My 2020 Inventory: Don’t Hold Back!

“Searching within myself, I will patiently, trustingly share myself with others.”Karen Casey (Best-selling Hazelden author)

Back in the 80s, my favorite spiritual author, Karen Casey, wrote “Each Day a New Beginning” for women in recovery, and it has sustained me through these many years. The quote above is particularly relevant as I start this year. I now see clearly (20 20 vision, right?) a major way I’ve been resisting God’s will. Here’s a quick inventory of my tendency to hold back.

  • Recently, I realized I’ve never memorized the Step 7 prayer exactly as written. Soon after that, a stranger in a 12-step program gave me a card with the prayer on it. So, I started saying it.
  • I also noticed a creeping opposition to doing things I was called to do. Whispered lies crept into my mind: “Oh, that would be too much work.” “I just don’t feel like doing that.” “Haven’t I done enough?”
  • By resisting those nudges, I knew I was letting my self-will override God’s direction. So, I put a sticky note in my car: “Thy Will Be Done; Not Mine.” I see it many times a day.
  • Perhaps it’s been sinking in, because I now offer you my 4th & 5th step inventory: My fearful self has always told me to “Hold Back!” Hold back smiles to strangers. Hold back chats with neighbors. Hold back calling others on the phone. Hold back compliments, etc.
  • When I get the opportunity to do kind acts, I usually talk myself out of it. I tell myself I’m an introvert, or that I’m not good at “small talk,” or that I don’t have time.
  • But mostly it’s about (1) the false belief, “If I give love away, it might never return; there’s not enough to go around” and (2) fear of getting enmeshed, controlled, hurt, or inconvenienced. (Yup, I grew up in an alcoholic home.)
  • My 6th step character defects are self-will (pride) and fear (insecurity). In short, I’ve resisted God’s will to love and serve others; and  I haven’t trusted my Higher Power to keep me safe and secure.
  • I now say the 7th step prayer: “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength as I go from here, to do your bidding.”  

Long ago I learned that God can supply every need, and that my worth and safety are established by my Higher Power. But, being human, I forget. In recovery, we learn that our happiness is dependent upon our spiritual condition. As Karen Casey wrote, “Sincerely touching the soul of someone else can tap the well of happiness within each of us.” That’s my plan for 2020!

Gigi Langer Worry Less Now

Gigi Langer, PhD.  Many years ago, I used alcohol, romance, and professional accomplishments to soothe my frayed nerves. Over time, I discovered effective tools from therapy, recovery pro­grams, scientific research, and a variety of philosophical and spiritual teachings. I share those techniques in my blog and book so you can find peace of mind and wisdom, no matter what is bothering you.

Worry Less Now Cover

My award-winning book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now, describes how I and others have defeated the faulty thinking leading to dysfunctional relationships, perfectionism, addiction, and worry about loved ones. Gain practical strategies, personal stories, and guided activities. Amazon: 5 stars (51 reviews) (Buy Paperback, e-book, OR audiobook HERE)

REVIEWS:  Karen Casey, best-selling author of Each Day a New Beginning (Hazelden) “Even though I have been in recovery for more than 4 decades, and didn’t think another self-help book would make it to my treasured list, I was wrong. This book is a winner.” Anonymous Reader: “Your Book certainly transformed my life!  All I can say is, THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES OVER” 

LISTENING: AN ART GUIDED BY THE HEART

talk at barbecue

In your relationships, are you really listening?

Do you try to understand the other person’s point before offering your own ideas?

Giving your complete attention to another person’s words offers him a treasure—a sincere gesture of care. Unfortunately, most of us respond to our loved ones either by telling stories about our own past or offering solutions.

Both types of responses prevent seeking to understand first, perhaps the most important of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Listening from the Heart

When in a conversation with someone, open your heart, empty your mind, and listen. If you notice yourself thinking about your own past, refocus your attention on what he is saying. If you’re tempted to suggest solutions, remind yourself that actively listening is your goal.

To show your intent to understand, briefly summarize what you think you heard. After that person’s reply, summarize again.

Listening in this way not only shows that you care—it also invites the person to clarify his own thoughts and feelings, often leading to helpful insights. Perhaps the initial “problem” is something else entirely.

For example, if a friend tells you she’s worried about losing her job because her boss constantly criticizes her, tune in, breathe, and resist the urge to tell your own tale about a bad boss. Then paraphrase her words: “It sounds like you get a lot of negative responses from him.” Your friend replies, “Well, it’s not really criticism. It’s just that he has such high expectations.” Then you summarize (without giving advice), “Hmmm, high expectations. Tell me more about those high expectations.”

Responding in these ways elicits her feelings and encourages more detail, allowing both of you to explore the problem before seeking positive ways to address it.

Try It Out!

 1.  Select a friend or coworker who’s easy to talk to, and plan a 15-minute conversation without interruption.

 2.  You may want to begin by explaining that you’re working on your listening skills and reassure the person you have only good intentions—to understand what they say.

 3.  Ask the person to begin talking about something happening in their life. Listen intently while resisting your urge to break in with your own experiences or solutions.

 4.  When the person stops, pause to see if they’ve finished talking and take a moment to prepare your response. Select the most important parts of what was said and summarize one of them in your own words—for example, “So, you said (fill in blank). Tell me more about that” or “You mentioned the word (fill in blank). What does that mean to you?” TIP: If you’re talking less, and they’re talking more, then you’re doing great!

 5.  If it seems acceptable to the other person, at the end of the conversation, ask how it felt to be listened to this way.

Make It A Habit

In your everyday interactions, make a conscious effort to listen carefully to others and paraphrase what you heard. Withhold your own thoughts and reactions until you fully comprehend the other person’s position or experience. You will be amazed by the good will you create (and what you learn about the other person!)

Gigi Langer

Gigi Langer holds a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. She is an acclaimed teacher, author, and speaker who has helped thousands improve their lives at home and work. Gigi hasn’t had a drug or drink for over 30 years, although she does occasionally overindulge in Ghirardelli chocolate and historical novels. She lives happily in Michigan with her husband, Peter and her cat, Murphy.

GRIEVANCES BE GONE! Give up judgment to find love and connection

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Grievances–grudges, judgment, criticism, resentment, blame, disapproval, or attack—block us from happiness and serenity.

“Well I don’t DO those things,”

You might think this, and you’re probably right. But what about the condemning attitudes living in our minds? Can any of us say we don’t constantly judge others’ words and actions? Of course we do.

It sounds like this: “If I were him, I wouldn’t do that.” “Why can’t she just get along with us? What’s wrong with her?” “They should not be doing that; they’re corrupt.”

The Problem with Grievances

Even though such statements seem true, the problem is that we’re focusing on the negative rather than the positive.

When we choose to hold a grievance, we can’t see the other person’s true self—the purity of their spirit. Further, if we can’t see the goodness in them, we can’t claim it for ourselves. What we send out to others comes back to us; it’s that simple.

Many of us deny our own negativity by numbing ourselves with substances or other unhealthy habits—a dead end to positive growth. Even those trying to be more positive still struggle with inherent dark thoughts. I certainly do.

The good news is that I’ve found so many ways to escape my mind’s tendency to criticize and judge. You can find them in my book, “Worry Less Now,” and in my blog.

How to Overcome A Grievance

Here’s a technique that showed up today as I read Lesson 78, “Let miracles replace all grievances,” from A Course in Miracles. First I was to recall all my negative thoughts about an important person in my life: what that person had done, their “weaknesses,” and other offenses. Then I was to ask spirit to help me see him through the eyes of love—“Let your mind be shown the light in him beyond your grievances.”  Then it suggested that I thank this person for prompting my negativity and discomfort so that I could release it and be peaceful and happy.

I just did the exercise as directed. As I chose to focus on the perfection of this person’s spirit rather than the images my mind had conjured, I found a deep peace creep over me. I could hardly remember what I thought was “wrong,” and I felt a loving connection with the person. As a result, I felt the light of spirit growing in myself.

The miracle of replacing fear with love had occurred. Amen.

I would love to hear from you: What gets in the way of your serenity? How do you overcome grievances or grudges?

Worry Less Now Cover

Gigi Langer has been clean and sober for 33 years, and holds a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. She’s a sought-after speaker and retreat leader who has helped thousands improve their lives at work and at home. 

Read her blog here or order her award-winning book (50 Ways to Worry Less Now) from Barnes and NobleAmazon (5 stars), and all e-book vendors. 

HOW EASY IS IT FOR YOU TO RECEIVE CARE FROM OTHERS?

receive care worry less nowHow easily can you receive care from from others?  This question stopped me in my tracks when I read it in The Answer Is Simple: Love Yourself, Live Your Spirit! by spiritual teacher Sonia Choquette.

Surely, I thought, that wasn’t a problem for me! I had allowed plenty of men to “take care” of me–but only when I was in control of the payoff. The rest of the time, I was fiercely self-sufficient.

When I considered that I could receive care from other people, with NO strings attached, I could barely fathom it. I had always felt church and other organizations only welcomed me because they wanted my money or time.

Further, I didn’t feel I deserved such generous attention. My alcoholic home had taught me I wasn’t worth someone’s care or love; and that being a care-giver was safer than expecting it from another.

So, it’s not surprising that when I first went to 12-step programs, I was hesitant to accept the support offered by others–especially the women! Up until then, I had always relied on my lover and one female “using buddy.” I had no idea how to interact with healthy women without my old manipulative ways.

But, after months of hearing my recovering friends talk about their loving sponsors, I finally took the plunge and asked someone to be my sponsor. I couldn’t believe it when she said yes and gave me hours and hours of her undivided attention, just so I could stay sober (and she stayed sober too!)

It’s almost impossible to grow spiritually without healthy friends whose main purpose is to do the same. So, if you’re trying to straighten out your life (or keep it sane), you’ll consider this question carefully:
** How willing are you to receive help from others? **

It took me a while, but I’m happy to report that I now count myself rich, knowing that a select group of friends would immediately come to my rescue in any crisis.

To examine your own willingness to receive care from others, take a moment to consider these questions.

1. How easy is it for you to ask others for help?
2. Do you believe you always need to appear strong and competent?
3. Are you most comfortable in the role of helping others?
4. Can you graciously accept healthy loving care regardless of where it comes from?
5. What false beliefs might stand in the way of you being a better receiver?

If you can’t trust others to give you love without expecting something in return, or if you believe you don’t deserve others’ support, I encourage you to let go of this “I am an island” mentality (as in Paul Simon’s song, “I am a rock”). Perhaps counseling, spiritual practices, or other healthy people can help you  accept loving care from others.

For tips on finding healthy friends, read this article. To learn more about overcoming negative, self-limiting thinking so you can enjoy peace, clarity, and connection, see GigiLanger.com.

Gigi Langer Worry Less NowGigi Langer holds a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. She’s a sought-after speaker and retreat leader who has helped thousands improve their lives at work and at home. 

worry less nowOrder her award-winning book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now at Amazon or get 20% off with promo code 20lessnow here.