What Does Recovery Mean to Me?

hardshipsoften600There is so much debate about recovery these days…is it abstinence or can it be moderation management?  Does these use of medications such as methadone and suboxone mean that you are or aren’t in recovery?  Does using prescription or over-the-counter medication containing “banned” substances count as a relapse?

I think about this often as a person in long-term recovery and I have come to the conclusion that I don’t have an answer for anyone else but myself.  I spent my first three or four years in recovery mainly not drinking…I don’t really think I was growing though.  If I  look back on that period of my recovery I don’t really think there was much of a change in my behaviour.  I continued to react to the world and the people in it in a largely  unhealthy way; I avoided difficult emotional situations and I think I spent a lot of time hiding from myself.

And then one day I started to really explore what recovery meant to me… I started reading, learning and expanding my knowledge.  I began to question my beliefs around addiction and what it meant to me to be in recovery.  I reevaluated my value system and what was important to me in my life…and then I started to see real change.  I begun to understand (for myself) that recovery wasn’t about whether I was checking the label of each and everything I put in my mouth as to whether or not it contained any alcohol or potentially addictive substance, but rather how I was growing and developing in my life.

What I began to realise was that hiding in dark corners at parties and get togethers in fear that someone may offer me a drink and then question my refusal, wasn’t me getting well…  I needed to take personal responsibility for my life and start doing some work.  It was the stage where I started to formulate what recovery means to me…  It wasn’t solely about whether I used drugs and alcohol in ANY form, but rather how I saw myself.  And suddenly the haze started to lift for me and it wasn’t about saying no to my addiction towards alcohol (and one or two risky associated behaviours), but rather saying yes towards my life.  And it was at that point in my recovery that it all started to make sense to me.

There was NO point sitting around and feeling that I had been dealt a dud hand, but rather that I needed to make the most of the hand that I had been dealt.  Everyone in active addiction and recovery has a story as to what brought them there, and none is less or more tragic than the next, just relevant to the teller.  So I actively began working o my recovery and stopped focusing on my substance abuse.  I started to look towards a bright, exciting future where so many things suddenly became possible, rather than lamenting the fact that I was “unable” to take part in a round of tequilas, a champagne toast or a seat at the wine tasting.  My vision started to broaden, my horizons started to look clear and inviting, and I stopped feeling like the awkward kid at the party who was desperate to fit in.

I started celebrating my clarity, exploring my possibilities and being grateful for the little successes in my life that I had long taken for granted.  I cherished early mornings, long lazy weekend afternoons free of hangovers, and I looked forward to guilt-free Monday mornings.  I stopped screening my calls, started practising gratitude and embraced the idea of personal, emotional, mental and spiritual development in a myriad of forms.

And then I knew what recovery meant to me…and I have known ever since.  To me it doesn’t mean passing on the delicious home-made tiramisu, but it does mean being honest with myself.  It means spending time on the things that are important to me, but also remembering the importance of others in my life.  It means owning my part in any situation (good or bad) and remembering that I don’t always get it right.  It means spending time with myself, constantly evaluating what I did well and what I can do better, and then using those learnings to improve on how I did things yesterday.  It means listening, watching, reading, exploring and investigating and it means NEVER getting complacent.

But these are my learnings and they have taken years to evolve and develop.  I don’t have the same beliefs around recovery as even some of my colleagues in the field of addiction, but as a Recovery Coach it is my quest to hold the space while others come to their own conclusions about what their recovery means to them and then walk beside them as they figure it all out…just like I did for myself.

Til next time,

Sober Something

Recovery is NOT Just Abstinence…

imagesOne of the very first questions I ask my clients when we start working together is “What do you understand about the idea of recovery?”  The answers vary, but most of them tend to talk about abstinence.  And for most people recovery does mean abstinence, but #RecoveryIsNOtJustAbstinence!  In my opinion, recovery certainly involves “STOPPING”, but in just “STAYING STOPPED” without the necessary personal growth and development, is extremely difficult if not impossible.  I speak to numerous people who talk of “white knuckling” their recovery for years and years, feeling lonely and isolated, almost hiding from the temptation that the outside world holds.

And the mere fact that I am working with these individuals normally means that they have had some sort of slip or relapse that has caused our paths to cross.  When we start to introduce the idea of #RecoveryCapital to our clients at The Foundation Clinic they are almost relieved to hear that life needn’t be all about trying to embrace sheer focus and willpower to overcome and manage their substance abuse disorder.  Recovery is about living a fulfilled and purposeful life, creating and building upon the emotional, mental, spiritual, social and spiritual resources in their lives.  Life and recovery become interchangeable, as we explore values and spiritual principles, equip clients with simple, practical tools for overcoming triggers and urges, goal set and action plan, and start to understand and embrace adult emotions.

Recovery is not about putting life on hold while we learn to deal with our disorder.  It’s about building a life that doesn’t leave space for the use of drugs and alcohol.  It’s about developing a healthy lifestyle and a positive self-esteem that makes us feel worthy of fulfilling personal and professional relationships.  It’s about a change in mindset, seeing the obstacles in life as a set of exciting challenges and opportunities for growth, rather than a set of potential pitfalls.  It’s about changing our negative self beliefs into those which support and assist us in life (and recovery) instead of negative thoughts, beliefs and actions ultimately leading to those very same negative self-fulfilling prophecies.  And it’s about self awareness and pursuing a conscious, present-focused existence that ensures we are living to our highest personal values, achieving the aspirations that we set out for ourselves and are intentionally pursuing through well-laid out action plans.

Recovery is not simply about putting down the harmful substances and then pretending that they don’t exist.  Recovery is about wanting and needing more from life, so that we are not restricted in our choices!  It’s about consciously and practively creating and developing the skills and the resources to go after a life that we believe we are worthy of…not being limited and imprisoned by drugs, a fixed mindset and a set of negative, limiting beliefs. #RecoveryIsNotJustAbstinence…#RecoveryIsLife..

For more information about Recovery Coaching and the development of #RecoveryCapital, please feel free to contact me | leigh-anne@thefoundationclinic.co.za.

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If You’re Not Growing You’re Dying…

If you're not growingLife has been extremely hectic and I realised that I haven’t posted for an exceptionally long time, so I have made time this morning to sit down and catch up a little and do a little self reflection at the same time.  And the idea that has kept coming to me over the last few days is the idea that “If you’re not growing, you’re dying”.  It keeps coming back to me in my personal and professional life, and has made me think deeply about my own growth as well as the growth of my Recovery Coaching clients.  You may believe the statement to be true or may refute it wholeheartedly, but it’s definitely worth thinking about.  Because would you rather be living a life of stagnation and mediocrity, or do you want a life of purpose and fulfillment.  I can honestly say that the more I do to push myself and grow, the more satisfaction I get from my life.  And as a coach in the field of recovery (from addiction and substance abuse) I see incredible development in the individuals who dig deep to discover what they want and how they plan to achieve it.

So ask yourself the questions, “Who am I?” and “Where do I want my life to be in [three] months?”  The truth is that a lot of us don’t really know who we are or what we want.  We get so caught up in just getting by and staying on top of things that we forget to dream and aspire!  Sadly we also tend to lose touch with who we are and the things that feed our souls.  This is especially true for people in early recovery!  Through the compulsive cycle of using or doing, people have forgotten what makes their heart sing, what values drive them and what principles guide them.  It’s ever so easy to sit around and pay lip service to principles like honesty, integrity and tolerance that are identified as an essential part of the recovery journey, but it’s completely different (and often pretty challenging) to actually incorporate them into our lives and use them to aspire us towards our goals.

Understanding and determining our values is also difficult, but essential.  Especially since during active addiction our one true value is often our substance of choice.  It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning and determines the course of our day!  And that may sound uncomfortable and even irritate you, but the truth is that in active addiction we are driven by our behaviour patterns and habits.  The challenge in recovery is to develop new ways of doing things, and retraining our brain to respond differently to life events that would of sent us into the arms of our addictive substance or behaviour.  So the way I see it recovery is about growth!  It’s about deciding where you want yourself and your life to be in the future and then developing action steps to achieve this.

Recovery capital is essential in the journey.  Whether this be in the physical, emotional, mental, social or spiritual sphere it’s important to determine where you have resources to support you in your recovery and where you may need to build your capital.  And everyone’s recovery capital is different!  Where one person might choose to attend NA/AA meetings as part of the spiritual/emotional capital, another will identify that team sport serves and supports them in the same way.  And this is illustrative of the idea that every individual needs to determine their own recovery plan, that is as unique as they are.  Because my dreams and aspirations are ever so different to the next person, so to will be my recovery.  So in Recovery Coaching we share tools to support individuals’ recovery, but it is up to every person to determine what they need and want moving forward in their lives.  As a recovery coach my role is to challenge my clients to understand where they are, and support them in their journey to where they want to be, whether this is personally or professionally.  And during this process to take personal responsibility and accountability for their actions.

So recovery is about growth for me!  It’s about solutions-driven, forward-focused movement that is driven by principle and guided by spiritual principles.  It’s about creating a life that is determined by purpose and feeding one’s soul with activities that bring joy and fulfillment.  Every step that we take towards the life we dream of is growth…and is exciting and stimulating.  I use these practices in my own life and the more I do, the richer and more incredible my life becomes.  I continue to learn and develop personally and professionally as I strive to incorporate principles into my life, live by my values, excavate my dreams and build plans to achieve what my heart desires.  And at the centre of all this is continuing to build my recovery capital so that I have the resources and support to move towards my aspirations.  Because I honestly believe that “if you are not growing you are dying.”

For more information on Recovery Coaching please visit http://www.recoverycoachingsa.com or email me on leighanne@recoverycoachingsa.com

Til next time

Sober Something

New Year…New Beginnings

new beginningThe beginning of a year is such a wonderful time, full of promise and possibility.  And as the first of January dawns I celebrate another year of recovery!  This year was seven and as the years unfold each one just seems to get better.  Of course there have been tough times, traumatic experiences and challenging obstacles, but when I look back on how my life has changed over this time, it is richer and happier in so many ways.  The relationships in my life are deeper and more meaningful than anything I had experienced up until my mid-thirties.  There is an honesty and authenticity that I never believed possible, and this goes for my personal and professional interactions.  I live congruently, knowing that my life is enriched by strong, truthful exchanges and that everyday I am living my purpose.

But getting to this point in my life has taken time!  It didn’t happen over night and it certainly didn’t occur through some miraculous wand waving!!  Because living authentic purpose to anything takes personal commitment and grit.  I’d love to say that there is an easy option when it comes to building a life that is rich and rewarding, but I’d be lying.  It takes hard work, determination and a kick-ass attitude.  And a whole lot of trial and error!  Just because your best friend turned their life around by listening to self development podcasts and your favourite relative found spiritual truth by reading certain books, doesn’t mean that they will necessarily work for you.  I believe that there is a unique combination that works for each of us and that mix is as individual as our substance abuse and recovery journey.  I tried the 12-step program and it wasn’t for me, but I didn’t disregard it until I had given it a shot!

I often hear people talking about how “That won’t work for me!” and I am not just talking about the fellowships of AA, NA, SA and GA.  There is really no telling what our personal journey might be made up of.  Perhaps it’s an inpatient program, followed by a series of coaching sessions and the works of a modern-day spiritualist or two.  Maybe it’s a regime of yoga, meditation and time spent “In The Rooms“.  For someone else it might be therapy and medically-aided recovery.  No one has figured out a plan that works for everyone, because as I have mentioned before there is no cookie-cutter approach to recovery.  What is for certain is that it takes time and effort to heal, physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually, and there is no quick-fix to recovery.  It’s a mutli-faceted life event that requires education and knowledge to create a better understanding of our disorder and ourselves.  The greatest gift that recovery has brought to me is getting to know myself on a deep, personal level, free of the BS and lies that were so prevalent during my active addiction.  There have been so many wonderful things I have discovered about myself and the people in my life that I never knew before.

Mainly because I was just not bothered to look, but also because I was scared of what I might find.  The truth is that I haven’t met a single person who is less likable in recovery than they were in the grips of substance abuse.  Stripped bare of the effects of destructive behaviours and substances, I have truly met some of the most incredible people that life has to offer.  And watching people blossom as they find wellness is a remarkable metamorphosis to behold.  Seeing the light return to others’ lives is what makes the coaching work I do so incredibly rewarding and walking besides people as they rediscover their personal truth and purpose is a universal blessing.  So as I reflect on my personal journey which has led me to the Recovery Coaching work that I do, I begin 2015 extremely grateful for how far I have come, firm in the knowledge that life is an incredible adventure better lived with a clear head and an honest heart.

Til next time

Sober Something

 

What’s Your Reaction?

Response v ReactionThe Silly Season is approaching and that means that there will be triggers aplenty for anyone – whether in recovery or not!  Because everyone is triggered by situations all the time.  It’s just how we cope with it that varies.  Unacknowledged triggers that aren’t dealt with are more than likely to turn into urges and those are a whole lot more difficult to deal with.  When we are triggered by what’s going on around us (good or bad) we immediately start to react rather than thinking and if this happens an Amygdala Hijack occurs.  This means that instead of thinking clearly and rationally with the executive decision-making part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, we use the primal part of our brains to decide on our course of action.  Basically we react to the situation using the last stored memory in the Hippocampus, and if the record of experiences tells the amygdala that it is a flight, fight or freeze situation then the amygdala triggers the HPA (hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal) axis and hijacks the rational brain.  That’s the scientific explanation and it’s all a little complex.

The idea is that we return to the last stored set of memories and we use these to respond to the situation.  So however we dealt with these triggers previously will be our “go-to response”.  The idea is that instead of simply reacting to a situation and allowing ourselves to be hijacked by the primal part of our brains, we actually take a moment to create self-awareness around the situation. Instead of freaking out when a family member pisses you off, and diving into the nearest punch bowl, the idea is to take a moment to think things through. As individuals with substance misuse disorders, our knee-jerk response to highly-charged situations is most likely to use!  Our brains have learned that when we are threatened then we indulge in destructive behaviour.  But we can retrain our brains to respond rationally rather than to simply giving into the trigger, allowing it to become an urge and possibly allowing this “hijack” to be an easy excuse for using or doing!

Triggers are everywhere…it’s what we do about them that determines our continued recovery!  After time there is every possibility that new thoughts and behvaiours are in place, so that when your annoying _______ (insert family member here) starts to tick you off your reaction/response isn’t determined by the primal part of your brain, but with the area that is able to differentiate between conflicting thoughts, determine future consequences of current activities and exercise social control.  Sure it’s tough to start with, but the more thinking that occurs when one is triggered, the easier it becomes to get out of that freaked out state and move forward, without resorting to harmful substances or behaviours to cope.  Because drugs, alcohol and certain behaviours, whether bought legally or illegally, are all ways of dealing with pain.  And pain comes in different forms, whether emotional, mental, spiritual or physical.  And when we are in pain we often want to medicate, rather than look for healthy pain management options.  We want the instant gratification of a “quick fix” rather than sticking to our long-term recovery and wellness plan.

And part of the long-term solution is learning to look at what causes us to be triggered and developing strong, adult coping skills to move forward without resorting to destructive reactions, whether these be substances or behaviours.  And when the entire family (or parts thereof) is together over the holidays, possibly spending more time than normal together, there is a high likelihood that there is will challenging situations… I only have to think of what it’s like when my family is together to imagine the plethora of emotionally-charged interactions that can occur.  But by taking a moment, maybe a few deep breaths, and trying to think  calmly about what is going on, rather than slipping off to the nearest bar, is a far better choice (with a lot less fallout!!).   By considering what it is about the situation that is causing your brain to want to want to resort to primal thinking and fight, flee or freeze, you’ll be in a far more empowered position to make decisions around what’s going on.

Little by little we can start to add new memories to the hippocampus so that our new set of stored (automatic) memories about dealing with potentially harmful situations are based in healthy, well-thought out ideas and coping skills.  And this can be done consciously by putting new actions in place when the family holiday becomes less than relaxing.  Instead of resorting to habitual patterns of behaviour, new thought patterns are developed.  And next time that trigger situation arises, your new, healthy thought will be what you pull up.  Of course this is a conscious exercise initially because you might find yourself denying the thought or bargaining with the idea.  But I know from personal experience that being brave and courageous in these situations rather than giving in to the short-term relief of old practices, is going to bring far more joy in the long run.

Stop, think and decide what has caused the trigger.  Don’t let your amygdala hijack the sensible, thoughtful part of your brain that can help you make grounded decisions about the outcome of something.  Resorting to flight, fight or freeze  probably won’t serve you tomorrow and there is every chance that if you give into the triggers and urges, you could wake up in the morning with a whole lot of feelings that you don’t want.  And of course there’s the consequences of your actions too.

Developing healthy, enlightened thought patterns based on new experiences and learned coping skills, is a proactive method of dealing with those unwanted (and often unavoidable) triggers that crop up in our lives, no matter what time of year.  Stop, think and respond…and have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Til next time,

Sober Something

Education is a Weapon!?

I spent three days at the end of last week at recovery coach training at Sharp Treatment Centre which was an interesting and fulfilling learning experience.  As a certified life and recovery coach I am extremely interested in new ideas, tools and techniques that I can add to my coaching toolkit, and this weekend was no exception.  Learning and education are very high on my hierarchy of values, and I have done a lot pf personal work recently on determining exactly what it is that drives and inspires me and I am particularly interested in the work that Dr John Demartini does in this area.  So any chance I get to personally educate and empower myself I accept with huge gratitude.

The learning aside at for the moment, what really resonated with me over the few days was the need for a new approach to substance (mis)use disorders and aiding individuals, families and communities in their plight around the use and misuse of substances.  The shame, guilt and stigma that envelopes people caught in the cycle of substance and behavioural issues is nothing short of overwhelming.  Yet the traditional approaches to treatment and recovery seem to be having very little effect on the problem, which also includes the ineffectiveness of the state to help treat  citizens.  Instead of receiving treatment for use of illegal substances, individuals are receiving prison sentences and the penal system in this country is in my opinion doing nothing to rehabilitate anyone, but rather reinforce the behaviours and dependencies that led to the sentences.

So what is needed is a huge shift in how addiction and substance abuse is viewed and treated.  And this is Recovery Coaching fits in as it is a forward-focused and solutions-driven approach to uplifting individuals and communities, without simply labeling people as addicts with an illness who are doomed to a life of misuse, periods of sobriety and ultimately relapse into active addiction.  Since Recovery Coaching exists in a place of wellness, advocates of the methodology believe that substance misuse disorders can be overcome and that wellness can be maintained thereby empowering and enriching people’s lives.  Through education and learning, individuals are able to live productive lives filled with meaning and purpose, free of the yoke of addiction and all the societal beliefs and stereo-types around it.  Recovery Coaches don’t treat addiction, they aid wellness and help their clients develop plans and strategies to reach personal and professional fulfillment.  Through self-development people in recovery are able to help themselves and in the process have a positive effect on others.  Because the truth is that all we are able to control is ourselves and our own lives, but by moving away from destructive behaviours and thoughts, we move into a place of personal independence and interdependence, and away from co-dependency, blame, shame and guilt.

By starting with one person, ourselves, we can start a ripple effect that will move steadily outwards to our families, friends, communities and eventually the nation as a whole.  By talking, educating, sharing and inspiring others to take a different look at what Recovery Coaching can bring to getting and staying well, rather than wallowing in the darkness of being an addict forever, small steps now can lead to enormous long-term changes.  No, it isn’t something that happens overnight, but the more passionate people that are introduced to the powerful nature of coaching recovery within a place of wellness, the more momentum there is to be gained.  I truly believe that we are on the verge of an immense paradigm shift in the treatment and recovery world, and I am excited and inspired to be part of the move towards a new solution.  So in closing I would like to leave you with these words from Nelson Mandela,

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Til next Time

Sober Something

Inspiring Challenges and Disguised Opportunities!?

I am not afraid of Mondays!  I start the week excited by new opportunities, focusing on the infinite possibilities that could come my way.  I’m not going to sugarcoat it by saying that everything is perfect, because that would be self-denial of the highest order.  Building a business is no walk in the park and I’ve been exploring alternative income paths over the last few months until I am more financially stable.  But as I was working through “The Values Factor” by John Demartini I came across this wonderful quote that he had used to begin a chapter, which resonated deeply with me on this Monday afternoon.

we are all faced with a great series of oportunities

Too often when we are faced by impossible situations in our lives, we simply throw up our hands and complain that it’s just too difficult to carry on.  And as someone with a substance abuse disorder and shockingly developed coping skills before I started my journey, I would have had the white flag up before I had so much as looked for the opportunity in the challenge.  In his book, Dr Demartini talks about “inspiring challenges” and as I was reading through the chapter I was struck as to how our addictions could be seen as just that.  Overcoming an addiction to anything could be seen as an impossible situation, but when you scratch the surface just a little and start to take those first steps into recovery you start to see the enormous opportunity that lies within.  I haven’t completed the book and I haven’t done all the work, but for a long time now I have seen my addiction as an incredible opportunity for personal growth and development.  Choosing recovery was the first step to turning the adversity of addiction into the opportunity of recovery.

Addiction in ourselves or a lived one might seem like an impossible situation, but if you just look at it from a slightly different perspective, you may just find that there is enormous potential for self growth and personal empowerment.  If I look back to  my life seven years ago it was a patchwork of mildly fulfilling relationships, halfhearted commitment to a job that was not particularly purposeful and a shocking sense of personal depth and assurance.  But I took the necessary first (very tentative) step towards an ever so faint glimmer of distant hope and life has never been the same.  At the time I didn’t know whether I had what it took to live a sober life or whether I had the necessary skills and tools to take me through the recovery process.  The fact is that at the time I didn’t, but instead of letting the challenge of recovery overwhelm me I chose to look at it as a the beginning of a wonderful adventure.  And even though I didn’t know it at the time, my shifting values took me in the direction that I needed to go.  Because when I was drinking my values were to go out, drink, have a great time and to hell with the consequences.  I wasn’t interested in personal development, training or further education which I am now.  I was certainly not interested in nurturing my personal and professional relationships, which are a core value in my life at present.

When I started to do value work recently it became very clear to me that even though I thought I had certain values, I wasn’t living my life by them.  And many of the values that I believed were mine are simply societal norms and ideas that I’d adopted as my own.  It’s not easy to admit that “getting drunk” was a value, but it must have been since I spent all my time, money and energy pursuing it!  And over the last seven years my values have continued to change as I grow and develop through my personal and professional pursuits.  These days when confronted with a challenging situation I look at it completely differently as to how I would have in the drinking years.  Fear and flight are not my go-to reactions, because I have developed far healthier coping skills.  Instead of simply avoiding potentially difficult situations with a drink or two, I have learned to evaluate and assess the situation and choose a way of dealing with it, rather than running away.

And I ran for years, to all sorts of interesting and exotic locations, where human interactions were kept to a minimum through tings like small expatriate populations, language barriers and distance from home.  It’s an honest revelation when I look at it now, and can see the reasons that I did what I did and chose the paths that I chose.  By having fewer relationships meant that there were less potential situations where I would have to rely on my interpersonal skills and coping mechanisms.  I spent years avoiding conflict and confrontation, seeing it as harmful and destructive.  I never understood how anything emotionally tough could be a chance to grow and develop emotionally. But now I see the potential that lies in previously terrifying close and personal exchanges.  I no longer shy away from difficult conversations, and have begun to be more conscious of how any situation can be a source of learning and growth.  These courageous conversations bring emotional depth and intimacy unlike anything I could have imagined before I started to change the way that I looked at life.

I’m not saying that I go out of my way to find difficult situations, but now when one comes my way I don’t collapse into a pile on the floor or run screaming to the nearest bar.  Instead I use the skills I have learned and developed to address it head on, which means being completely conscious and present in the situation.  It means keeping judgment out of the equation and not instantly trying to defend or protect myself (more accurately my ego).  It means respecting, listening and acknowledging different perspectives and points of view, and then maturely and openly taking part in the discussion.  And instead of letting myself slip into the victim space, I express my opinions and feelings honestly and clearly, so that I don’t walk away feeling unheard and carrying repressed anger.  And the more I practice these techniques that I have learned, the more these brilliantly disguised impossible situations become less and less emotionally and mentally challenging.  And this doesn’t just apply to my personal life, but also to things that happen in my professional life.

So no matter what challenges present themselves, take a step back and try and look at the situation from another angle.  The  opportunities that could be hidden beneath the surface might not be evident at first, but dig a little deeper and you might be pleasantly surprised at the little gems of opportunity that lie beneath.

Til next time

Sober Something

How you do anything, is how you do everything!

This weekend I attended a seminar on Financial Freedom and Wealth Creation…and it was profoundly life-changing for me!  It wasn’t just about how I can make money or what I need to do to become wealthy, it was about the mindset of money.  What struck me the most over the three days was the amount of emotion that we connect to money and wealth.  The methodology is based around coaching and active learning, and the processes that were used were extremely empowering both financially and emotionally.  After many years of personal development I believed that I had broken free of much the emotional baggage that had been holding me back during my active addiction, but this weekend it became glaringly obvious that I have been carrying around a boatload of anger and resentment that are stopping me from moving forward in my life.

In my efforts to not be like certain people in my life, I have chosen to be everything that they are not, including professionally and financially successful.  It made sense to me at some subconscious level that if I was to be true to who I wanted to be this included struggling financially, because it was the antithesis to what I didn’t want to be!!  And yes, I have blogged about letting go of anger in the past, and I truly thought that I had managed to do a damn good job of that.  I might well have let go of my anger in certain spheres of my life, but I will be honest and say that there was a great big wad of it sitting inside me still.  So through the exercises and activities over the very intense three-day event, I was given the opportunity to really let a lot of the destructive emotions and feelings (about more than wealth and money) go!!  To watch them shrivel and die, because they are holding me back from the person that I know I can be was an incredibly liberating experience.

It’s always difficult to take a long, hard, honest look at ourselves and admit that there are parts of ourselves that we are not satisfied with.  Perhaps it’s our relationships, our jobs, our money situation, even ourselves, but it is tough to admit that we are not happy with where we are.  At points over the weekend, I was so far outside my comfort zone that I felt completely uncomfortable, charged with anxiety.  But I put my trust in the processes that were taking place and in myself.  Since I am a huge advocate of the coaching system, I went into everything with an open mind and was profoundly and positively affected by doing so.

More than once during the course of the weekend I was in a very emotionally vulnerable position, as I was slammed with numerous epiphanies.  And the people around me, who were complete strangers, were kind and supportive of my state and held a safe space for me while I explored by feelings of fear, anger, shame and guilt.  The activities are designed to focus on money, but the discoveries went so much deeper than that.  After digging really deep and stepping into my discomfort and fear, I left the event with a completely new outlook, feeling inspired and motivated.  Since one of my most important personal values is education and training, taking a weekend to develop myself is a privilege for me and I loved every minute.

The developer of the course, T. Harv Eker‘s quote was used more than once over the weekend and I truly believe that he is completely correct when he says “How you do anything, is how you do everything!”  And I am certain that this goes for our approach to our recovery.  I thought about how far I’ve come more than once over the three days, and even though the focus of the seminar was financial freedom, I had plenty of opportunities to relate it to my personal journey.  There was more than one moment when I realised that even though I have come a very long way in my recovery, there are other areas of my life I may have neglected because of pent-up feelings I have around certain people, places and this.  So this morning as I sit here writing this blog entry, I feel like my personal development reached a new level this weekend and many of the ideas I was introduced to will serve me well in many other areas of my life too.  After all life is always better with a clear head and an honest heart.

How you do anything

‘Til next time

Sober Something

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy…”

I didn’t sleep last night and lay in bed thinking about my personal goals and values.  Since moving back to South Africa three months ago I have poured my heart and soul into my coaching work and it has been an incredible experience so far.  I’ve learned a huge amount in a short time and have met some people who have reinforced how important this work is since so many people are battling addiction and searching for personal empowerment.  But at the same time there is resistance to change and people still cling firmly to the traditional treatment and recovery models in South Africa.  So I’ve had to actively pursue alternative employment, because as much as I believe in what I am doing, passion and dreams don’t pay the rent.

It’s been oh so humbling to put myself at the mercy of the job market.  And it’s also been a little soul destroying.  As a language teacher I have years of excellent experience and have literally been able to work where I chose.  Not so much the case when I’m looking at other areas that will utilise my skills and experience.  I am committed to the employment search, but at the same time I am having to give up a good chunk of my personal business plans (for the time being).  Life’s like that – give and take, ebb and flow – but it doesn’t mean that while I have been in this priority shift it hasn’t been challenging.  Pragmatism is essential in this case, because my anti-motivation is the thought of having to leave home and work abroad.  So I am prepared to do whatever it takes to stay here even if it means a cold, hard dose of nine to five work in the meantime while I slowly develop and build my coaching business.

There have been plenty of exciting developments, but they’re not at the money-making stage yet and one cannot live on promise and hope.  So as I lay there last night trying to get my head around the idea, thinking of how this all fits in with my core values which include personal relationships, learning & education and coaching & training, I experienced some strong emotional reactions.  The longer sleep eluded me the more dramatic the situation in my head became and the more upset I got.  But as the sun rose this morning and I had the opportunity to talk it through with the person whose insight, wisdom and intelligence always helps me find my answers, I understood that this journey was never going to be an easy one.  That I would face challenges along the way and that instead of throwing a spectacular self-pity party, the best thing to do was reconcile what I have to do in order to be able to do what I want to.

That instead of looking at having to approach my dream from a different direction, I needed to look at the idea of a new job as a learning and educational opportunity, which is definitely in line with my values.  That I should take the opportunity as one that has been put in my path to help me develop further relationships, both personal and professional, and that perhaps the job was the universe’s  way of showing me a slightly different way of getting where I want to be.  So I did spend a good part of my day shifting my perspective so that I could look at this fork in the road from a different angle and come to a place of calm peace regarding this particular situation.

The more I live the work that I am doing in my personal and professional life, the stronger I become.  Of course having someone in my life who is able to hold a safe place for me to experience my emotions and then take my hand while I find an alternative way of getting to where I want to be is something I am grateful for every single day.  The thing is that there are times when I am faced with tricky situations that I have to be very vigilant about slipping back into my [addict] default position which was victim!!  Instead of lamenting that my course is not a clear and unencumbered one, I need to look at the new opportunities that this little detour presents and see it as an unexpected adventure along the road that I have chosen to walk.  Taking some time today to just shift my focus slightly and how I could align the situation with my personal values has left me feeling empowered rather than helpless.  It happens constantly that we need to reevaluate where we are and where we are going and by doing this simple activity and coaching myself today, I have come to terms with where I am and what I need to do to move forward from here without feeling stripped of my personal power.

And in closing I always like to remember this quote “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy – I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”

‘Til next time

Sober Something

worthit

 

Bite-Size Chunks and Baby Steps…

Don’t for a minute imagine that just because I am a coach I have all the answers for myself all the time.  There are days where just like everyone else I experience self-doubt, insecurity or my personal favourite, anxiety.  For no particular reason I’ll wake up in the morning feeling uncertain and even a little panicky.  Nothing major will have happened to cause these feelings, but there they’ll be…front and centre!  And even though I know what needs to be done to rid myself of these emotions, I’ll find myself in a bit of a battle.  Until I remember that pushing them away will only make them stronger and more powerful.  That by trying to ignore that I am feeling a bit emotionally vulnerable or mentally anguished is not going to make me feel better; in fact quite the opposite.

Reciting positive mantras and trying to “pull myself together” is not the solution that I know works in these cases.  What I do need to do is check in with myself and try to establish why it is that I am feeling this way.  It’s a reminder that I might need to spend some time in quiet introspection, figuring out what it is that’s gnawing at my insides.  Anxiety isn’t necessarily caused by something out of the ordinary.  A situation or thought that was of no consequence yesterday, may cause uneasiness today.  It depends on whether I slept properly, have eaten, am spending too much time alone or what professional challenges I am dealing with on any given day.  And right now I have managed to identify the reason I am feeling like this…

the truth is that although I would love to be coaching full-time, building a business is not an overnight endeavour.  To wave a magic wand and have a practice full of personally empowered and flourishing clients would be nothing short of magical, but these things take time.  So I am presently looking for a job to supplement my coaching income.  I have every intention of pursuing my recovery business on an ongoing basis, but there are bills to be paid and lofty aspirations, no matter how well-developed, don’t pay the rent.

a goal without a planA business plan and a great vision and mission are essential to the branding of a business, but I don’t have the luxury of spending all my time committed to the success of mine while someone else takes care of the financial aspects of life.  Offering people a service such as recovery coaching is not as simplistic as simply opening the doors and watching a line form outside.  There is a good deal of trust that needs to be established and a reputation that needs to be built.  And these are elements of my business that require time, patience and nourishment.  So back to the job hunting, which is nothing short of disheartening.  For me it’s been a humbling lesson over the last couple of weeks as there are no recruiters banging down my door to even interview me, never mind hire me.  So instead of simply submitting my CV with a whole pile of others I’ve come to the realisation (aided by the nudging of others) that I need to get out there and sell myself.  The mere idea of that curls my toes, because I am not a personal fan of the “hard sell”.  In fact I’ll g so far as to avoid the salespeople stationed around the malls and supermarkets on a Saturday morning who are trying to convince people to try a new product.  But it seems that if I want a job in a market as depressed as this one, I’m going to have to stand out from the crowd.  And voila! therein lies the root of my discomfort and anxiety!

So with just a little soul searching and asking myself the right questions I’ve been able to establish that it’s not just about having to put myself out there, but also the idea that I may have to deal with a fair amount of rejection.  That even though I know that the positions I am applying for are well within my capabilities and skill set, doesn’t mean that the recruiters can see this by merely reading a piece of paper.  By no means am I a wilting wall flower, but there are certain things that I do prefer to avoid if I can and being overly assertive with regards to myself is one of them.  So now that I have identified the source of my upset I am going to spend a couple of hours writing out a plan as to how I should proceed.  I have a couple of ideas floating around in my head, but putting them down into an action plan and giving myself some tasks and deadlines, is going to make this whole process far less intimidating and more manageable.  Bit-size chunks and baby steps need to be the approach to this project of finding myself a source of extra income, just while I continue to build my dream and follow my passion.

It’s not exactly what I want to do, but it is what I need to do to ensure that I have the resources to go forward on this path I have chosen for myself.

‘Til next time

Sober Something