Getting Confidence

Years ago I was told not to rah-rah peers with the “If you believe it you can achieve it” cheer.

It might not be possible for most people to have the mental motivation to get into action to achieve a goal.

In light of this reality I want to resurrect something I wrote over 7 years ago.

As the Health Guide for the HealthCentral schizophrenia website from 2007 to September 2015 I wrote hundreds of news articles about recovery that were in the vanguard.

In all the time I advanced these ideas no one else copied what I had to say or has picked up on these things since.

One article I wrote talked about getting confidence as a person living in recovery.

Right here I’ll resurrect this theme.

To get confidence you need to remember that the outcome doesn’t matter. It’s the process of taking action that counts.

In this regard I’ve always remembered what a champion athlete had to say about this:

Venus Williams the star tennis player wrote an article in the New York Times in which she talked about goal-setting.

Her ultimate criteria for success was to ask yourself if you feel good. In my take the outcome is irrelevant as well.

It is the striving to achieve something that counts more.

The prize belongs to those of us with the courage to try, to risk, to fail, and to try again.

Years ago I bought from a local trophy shop two medals that hang from red-white-and-blue ribbons. One spells out GOLD. It was my reward for lifting weights at the gym.

The other is a baker’s cap and three spoons that signified my budding hobby cooking from recipes.

As the Health Guide I championed that to feel good about yourself you should have a hobby you like to do.

You don’t need to excel at the hobby to feel good. That’s the point.

My premise was this: working out at the gym or at home entitles you to claim you are an athlete.

You are a bona fide cook or chef when you create mouthwatering meals.

Gaining expertise then I countered was a way to get confidence.

What do you think?

Taking a Detour

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic I want to talk about taking a detour.

My life didn’t get better until I turned 35 and started my library job.

Shunted into the mental health system early in my recovery I was forced to take a detour.

Let me tell you a detour is not a dead-end. It’s a pit stop along the way to a different path.

Maybe you’re not supposed to get what you want quickly and painlessly.

That is the goal as I see it–to embrace the struggle for what it is– a learning of something you need to know in order to get what you want.

I care a lot that in this pandemic everything seems to have been put on hold. A sunny day can be harder to envision.

Sometimes where you start out isn’t where you should remain.

That is the ultimate purpose of a detour: to cement in your mind the one true path you must go down to be happy and fulfilled.

You don’t often figure out until you experience firsthand a setback the truth about who you are and where you should be going in life.

Again–I think of these things during the pandemic we’re living through. Of how it can seem like this is the end of everything–the end of your hopes and dreams for whatever you had hoped to achieve.

I say: use this time to engage in active reflection.  Get out a notebook and sketch out what your goals will be when the pandemic is over.

Shore up your good feelings while you shelter in place.

Remember that after things get better there’s so much life for all of us to live.

Stirring the Sauce

Experiencing a plateau can be likened to stirring the sauce for Sunday macaroni supper. It will take time to heat up.

Sometimes engaging in a repetitive act is necessary. It can seem like you are not getting anywhere. What is the purpose of doing the same thing over and over?

It is to get in the groove of a healthy habit. The secret sauce you are simmering is your recovery. It could take years to get to where you want to be.

The Changeology book goal-setting method is a 90-day action plan comprised of 5 Steps:

Psych

Prep

Perspire

Persevere

Persist

Committing to executing the plan for 90 days can set in motion a healthy habit that lasts.

In coming blog entries I will talk about a couple goals I set that have stuck.

In fact living through the pandemic has made it easier for me to achieve these goals.

Soon it will be coming up on one year since I first started making these changes.

My own experience with setting these goals might empower you to go after your own goals with gusto.

Woodshedding in Recovery

Easily over 15 years ago when I first started out as a Mental Health Activist I read about using the woodshedding technique in recovery.

Originally the concept of woodshedding referred to jazz musicians who go into a shed or room to practice their instrument.

The goal was to great improve or to perfect a part of what they were playing.

In recovery going into a woodshed happens any time you need to rest and recharge your batteries.

In the reference to woodshedding that I first read the writer talked about how individuals living in recovery seem to be in a plateau.

Even though we are in a plateau at this point we can go on to achieve things.

The woman interviewed in the article talked about needing to be alone to heal and to process what was going on.

Woodshedding can take place at any point in a person’s recovery.

Living through the COVID-19 pandemic is a natural plateau that everyone is experiencing.

It makes sense that it’s the perfect time to engage in woodshedding while we’re sheltering in place in our rooms.

In the next blog entry I will talk about my own metaphor for healing habits in recovery.