Today's core belief came from one of my readers who was gracious enough to offer some of her thoughts about some of the core beliefs she has struggled with. She clarified the core belief with a few examples, and I believe we can all relate to them. She said, she doesn't feel she deserves to feel good, safe, or happy. I have written about some of these beliefs recently and it is interesting to me how we, as addicts, can believe we do not deserve some of the most basic qualities of life. We are not saying, I do not deserve to be a billionaire. While I believe we all deserve that too, it is definitely more arguable than saying, I deserve to feel good. I can't think of an example where a person does not deserve to feel good. Especially a person who is aware and actively trying to make positive changes in their life. Safety. I talked about this recently too. Is feeling safe something we have to earn as a human right? No. Happiness. While happiness is a personal emotion and differs from person to person depending on their own definition, it is certainly something we all deserve to feel.
Would you agree that all three of these feelings and emotions are things we have a choice to create in our lives? I would be willing to bet some of us believe this is not true, and that, ironically, is the first step. If we, and I am horrifically guilty of this, believe something or someone else controls any one of or all three of these things, then we will most likely never experience them because most people are consumed with trying to create their own good feelings, safety, and happiness. We can not expect or count on others to do this work for us, it is our responsibility and our responsibility alone. I will add the caveat that if we are lucky enough to come across someone or something who adds to any one of or all of these three things, then we are blessed and should be grateful for that person or thing every day.
I feel good
What does it mean to feel good? Interestingly, the desire to feel 'good' versus 'bad' as an addict stems from the prolonged use of a substance that originally promised to make us feel 'good' or 'better' than we did before we began using it. How did that work out for us? I remember feeling bad as one of the quintessential reasons for wanting to quit drinking, give up nicotine, or quit other negative behaviors. In the beginning, I used every single one of those addictions as a way to feel 'better.' I convinced myself that they were the answer to all my problems. What happened? If you are reading this, you are probably like me and you are becoming aware that we have been lied to in an incredibly manipulative way. The lies have been passed down through generations and advertised on every form of media we have access to. We could hardly help but fall into the inevitable trap of believing these substances helped us feel 'good.' But now we know the truth.
We have made the first step in acknowledging the fact that our addiction has defaulted on its promise to make us feel good. Now it's time to make a few changes in our lives. Would we maintain a friendship with someone who lied to us to such an extent that they caused us emotional and physical harm? Of course not. Our addictions are no longer our friends and we are now learning what really does make us feel good; pride, strength, independence, and security; all of which are garnered through our quitting of the addiction that held us captive for years and even decades. When we cut it loose, we can immediately feel good about our decision.
I feel safe
As I stated in my earlier blog, if you physically feel unsafe due to your living environment or people around you, please reach out for help. The Crisis Connections line and Suicide Prevention line are there to assist you and help ensure your safety. While physical safety is widely agreed to be a human right, feelings of emotional safety can easily be hidden from others as well as ourselves, which makes them more difficult to contend with. A lack of emotional safety can arise over the years from our own bad decisions, bad relationships (both working or personal), environmental experiences, and any number of events that can make us feel unsafe, even if only for a short period. Remember, core beliefs occur over time and through repetition of learned behavior. Once we develop a core belief, it's easy to find evidence to support it in a world full of uncertainty and chaos.
How do our addictions contribute to our feelings of feeling unsafe? One of the fundamental characteristics of feeling safe is being aware of our surroundings. All addictions negatively affect our ability to focus, to be aware, and to understand when we are in harm's way. Walking through life unbalanced both physically and emotionally virtually ensures we have no way to create a life we can feel safe living. When we walk away from the addiction that keeps us off-balanced, we can immediately regain control of our ability to protect ourselves both physically and emotionally. There is no greater peace than knowing you are in control and aware of what is happening to and around you. Your safety is in your own hands.
I am happy
What does it mean to be happy? The dictionary definition says, a feeling of contentment. That is the broadest definition possible. Fortunately, that means we have an enormous amount of room to define what happiness means to us. We don't have to worry about what makes our neighbors happy, what makes our friends happy, or what makes society happy. To truly be happy we need only to define what happiness means to us. If we are currently taking the first steps into recovery we may not feel strongly about our ability to be or feel happy, so start small. Don't overwhelm yourself with a "perfect" definition of a "happy life". Write down a couple of things that are important to you and that you know would provide a sense of contentment. Say those things out loud multiple times a day until you believe them and then add a few more. Take baby steps until you feel the confidence, which will come, to take larger strides until ultimately you are sprinting through recovery and sobriety feeling the happiness and joy we all deserve to feel.
There is absolutely no arguing that we all deserve to feel good, to feel safe, and to feel happy. Arguing this would be like arguing the necessity of food, water, and shelter to survive. Since all three of these attributes of life are created by our own doing, the question of whether or not we deserve them is truly up to us and us alone. Do we really feel we don't deserve to feel good, safe, or happy? Or, do we just not have enough evidence, yet, to support the fact that we do, in fact, deserve them? I would suggest the latter is the more accurate question to ask ourselves. And, if that is the case, then all we have to do is begin looking for that evidence. Believe it or not, it is all around us as well.
Starting today, begin acknowledging the things that make you feel good, the things that make you feel safe, and the things that make you feel happy. Even if they are only a fleeting moment in time, acknowledge them and then immediately be grateful for that moment. The more grateful we feel for these things, the more open we are to witnessing them in our lives. The more we witness them in our lives, the more we begin to believe we deserve for them to happen. The more we believe we deserve to feel good, safe, and happy the better, safer, and happier we will feel.
I deserve to feel good. I deserve to feel safe. I deserve to feel happy; therefore, I do.