Obstacles meant STOP

mazeThe OGEL group started working on the 5-Key Competencies this month. Like many, it takes more than one go through for me to really embody new principles. I grew up believing that memorizing the information was good enough. But once the test was finished the information moved to the deleted file.

Through my recovery I’ve learned that “forgetting” information was/is one of my coping tools. Seems I tossed many of the good, along with the not-so-good, memories in my effort to stay safe and have some control over my world. I use “forgetting” as an excuse.

In working at becoming competent I have unearthed my resistance to change—even when I know it is for the best. Conveniently forgetting has kept me incompetent. Even though I memorize the right thing to do, talk about the right thing to do, praise the right thing to do, find and share images about the right thing to do, I undeniably resist many moments of stepping in and doing the right thing. (And by right I mean loving.)

Working on competencies requires attentiveness. When I am actively working on one of them I recognize the strength of my resistance. It’s not a pebble either; it’s a triple flashing neon boulder.


Part one of five in the 5-Key Competencies.

Competency One: I Am Determined

I used to think determination meant that it was going to just show up. I am still learning the involvedness of determination. Determination means:

  1. If I am determined to have something (xyz) then there is the possibility I may not be able to have xyz.
  2. There will be two or more options to choose from.
  3. More than one will be appealing (otherwise I wouldn’t have to choose).
  4. Obstacles present themselves (as this is what it means to choose one over the other).
  5. I will push through my resistance, regardless of how I feel about it, because I choose xyz.

I wanted to be determined and then have all the obstacles fall away so I could reach my goal. No laughing matter, this was truly my thinking.

2004 thinking: If I just stop drinking my problems will go away. We’ll all live happily ever after.

2008 thinking: If I just write the book, the people will find it, read it, and I will change the recovery world. We’ll all live happily ever after.

2013 thinking: I have so much to learn, but no matter what I’m not going to quit. Not so sure about the happily ever after thing, but happy today is possible. I’ll go for that.

If I am clear on my final destination, there is no obstacle I am not willing to overcome. For me, obstacles used to mean STOP. Now I see that obstacles mean DO I BELIEVE IN IT (xyz) enough to persevere through the issue and the feelings that accompany the issue.

It’s not when I’m writing, or blogging, or coaching that I feel the obstacle, but when I get the rejection email, or no email, or no call back, or the bad review. It’s when I can’t find the time, or the answer, or the resources. These are the moments that I let being determined stifle me.

When I am determined to try, with the intention of achieving, I will make it. When I’m here with you I’m great. It’s when I perceive I am alone that I stumble, cry, or want to go hide in my bed. It’s these moments that I choose to remember:

I am working on the competency of possessing determination. There will be no internal dialoging to find a way to back out of my commitment. Today there will only be me, silently with me, finding a way to achieve what I set out to do. I will not undervalue those sweet moments to choose again. I choose to persevere.


No Responses to “Obstacles meant STOP

  • Thanks, Lisa-

    This one came at a serendipitous moment. The last couple of days, we’ve been tweeting a quote from an “anonymous” source: “Heaven gives us no ‘extra points’ for stubbornness.” The real live source for that is our Scott, and the ‘recipient’ of that pithy remark is Cecile (me) going bull-headedly at the ol’ brick wall, In spite of the door in the brick wall, the wide spaces on either side of it, and the ladder lying at the foot of it. Bang, bang, bang goes my head against the bricks.

    “Determination” is something I’ve struggled with my whole life, it’s part of my particular disease. I’m going to not just get what I ‘want’ but I’m going to get it MY WAY.

    Focus on the destination, and realize that the route, the journey time, even what it looks like when I get there (rather than what I THINK it looks like) is not necessarily going to meet my expectations.

    But if the destination is important, I will reach it.

    Now, how did you know to post this today?

    thanks again

    • Yes, the only explanation is serendipity. I was struck by your comment. Is it that we actually see the brick wall, the door, the ladder? I see, as of late, by naivete toward “the process.” It’s as if i am happily strolling along and I don’t notice the wall—at all. Yet, I continue to ram into it. Why can’t I see it? Moreover, it takes another to point out the wall to me. I scratch my head and wonder how I didn’t see. Because of your comment I think I have actually unlocked another “coping” mechanism. It’s not that I see the ladder/door and refuse to use them. I actually /don’t let myself see them. Looks like I have some journal work to do. I think I’ll do a little A/B on this and see what I find. The “not noticing” has been one of my themes.

  • Lisa, the most important word in your competency is “I”. YOU are not the opinions of others (rejection). YOU are not the inaction of others (no email). YOU are not the judgment of others (bad review). YOU are the one whose determination set the short term goals which have led to stopping drinking, write a book, become a coach. Whatever stumbling blocks you perceived needing to overcome were stepping stones, not stop signs, on the path to competent success. The strength training to climb the stumbling block builds the emotion strength which will allow you to climb to the top of the mountain, and the success will encourage you to lean down to help the next one up to where you are.
    Much love,

    • You really are the Fairy Blog Mother. You have this incredible way of reaching out to pull me up. Lots of love, xox

  • Oh man, I have work to do on this one Lisa. I have to say reading this filled me with some dread – not because the post isn’t so wonderful (it is, as usual), but I see in me the fact that I am not very strong in the perseverance category. Saying I am not very determined is accurate at this point in my life. Now, having said that, I was *very* determined to get my next drink, whatever that took. So I guess it’s in me somewhere, but I don’t have it for something positive. Perhaps I haven’t found something to persevere towards – that might be the deeper thought. Sounds all self-pitying, doesn’t it? Blech – natch that! Perhaps this is just a kick in the seat of the pants to get me wondering what it is that I want to achieve, then work on the competency to getting it, obstacles and all.

    You have *certainly* given me pause for thought, Lisa. I loved what you said about “forgetting” things…I was a big “forgetter” too.

    Awesome stuff.


    • I love what you touched upon in the perseverance category. I have noticed that I can persevere for a certain amount of time and then I quit. I think that is why this post came to me. I’m feeling like there are things in my life that I want to quit. I’m not even sure that quit is the correct word, maybe take-a-break-from is more accurate. I feel caught between two worlds and it’s frustrating at times. Your comments are always a high point for me on this blog, so thank you for your engagement. You touch many peoples’ lives (so I’m not sure you know), but I really appreciate your connection.

  • Lisaaa!!! The happily ever after part, I do it all the time! I’m still on that stage! I started reading this post on Sunday, I always do that, along with a cup of tea but when I went to the kitchen to make some tea I got distracted and until today I read it. I feel like there is so much wisdom and so many aha moments when I read you, it’s like you knew how I think, what goes on and which stage I’m in, it’s amazing! Your book is an eye-opener, I have highlighted almost every page but I haven’t finished it yet, I think it’s way too good so IT IS CHANGING THE RECOVERY WORLD!
    I enjoyed this immensely, I even bookmarked this post in the “Love and Kindness” category. Thank you for being such an angel. Love youuu!
    PS: I wrote down my info in order to receive emails from OGEL group but didn’t receive the email confirmation. Is there something else I should do?

    • You make my day. I too get filled with doubt at times. I am so happy to watch you grow. I am so fortunate to grow with you. It’s a wonderful connection. We give to one another.

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