Your Power

The troubles of this world can sometimes make us little people feel powerless. And certainly there are situations that are beyond our control, but I am often surprised by how much personal power I hold. When wielded responsible and skillfully that power can change the course of a moment, and hour, or a day. And sometimes that positive power can set into motion a chain reaction or even an avalanche of good.

So today, whether you’re feeling powerless or not, please consider the power you have right now or in the next moment to use your power for the good of someone else.

Build them up.

Remind them they are worthy.

Tell them that they matter to you.

Tell them they’re magical (and powerful!)

Who knows? Shine your light and you could start a tidal wave of positive energy.

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Please don’t wait until tomorrow.

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The world needs your positive energy TODAY!

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Don’t let your power go to waste!

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Use your FORCE for good.

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Have a beaYOUtiful day!

Feel or Flee?

Same four letters – two opposite directions.

When faced with a situation we can either FEEL the feelings evoked by the situation or FLEE those feelings.

As in most of life, there is not a single solution for every situation. There will be situations when allowing the feelings to flow freely could result in catastrophic outcomes. In those (hopefully) rare situations, the healthy response is to avoid the feelings – to shut them off somehow.

Most of the time though, feeling our feelings doesn’t threaten our well-being, it just evokes a lack of comfort or an absence of ease. Unpleasant feelings aren’t necessarily fun, but the truth is they won’t harm us. Avoiding the feelings, on the other hand, by repressing them, stuffing them, or drowning them with a familiar “coping” mechanism can be unhealthy, painful to self and others, and even lethal.

Avoidance of feelings fills the headlines with drama and trauma every day. When we stifle, deny, or avoid our feelings, they fester and grow in size, scope, and intensity. We can give feelings greater toxic power by avoiding them.

I speak frequently and write occasionally about the three steps I try to take when I realize that I am feeling an unpleasant emotion. I have by no means mastered this practice, but I am a masterpiece in progress. Below are the three steps, one of which I’ve already mentioned in the previous paragraph. If the situation allows, declare the three truths aloud.

  1. This feeling (name the feeling helps) has no power to harm me.

Feelings have no substance, neither mass, nor volume. They are an idea that we experience with our bodies, thoughts translated into sensations.

2. This feeling will pass.

Feelings pass or change. Feelings are temporary. And as Vincent Gardenia reminded Cher in the 1987 classic, Moonstruck, Everything is temporary!” (see the clip below and considering indulging in this great movie!)

3. This feeling is known by others. 

Most times, this truth is the most powerful for me. The moment I say, “Paul knows what it’s like to feel anxious,” I can sense the anxiety loosening or the hopelessness brightening. And while the three truths may not eliminate all unpleasant feelings, they definitely help me bear the feelings.

Feelings are in our lives for reasons – some of which we may never fully comprehend. Try leaning into the next unpleasant feeling with curiosity rather than trying to figure out how to make it go away.

 

As always, I thank you for taking good care of you! You’re a masterpiece in progress, and the fact that we’re even trying to progress, sets us apart from most folks who are adrift  in the sea of feelings, waiting for the next breeze. Stay in touch and stay on course.

#FeelDontFlee

#MasterPeace

#MasterpieceInProgress

 

 

 

Storms

Folks have strong feelings about storms and they  certainly seem to be a part of life, so here a few quotes about storms. Today my wish for you is the sentiment contained in the last quote. But first, take a moment to read and consider these other quotes by Paulo Coelho (and feel free to reply with your own favorite storm-related quote.)

“Heaven and Earth are meeting in a storm that, when it’s over, will leave the air purer and the leaves fertile, but before that happens, houses will be destroyed, centuries-old trees will topple, paradise will be flooded.”

“The more violent the storm, the quicker it passes.”

“I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature.”

And now, my favorite:

“Not all storms come to disrupt your life. Some come to clear your path.” -author unknown

 

About QuittersWin

About 20 years ago I observed a way to look at addiction that seemed like it might be helpful. People I served in my tobacco cessation practice often seemed overwhelmed by the idea of quitting smoking. I felt that way myself every time I tried to quit smoking. Logic led me to look at ways to break it down, or deconstruct the relationship with tobacco. Maybe if we presented it in ‘bite sized chunks’ people would feel less overwhelmed.

That’s when I saw it – a way of looking at addiction (to tobacco, originally) that gave people hope and direction! Hope – because the overwhelming, amorphous, idea of my addiction actually consists of five components. When I look at them individually, addiction seems a little less overwhelming and I have hope that I might be able to escape addiction’s hellish grip. Direction – because even if I’m not ready to take aim at the whole thing, I can still work on at least one of the five aspects. I have a clear direction and I can take at least a small step today along the path towards my freedom.  This way of looking at addiction was a game-changer!

Thousands of brave hopeful folks have used this approach and found their freedom from tobacco, typically in small groups meeting in community and corporate settings. Many years ago people started applying the BESOCHEMPS model of addiction to other substances and even to behaviors that weren’t typically considered to be addictions at the time (binge-spending, self injurious behavior, gambling, etc.) Today the BESOCHEMPS is being used to address the full spectrum of addictions.

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BESOCHEMPS – The Five Headed Dragon

The reason more people aren’t more successful at quitting is that nobody told us that their are five distinct aspects of our addiction that we need to address in order to get free and stay free. If we handle one or two aspects (like most people do) we will get free but we won’t stay free.
Ask yourself how many times have you tried to quit before? Did you focus mostly on the chemical addiction and perhaps the behavioral triggers, and manage to stop? After a few days, a few weeks, or a few months did you slip, cheat, or just cave in? To use the imagery of the five-headed dragon, by defeating a couple heads of the beast, you wounded your foe, but didn’t defeat it.
Fear not! This quit attempt can be different. This time you’re going to learn how to deal with all five heads of the dragon so it won’t come back and get you.
Knowing BESOCHEMPS

First we have to memorize the dragon’s name. Look at it again… BESOCHEMPS. The dragon’s name helps us remember each of the five heads.

The five heads are:

BEhavioral,

SOcial,

CHemical,

EMotional, and

PSychological.

We call the dragon BESOCHEMPS to help remember all five heads.

We all have a “dragon” if we drink to excess, use illicit drugs, smoke, gamble, etc. Even activities like going on spending binges can create a release of endorphins, which can cause a chemical dependency for some of us.
Your mission is three-fold:

1.) Can you see all five heads of your dragon?

2.) Which one (or two) of the heads are most dominant or prominent?

3.) Can you learn the tools and tricks that give you back your freedom?

 

beso MVelard (Illustration by Mark Velard) 

                                                                                 
Let’s take a closer look at each of the heads:

BE havioral 

The things we do just before we use or while we are using—the triggers—become cues ti use. (Example: Pouring a cup of coffee can trigger a smoker to light another butt, not because they’re addicted to the chemical, but because the ritual or habit has become familiar.)

How you can respond: Starting today, call this kind of want a “trigger.”

• Disassociate the partnered behaviors from using before quit day so that they cease to be triggers to use. For instance, if you’re a smoke and you tend to smoke while drinking a cup of coffee, leave your coffee cup inside when you go outside to smoke. Isolating the using behavior from all pleasurable activities until quit day means that you don’t have to stop the pleasurable activities (coffee) in order to stop smoking.

(Note: Some addictions don’t lend themselves to gradual weaning and must be halted completely and immediately because of imminent danger of a single use.)

• Data collection can help you better understand your using. Try to figure out which head of the dragon is behind each desire to use.

• Doing it differently can help you avoid some triggers. Getting your morning coffee at the drive-thru window can help you avoid the familiar routines that were associated with smoking.

• When you discover that you want a cigarette because of a behavioral trigger, be delighted! Don’t despair. This want is just a trick and you don’t have to fall for it! 

SO cial 

Many social situations (the places and faces) can become triggers that make you want to use.

How you can respond: Starting today, call this kind of want a “trigger.”

• You may need to completely disconnect from some of the people you’ve been spending time with. If you’re going to try to stay in touch with them, some things will need to change. This will disrupt social patterns and you might even inspire your friend to try to quit!

• Change the place where you and your buddy meet, at least for a few weeks, to disassociate the social situations from smoking. Perhaps going out to the movies would be an easier substance-free night out to replace your dart night at the club.

• Distract yourself by doing some new healthy activities with your buddy.


CH 
emical

Your body may have a discernible medical response to the reduction or absence of a chemical in your bloodstream or craving for a dose. This state of withdrawal can be uncomfortable, and depending upon the substance, may be relieved with medications.

How you can respond: Starting today call, this kind of want a “craving.”

• If you’re gradually weaning before quit day, delay every use. (You’ll end up skipping some of them!)

• Decrease your dependence by gradually reducing your smoking. 

• Drink water as a way to help detoxify your body and give your hands and mouth something to do.

• Deep breathing is a great way to give your brain a fresh supply of oxygen and change the way you feel.

EM otional

Intense emotional feelings or the absence of emotional stimulus (boredom) can cause urges to use. We’ve trained ourselves to use when we are stressed or want to avoid unpleasant emotional states.

How you can respond: Starting today, call this kind of want an “urge.”

• Deep breathing can help defuse these brief periods of anxiety, anger or even boredom.

• Distract yourself until these episodes pass—and make it fun! Try a crossword puzzle or handheld electronic poker game. Change radio stations, take a brisk walk or learn how to hula-hoop.

• Daily disciplines such as prayer, meditation and yoga can help you manage stressors in healthier ways.

PS ychological

To some extent, anyone who knowingly participates in a behavior that causes harm has decided to allow harm to come to him or her. For some reason, we have compulsions to either cause harm or allow harm to happen to us. Smokers (as well as overeaters, alcoholics, etc.) might ask themselves why it’s acceptable for harm to come to them.

How you can respond: Starting today, call this want a “compulsion.” • Certain daily disciplines of a spiritual and/or emotional nature can sometimes help restore a healthier sense of self-worth.

• Dig deep within yourself to find answers and strength.

While it’s not necessarily comfortable to discuss and share personal spiritual beliefs, a focus there may be a way we can hope to become “slip-proof.” Some find that when they learn to see themselves differently it becomes easier to treat themselves differently.

Good luck. This is hard work and you’re worth it. You deserve to be free!

 

via About QuittersWin

Pretend and Mend?

Accepting an apology that was never given frees us to move forward in peace and strength. – T Judson Starkey

Ponder upon that thought. What will happen when we pretend that a person who hurt us did apologize? Accept that apology, because whether or not it really happened it is really holding you back from peace and progress.

Extra Credit: Here’s a great Psychology Today article by Author, Psychotherapist, Interfaith Minister, Mindfulness teacher, Public speaker, Blogger Nancy Colier on why never-sorry people are that way (and how we need to move ahead anyway!)

#WinningMove

#ChooseWisely

Perspective

“What you see and what you hear depends a good deal on where you are standing.”

        -C. S. Lewis (The Magician’s Nephew)

In both literal and figurative ways, ‘where you are standing’ matters. It can change what you see or hear. Here are a few images that have interesting perspectives:tree-1750784_1920.jpg

We tend to see tall verticals when we walk through the forest. Looking up (shifting perspective) can definitely change what we see!

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I find value in reflecting what I (think I) heard to someone else. If I restate the idea in my own words to another person, they can help me know whether I understand the intent of what I heard. In general, sharing our thoughts with a trusted friend is always a good idea.

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Two faces or one vase? Eyes and other ears can see and hear things differently.

The next line of that C. S. Lewis quote, sometimes offset from the first by a period and sometimes offset by a semi-colon, is “It also depends on what sort of person you are.” In the story, the children hear the voice of Aslan as sweet and soothing and the Magician hears the very same voice as harsh and grating. In the story, I think Lewis is trying to make the point that at least sometimes, what we hear has much to do with what’s inside us to begin with; our biases, our preconceived ideas and perceptions.

Please be sure not to hear my words as judgmental. I have no interest in labeling people as good or evil, but in acknowledging that my perceptions and my perspective can limit me if I’m not careful.

My wish for you and me is that we would sufficient courage to be willing to open our hearts and minds to appreciate other perspectives, other ideas. Other ideas won’t fix us, because there is nothing to fix. But other ideas might help facilitate change. And I hope we can agree that change is essential for our growth and well-being.

 

Snap Out of It?

Thousands of texts, dozens of faces, various groups, several places – each week I share and often the topic is change in some way shape or form. I want to be sure that when I talk about change, people don’t hear me saying “snap out of it” (and I’m never saying “man up!”) Change can come and I want to help change come, but it doesn’t always come like a light bulb turning on!

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There are some things that some people can just snap out of. Some people, some things. Not all people, not all things. And just because one person can do something, doesn’t mean that another unique individual can do the same thing or do it in the same way. We’re different on a molecular level and a million ways. And when one person’s success evolves into impatience or intolerance of another’s struggle, we’ve lost our way. “I did it, so you can too” can be a hopeful message, but it can also be a delivered in a way that’s counter productive if it sounds like “I did it, so why haven’t you?!”

When addiction, depression, and anxiety are involved, I’ve often observed that impatience. Even when a person has a chemical imbalance or genetic predisposition, some change and growth are possible, even without medications! (I said some change – not necessarily a cure.) But I find that some people are unable to see the possibility of growth and change because they’ve been judged, scolded, and treated impatiently. They know longer believe that change can come. Professionals in my field often see ‘learned helplessness‘ as an impediment to growth and recovery. But if people have learned helplessness, isn’t it safe to suppose that someone or something in the environment is teaching it?

Change is always possible – I insist upon believing that is true. Sudden change is possible. B. J. Fogg, psychologist and founder of the Stanford Behavior Design Lab, recognizes that epiphanies happen, but suggests that rather than waiting for an epiphany, there are some specific ways we can invite and create change. (I’ve raved before about his Tiny Habits approach to change. Check it out!)

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Perhaps the impatient sounding folks who say things like “snap out of it” are expecting an epiphany. Maybe they had one themselves and I guess that’s great for them! But if their unique experience leads them to become narrow-minded, impatient, or feel superior, they can detract from the environment where change and growth happen.

So I’m going to keep talking and teaching and texting about change (in part because I need the reminders) and I hope you always hear my words as encouragement or invitations to stretch and strive. We can all help each other move along whatever journey we are on by being patiently persistent with ourselves and each other. Patience, persistence, and acceptance of our uniqueness makes for a fertile soil for growing, changing seedlings. When we treat ourselves and others with kindness and patience, anything is possible – even change!

#Change4Good

 

 

In Defense of Pollyanna

Perhaps you’ve heard someone described as a Pollyanna or as being Pollyannaish. Perhaps you’ve described me that way (which makes me glad.) The term is usually used to describe a person that is foolishly hopeful or even annoyingly hopeful.

Pollyanna is the heroine of a 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter about an orphaned  girl who was forced to lived with her rigid Aunt Polly. Shortly before her father’s death, he taught her the “Just Be Glad” game, which challenged her to look for the bright side of any circumstances.

I strive to hold hope at all times and fall short for sure. Remaining optimistic is tough sometimes, and constantly hopeful people may even rub us the wrong way. But I’m not going to stop dealing hope, which requires that I dig for it. If I choose to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel, the fact remains that some tunnels are longer than others. But I think that sometimes it’s the digging, the mining, the harvesting that is helpful for me personally, because sometimes it requires me to enter one of my favorite states – curiosity!

I start to feel better the moment I pull on my deerstalker, grip my magnifying glass, and ask,”Where’s that silver lining?”

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The act of searching requires an assumption – a default setting – that there is hope to be found. As far as I can see, that is a decision – a choice one makes. And once you make that choice, the game is afoot! Sifting through the manure pile can seem like a game once you decide that there’s a pearl in the pile. Curiosity fuels that pursuit and curiosity feels good. Try it! If nothing else, it momentarily gives you something else to think about.

If your default setting is not “there is hope,” feel free to change your mind. Who knows what else you might change by doing so?

“Once you start looking for the happy things, you don’t think about the bad ones as much.”                                                                                                                     – Pollyanna

 

p. s. ~There’s actually some pretty solid science to support that optimism is healthy and because I’m a hope-dealer (not a dope dealer) I’ll share more about that in the future. (Hmm… feeling curious?)  

 

 

Worrious?

On my way to the car this morning I noticed a nasturtium bud in the window box on the porch. The pointed flower-to-be, poised on the end of it’s gracefully curved ‘neck’ looked oddly like a creature in a scary sci-fi movie. Perhaps you can guess which one.

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While the focus isn’t perfect, you can still probably see why this soon-to-bloom nasturtium made me think of a creature from outer space.  

I smirked as I continued to the car and headed to work. I pondered… Does a blossom feel alien as it enters a new world or a new state of being? Might it feel worried about its unknown future? Might it be excited about finally be able to unfold and spread out? I was feeling curious. Curiosity is a feeling that is almost always accompanied by a smile or smirk on my face. I glanced quickly into the rear view mirror and, seeing a smirk, smiled broadly.

Then I got thinking about feeling worried (like an unopened bloom might feel) and feeling curious. I love to feel curious, but worrying is no fun at all. Because my brain likes to categorize, sort, and stack stuff, I sometimes envision feelings arranged on a scale or ladder – ranked in a way. So how far apart are worry and curious? If I’m feeling worry, how might I be able to move toward curious? The word “worrious” came to me – starts like worry and rhymes with curious.

I’m going to try to remember that word! If every time I realize that I’m holding worry, I think of the word worrious, I might be able to shift toward a more comfortable state of being – halfway between worried and curious. It’s rather like the idea of ‘northeast’ being in between north and east. If curious is easier to tolerate than worry, let’s at least turn our being in that direction, right? So I hereby #DoubleDogDare you to adopt this new word.

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For those who may be curious, here’s what that nasturtium will look like in a day or two (unless it’s abducted by aliens!)

And if you never wondered how a flower blossom was feeling, try it! Putting ourselves into someone else’s shoes (or soil?) is a good way to move past or away from an uncomfortable feeling of our own. While I’m a proponent of FEELing, not FLEEing, there are definitely times when a quick shift of perspective can get the gerbil off of the wheel.

Thank you for taking good care of you!

#DFTYA!

 

Remember QuittersWin is Searchable!

Remember that even on days when I don’t post, there are plenty (over 350?) posts here to keep your head busy. Like most web sites, the blog is searchable and by typing into the box by the magnifying glass icon (in the black bar above) you can quickly find all of the posts related to a certain topic.

For new folks here, especially if you’re interested in understanding any sort of addiction, may I suggest you begin by searching for the word “BESOCHEMPS!” Yes, that is an odd word indeed, but once you read the posts about the 5-Headed Dragon, you’ll have a unique and comprehensive way to understand addiction. When people use the BESOCHEMPS model of addiction versus tobacco, their success rates are drastically increased!

And no matter why you visited this site, I think it’s safe to recommend a gratitude search. Have a beaYOUtiful day!

Accompaniment

Music is mighty and I can’t imagine a day without music! Friedrich Nietzsche is said to have said “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Mistake or not, life would certainly be bleaker without the sounds and vibrations of music.

Midway through the week, let’s ward off the bleak with some intentionally selected music. Maybe music is medicine you can hear! Feeling lonely? Tired? Sad? Mad? See what 5 minutes of upbeat or inspiring music does for that mood.

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”  – Maya Angelou

May music accompany you wherever today leads you.

Do It Scared

There are certainly times when we may (in our right mind) feel no fear. To have that internal calm makes action easy. But there are also times when we cannot get in touch with a sense of peace about action before us. But if the action before us is certainly for our good – if we know in our bones what the next step is, we cannot allow fear to keep us from good.

Perhaps a ‘healthy dose’ of fear can keep us from taking action in pride or arrogance. Maybe fear protects us. After all, buckling our seat belts or wearing a helmet may have at their core a tiny speck of fear, disguised as cautious reason. But when we now that fear is limiting us – keeping us from a future we know is right for us – we cannot afford to let fear hold us back.

So while I would love to wish you a #FearlessFriday, my friend, I hope that even if facing fear, you will find the courage to act, even in the face of fear. When you know in your heart that it’s time to take positive action towards a worthy goal, do it – even if you have to do it scared.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.      – Nelson Mandela

1-800-273-TALK

As a personal favor, PLEASE take a minute to save this phone number in your contacts NOW. Yes, please do it now. By having this number handy you may have an opportunity to truly be a lifesaver!

1-800-723-TALK (8255) is the National Suicide Hotline. It is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Often, when a person is having a suicidal crisis, a simple simple question and a small act of support can change an otherwise tragic trajectory. Have the number handy. Save it in your phone now.

More often than we may realize, there a persons in a suicidal crisis around us. This number (and the compassion you show when you share it) can be a game-changer! You can be a life saver!

Thank you! And while we’re at it, why not ask a couple friends to save this number to their phones, too? You never know who may need it!

Thanks for being awesome!

Glory and Passion

One the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, may I suggest that you choose from the inspiring quotes below, one to hold in your heart today – or perhaps for longer. Mandela had much to say about liberty, education, struggle, and human dignity. May you find a pearl of inspiration that will move and change you.

If you’re feeling content, but you know in your heart there is a difficult change you should make – I think Mandela would ask you to pursue that change.

There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

If you’re feeling stagnant or stuck – I think Mandela would urge you to do act in spite of fear.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

If you’re feeling defeated by past experiences – I think Mandela would encourage you to try again (and again.)

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

If you’ve accomplished a challenging goal – I think Mandela would applaud you and expect you to support and assist others achieve their goals.

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

Happy Birthday, President Mandela!

Strive for Better

Here’s another thought-provoking quote by  Brazilian author and lyricist, Paulo Coelho, to hopefully help move our week in a positive direction. (I forgot how much I love this guy, so watch for more of his wise words in the future.) 

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

Think about this quote and consider whether you have seen evidence of its truth in your life or in the lives of others around you.

Can you be certain that it’s true – that it will be true for you? Perhaps, perhaps not.  You may ‘know in your bones’ that the quote is true. If so, I wish you have courage to act upon it! But perhaps you think it only might be true. That’s no reason to completely dismiss an idea, right? It still might be a path that’s important for you. So go ahead a try something new, if only to combat stagnation. If you’re undecided as to whether it’s absolutely true, you can always choose to believe it – even in the absence of evidence.

Aim for a lofty goal and see what happens!

DFTYA!

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