Today I’m thrilled to welcome Guest Poster Jackie Dishner to Out and Employed. As I noted yesterday, Jackie is a writer, author, bike enthusiast and motivational speaker, who has lots of good advice from personal experience on turning your life around. Jackie believes each of us can transform obstacles and setbacks into opportunity by finding our Best Self, developing Inner strength, learning to trust our Killer Instinct and using our Expressive Voice. She believes it so much, in fact, that she’s in the process of writing a book on her BIKE principles. I’m sure you’ll enjoy what she has to say….
HOW TO INSPIRE A STRONG RECOVERY
By Jackie Dishner of BIKE WITH JACKIE
Although I have never specifically worked with ex-offenders, some of the women I’ve worked with in my volunteer service to Homeward Bound have been ex-offenders. I’ve heard the challenges and hardships that follow time served. I’ve heard the concerns of not being able to find better employment, about being judged, about feeling dead-ended.
That’s a tough place to be mentally. I get that. I’ve felt dead-ended before. I’ve felt hopelessly lost and unsure.
I didn’t like it.
That’s a good place to start if you want to move forward. Don’t like it. Don’t. Use that distaste to propel you to a better place—even if that better place, for right now, is only in your mind. That’s how you begin to inspire a stronger and long-lasting recovery.
I learned this in my own Recovery. I’m a Recovering Codependent. I discovered my affliction while going through a divorce from a man who claimed to be a sex addict. I’m not sure if that’s true or not. He denies it now. But what he said made sense to me. It explained a lot about his behavior. And it sure was a frightening way to feel forced into a divorce. I didn’t like that. So I got on a bicycle to figure things out. On the seat of my bike, I learned a lot about myself. I reconnected with the me I wanted to be. And I learned how to take back charge of my own life. He could be whatever he was. But I wanted the same for me. And that meant a life without him in it—I wanted the life I deserved.
So now that you realize something similar for yourself,, are you wondering what’s next? From the seat of my bike, I learned a lot of personal growth lessons that helped inspire my own recovery. If you want a stronger recovery for yourself, you’ll have to take action. Here are eight steps you can take now:
1) EMPOWER YOURSELF BY LETTING GO
Because recovery is a lifelong process, it means you continually get the chance to make a fresh start. We’ll never stop making mistakes, missing the mark on something, doing something we wish we wouldn’t. We’re human. We won’t be perfect. Ever. So start by letting go of that expectation. When you let go, you’ve gained an immediate sense of liberty. You’re making room for fresh starts and do-overs. If you need to let go of something else—and only you know what that is—do it. Give yourself the opportunity to start over.
2) ACCEPT THAT YOU HAVE A CHOICE
Every day that you wake up, you are faced with a choice of how you will approach your day. Well, then, why not make it simple? Decide to be your best. And I mean, literally, say out loud so you can hear the words, “Today, I live my best life.” And then go about the day becoming aware of your behavior. Periodically ask yourself: Am I responding in the best way I know how? Could I do better?
3) OWN RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS
It’s time to set aside blame, guilt or anger and begin to realize only you are in charge of you. If you’re supposed to meet your probation officer, then you go. No questions. No complaints. If you owe people money, you figure out a way to pay—even if it means partial payments over time. If you have a job, you show up—on time. You don’t run away. Not when you’re in Recovery. You stand up and take charge. Embrace any uncomfortable feelings you might have and realize you’re practicing living the authentic life; you’ll improve in time.
4) DEVELOP YOUR COPING SKILLS
Coping skills are the tools we have within and without that help hold us up when we feel weak. Like a tall building has an iron frame and the body has a skeleton of bones, the mind also needs something to shore it up, something to help it adapt to change. That’s where coping skills come in. They calm our nerves when we feel anxious, protect us from harm, and help hold us accountable. They include such things as journaling to get out our crazy-making thoughts, exercising to relieve stress, or setting a personal boundary when we need to say no. Coping skills have a lot to do with our individual personalities. Do you know what yours are? Do you need to use them more often?
5) DECIDE WHAT YOUR BEST LIFE LOOKS LIKE
If you haven’t drawn out a picture of what your best life looks like, try doing it now. What do you look like? Draw a picture. Where do you live? Illustrate that on paper as well. What is your job? Can you picture yourself in that position? Who are your friends and what do they do? Once you have an illustration (If you don’t draw well, use stick figures or pictures from a magazine), then you have the beginnings of a plan that will help you do two things: 1) decide what you want out of life; 2) decide the steps you need to get there. This is not a static plan; revisit it often and make changes where necessary.
6) FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE CHANGES YOU’VE MADE
When you have a plan ready to go, each time you do something that moves you closer to your goal, that’s a success. No matter how tiny. If you made a phone call, or sent an e-mail to a potential employer, that’s a positive. Take time first thing every morning to acknowledge how far you’ve come. If you focus on what you’ve accomplished, you’ll feel good about yourself. You won’t spend wasteful moments beating yourself up for what you haven’t yet done. Consider any resistance you might be feeling. That resistance might be trying to tell you something. Pay attention.
7) MOVE PAST THE SETBACKS
If there’s one thing you can count on in Recovery, it’s a setback. You may experience several. Accept them for what they are—temporary—and then decide what you need to do to move them aside. Do you need to journal? Will that help you figure it out? Do you need to apologize to someone? Do you need to correct a mistake? Think of your setback as a life challenge to face and then set aside when done with it. It’s not your friend. It’s not your enemy. It’s just another challenge. Like a jigsaw puzzle. once you figure it out, you’ll be able to figure it out sooner if you do it again.
8) USE REMINDERS TO MOVE YOU FORWARD
Other people’s success stories, your own, famous quotes that inspire you. Find people, places and things that remind you where you going and why. Use what you learn to teach others. Find ways to remind yourself that your Recovery is worth the work. You are worth the work that it will take to find your personal and professional success. No one else can define this for you. No one else can fully understand your internal struggle. But you can. Look for the things that speak to you and write them down on Post-it Notes or start a file of clippings and kudos that you can refer to for inspiration.
Now it’s your turn. Can you think of other inspirational tips you’ve learned so far? Recovery is a lot easier if we’re in it together, so please feel free to share.