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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Now that I’ve stopped…how do I stay stopped!?

rope_bridgeI originally wrote this post for The Foundation Clinic, but wanted to share it here on my personal blog.  I hope you enjoy the post.

I meet so many people who have stopped!  Stopped drinking..stopped using drugs…stopped addictive behaviour…and they truly want to stay there.  But there is a vast divide, the Grand Canyon of good intentions, that separates wanting and doing.  I want to live a fulfilled and purposeful life, is a far cry from attaining that life.  It’s a great start, but in between the wanting and the doing is where the real work lies.  Who doesn’t want mature, healthy relationships with their spouse, kids, family and friends!?  A great job that you look forward to, even on a Sunday evening!?  Meaningful interests, hobbies and pastimes, that bring fun, adventure and balance into the everyday!?

There are not a lot of people who I  know that don’t want these (and more)…yet talking about something and actually doing it are extremely different!  So how does one bridge the divide and start to achieve these ideals?  A good place to start is reevaluating one’s values…those things that get me (and you) out of bed in the morning.  What feeds your soul, and makes you come alive?  What makes the hours of the day slip away unnoticed?  For me values are quite different from principles…  I don’t get out of bed to be honest and live with integrity, but rather to pursue my work as a Recovery Coach, spend time with my partner, study and live courageously.  My principles of honesty, integrity, courage and compassion (to name but a few) come into play as to how I undertake to live to these highest core values.

So in order to get from where I am at any present moment, towards where I want to be, takes practising my principles…and there are a couple I find extremely challenging.  Especially patience, forgiveness, acceptance and tolerance (of myself and others).  But armed with my little bag of principles and clear in my values, I take the initial steps towards closing the gap between wanting and doing.  Somehow, just this personal awareness and understanding of what guides my personal compass towards where I want to be, gets me that little bit closer.  Of course I need to be crystal clear in what it is that I am striving for…and I have to be extremely honest, willing and open about whether this is realistic and achievable for me, as well as the opportunities and obstacles that may exist!

So knowing my values, practising my principles and setting SMART (specific-measurable-achievable-realistic-timebound) goals are some of the ways that I managed to move from being stopped to staying stopped.  I also came to understand that stopping was not enough…I needed to build up a set of resources, #RecoveryCapital, that would support me in quest to stay stopped!  I needed to find activities, pursuits, undertakings, interests, hobbies (still battling with that one), and relationships that were supportive of me in recovery.  Because if recovery was going to be less exciting, fulfilling and meaningful than active addiction, what was the point?  And initially it was less exciting, less fun, less invigorating than drinking, dancing and general inebriated adventure.  But slowly, a step at a time, the journey started to unfold for me some of the greatest joy, love and fulfillment I had ever experienced.

The little things started to have more meaning than I could ever imagine…living in my integrity and showing up when I said I would show up was so much better than I believed it would be.  Being present in relationships and noticing what was going on with my loved ones has brought me countless blessings over the years.  Getting to know (and  love) myself, is one of the most fulfilling relationships I’ve ever had.  And it all starts with just a couple of practical, little actions.  The changes don’t happen overnight, the relationships don’t miraculously fix themselves from one day to the next, but armed with just a few tools, a whole lot of awareness (achieved through complete honesty with myself), a set of clear goals (even around what I wanted from my personal relationships), I have managed to walk across the bridge between stopping and staying stopped.

And there have been days when the bridge has been nothing more than some rope and some shaky planks, and others when it’s metal and concrete.  But I keep my focus firmly forward, not letting the past pull at my ankles like terrifying trolls that live on the river banks.  Because one of my biggest learnings has been that hanging onto the traumatic events of my past does not serve me.  I have taken the time to learn from them, but then I have thanked them for their teachings and laid them down along the road, so that they cannot sabotage me or what I want from my life.  I have stayed stopped by learning to say yes to certain people, places, thoughts, beliefs and parts of self and no to others.  I am not perfect, I don’t always get it right, but I have the conscious awareness to know when I am slipping into self-defeating thinking.  And that awareness is like a razor-sharp knife I use to cut the sneaky tendrils of guilt, shame, fear and blackness that sometimes endeavour to envelop me.

And so I continue to be vigilant as I move from being stopped to staying stopped, always equipped with by bag of tools should I need to mend part of my bridge, fortify an area of weakness or build up my inherent strengths.  It might just mean stopping and looking at the view from a different perspective, giving my values a good shake up, reevaluating my goals and action plans, or simply enjoying the slight swaying as life continues to become more fulfilling, exciting, purposeful and adventuresome than I could ever imagined before I stepped out of the mist, took my first step onto the bridge and started to narrow the distance between wanting and doing.

If you are interested in the tools I have learned, and share, as a Recovery Coach, please contact The Foundation Clinic for more information about our treatment and recovery programmes. You can call on (011)728-9200, email leigh-anne@thefoundationclinic.co.za or fill out the form below and we will contact you!

For more information about Treatment and Recovery Programmes visit www.thefoundationclinic.co.za

 

What do I choose!?

Sometimes life is extremely challenging and there are times when it’s particularly difficult not to curl up in a ball under my duvet and hide from the world…but then I would not be living the learning that I encourage my clients to practice in their lives.  Because recently i have had a really tough run of events that didn’t result in me having a drink, but did find myself slipping back into those nasty thought patterns that ruled my life while I was drinking!  The woe-poor-victim-me way of thinking that never amounts to anything good.  I have found myself throwing a self-pity party or two that were among my finest…  The beauty of this situation though was my awareness of my behaviour and the consciousness of what was going on.  So rather than staying entrenched in these thoughts, words and deeds of all-consuming abjection, I utilise the tools that I have at my disposal to check myself and my unhealthy thoughts.

Instead of getting sucked into the misery vortex, I has to start thinking about my thinking and I dig into my bag of spiritual principles, and decide how to proceed.  I am not for one minute saying that this is an effortless transition, but by applying what I know to be effective, I am able to direct my thinking in a healthier, more empowered way and start to make plans for how I am going to move forward.  Being told by a radiologist that they have found a lump, while my wonderful partner is at home nursing a broken hand, driving a borrowed car while mine was having the clutch replaced and not having the funds to pay for the biopsy, all made me feel like the universe was conspiring against me…and I slipped right into “my addict” way of mentally processing the situation.  It hasn’t been a great year with my boyfriend’s mother and best friend dying, my best friend losing her baby just before he was due to enter the world, coupled with endless financial stresses and all those annoying little things that seem to be constantly happening.

So when I realised that although I wasn’t using like an addict I was thinking like an addict , I decided to get really serious with myself.  And that doesn’t mean berating myself, telling myself to pull myself together.   This is when I really need to practice the principles of self-love, patience and acceptance.  I have been through a lot this year, and I need to be gentle with myself at times.  So instead of chastising myself for slipping, I have given myself the space to process what it’s all about.  I have spent a couple of weeks dancing in and out of fear and anger, even sadness, but I have been aware of my feelings and understood that even though they might not feel good, they are necessary in order to move forward.  Just because I work with chaos, crisis and conflict on a daily basis in the substance abuse treatment and recovery world, doesn’t mean that I am a guru when it comes to dealing with my own upsets.

What I do know now is even when there is huge uncertainty, I need to practice (not just talk about) gratitude, humility, patience, acceptance and compassion.  That I need to be conscious of my thinking, and if necessary express my fear, sadness and anger in a mature and adult way so that they best serve me and those around me.  I have turned not to run from my emotions, but to work through them with the principles I am developing and strengthening in my life.  It’s one thing to know I need to be honest about how I am feeling, but another thing to practice this essential principle (whether or not one is in recovery)…  I can talk about being patient, but how can I truly implement this and other truths into daily life.

I chooseBut I am learning through practiced awareness, consciousness and mindsight to be in control of the things I can control, and in the situations I have no control over, I do have the choice as to how I show up in these  instances.  I have a choice of how I practice and apply my learnings, and I have a choice as to how I respond to the situations that come my way.  I may not always appreciate what is happening in my life, and it might be scary and overwhelming at times, but  I do have a choice at how I look at these events and whether I approach them as an empowered woman’s thinking or that of my addict…  And although there are many things I have no choice or control over, these are a few of the things that I do!!

For more information about Recovery Coaching and living a purposeful, fulfilled life in recovery | (011)728-9200 | leigh-anne@thefoundationclinic.co.za 

From a Culture of Addiction to a Culture of Recovery | Train 1,000 Recovery Coaches!

Working in the emotionally, mentally, spiritually, socially and physically rewarding, and equally demanding, world of substance abuse, addictive behaviour and mental health disorders means that my life is filled with purpose and fulfillment.  Yet as blessed as I am to have found a career that feeds my soul, there are of course ongoing challenges.  South Africa has a chronic addiction problem from the streets of Soweto where “nyaope” is rife, to the upper class suburbs where benzos and cocaine are the drug of choice.  The use of “tik” (crystal meth) which has devastating physical, mental and spiritual effects on users is not confined to a single cultural, ethnic or socio-economic group.  And let’s not forget alcohol, which in my humble opinion is the “gateway drug” because I don’t work with too many people who didn’t meet their true love in their drug of choice without a booze-filled night or two.  The list goes on and I could continue to talk about the drugs, the chronic problems and the hopelessness of the situation or I can start to look at it from a different perspective!!

So I position myself as a Recovery Coach assisting people to move from a culture of addiction to the culture of recovery.  And part of the work that I do is assisting in the training of other recovery coaches.  Our aim is to train individuals and groups to empower themselves, their families, organisations and communities to become part of the solution to the SA Addiction Crisis!  Instead of trying to solve a problem that is far beyond our reach, we chose to focus on teaching and coaching using forward-focused and solutions-driven tools and techniques to shift people into a new mindset.  By looking at things from a different angle, we offer clients the option to start moving towards their imagined future, not languishing in the past.

I have been to a couple of events lately which were supposedly recovery-orientated and all I heard was people talking about the problem, firmly entrenched in the culture of addiction.  There were vague glimmers of hope, but mostly people caught up in the gory details of their addiction.  The message was along the same old lines of just say no (if you don’t want to end up like me)! What I believe is that people in South Africa need to change the language that they are using around recovery.  Because the “War on Drugs” has long been lost and the costs are still being tallied.  We as a country don’t have the financial resources to  fight the drug lords, police the lolly lounges, rid the streets of sellers, but what we can do is create #RecoveryCapital which are the internal and external resources required to support people in their recovery.

Rather than spending money fighting a losing battle, isn’t it more productive to start to develop resources that are aimed at assisting those who are ready to move into a culture of recovery!?  Doesn’t it make more sense to focus on developing centres that are safe places for those in recovery to spend their time once they have chosen to embrace recovery!?  Because if we are honest, what is there to support a person who has given up their “best friend” and now has to start to feed their soul with new, recovery-orientated activities.  It’s no good simply telling people to stop using and doing, what we need to do is to offer replacements so that people aren’t enticed back to using because they are hungry, angry, lonely or tired (HALT) or simply bored and looking for something to fill the time which takes care of these physical needs or makes them feel stronger, sexier and smarter.  Able to work longer with less food and very little spiritual or emotional fulfillment!

So one of the approaches from SHARP Recovery Solutions is the training of 1,000 Recovery Coaches over the next two years!  It’s a lofty goal, but the benefits are enormous.  Recovery Coaches are trained to support individuals, families, organisations and communities to start building up the emotional, mental, spiritual, physical and social resources through supportive, accountable relationships.  People are equipped with tools and techniques that help them to start to rebuild their lives, both personally and professionally and really embrace what it means to be in recovery.  Because there is an enormous difference between abstinence and recovery the way I see it.

Because empowering people engenders a culture of hope, honesty, integrity and courage (to name but a few of the spiritual principles on which recovery is built).  Offering solutions, rather than simply regurgitating the same drug-addled language about addiction, is about moving through goal-orientated planning.  It’s about offering alternatives and it can all start with just one courageous conversation with a Recovery Coach!  Someone who doesn’t want to look to the past, but chooses to look towards the possibilities that lie glimmering on the horizon.

For more information about Recovery Coach Training and Funding, please contact Leigh-Anne Brierley | (011)728-9200 | leigh-anne@thefoundationclinic.co.za

Check out “Train 1000 Recovery Coaches”

Check out “Train 1000 Recovery Coaches” on Indiegogo http://igg.me/at/sharprecoverysolutions-1000-coaches/shre/12235108

Addiction | An Equal Opportunities Disorder

Addiction can be a very lonely place, shadowed by shame, guilt, fear anger, sadness and not a whole lot of joy!  The stigma that exists around addiction does nothing to support individuals, families, organisations and communities faced with the mental, emotional, social, physical and spiritual challenges that this presents.  And all too often those with substance abuse, addictive behaviour and mental health disorders are seen as somehow less than everyone else.  I can personally vouch for the fact that none of these issues are moral ones.  Addiction can stem from four primary causes, which are:

  • Chemical imbalance in the brain
  • Unresolved issues of guilt, shame and trauma
  • Inability to change current situation
  • False belief system

So initial use often results from an individual’s inability to cope in a healthy, productive manner.  And what starts as a way to deal with life’s pressure may become a habitual pattern, beginning with use and progressing to misuse, abuse and dependency.  And then the theories, ideas and models abound around whether or not addiction is a disease.  What starts out being fun, free and fanciful – something to take the edge off life – often ends in isolation and loneliness, where obsession and the single-minded value of using or doing is what governs one’s life.

But from where I work as a Recovery Coach, it’s not about what caused the addiction as much as how one wants to move forward.  It’s a quagmire, and while acknowledging the victim it is my primary focus to support my clients as they create #RecoveryCapital to develop their survivor.  Recovery Coaching is not a “fix all”, but rather an adjunct service that can be used to help a client plan their recovery and wellness journey, and then develop actions to move themselves towards their envisaged future.

It takes a strong, courageous person to acknowledge their addiction and take the first step in their personal journey.  Addiction treatment and recovery is something to be celebrated and honoured, something for the individual and their loved ones to be proud off.  Millions of people across the world’s regions and cultures, ethnic, language and socio-economic groups are afflicted by what really is an equal-opportunities disorder.  The challenge facing all these people is to unite in supporting, loving and reconnecting with themselves, their families and communities.  That we treat one another as whole, complete and capable, rather than broken and weak.  Because isolating people is not going to help them get well!!

The addict’s larger circle is as always affected by the substance abuse and addictive behaviours.  And it is equally important that their close family and friends don’t forget about themselves to save their addict.  Rebuilding trust, learning to practice patience, tolerance, forgiveness and integrity are all effective ways to heal relationships.  Learning to communicate effectively with others and laying down strong, healthy personal boundaries are all solutions-driven approaches to starting to live a constructive, fulfilling life.  Learning to express the mature emotions of anger, sadness, fear and joy in a way that serves and empowers, are highly useful tools that can be learned in treatment and recovery programs.

Education, personal development and spiritual growth are all facets that can be expanded and developed as one progresses through recovery.  It’s about developing new though patterns, developing new behaviours and being mindfully aware of our thoughts.  There are various options around treatment and recovery, from inpatient treatment to outpatient programs.  One of the most important elements lies in the personal relationships that develop between the patient, the addiction professionals and the family unit.  So explore all the options that are out their from counselling, to therapy and recovery coaching, along with exploring what you can do to #feedyoursoul in recovery.

For more information about treatment and recovery solutions, please visit www.thefoundationclinic.com or call us on (011)728-9200 for information about our various programs.

What is #RecoveryCapital?

#recoverycapitalAs a person in long-term recovery as well as a coach that works with individuals and groups around substance abuse and addictive behaviour disorders, I sometimes find the amount of ideas, thought, theories and models around addiction and recovery somewhat confusing!?  And the thing that I find the most overwhelming is that there seems to be way to much vying to be right and not nearly enough time taking the individual’s needs, wants and ideas into account when addressing their personal addiction journey.  Add a giant spoonful of guilt and shame on the part of the substance/behaviour abuser into the mix and it gets really messy and complex.  And don’t forget how much the average person on the street likes a neat little diagnosis so that they can put everything into some sort of perspective, and it gets even more complicated in my opinion.

The truth is that there are many reasons for addiction such as unresolved issues of guilt, shame and trauma, inability to change current situation, a false belief system and chemical imbalance.  So that’s what gets people into addiction where we develop habitual thought and behaviour patterns around using and doing, which we can justify and explain away for a while, but then inevitably things get bewildering and we decide to make some changes.  Whether this involves attending a 12-step meeting, entering a treatment program, making an appointment with the family doctor or visiting a recovery coach, we begin to realise that our lives are a little less stellar than we imagined they would be!  And those are all great steps to take in order to move from a culture of addiction into a culture of recovery.  By getting honest, open and willing we can begin our recovery journey.  But that’s just the beginning and too many people believe that 28 days in a treatment program, a couple of months in a fellowship or a prescription from their doctor is going to change everything.  The truth is that getting clean is one thing, staying clean is another.

The biggest challenge is making lasting changes to our thoughts and behaviour.  Learning new, healthy coping techniques, which don’t involve self medication, setting SMART goals and developing action plans to move forward in life.  Because often it’s safe and easy to stay where we are, doing the same things that we have always done, talking about what we don’t want to do or be.  It’s a lot harder to start to determine what we do want, where we want to go and how we are going to get there.  Just ask yourself this simple little question, “What kind of man/woman do I want to be?”  Think of what values and principles you want to develop, how you want your personal and professional life to look and where you are going in your life?  It’s probably not as easy as you initially thought it might be!?  And what do you need to get you to this life that you have envisioned!?

That’s where #recoverycapital comes into the picture.  These are the personal resources that you (not me) have at your disposal in order to support you moving forward in your recovery.  What do you need socially, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually to support you in your recovery and wellness?  Rather than thinking of what you don’t have, think of what you do have and what you could potentially have, to move forward in your life.  Imagine what you want to move towards and what you can capitalise on to help you get there.  Too often I hear the words “I really don’t want…”, but I believe that by simply reframing this into the positive statement of “What I really want is…” we are instantly in a different mental space, shifting our thoughts from the past into the present and future.  Isn’t it more exciting to think of the infinite possibilities that we can create in the present, rather than the guilt- and shame-laden thoughts of the past.  Instead of looking over our shoulders at what we are trying to leave behind, think about creating a new, exciting existence to move towards.

Everyone’s #recoverycapital is unique and personal!! Where my physical #recoverycapital might include long walks on the beach and a healthy eating plan, yours might be mountain biking or martial arts, with plenty of sleep and really great sex. Spiritual #recoverycapital is equally as diverse including faith-based activities for some to 12-step meetings, meditation and modern-day spiritualism for others.  Studying and education can be a form of mental #recoverycapital, as can reading, travelling or taking up a new hobby.  Socially, spending time with family and friends, joining a sports team or a book club, and doing volunteer work can be a resource to support your personal recovery.  We can also build emotional resources through personal development, being part of a support group, spending time pursuing healthy lifestyle choices or signing up for courses and workshops in areas of personal interest.  The idea of all this is that there is not just one thing that supports us, and so we need to explore and develop resources in all these areas of our lives.  Too often we become over focused in one area, but neglect the others.

In the work that I do, one of my primary areas of focus is to assist individuals in creating and developing their #recoverycapital inline with the personal resources that they have at their disposal.  It’s an exciting process that encourages one to explore different possibilities and ideas on how to empower one’s self and be proactive in developing what you need to achieve those dreams you have, achieve those goals you have set and become the person you want to become!

Til Next Time,

Sober Something

For more information on #recoverycapital and living a life of fulfillment and purpose, please feel free to contact me | leighanne@recoverycoachingsa.com | (082)442-5710 for a free introductory session.

 

Pursuing Purspose | Zanny Collings

He died, after years of depression, drug abuse and multiple suicide attempts…he died. The last attempt was successful.  How my heart bled for a chance to see him again.  To hear his voice and to see him smile, but all that gripped my heart was the memory of the deep sadness in his eyes.  My beloved uncle, who was like a brother to me, was gone.  I remember the sleepless nights and the nightmares, the stories told about how it wasn’t the first time he had tried to kill himself.  I had tried to make sense of what had happened, tried to put the pieces of his puzzled life together, just so I could understand why he could no longer live in this world.

There were others after him.  And their stories of hopelessness and a life of pain, ending in death, haunt me to this day.  Their cries for help reverberate in my soul.  I need to help them… but how?  I had become a lost soul myself; bad decision after bad decision had led me down a path of self-destruction.  Even in those moments of hopeless despair, I could hear the cries for help.  They were everywhere.

First, I needed to deal with my own pain; I was empty.  Empty from living a life filled with meaningless endeavours.  Suicide of the soul. Abused self.  Diagnosed with depression on so many occasions, I needed to move beyond the dysfunctional patterns I had created in my life.  Healing was necessary for the once confident young girl who believed that she had the potential to make a difference in the lives of others.

I made the first step and found my healing at the feet of my Maker.  Who better than Him to fix what was broken and restore me to what he had created me to be?  The process of healing is never easy though, it takes a series of hard decisions and difficult life choices to undo a lifetime of dysfunction.  The second step was to find a place where I could learn and equip myself with the skills and knowledge to effectively do the work I so long to do.  God then placed on my path people who inspired and guided me on my quest.  Some do not even realise how their lives of selflessness has helped me realise my dream, day by day.  It’s funny how when we align ourselves to God and accept that we need Him that things start coming together in a way that is beyond our own understanding.

I say this because, a month ago today I would have never imagined myself in Recovery Coach in Training.  I was happily going about my life doing the best I could to pursue my purpose, when I received a friend request from an angel.  This angel had come to revolutionise myself and she did not even know it .  A few interactions later, I was accepting to do the course that was to take place the very next weekend, at the cost of?   Merely volunteering my time to helping others; I could have jumped right out of my skin!

So there I was the first night of Recovery Coach Training at SHARP Recovery Solutions, anxious but excited that I was granted the opportunity to be a part of an amazing community of individuals and organisations whose sole purpose was one of healing, restoration and wellness.  God was smiling down at me.  My life would never be the same again.

The facilitator was amazing, along with his sidekick angel.  Anyone who comes into contact with them will agree with me when I say that their passion for what they do is inspiring.  The sacrifices they make to serve makes this cold, dark world a better place to live in every day.  Needless to say, that first night left me reeling.  I was a heap of mixed emotions after interacting with an array of characters and concepts, not to mention a few curveballs to throw me into a tailspin of what I can only express as ‘whoaaa!!’.

I went back the next morning with only a few hours of sleep and a burning desire to push through.  Did I mention that I am 8 months pregnant? Oh yes, by the way. LOL!!  The timing is amazing, but Lord knows I would much rather pursue than back down and allow another life into this world without a concerted effort on my part to bring things full circle…I’ll definitely be blogging about this at a later stage!  So there I was continuing my training, and boy was I in for a ride.  Nothing short of informative, the informal interactive style of teaching kept us all on our toes.  With every laugh, cry and awkward pause there was a massive download of knowledge and life experience that no amount of lecturing could ever buy.  I was in my element!  And could not wait to come back for more.  No amount of exhaustion was going to keep me away, not this girl!

EmilyMy kokorozashi was awakened!  My life’s purpose was becoming more than just a feeling, it was becoming something tangible.  How could I not pursue this avenue of learning and use it to improve the lives of others?  After all these years of searching and wandering I have stepped into what could turn out to be the greatest resource in fulfilling my purpose.  By week two, which has just passed, I experienced a greater sense of direction, a higher level of understanding.  It was as if God spoke through my facilitators and classmates, their experiences and courageous sharing had added fuel to the simmering fire inside of me.  I saw and felt an overwhelming love, not the selfish kind that we have become accustomed to but a love that has no boundaries and knows no end. It breaks down walls and nourishes the soul, leaving only vivid traces of the pain that once lived behind those walls.  These people, this place, this community, was the epitome of selflessness.  I love them so much!

My most earnest prayer is that God will grant me the grace to continue in the pursuit of my purpose.  May my newfound friends never lose their passion and may every endeavour be a fruitful one.  That every person who crosses our paths will experience only love and a sense of hope for their futures.

I am Zanny.  Checking out Purpose Driven!

For more information about Recovery Coach Training, please email leigh-anne@thefoundationclinic.co.za

It’s not the substance that’s the problem…it’s the behaviour!

She decided to startI don’t know if what I’m about to put out into the public domain is a good idea considering the work that I do as a Recovery Coach, but I’ve discovered that the more I embrace my recovery principles such as honesty, integrity and authenticity, the more I grow as a woman and a coach.  Very recently I began working at The Foundation Clinic on a more full-time basis, which means I am able to commit myself whole-heartedly to working within the area of substance abuse and addiction recovery.  Around the time that I was winding things up with my previous employer, making decisions and setting some goals for myself I decided that I was going to tackle my personal health and wellness issue of being overweight.

It’s something that I have battled for years, yo-yo dieting my way through my twenties and thirties and never managing to maintain a healthy weight for too long.  The last time I was happy with my body I was literally starving myself due to stress and anxiety, and even though I was in recovery from alcohol abuse at the time, looking back I realise that I was still trapped in an addictive behaviour pattern.  So my obsession became my weight, rather than alcohol.  Periods of bingeing followed by periods of abstinence, mental and emotional obsession, guilt and shame around my habits and feeling completely out of control…  I’m talking about my relationship with food, although it is identical to my previous relationship to alcohol.

So while getting clear on my professional goals, I decided to spend some time looking at my personal goals around health and wellness.  I’d spent the year going to the gym on a regular basis, and that hadn’t made much difference to my figure, I’d also tried various approaches to weight loss only to get despondent and throw it all in…supplements, eating plans, advice from friends, all seemed to be useless.  So I elected to get professional, medical assistance with my weight loss.  I wasn’t looking for another healthy lifestyle plan, I was looking for a weight-loss solution!  The interesting thing was even though I coach in substance abuse recovery, especially around changing thought and behaviour patterns, I am a little embarrassed to admit, that I hadn’t seen the similarities in my behaviour and habits around food!!

It was eye-opening!  I have triggers that cause me to eat!  I obsess about food and am secretive about my eating habits.  I eat in a binge-like fashion when I am hungry, angry, lonely or tired (HALT) and then feel guilt and shame around my lack of control.  And it was in that instant that I took responsibility for me patterns and started to think of myself with a behaviour/substance use disorder around food.  Perhaps I’d been arrogant to think that I had changed my thought patterns and behaviour to such an extent as to set me apart from my clients that are doing exactly the same around their own substances.  It humbled me enormously and made me more empathetic and compassionate as to their personal journeys.  The difference this time though was I was immediately able to draw on a variety of coaching tools, development techniques and goal setting practices to get me moving forward immediately.

Rather than languishing around in a victim mentality, with the child-like emotions of guilt and shame, I started to employ my recovery principles and personal values to start goal setting around my weight-loss.  I got very clear on my reasons for my actions and made myself accountable to myself and a couple of other people around these.  It was empowering to take responsibility for unhealthy behaviour and thought patterns around food, and begin to move forward towards my solutions.  I have been honest and open about my problem with food, and it feels cathartic and enlightening to move through the fear and the sadness around my previous failed attempts at weight management.  I’ve realised that all I need to do is apply the same techniques in this area of my life as I do with my substance abuse recovery.  I haven’t experienced the previous trauma associated with  dieting, I am motivated and determined to reach the goals I have set up for myself.

I feel empowered and healthy, and it’s a really great place to be.  With the weight shedding, through not only an eating plan, but a completely different attitude and outlook to what I have chosen to do, I am becoming the woman I have always believed I could be…and it’s not only about my body, but also my spirit and my mind.  I did realise that I need to be careful of falling into addictive, obsessive behaviour and thought patterns, even though I haven’t touched any alcohol for more than seven and a half years, because it’s not the substance that’s the problem, it’s the behaviour!

Til next time,

Sober Something

For more information about recovery coaching in the areas of substance abuse, stress and burnout, food and eating disorders, diabetes, and co-occurring disorders, please visit www.recoverycoachingsa.com 

#YellowRibbon | 26 June 2015 | #BreakTheSilence | #BreakTheStigma

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