Life has the tendency or throwing us for a loop emotionally, but we must remain resilient in our pursuits.
C. W. Stratton
“How people treatment you is their karma; how you respond is yours.”
During our lifespan we will be challenged on so many levels; physically, psychologically and emotionally. There are those of us who have overcome significant obstacles, both physically and psychologically. However, emotional obstacles tend to trip us up along our journey. Although we may convince ourselves we are attuned to what we are experiencing emotionally at given times, we may not truly know what emotion we are truly experiencing. With this said, we tend to verbalize an emotion that’s easy to relay when we are asked what we are experiencing at the moment. Many times we say:
None of the above are actually emotions, nor are they feelings. We utilize the aforementioned on many occasions to avoid feeling vulnerable. Those statements are protective factors in some respect. Many of the emotions that we experience usually stem from an outside source; it’s not usually physical. Those outside sources sometime touches a sensitive part of us which generates a reaction; discomfort or pain. There are those of us when confronted by the external actions, it touches a vulnerable place within our minds also. The faulty thinking that may accompany what is occurring, allows the actions of the external stimuli to reside there for extended periods of time. This creates a host of confusing feelings and emotional responses, to the point that we have difficulty identifying what we are really experiencing. As a result, we default to our usual way of handling things; whatever that may be for you.
There are those times when emotional confusion occurs and this can happen when we are confronted by some form of reality. When outside stimuli is involved in a given situation we have the tendency to say, “they are pushing my buttons”. Remember that buttons are on clothing and gadgets. We are not clothing or some kind of gadget that has a button that requires pushing in order to be activated. We are beings that can actually dictate emotional responses when encountering a given situation. The most important aspect of dictating emotional responses is to become informed and fully aware of what we are experiencing. Having the discipline to “pause” and assess a situation before reacting is critical to the process of becoming more “emotionally intelligent”.
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize one’s own emotions and the emotions of others, and to identify them appropriately. The information obtained from this can assist in guiding thinking and behavior. Specific identification of what we are experiencing or witnessing is paramount. This is not a task that can be accomplished overnight, this takes time. Given that virtuous effort is placed into becoming fully aware, we begin that path of peace and hopefully nirvana. No matter the experience or source of that experience, keep pushing forward.
C. W. Stratton
Having the strength and courage to face difficult times as they arise has the tendency of creating growth and resiliency; including internal fortitude that can guide you throughout your journey. When initially faced with difficulty or adversity, many have the impulse to run or attempt to create an altered reality of the situation. Many times, this is done to avoid pain or discomfort associated with the experience. Embracing the situation and experiencing the feelings associated has the propensity of building character and provide assistance in obtaining a clear, realistic perspective of the circumstances being faced.
If the option of avoiding or covering up the experience is chosen, limitations and lack of clarity can be formed. When this occurs, the situation or circumstances will never be seen for what they really are. We will alter the experience to our liking in such a way that it makes the individual feel they are managing the situation. This is the process of fooling ourselves but ultimately this is “self-deception”.
The neglecting of the self and the experiences around us become habitual over time. What occurs eventually is that an alternative reality is created which brings about internal suffering. The habit of altering what’s real brings about an abundance of life-dissatisfaction, envy, disappointment and resentment. As a result of this, our world becomes so much smaller with every experience that we choose to alter. We don’t always have to experience pain and discomfort in order to learn and grow, but in order to fully experience life we may want to embrace all of our experiences.
There will always be storms that surface at an expected time, but remember that storms always pass. Live in your true reality and experience because you will always shine at the end of the day. Don’t not allow fear to dictate your experiences with the world. Dig deep within yourself, be present and utilize the strength and courage that already exists within you.
Being “Original” in thought and action is an accomplishment we all strive for.
C. W. Stratton
To be “Original” is to be independent in thought or action. Then you have the obvious definition; to be the first. However, we will concentrate on the first listed definition and assess how this plays out in some of our personal lives. For some, the idea of being independent in thought or actions can be quite scary. This may be due to the fear of what others may say or think about us. As a result of this, we default to living off of someone else’s’ idea’s, successes, achievements, and direction. Although our learning is rooted from obtaining information from outside sources such as parents, friends, teachers or colleagues, many us have remained dependent on these sources even in adulthood. Our dependency on the aforementioned makes decision-making and problem solving non-existent; no effort needed.
Standing alone or standing for something you believe in, when no one else will, can be nerve-racking and frightening. Since we refuse to experience these feeling, we decide to follow the status quo, even if we don’t agree with it internally. We compromise our inner-strength, knowledge and natural abilities, just to fit in. Eventually we are encapsulated by the opinions, beliefs and values of others. Obviously, not all of us can be originators of ideas and certain accomplishments but at some point in the process we should have acquired our own direction for our lives, as we see fit. There are those who have inadequacies and insecurities that have been engrained in us over the years. We bring those same inadequacies and insecurities into our current circumstances. The fear of revealing these keeps us motivated to fit in where we may actually never fit it. This creates life-dissatisfaction and a lack of fulfillment.
We must begin tapping into our innate abilities and identify what our true passions are in life. This will provide direction which will result in becoming motivated to be our true-selves. Fear can be a motivator but in many cases, it becomes a barrier to accomplishment. Courage must be found in the midst of fear. There are those who may not agree with the direction you have chosen for your life, but make sure your direction is positive, fulfilling and have the ability to reach others who may be in an indecisive place in their lives. Become an example of the wonders that life can offer and never short-change yourself when it comes to your goals and desires. You are only given one life, make it count.
The greatest prison that people live in is the fear of what other people think.
By, C. W. Stratton
Life is full of surprises and gifts. However, many of us are too inpatient to wait for these to be revealed. There are those of us that want things to occur yesterday, but when we are so fixated on this we tend to lose sight of what’s right before us. You know the saying, “we have one foot on yesterday and the other on tomorrow which results in us pissing all over today.” I have a clear understanding that we want to improve our lives and at times we will do this by any means. Many times we are just spinning our wheels and not take the risk that requires us to improve. We become locked in to a set of ideas, beliefs and behaviors that totally restrict us from going in the direction that we consistently relay that we want to go in. What is done, is we create a barrier around ourselves and we cry from within about the things we want and what we want to improve in our lives. We become encapsulated by our faulty ideas, beliefs and behaviors; the very things that have restricted and confined us.
The faulty ideas, beliefs and behaviors eventually take form as an invisible wall; they imprison us. Those that are imprisoned have a date of release (many do), but those imprisoned psychologically do not have a date of release. Actually, this is known as the most difficult form of imprisonment to escape. We carry this wherever we go and it’s exposed during our interactions with the world. Consequently, we look outside our ourselves and seek fault in things around us, instead of looking within. This can be quite catastrophic if carry this throughout our life-cycle. We scream, fight and cry but actually do not know why, or who we are doing this towards. In all reality, we are fighting with ourselves because we don’t know how to escape the prison we have created for ourselves. We have the ability to escape this state of mind; why not, we created it.
To escape this requires hard work, consistency, resiliency and self-honesty on our part. It may be scary to look at ourselves but it’s even scarier being locked-in. Breaking from the barriers or psychological imprisonment we have formed can be quite rewarding, refreshing and liberating. We must discontinue looking outside of ourselves to obtain what we say we desire. Risks need to be taken and courage must accompany this in order to break free on the chains we built. Fear is the most significant thing that binds us and until we get to a point of courage, we will remain in the same position we are currently in. There is so much in this world to experience and explore outside of the prison we have manufactured. Some believe remaining in their current position is safe, or even comfortable. I say, “it’s just familiar” so we don’t let go. Escape the prison you’ve created and begin to live.
C. W. Stratton
The desire to improve our lives is viewed as a normal aspect of our society. We are constantly presented with ways to become a better person. Right from birth we are taught how to behave and what’s expected of us to be a productive individual. Those closest to use who are feeding us information, are going off of their own point of reference. This doesn’t mean what’s being conveyed to us is inaccurate. Those individuals points of reference eventually become our own at some point. This tends to create a continuum that will go through generations. The cycle continues until someone breaks free of the taught thinking and behavior that has become a so-call “norm”. When this does occur, that person is immediately looked down upon because they are living the up to the status quo that had been created.
Many times, there are those of us who have no clue why we do, what we do. We acknowledge that others are doing it, so it must be right. This can be related to so many different things in our lives:
We follow the majority in many cases. This may be due to our personal fear of leading, fear of being expansive, or fear of starting something new outside the familiar. We want more out of life but we don’t take the required steps to be innovative and original. As a result, we remain within a suffering state that fuels disappointment, underachievement, and life dissatisfaction. However, we continue to push along with the crowd in hopes that something miraculous occurs to change our circumstances.
We spend a considerable amount of time and energy improving our “external” conditions, to obtain a sense of freedom, happiness, and to solve many of life’s problems. Improving “external” conditions will never solve “internal” problems. At the very moment you feel an internal problem is solved by improving external conditions, something else will arise within which will result in focusing on the external once again; to get that warn and accomplished feeling back. Working backwards like this is likes being on a hamster wheel; you feel like you’re moving forward but you’re actually going nowhere. We must learn to control the mind and desires to achieve the happiness we ultimately seek.
First improve “internal conditions” in order to maintain those external things.
By, C. W. Stratton: The evolution and transformation of our existence is such a wonder yet profound process. As we recall a number of beliefs we once held, during our early stages of life, this may bring some of us to many thoughts and realizations regarding our current place in life. There may have been a point in time that we believed we would maintain the old thought process throughout our existence. Assessing this creates a probable response of, “I was trapped”. This trap may have manifested as being in a place where we needed to conform to the environment and others in order to survive; not survive in the sense that death was a possibility. This type of survival is associated with saving face and maintaining a certain reputation among your association or peers. This created self-deception to the point that a character was created along the way. The character we’ve created presented as our reality.
The portrayal displayed needed to be maintained at all times, no matter the possible consequences of the deception. It was like the actor who never goes out of character; even off screen. Over time, the portrayal almost felt like our “true-self”. Although there were instances where breaking character was appropriate, but the pull to be other that ourselves was much greater. The deceptive-self (portrayal) was greatly accepted amongst our associates. However, during this process of self-deception, many of us experienced constant turmoil within. The turmoil may have gotten so overwhelming that it may have even manifested as an explosion. These explosions may have been toward those close to us or even towards ourselves. We became so lost in the chaos, deception and explosiveness that it became even more difficult to get in touch with our “true-selves.” There are those who have been able to come to the realization of the dangers that self-deception has created, and as result a moment of reflection, perspective and assessment was granted. Many of us were able to break free of the “trap” we existed in for years.
Breaking free and coming to a state of enlightenment regarding the “true-self” eventually concluded that who we truly are enough, and the need to have that character to validate who we “thought” we were became non-existent. Coming to terms with this requires hard work, discipline and a sincere effort of “Love Self”. The evolution and transformation is an ongoing process. Mara (the evil to that tempts, corrupts, instills fear and negatively influences us) is no longer invited into our lives once this realization is made. However, we must always acknowledge it exists because the aforementioned were all active ingredients to our “self-deception”. Taking time to continue working on self and utilizing concepts and practices that feed our true-selves will become the fortress that protects us from that character that we once harbored. Having the courage to sit with our true-selves, daily, without fear, can broaden our enlightenment and willingness to grow as a person. We are not perfect beings, but many of us strive to be. Take off the mask, step away from the stage and lights to acknowledge who we truly are.
By, C.W. Stratton
“Life is a juggling act that sometimes that you drop everything.” ~Linda Poindexter
Life is full of transformative experiences. Many of us may not realize this, but even at this very moment, as you read this, the beginning of a transformative experience is occurring. The reason this is pointed out is because we have experiences in our lives where we are not fully present or totally involved. Living in our modern society where everything is rushed and many of us need to be Master Jugglers. Meaning, we must have an abundance of things we are responsible for in order to feel a part of this world, or feel a sense of accomplishment.
Unfortunately, we end up trapping ourselves when we only judge our worth by our responsibilities.
In recovery, we must take a healthy risk by stepping away from these things, for a moment, to see what we are actually doing. Others can see us juggling and they may applaud us, or even go as far as throwing something additional to our way to see if we can continue juggling. We become so excited by the applause and cheers, about how good of a job we’re doing, many of us are incapable of saying “enough” or “it’s too much.”
In many instances we don’t verbalize being overwhelmed because we are fearful of letting others down or we may feel if we were to stop juggling, everything would “fall” apart or we are doomed to return to the destructive behaviors we have worked so hard to discontinue. Remember that in recovery, the promise is “freedom”.
In this sense, we define freedom as the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. Typically, we equate being imprisoned or enslaved to active addiction. Now that we’ve made a conscious decision to be a part of the recovery process, our continued efforts should also reveal other ways in which we imprison ourselves.
Going back to the analogy of the “juggler”, he/she is poised and focused on the task at hand, even as spectators throw additional objects for them to continue juggling; the persons locked-in. This individual experiences what is called “myopia”.
This is a term usually referenced medically; relating to the eye. In this this case, it’s the lack of foresight or imagination. Meaning, we don’t see anything beyond what’s in front of us. Just as the juggler.
Dangers can arise if we continue this process in our lives, using it as a way to protect us from returning to old behaviors. You know the thinking, “If I stay busy, I’m good” or “I don’t have time to think about using or not.”
These are the messages we convey to us that can inevitably have a negative impact on our recovery.
Staying busy doesn’t equal recovery, just like treading water doesn’t mean you’re swimming.
We feel we are in a safe zone when we have many responsibilities that we hope will distract us from the real fears that exist within us. Things that we attempt to be the Master Juggler of, are:
1. Job (s); some of us work multiple jobs.
4. Being a wife or husband
7. The voice of reason for friends who are struggling
8. Going to meetings
9. Personal recovery
These are just a few. In many cases, we are juggling the aforementioned all at once. This seems like a heavy load to carry, but we feel this is essential to our continued efforts to remain clean/sober. We may be able to juggle these things for a period of time, but we will have those moments when we are alone and realize we have a lot on our hands.
However, we wouldn’t dare verbalize this to anyone because we have become so attached to the responsibilities that it begins to define us and our recovery. We have moved further away from the freedom that we seek.
Stepping away for a moment is essential to obtaining a better perspective on our lives and on our recovery. Acknowledging the need for reflection in our lives can bring about a transformative experience. Speaking to individuals who have multiple jobs has always been interesting. They are asked if the need to do the extra work is for financial reasons. Many have relayed they just enjoy the work.
Is it actually a joy to work 12-16 hours a day and not leave time for self-care?
Eventually, they go back to the statement, “I like to stay busy”. This isn’t to say that every individual who works multiple jobs in addition to other responsibilities will fall short in their recovery, this is about awareness and being honest with ourselves about who the Master Juggler really is.
“Letting Go” has been a statement used in the recovery process.
This statement is relayed when we are faced with difficult or emotional situations that hinder our process. The statement is true when it comes to “juggling”. Sometimes we have to let something fall in order to gain something greater. That something may be a significant tool to build upon our recovery.
The transformation occurs when we obtain the courage to “let go” of the thing that has burdened us and not allow us to grow in the recovery process. We may not know exactly what that thing is, but we must, once again, step away to observe our circumstances clearly in an effort to fully embrace the transformative experience.
The experience is enlightening and it even takes a huge weight from upon us. It’s like the “Ah ha” moment. This isn’t something to fear, it’s something to embrace. When we do this, we will truly begin the path to Freedom.
Most jugglers begin with a couple of things to see if they can handle it, or to obtain a rhythm to keep going. Over time, additional objects are handled, after they feel they have mastered the initial things at hand. As recovering people, we tend to take the opposite approach by beginning with the most difficult. As a result, a number of things occur;
1. Things are taken away from us (not by choice).
2. We lose certain responsibilities due to neglecting them.
3. We burn out and just give up.
4. We become too overwhelmed and drop everything.
5. We verbalize that things are too difficult, so we stop pushing forward.
6. We say “what’s the use” and return to the destructive behaviors.
You can be a Master Juggler of things in your life, but we must realize what we can actually endure.
Just because the other juggler has eight items in the air, doesn’t mean that it will work for you.
It’s like the old saying; what got me clean, may get you high. An important aspect of the transformative experience is to acknowledge what you can handle and embrace it. This is not a competition or a race, our goal is to live life to the fullest and experience with every fiber of our being.
One Day At A Time. For us Master Jugglers, One Object At A Time.
DON’T USE, NO MATTER WHAT!
By, C.W. Stratton
All of us have experienced some form of fear on one level or another. Being able to identify legitimate fear becomes problematic for some. Fear is the unpleasant emotion or belief that something or someone is dangerous, likely to cause harm or a threat. Another definition suggest that the feeling can be experience weather the threat is real or imagined. Focusing our attention on the feeling itself has the likelihood to limit our ability in determining if the fear is actually warranted in a given situation. Obviously there are legitimate reason to experience fear.
*A barking dog exposing its fangs running in your direction.
*A car barreling down the road in your direction as you cross the street.
*Someone threatening you with a weapon or causing physical pain.
*An event or situation that can result in loss of life.
The fear that many of us experience aren’t typically associated with the aforementioned. After assessing a given situation thoroughly, we may find that our fears aren’t connected to dangers or threats at all. Some of our fears are associated with others and how they may respond to certain discussions we may be involved in. We may be that individual who lacks self-confidence, whereas fear becomes a constant feeling at unexpected times. Given this being a individuals reality, we must realize that lack of self-confidence doesn’t mean there are dangers or threats that will become of harm to the person. The fear becomes the fear of a feeling that one may experience if we relay a message to someone and they don’t respond in a way that we had depicted in our minds prior. A result, we begin to condition ourselves mentally to avoid certain conversations, situations and interactions. Think about some of the ways and things we associate with fear:
*Letting someone down.
*Asking for help.
*Following your dreams.
*Speaking up about what you believe in.
*Addressing an issue with someone who may have hurt your feelings
*Challenging a statement of someone that you know is inaccurate.
*Stepping outside of certain conventional practices.
*Rejection (avoid hearing that huge word “NO”).
These are only a few things that we associate with fear but as we can see, there’s no real danger, harm or threat involved in these. However, we hold on and identify the feeling as fear, and in turn, it prevents us from making the progress that we say we desire. We become paralyzed by the illegitimate fears. We rob ourselves of the opportunity to communicate our wants and needs; we remain in the comfort zone of stagnation. Is the zone really comfortable? It’s just a familiar place to be that’s consumed with discomfort. It’s time to challenge ourselves (our views, perceptions and ideas of reality) and become more confident and comfortable with who we are as people. Being able to identify the feeling you are actually experiencing in a given situation is critical to progress; it’s not always fear. It could possibly be other feelings you may subconsciously refuse to identify (inadequacy, insecurity, shame, or guilt). It’s time to identify and conquer.