Psychology Tests and More

000_6910RetouchI was doing some research this weekend and got sidetracked for several hours taking those little psychology quizzes (one of my favorite time wasters).

Are You Co-dependent is a fun one. After quiz number five it became clear that I was indeed a textbook case. Of course I had to take three similar quizzes just to be sure (if you’re codependent you understand).

Naturally I had to get my husband involved in the fun so I sent him the Are You a Narcissist test. I smugly informed him I scored very low on this particular examination.

He on the other hand scored higher than Lady Gaga. We both had a good laugh and realized there was a hint more than meets the eye when it came to our initial attraction to one another.

Now my ‘narcissistic’ husband is incredibly caring and sensitive and his ‘co-dependent’ wife does more than her fair share of taking.

It works because we both know who we are. And when we don’t, we get actively involved in the process of figuring out where we left ourselves. We admit our faults and work to correct them so we can be better people for each other.

But oh the dangerous dance that can ensue between two people with certain personality flaws when left untreated. What starts as a fireworks show is nothing but smoldering embers after two unhealthy people have consumed one another until there is nothing left but bitterness and anger.

My husband and I have both worked recovery programs and have a graphic understanding of our flaws. As a result, we understand how to live in victory over them on most days. Sometimes taking a goofy psychology test is a reminder of what life could have been without recovery.

Jodie Stevens

Why Giving Up Power Is So Empowering

000_6910RetouchSometimes admitting complete defeat is where real victory starts. Great things can happen when we have enough humility to say: “things aren’t working my way.”

We become open to letting others help us. Our pride may be crumbled up in a ball in the corner feeling sorry for itself, but we’re finally in a position to let God off the sidelines and into the game.

Sometimes the only way He can begin to use us in the way He planned is when we are on the floor in a fetal position lamenting the loss of everything we worked so hard to control.

There’s a good reason step one of the 12 steps says: “Admitted we were powerless over our burning issue and that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Ok, I changed it slightly but you get the idea.

What is your burning issue? Is it fear, anger, jealousy, power, food, drugs, alcohol, or other people?

Once we stop trying to control it and admit it’s controlling us, we are finally on the journey to victory.

2nd Corinthians 12:9 tells us that God’s power works best in our weakness. Or maybe another way to say it is that God’s power works best in our humility.

What is getting in the way of Gods plan for your life?

Jodie Stevens

The Gorilla In The Room

000_6910RetouchEver wonder why it’s taken you years to recognize an unhealthy situation involving a friend or family member? Then felt puzzled when a total stranger was able to see the enormous gorilla in the room you missed all that time? There is a saying: “You can’t see the forest for the trees.”

How do you know what a healthy family should look like if all you’ve experienced is a dysfunctional one?

How do you know how a real friend is supposed to act if you’ve never had one?

If it seems like your life is a continuum of dysfunctional or broken relationships that have left you feeling exhausted, used, and angry; it may be that you’re not allowing yourself to recognize your own feelings and as a result you’re not playing an active enough role in who your friends are.

You can’t have healthy boundaries if the only people in your life are the ones trying to crash them (speaking from my own experience).

In other words, if you don’t have good people to lean on, you’ll allow the bad ones in. Since we are wired for relationship, it’s just what we do.

In much the same way, if you don’t have healthy people in your life you have no frame of reference. You just know you’re not happy in your relationships and you might not even know why.

This is why support groups are so important. People in them are like mirrors. Each one gives you a different reflection which helps expand your paradigm beyond your own and allows you to see the ‘forest’ despite the trees.

Jodie Stevens

My Take on Gratitude Part 2

000_6910RetouchIn my last post I wrote about how expressing gratitude can save marriages and turn a rough start into a great day.

In some instances I believe an ‘attitude of gratitude’ can save lives. In recovery meeting gratitude is sometimes referred to as an action. If we are grateful, what will we do to help another and show our appreciation for what has been freely given to us?

There is a saying: “You can’t keep it unless you give it away”.

In the bible Jesus heals ten lepers and yet only one comes back to thank him:

“Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Does only this foreigner return to give glory to God?” (Luke 17:17-18)

Here we clearly see gratitude as a verb. After being healed, this man turns around and returns to Jesus and gives thanks.

To realize the full benefits of gratitude surely we must do something to show it:

“There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.” ~Robert Brault

When we express gratitude by helping others it makes us feel happier and releases pleasure endorphins in the brain. Research shows a five-minute a day gratitude journal can increase your long-term well-being by more than 10 percent.

Notice these are all actions and they are quick and easy ways to a life improvement. If a new Maserati isn’t in the budget and you don’t expect that $300,000 pay raise anytime soon, a little altruism may be the perfect prescription for a better life.

Jodie Stevens

My Take on Gratitiude Part 1

1459190_10201344609605162_207257741_nI’m thankful for many things, but gratitude feels different; sort of like deep inner peace that comes from being grateful even in difficult times. Sometimes it wells up inside me and tears spring forth as I think about how much God has blessed me in my sobriety.

I believe grateful hearts can lead to happy marriages and rescue ones on the rocks. The other night my husband forgot to close and lock the back door (something that irritates me). I set about to warn him of his ‘carelessness’ but then I recalled how blessed I am that God brought us together in a way so divine that even an atheist would be impressed. Instead of complaining, I locked the door and let the ‘offense’ go.

You might think I was just ‘choosing my battles,’ but without gratitude in the mix those little disturbances can multiply into big resentments.

Marriages crumble over less because people aren’t grateful for who they claim to love and what they possess. They are careless enough to think something better awaits them around the corner.

I believe grateful hearts can save the day. After something unfavorable happens do you ever hear yourself say: “It’s going to be one of those days?

This was one of my favorite and frequent murmurs. Now I say: “things got off to a difficult start but it’s going to be a great day from here forward.”

99 percent of the time the day ends on a high note.

I realize today that a huge part of dealing with life is attitude and a huge part of managing my attitude is directly tied to how grateful I am!

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

Can you talk about someone behind their back without it being labeled as gossip?

000_6910RetouchCan you talk about someone behind their back without it being labeled as gossip?

For the longest time I thought the answer was a definite ‘no’. While speaking the truth about someone I would often feel a strange ping of guilt.

“Well, we better stop talking,” one of us would invariably say, “We don’t want to gossip.”

Where did we inherit our understanding of gossip? The church: according to author Dean VanDruff. In his article “Gossip and Christian Scripture” he says:

“Our man-made religious tradition defines gossip incorrectly as ‘talking behind other people’s backs.’ But let’s think this through. If true, God would be the chief gossiper, telling tales of Pharaoh and Ahab and Jezebel and hundreds of others without their permission; the apostles and early disciples used gossip to spread the gospel; and the Bible is then a book of gossip in general.”

Interestingly, we never feel bad when we talk nicely about people behind their backs. But if it’s negative we label it ‘gossip.’

He goes on to say:

“….the religious tradition about ‘gossip’ is basically ‘damage control’ for sinful leaders. It is ‘image management’ via trying to foster an environment of fear by stifling normal conversation in the body.”

You may find his line of reasoning too extreme. However, it did get me thinking about all the wrongs, hurts, and misdeeds we let slip by (especially in the church) because we don’t want to ‘gossip.’

The dictionary defines gossip as: idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others:

However, our friend who inspired this piece defines it as:

“… a ‘false witness’ of slander. Gossip and slander orbit around each other. Slander is the lie, and gossip the spreading of lies. Attractive gossip will not always be completely incorrect–it may well have some bearing on the truth. But it will always have a perverted ‘twist’ to it that is the lure.

What about Matthew 18:15-17 where we are told to take up our grievances with our brother and bring witnesses if he refuses to listen? If we fail to do this but the information we hold is true, then are we guilty of gossiping, or of simply failing to follow this commandment?

What do you think?

Jodie Stevens

The Belief Gap – Part 3

000_6910RetouchAnother common belief among people (especially those who struggle with addiction) is the idea that they are ‘terminally unique.’ While it’s true that we are all individual; our experiences are not.

If you’re like me, when you feel like no-one ‘gets you,’ your first instinct is to withdraw. It feels like the right thing to do at first, but usually the opposite is true. It’s a sign we need to reach out to others.

The problem is that hurting people tend to isolate if their pain stems from feelings of unworthiness. In a previous post I wrote about how difficult it was for me to ask for help. I told myself it was because I was so capable. But the truth is I subconsciously believed the lie that I wasn’t worthy enough to receive anyone’s support. When we try to manage our struggles alone we usually dig ourselves deeper into the pit we are living in.

Proverbs 18:1 says: whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

When you spend all your time alone and never seek counsel from others you become self- focused and make bad decisions.

Healthy fellowship shows us we are not alone and teaches us how to connect with others. It’s a place where we can begin to let go of the shameful things in our past. At first we are silent but then we hear stories from other people who have experienced (and done) similar things. Then we too can find the courage to share.

This is when real healing begins.

Jodie Stevens