That’s A Good Sign

I’m not religious. But I do ask for signs that something created life and the universe for a reason when I need too.

They may not come right away, and some signs are more subtle than others. But they sustain me in times when my old enemy fear shows up, and causes unhappiness in my life.

Some say there isn’t a god of any kind.  Maybe god is the wrong word to use. If all the signs I’ve received in my sobriety so far tell me anything, it’s to keep trying to believe in more than just this world. Doing so has helped me to love myself, which is a miracle considering how I felt about myself when I was drinking.

Despite the occasional fears I have. I’m no longer a frightened little boy inside. I believe in myself and I know things will be all right, even when they’re not. Because I know I can be all right even when I’m not. It may take what some people call prayer on some days. But I know I can eventually stop feeling worried and afraid and return to my former state of happiness.

Actually, my happiness never fully goes away, because I’m happy with who I am.

Being happy with who I am also sustains me in times when my old enemy fear shows up. And perhaps that is an even bigger miracle, considering who I was when I was drinking.

Some say there isn’t a god of any kind. Maybe god is the wrong word to use.

If all the signs I’ve received in my sobriety so far have proven anything, it’s that I have the ability to create my happiness.

I just need a little help now and then.

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Peace Of Mind

“I’m sure that my belief in some kind of god is different from many others. To be honest, there are days when I’m not sure what to believe. However, since the result of prayer has been peace of mind for many, including myself.  I see no reason to stop asking whatever god there may be for guidance and reassurance, and thanking it for everything in my life.”

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A Stronger Person Than We Were Before

“Fear can be our friend, or it can be our enemy. It just depends on how we handle it. Reassuring self-talk is my go to method to help me feel better whenever I’m fearful, and I often find comfort in talking with others about how I’m feeling. But hope and belief is an important part of overcoming our fears.

We can experience worry and anxiety when we feel afraid, especially if we find it hard to turn our hope that things will be OK, into belief that they will. But along with hope and belief, I’ve found that prayer can also play a part in overcoming our fears. I don’t always get the things I pray for. But it has never let me down when it comes to eventually believing everything will be all right.

Call it belief or call it faith; it doesn’t matter much to me. All of the things I mentioned helps me to believe in myself more. And a little more in something that created life and the universe for a reason.

Call it belief or call it Faith. It doesn’t really matter much to me. I just know that prayer, people, hope, and self-talk has always helped me with my fears during difficult times and to become a stronger person than I was before.”

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Setbacks And Plateaus Give Us A Chance To Grow

No matter how positive we try to be in life or what our beliefs are, we can still experience setbacks at times. A setback can be defined as an unanticipated or sudden check in progress; a change from better to worse. Some setbacks that come to mind are ones in our health, our finances, and in our relationships. I added that last one because it can set us back emotionally. We can become resentful toward a loved one who we feel has wronged us in some way, and if we are hurt deeply, it can cause us to remain in a state of anger, resentment, or sadness that’s hard to overcome.

Fortunately, I haven’t had any major health problems in my life. And although, like many people these days, I could certainly use more money, I haven’t had any financial setbacks. I have, however, experienced a few emotional setbacks, one in particular came from being hurt by a family member. But since that time, I’ve learned to look at them more as emotional struggles, and call them spiritual plateaus.

One  definition of plateau is a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress. In other words, even though I have made progress in my spiritual growth over the years, any anger, resentment, or sadness I felt from being hurt by someone, caused me to feel like I stopped growing spiritually. I was eventually able to get over the way I felt, and in the instance where a family member was involved, I came to the understanding that there are some people we don’t need to be around, family or not, and all we can do is to try to forgive from a distance.

Now in order to get over any negative emotions I felt, I had to do a few things like talking to someone about how I was feeling and fighting any temptation I felt to get back at the people involved, and I reminded myself that it was perfectly normal to feel the way I did. Although I’m not religious, I also used prayer to help me. I found that a simple request for help from whatever god there may be, often speeds up the process of forgiveness.

Most of us will never experience major setbacks in our health or finances, but many of us have and will experience problems in our relationships. The important thing to remember is that whether we call them emotional setbacks or spiritual plateaus, we should never be afraid to talk about our emotions, and depending on our beliefs, pray for help.

Doing so has never failed me to once again start making progress in my spiritual growth, and if needed, to help others through my experiences.

 

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Feeling Good About Ourselves Even When We Don’t

Blog Post 2 I saw this little piece of paper the other day, fitted neatly in the bottom right corner of my overhead kitchen cabinet door that I hadn’t noticed before, and the experience I had as a result of reading the words on it inspired me to write this post.

You can see the words in the picture, of course, but here they are again.

Be thankful. Live simply. Be kind. Do your best. Use please and thank you. Cherish family and friends. Never give up. Believe in yourself. Listen with your heart. Help others. Laugh often and love lots.

As I said, I hadn’t noticed it before, but my wife told me later that she had cut it out of a magazine, and put it there a few weeks ago, with the idea of making a plaque like it. This isn’t the first time she’s gotten a craft idea from something she saw in a magazine. And it’s not the first time I’ve failed to spot something new or different in our home, which by the way, is something I have a problem with, at least according to my wife. But anyway. I liked what it said, and I believe I was supposed to see it when I did.

I was down that day and hadn’t been feeling very good about myself lately. This mostly stemmed from my failure to secure a job as a drug and alcohol counselor over the last three months; a position that had been a dream of mine for a long time.

There were two main reasons why landing my dream job was difficult, and they actually added to the way I was feeling. I only had an associate degree in a field that demanded a higher education. And I learned my age was very much a factor. Although I proudly graduated college in January of this year, it quickly became apparent that being 53 and not having a bachelor’s degree, makes a poor combination when seeking employment in any type of helping profession. The inspiring part of all of this though, was that after reading those words, and more than once I might add, I began to feel better as I slowly remembered something I had been forgetting this whole time.

I am thankful for everything in my life because it helped me become who I am. I do live simply and not extravagantly to impress others. I am kind and do my best at things. I always try to use please and thank you. I do cherish family and friends. I never give up. I do believe in myself. I listen with my heart, and I certainly help others. And as anyone who knows me will attest; I also laugh often and love lots.

I think most would agree that living as these words suggest can be an important part of being happy in life. And although having the ideal job is also an important part of being happy, in the end it doesn’t necessarily matter what job we have, or in my case, don’t have at the moment.

What matters is that we love ourselves, which I do. And that we’re happy with who we are, which I am. It’s just sometimes we need a reminder of why these things are true.

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To Be Or Not To Be That’s The Question

We can read book after book on how to become a better person than we were before, but in the end it is up to us to do so.

Over a good portion of my sobriety, I read a lot of different books on growth, spirituality, and what can be called new age, and they all helped confirm my conclusion that the decision is always up to us to improve on ourselves.

One of the best things I read came from a book called Conversations with God, which was about more than just improving on ourselves, and it gave what I thought was a very good suggestion to those of us who want to become better people.

Although I’m not sure the answer actually came from god, it said we need to ask ourselves one important question in life when trying to change as a person. This question is a simple one, and something I often ask myself in my efforts to become a better person than I was before. Who do I want to be?

When we’re angry about something, do we want to be the person who yells and says hurtful things? Or if resentful over something, do we want to be the person who stays angry and doesn’t do anything to make things better?

We can also ask ourselves who we want to be in other situations, for example when we feel worried about something. Here we can simply ask ourselves do we want to be the person that lets any fear we’re feeling affect our happiness and ruin our day.  The same goes for any sadness we feel over something.

Keep in mind though, that changing ourselves and becoming the person we want to be takes time and practice, and expect that you’re going to fail at it on some days.

Although I’ve had a lot of time and practice trying to be a better person than I was before, I certainly still fail at it. However, the good news is that it has become much easier for me to not stay stuck in whatever emotions I’m feeling and not beat myself up over my behaviors.

I’ve also gotten better at taking action in an effort to move on and grow. To do this, I talk to someone about how I’m feeling, and sometimes I pray about it. I’ve found that prayer works no matter what our beliefs are about there being a god of some kind, but the thing to remember is we still need to take action.

Besides talking to another person we trust, as we improve on ourselves, we can also talk to ourselves.  I know for some of us that the voice in our heads can be damaging, especially when we heard it telling us how bad we were for so long, but it can become an ally.

Today, my self-talk is almost always positive and I tell myself that it’s all right to make mistakes now and then. However, when I ask myself who do I want to be in a situation that has the potential to bring out the worse in me, I cannot allow that voice to justify behaviors that are not conducive of becoming a better person than I was before.

Again the decision to take action is up to me. And asking myself who I want to be and don’t want to be, can go a long way in helping me improve on myself.

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Depression, Ain’t It A Bitch?

Don’t take the title of this post as a joke about depression; I know there are varying levels of depression with some so severe that it can result in suicide. I also know when I went through a mild depression early in my sobriety, all I wanted was for the way I was feeling to end.

I actually began to understand why some people commit suicide. I wasn’t suicidal myself, but I desperately wanted the deep sadness and dread I felt to end. I would have taken medication if necessary, but I was fortunate to talk to a therapist and they helped me believe I could be OK on my own.

I do know, however, that some people need help through therapy and medication, and I wish more people would seek support.

Through my bout with depression, I had the fortune of not only talking with a therapist, but also receiving support in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. It helped to hear how others with more severe problems than me dealt with depression and were still able to get through it. They also said how they learned to recognize warning signs of depression and became better at combating the sometimes debilitating emotions that come with it. Some even said they were eventually able to reduce any medications they were on, or stop using them all together.

There are many factors involved in depression, and I want to make it clear that some people need medication to help them because of their brain chemistry. However, studies show that along with medication, when people get professional help and talk to others who have problems with depression, they stand a better chance of recovering from it. Click on National Institute of Mental Health for information on depression.

As I said, I was fortunate because of the many people who helped me, but I also prayed for help.  Maybe just the act of praying and accepting help from others did the trick, but this period in my life would actually reinforce my growing hope that something created life and the universe for a reason. It certainly taught me to never be afraid to get help from any source possible when I need it.

 

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