My Dear 12 Steppers,
First off let me welcome you! I am a cradle Catholic who was revitalized in my devotion to my Catholic faith after being reintroduced to an intentional spiritual life via the 12 step program. My faith, although I cared very much intellectually about it, never became a matter of the heart until after years in the rooms.
Once my spiritual life started to grow, I still felt stuck in steps 4-7, not getting propelled forward, not getting to the roots of things, not knowing that I wasn't uncovering all my character defects, starting and restarting my days count, not even knowing how to name my character defects, and so on until discovering the incredible world of vice and virtue in the Catholic faith and the tools of mindset coaching to get incredibly clear on my interior life - my motives, my intentions. I could then uncover the subtle ways vice was creeping into a virtuous goal, the way I blamed people for things I was emotionally responsible for and the incredible beauty and freedom that is in store for every Christian in the challenge to enter into the work of 1. Self-Awareness for the purpose of 2. Self-Possession, so that I could eventually love from a clean place in the form of 3. Self-Gift. I am now finally being, I believe, propelled forward in my own 12 step journey, and I want the same for you!
I can only speak from experience on the subject, as we all do, and observations made along the way to mental, physical and spiritual wholeness, but I have developed a philosophy around what experiences lead one to turn to addiction. I have developed an idea of what happens to the mind of an addict as they habituate themselves to a seemingly helpful but ultimately harmful method of coping. I will speak from my own experience, but I am curious if you share even a glimmer of similarity and may therefore, benefit from my help in your own journey toward wellness and wholeness.
Underneath the obvious lack of self-control for me were three things: 1. A complete lack of self-awareness, particularly that of my emotions and motives 2. A total lack of awareness of the utility of an emotion as an indicator for certain action and my body’s natural method of urging self-care, and 3. An inability to manage the seemingly big and overwhelming emotions that I did feel once they finally pierced through to the surface of my consciousness.
I like to think of my life before program, before self-awareness, before trying to develop any sort of spiritual discipline like a continuous series of action potentials. Remember science class? I was simply a little molecule of emotion at the mercy of many little stimuli, that, over time, would build to
my threshold of tolerance, which would fire a massive reaction, followed by an overcompensated lull and then, eventually, a return to a sort of “resting state” prior to the next trigger. That threshold you see in the picture that must be reached in order to fire an action potential, THAT is the point at which we feel triggered. I think anyone in program knows what I mean when I say triggered, but for the sake of clarity, that is the point when we suddenly feel that irresistible urge to go to our addiction and any attempt at reasoning through or arguing the point is futile.
Action potentials usually refer to our nervous system, but ironically I’m linking it to a different set of “nerves”...our emotional system. You know that feeling when tension is rising, your mind starts to panic and then suddenly you just snap! To a non-addict, I’m sure we all can relate to a similar sensation when losing our temper after a gradual build of trying to keep it in, Keep It In, KEEP IT IN!
I have come to a decision that can, I am sure, be argued and debated, but at some point along my recovery, I came to the realization that I was completely powerless over my actions if I got to the point where some stimuli hit the threshold…I would just fire off an action potential…aka go head first into my addictive behaviors. Other than a direct act of God, I was gone. So, I decided, perhaps in an effort to save myself the pain of direct divine intervention and repeated episodes of the same roller-coaster ride of addiction, that the only means to protection and neutrality from my disease was to get so healthy, so balanced, so disciplined, that not only could stimuli not settle in and start to build much toward my snapping point, but that the bar of my threshold would also be much higher. I do not believe myself to be untouchable, but this has simply convinced me of the necessity to work my program on a daily basis in order to ensure levity, perspective, and self-awareness sufficient to keep my emotional “nervous” system in check.
Emotional sobriety became the freedom I sought. After nearly five years in program and a little abstinence under my belt, all I knew was that I was drowning in what seemed to be an endless abyss of dark, heavy, painful emotion. Very slowly I began to see my relationship with negativity, rumination, and many other toxic thought patterns in the same light as my excessive and deficient relationship with food! I binged on negativity like it was oxygen and I collapsed into self-pity like it was a down pillow, but negativity was choking the life out of me and my relationships, and self-pity was like a bag full of bricks, weighing me down and painful to fall on!
It would have been nice to then immediately figure it all out, BUT my higher power wanted me to learn the lesson the long way because He knows me well, and that is the ONLY way I remember anything. I need a growth experience to be so long and painful that even when my brain temporarily forgets, my muscles and bones will cry out, “Stop! Don’t do this to us again, we are a part of you too!!”
So it has been a long road. A “trudge” if you will to “happy destiny.” It is not easy, but it is good. To finally know how to look for and find the root causes of my behaviors, to identify toxic ways of thinking that I didn’t even mean to fall into and that always bring me the same, unwanted results, has been the missing piece of my recovery journey. Mindset work takes grit, but it raises that threshold and dampens that stimuli and has the potential to give you the gift of a life with more freedom and autonomy. You will not live at the mercy of your triggers. YOU will become the master of your emotions through the grace of God and persistence in your program.
I want to be the person to help you get to that place of freedom. I want to be the one who gets to teach you how to make space to breathe for a second and hear the whisper of your higher power urging you on your journey toward the life He wants for you. I want to help you learn to Manage Your Mind so you can Master Your Emotions, and in doing so, be free to “trudge the road to happy destiny.”
You in? Contact me for a free discovery call. I can’t wait to hear from you.
Certified Catholic Mindset Coach