finding compassion and forgiveness for those who harmed her.

Upcoming topics include obsessive thinking; Alateen; and parenting. 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.
Continue reading “Feelings, Recovery, Compassion, and Forgiveness – Episode 192”

Alcoholism – a Personal Journey – Episode 85

find meWhat did you think when you first heard the statement that alcoholism is a disease? Did is seem like a cop-out? Did you feel that your loved one just needed to drink normally!? Today, Spencer explores his personal journey of coming to an understanding of this cunning, baffling, and powerful thing called alcoholism.

Here's a rough outline of the journey in bullet points:

  • Alcoholism? Is that a thing?
  • Alcoholic? Certainly not!
  • The poster.
  • Early explanations
    • Genetics
    • Brain chemistry
    • Recovery and relapse
  • Open talks
    • Eye opening
    • Coming to see the arc of the story — one story in many lives
    • Finding hope
  • Disease concept
    • Brain chemistry?
    • A disease that denies itself
    • Chronic, Progressive, Fatal unless arrested
    • No known “cure” but can be treated
    • Like cancer in remission
    • Lifetime treatment (like diabetes)
  • Compassion

Upcoming topics include “Caretaking or healthy support?”, “Triggers”, and Tradition 9 (Our groups, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.) 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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Tradition 5 – Episode 73

Have you wondered what Al-Anon is about? Why do we keep coming when we feel better? What does Al-Anon tell us about our alcoholic friends and relatives? These questions and more are addressed by Tradition 5. “Each Al-Anon Family Group has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps of AA ourselves, by encouraging and understanding our alcoholic relatives, and by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics.”

Ruth shares her experience with being welcomed into the fellowship of Al-Anon, and about how she came to understand what it means to “encourage” her alcoholic loved one. Then Spencer shares his musings on this tradition, roughly following this outline.

  • What does it mean to “understand and encourage our alcoholic relatives”?
  • How can we gain understanding of alcoholism?
  • How does this help us?
  • How can I “encourage” my alcoholic relative(s)?
  • In what ways did Al-Anon welcome me?
  • How do I welcome others?
  • How do I give comfort to others?
  • Why is it important for me to work the 12 steps?

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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Forgiveness – Episode 68

Holocaust memorial, Berlin, GermanyDo you have trouble forgiving the alcoholic or addict in your life? Have you carried hurts long after the person who hurt you is gone from your life? How can we forgive without forgetting? Let's talk about forgiveness.

Spencer and Erika share their experience, strength, and hope about forgiveness, and try to address these questions.

What do the quotes that we opened the show with say to you about forgiveness?
How does this compare to the way you used to think about forgiveness?
Did you (or do you) think about forgiveness as giving a “free pass” to the person who hurt you?
Do you now think about forgiveness as “a gift you give to yourself”? (Or can you be willing to think about it that way now?)
How can forgiveness connect to the love of your higher power?
What Al-Anon tools can you use to help move from anger and resentment to forgiveness?
Inventory — seeing “my part” (and I there is almost always “my part” as well as “their part”)
Compassion — especially helpful for me in finding forgiveness for my alcoholic loved one’s actions during her active disease.
Prayer and meditation. Praying for the person I want to forgive, even if it’s just the “SOB prayer.”
Seeing that the other person is a human being, with faults, and that they were doing the best they knew at the time.
Setting boundaries to prevent the hurt from happening again.
How can I find forgiveness for myself, for my past actions that hurt others? (Same tools?)
What about “unforgiveable” behaviors? How can I let them go so that they’re not continuing to affect my serenity and continuing to drag me down?

Our topic for next week is Tradition 4. Upcoming topics include living with active alcoholism and taking recovery on the road.  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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