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Stories from Backstage

Moving Towards Your Highest Potential

Special contribution by Wellness Specialist and Peer Recovery Coach Gloria Uridel from Communities for Recovery

The psychologist Abraham Maslow believed that Human beings have within them an “inner nature” that is continually striving in a positive way to actualize their true potential. He emphasized the importance of encouraging this inner nature, the essential core of each of us to guide our lives, thus allowing us to “grow healthy, fruitful and happy”. If denied or suppressed, the lack of expression of this inner nature leads to sickness.

Maslow also recognized that our suffering and challenges serve to bring out our greater strengths. That these experiences reveal, foster and fulfill our inner nature. Overcoming these challenges builds our confidence and courage to recognize we have the strength to overcome.

He also pointed out that our movement forward is not always so easy. If growth is so wonderful, what holds people back? Maslow says there are inside us, two sets of forces: one that clings to safety and defensiveness out of fear, and one that urges us towards wholeness and full expression of who we truly are. An example of fear personified is the things we tell ourselves to hold us back. It is not a rational fear. There is also the fact that some things we hold on to are actually pleasurable, despite their negative consequences in the bigger picture.

Wellness is described as a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving our full potential. It is multi-dimensional, holistic, positive and affirming. It is a process of becoming aware and making choices towards a more successful existence. It is choice, a process and efficient channeling of energy towards an integration of body, mind and spirit. It is a loving acceptance of self.

So how do we begin?

Awareness of what is most important to us is the first step.  Cultivating that awareness means taking time to slow down, contemplate and listen to that inner voice.  Listen with an open mind and non-judgmental nature. You can begin practicing mindfulness simply by deepening your breath and paying attention to the sensation of the in-breath and out-breath.

Have patience.  The process of change, self-exploration, insight and understanding takes time. Be kind to yourself.  Research tells us that it takes 180 days to truly drop an old habit and adopt a new one. Stay with it!

Quieting Practice.  You can use a meditation practice or any form of prayer that produces a sense of stillness. If that is not your style, try walking alone in silence focusing on your breath and your steps each day. These practices should feel effortless, a clearing of the mind, not another “to do.” If you enjoy writing, take some time each day to write stream of conscious, simply writing down what thought comes to mind around areas of your life where you feel stuck.

Set Realistic Goals.  The best way to set goals is to have them be realistic and obtainable. Take baby steps, where the goals are short enough in terms of completion to produce a reinforcement effect of success. Make them imperative to you so that you really want to succeed. Imagine you can see yourself succeeding. Be specific. Keep it simple and to the point.

Remember think big, start small. If your goal is to eat healthier to have more energy and nourish your body in the best way, begin with one small step. Perhaps you commit to replacing one soda with a class of water each day or drinking ½ your body weight in ounces of water each day. Or you commit to eating a salad each day for at least one meal.  If you are challenged with addiction, take one small step towards wellness. It could be as simple as smoking one less cigarette a day. Or attending one online recovery meeting this week.

Be compassionate with yourself.  Don’t beat yourself up if you find you are engaging in an old habit. Each moment offers the opportunity to begin again. Instead of putting yourself down, celebrate that you became aware of it and recommit to change.

Use structures to help remind you of the new habits you want to adopt. Create a list of qualities you would like to see in your best life possible. What is most important to you:  healthy relationships, a healthy body, a sense of meaning and purpose, being free from addiction, etc.  Create positive affirmations and post them where you can see them for motivation and to remind you of your commitment.

Create rituals.  Create a morning and evening ritual to help keep you on track and ground you in the moment.  Meditation, prayer, journaling or taking a few moments to breathe deeply will bring you into the present and connect you to your inner nature. Turn off your devices 1 hour before bed. Keep a regular waking and sleeping schedule and try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

Involve others in your goals.  Let co-workers, family and friends know what you are working on changing. Enlist their support to help you stay engaged.

Get connected to others who are working towards the same goals.  The benefits of connection to others through support groups, recovery and others, has been proven to be effective. Communities for Recovery offers many recovery support groups and SHINE Wellness class each week.

Get a Coach!  Communities for Recovery offers Peer Recovery Coaching at no cost to you!  Our coaches work with the individual on their recovery goals and wellness plans. We recognizing that each person’s path is unique and support peers in helping them make lifestyle changes that will maximize their wellness.  We offer a person-centered approach to recovery.

Visit our website.

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