As above, so below, as within, so without - every thing that we desire, and every thing that we fear, exists within us. This blog explores nourishing our dreams, committing to our highest values, and healing ourselves from the inside out: awakening and empowering the Goddess within our bodies, hearts, and lives.
Helper: Help Thyself
Step One is "We admitted that we were harming ourselves and others and that our lives had become overwhelming."
When I am overwhelmed, my primal brain is in control, and all it cares about is survival. I've been under the control of my primal brain for most of the year so far, even when things were going good. I was aware that something was wrong, but I kept putting off examining myself to find my problem while I helped other people find and work out theirs.
That's what I'm doing with my life. I help people identify their problems, figure out solutions, and empower themselves to take those steps. I am a healer, a teacher, and an intuitive consultant (sometimes known as a psychic,) but all those roles are simply aspects of Helper.
Like so many Helpers in this world, every single one that I've met so far in fact, I neglect to help myself. I plan to. I know I should. I talk about it. I encourage every client to put their own needs first and fill their own tank up, remind them that running on fumes is counterproductive and inefficient, while silently nudging myself to practice what I preach.
Two weeks ago, I finally started doing just that. I personally am a huge fan of my friend Grey Ghosthawk's sweat lodge, and he started a Wheel of the Year sweat lodge series this year - the first of which was the weekend before last. I went. I spent the whole weekend taking care of my own needs without offering intuitive consultations or healing sessions for others, though I frequently and freely offered plenty of hugs. I came home with my batteries fully charged...but I came home and kept the same habits I had when running on empty.
This weekend, I picked up a book called The Recovery Spiral for a friend. While previewing it, I read the introduction, and when I got to the quote with which I started this blog post, I stopped and re-read it three times. Holy crap, I thought. I need to do this book too!
This book is a Pagan version of the 12 steps, complete with tarot spreads and rituals. It is not just for alcoholics and drug addicts. It is for everyone who has self-harmful habits, living in a state of overwhelm.
Step Two is "Came to believe that a power within ourselves and our world could restore us to balance." I already believe this. I empowered myself to conquer lifelong depression three years ago. My goal in life is to empower as many people as I can. This book groups step one (admitting the problem) and step two (believing the problem can be solved) together in the first chapter.
Yesterday, I read through the first chapter, made my friend read through the first chapter, and after my son went to sleep, we did the tarot spreads for the first and second step.
At first, we wanted to use this program to help him stop smoking and to help me stop overeating. Very quickly, the cards helped us get to the real problems. He is not addicted to cigarettes - he is addicted to depression. Depression is what makes him feel overwhelmed, and what drives him to smoke. The spread for the second step helped him come up with a specific, doable plan of action to empower himself to overcome depression, and he started immediately.
When I laid out the cards for me, I was taken by surprise. I thought my harmful behavior was overeating, but the cards told me that I'm addicted to diversion. And they are absolutely right. This year I have barely paid my bills on time, though I have the potential to live comfortably if I would finish my dingdangdong projects already! But I have read, on average, five novels a week, most of them books I've ALREADY READ! I have spent hours every day EACH playing a game on my computer, watching netflix with my family, AND browsing Facebook.
Now that I've pulled out of the pattern and given it a good look, I see about 8 hours a day that I could have been spending quality time with my kid, cooking, writing, cleaning, and learning skills that will help me help more people. I will NOT beat myself up about that - shame is a totally counterproductive, draining emotion that has no place on the path to healing and personal growth.
What I am doing, now that I see the problem, is treating it like a physical addiction. I quit smoking when I was pregnant, started again when my son was a baby, and quit for good before he was one. This is how I did it: I recognized my triggers and I practiced a replacement habit.
As a smoker, I only smoked outside. So every time I went outside, at first, I felt a powerful urge to smoke. I also smoked at certain times - first thing in the morning, after every meal, when my friends wanted to smoke, and last thing before bed.
When I quit the final time, I avoided going outside with smokers. I changed my morning and evening habit to sitting outside with a cup of tea. I stayed inside after meals and distracted myself from the urge to smoke with a book or another cup of tea. It took about a month of sustained effort before I no longer wanted a cigarette and they started stinking to me again. I get nauseated when I smell cigarettes now, and I like it that way.
So now I've got to quit distracting myself from my life. This is a little more complex than the cigarette thing. I can avoid novels and the TV, but I have to go online for my business and I have to use my computer to write. I used to always read, watch something, or play a game while eating, and now I have to make a habit of ONLY eating when I eat, only paying attention to my food and how my body feels because if I give in to the urge to play a game or read, I'll slide right back into that well-worn groove of distracting myself for hours and oh look no time to do anything productive before I head off to work.
My friend and I are walking the recovery spiral together. How about you? Do you feel stressed out and overwhelmed? Would you like to take this journey together?
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