Be Willing To Be Willing

For most of us, giving ourselves permission is challenging. For many reasons, we can’t or won’t allow ourselves to put ourselves first. Instead, we simply put one foot in front of the other and gut it out.

Part generational, part genetic, part upbringing, there are many reasons why we never consider what we might really want or what might be in our best and highest interest. We simply do what we think, or believe, we have to do. We jump into the hole, we see the steep walls, and then we don’t even acknowledge that there might be a way out, let alone cry out for help.

But giving ourselves permission to willingly consider alternatives is the key to reinvention.

Consider this quote from Richard Bach: “No matter how qualified or deserving we are, we will never reach a better life until we can imagine it for ourselves and allow ourselves to have it.”

Willingness is a necessary precursor to taking action: you have to be willing to do something – or, at the very least, willing to try to do something – in order to keep moving forward.

I believe that when we give ourselves permission to rethink, to consider other possibilities, we crack open a door to our Higher Self – and our Higher Self, recognizing that the door has been cracked open, wedges a crowbar in to make sure that we consider a different way ahead.

In order to crack open that door to your Higher Self, you need to spend some time figuring out what it means to give yourself permission in terms of your own personal transformation and reinvention.

Once you can delve deeply into the concept of permission, you will be able to recognize the impact it can have, not only on your reinvention journey but on your entire life.

Want to learn more about giving yourself permission and the reinvention journey? Check out my book, “I’ve Been Down Here Before But This Time I Know The Way Out,” available on Amazon!

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A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

“When you live your story, you don’t have to pretend you’re someone you’re not. You can just be yourself.” Blake Mycoskie

Personally, I love pretending to be someone I’m not. My two favorite things are Halloween and historical reenactment. I have a basement full of costumes, and I like nothing more than dressing up like someone else.

Donning a costume allows me to unleash my inner wannabes. Wannabe a knight in shining armor? Wrap yourself in aluminum foil and strap on a kitchen knife (I’m all about improvising when I need to). Wannabe a rock star? Try some fake tattoos (or the real thing, if you’re so inclined; I happen to be covered with body art), grab a plastic guitar, and use a garden spade as your microphone (like I said, I’m good at improvising). Or, make it really easy, and just head to the nearest karaoke bar.

At one time or another, all of us have had to pretend to be someone else. “Fake it ‘til you make it” is a well-known phrase in recovery forums, and has become a mainstream sentiment as well. Nervous about an upcoming interview? Pretend to be the smartest person on the planet. Afraid of public speaking? Pretend you’re just talking to a friend (that whole, “picture everyone naked” approach never worked for me anyway).

However, being yourself is just a whole lot easier than trying to be someone you’re not. It takes an incredible amount of psychic and spiritual energy to be constantly making yourself up as you go.

For example, as long as you have to work in order to have what you need or want your life to include, you’ll be happier—or at least more willing to show up and do the work—if the work you do aligns with your Authentic Self and what is most important to you. If you describe yourself as Introverted, you might be happier teleworking than working in an office environment where everyone is chummy, and there is an expectation of doing things together socially. As another example, if you define yourself as Spontaneous, you might find that working at a 9-to-5 job where you have to sign in and out is too restrictive.

Oscar Wilde said this, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

Are you living your own glorious, inspiring, significant life story? Or, are you a wolf in sheep’s clothing, longing to howl at the moon, but only able to bleat weakly with the other sheep?

Think about it!

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3×5 Full of Gratitude

I don’t know about you, but among the many things I’m grateful for are tools. Duct tape, an electric screwdriver, and a set of diamond drill bits are among my BFFs. And, don’t get me started on how much I love my Sawzall—no overgrown tree on my property is safe!

So whenever I start something new—a new job, a new book, a new DIY project—I look for the appropriate tools that will help me succeed.

We all know the saying, “Use the right tool for the right job.” Thomas Carlyle even went so far as to declare, “Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools, he is nothing. With tools, he is all.”

Look out Home Depot, here I come!

Nearly 35 years ago when I embarked on my sobriety journey, I approached this “project” in the same way: I looked for tools I could use that would help me get sober and, more importantly, stay sober. Because, after all, what’s the point of building a barn only to have it fall down because I used the wrong tools?

“The greatest enemies of us alcoholics are resentment, jealousy, envy, frustration, and fear. When [these feelings] come, stop and count your blessings.” The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

When I first got sober, these “greatest enemies” were the only feelings I recognized. So I knew right away that I would need a really powerful tool in my spiritual toolkit if I was going to have any hope at getting and staying sober. And that tool was the Gratitude List.

But exactly why is a Gratitude List so important?

Because when you are in the midst of emotionally paralyzing, negative feelings, you literally can’t think clearly. On the other hand, when you are in the midst of gratitude, you literally can’t conceive of negative emotions, let alone feel them. Or, as M.J. Ryan succinctly put it, “Whenever we are appreciative, we are filled with a sense of well-being and swept up by the feeling of joy.”

Knowing that negative feelings can cloud clear thinking, my AA sponsor encouraged (okay, actually demanded) that I write down what I was most grateful for on a 3×5 card and keep the card with me at all times. That way, whenever the negative thoughts and emotions threatened my serenity or my sobriety, I could pull out that little card, read over everything I had written down, and remind myself of the many blessings I did have as a result of just not taking that one drink again.

And so I dutifully wrote down the things I was grateful for, and I kept my 3×5 index card always at the ready—and believe me, I pulled that little lifesaving tool out of my spiritual toolkit dozens of times in the first year of my sobriety, and countless times since then.

Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. In addition, research has shown that giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, strengthens relationships, improves health, and reduces stress.

Wow—all that from one little 3×5 card? What’s not to be grateful for?

William A. Ward said, “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you?’”

Do you fleetingly think about what you are thankful for? Or does your gratitude extend beyond a single day? And how might practicing gratitude and giving thanks for everything transform your “common days into thanksgivings” each and every day?

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Words To Live By

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” Plato

Here we are, the beginning of another new year.

Along with football (for some) and the Rose Bowl Parade (definitely for me), for many people, it’s also a time for making resolutions, mostly focused on changing one’s behavior.

It’s believed that the Babylonians were the first to make New Year’s resolutions. They promised the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. If the Babylonians kept to their word, the gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If they didn’t – well, let’s not go there.

In ancient Rome, after Julius Caesar established January 1 as the beginning of the new year, January had special significance for the Romans. Believing that Janus, the two-faced god for which January is named, looked backwards into the previous year and forward into the future, the Romans offered sacrifices to Janus and promised good conduct for the coming year.

I like the idea of keeping to one’s word. I’ll pass on making sacrifices.

Words have power. Whether we write or speak them, they have an impact on us. They express feelings and share knowledge. They can change our mood completely and ignite a spark within us. It is through words that we create our lives and our world, that we choose what to pay attention to and make real.

I’m a Therapeutic Storyteller, so I believe in the transformative power of words.

So for 2023, I think I’ll follow the Babylonians’ lead. I have no debts, and if I have borrowed something, I don’t recall what it was or who it belongs to (if you know, please let me know; I don’t need the wrath of some deity sacrificing me for a screwdriver.) Instead, I’ve chosen to focus on these words to guide my behavior this year.

Faith, not fear

Compassion, not contempt

Humility, not hubris

Gratitude, not grandiosity

Steven Spielberg said, “All of us every single year, we’re a different person. I don’t think we’re the same person all our lives.”

I hope Steven is right because I’d like to be a different person this year.

No sacrifices required.

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Ghost Stories

“If you don’t want to be scared, stop telling yourself ghost stories.” Sheri Holman, “Witches on the Road Tonight”

When you head out on the road of life each day, how do you plan your route? Do you look for monsters lurking under the bed and things that go bump in the night? Or do you prefer the happy ending, cup-not-just-half-full-but-overflowing approach to life?

Our limiting thoughts and beliefs are like the ghost stories we tell ourselves. Limiting beliefs serve as filters of our reality; when we get a limiting belief, our life loses its richness because we are not able to perceive it correctly. When our ghost stories become our reality, fear often leaves us feeling emotionally paralyzed. We are unable to act quickly or decisively or, in some cases, even think clearly.

However, once we can identify anything that might be holding us back, we can always transform the limiting beliefs of our ghost stories into more empowering beliefs that can help us keep moving toward our goals, even if roadblocks arise on our path.

The most important thing to remember is that you can choose what you want to tell yourself: the scary ghost stories or the happy ending stories. You can either focus on what you don’t have, the obstacles you face, the risks you have to take. Or, you can focus on your desires. Focus on negative thoughts, and this will manifest negatively in your life: your health might suffer, your peace of mind will be compromised, or you will exist in a constant state of stress. Focus on pleasant thoughts, and your existence will be pleasant.

Dr. Michael Smith said, “Every utterance from our mouth is a prayer.”

As you prepare to enter the new year, are your words fraught with things that go bump in the night? Or are your utterances light and airy, like prayers?

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