The Rx for Imposter Syndrome

Dee:  Because I am inspired by other people’s writings and teachings, I share them with you and hope you receive inspiration as well.  I add my two-cents worth by sharing how these teachings have affected me in my life in recovery and spirituality… 

The Rx for Imposter Syndrome 

By Melissa Eisler

Have you ever felt like you weren’t deserving of your successes in life? Maybe there is a little nagging voice inside you that says you’re not good enough or qualified enough for the job promotions, the high praises, or the awards that you’ve received. And maybe it doesn’t add up because you have the schooling, experience, and talent as evidence for your competence, but you are often dismissing your achievements on luck, timing, or a result of deceiving others into thinking you are more qualified than you think you  are.

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If you can’t seem to shake the feeling that you’re a fraud of your own achievements, you may be experiencing the crippling effects of what is commonly called imposter syndrome. While it is not considered an official diagnosis, imposter syndrome is acknowledged among mental health professionals for its prevalence and the stress, anxiety, and/or depression it can cause. 

People who suffer from this syndrome live in constant fear that they will be exposed for being unqualified or fake. It can take different forms, but here are some common signs: 

•Having perfectionism
•Overworking yourself
•Undermining your achievements
•Discounting praise 

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Dee:  For me, I just had minimal self-worth and even less self-esteem.  Yes, the “imposter syndrome” played heavy in my life.  How could it not?  From the moment we’re born we are exposed, inundated, smothered by outside influences that don’t empower our highest selves.  We are led to compare, compare, compare ourselves with those around us in our society.  With our peers at school, with our co-workers, with our friends and family.  Sad, huh?

So when the stress and anxiety comes, so do the above bullet-points.  All of them!  And then the alcoholism…

The good news is that you can overcome it! You can train yourself to quickly identify it, manage it, and beat it. Here’s how …

1. Recognize Your Imposter Syndrome 

The first step is to become aware of your thoughts and feelings. The next time someone gives you a promotion, praise, or award, listen to your internal dialogue and how it makes you feel. Oftentimes, people who suffer with imposter syndrome undermine their achievements and discount praise that’s aimed their way. 

It’s important to note that just because you feel like a fraud, doesn’t mean that you are a fraud. Separating feelings from facts allows you to see the truth. Start shining a light on that little nagging voice and recognize it for what it is: Imposter syndrome.  

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Dee:  I didn’t even have a ray of light, no light at the end of the tunnel, no nothing until I finally got sober.  For decades I had no light, no hope, no purpose, no reason for living even though I was one of those with schooling, experience, and talent as evidence for my competence.  But I lacked confidence and thought more of what you thought of me than what I thought of myself. 

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So what happened?  I finally hit my bottom of escaping in my alcoholism.  I couldn’t go on this way any longer…and I got caught.  Actually, my Higher Power (that I didn’t even know I had at the time) said it was time to make an intervention and start my new journey.  It all started in a treatment program for alcoholism.

2. Share Your Thoughts and Feelings 

You may be feeling shame about your imposter syndrome, and that can keep you from sharing your feelings. However, knowing there’s a name for your feelings and that you are not alone can be incredibly liberating, so share your feelings of self-doubt and self-worth with your spouse, a friend, a therapist, a mentor, or a life coach. When you confide in someone about your negative self-assessment, it will bring you one step closer to overcoming imposter syndrome.  

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Dee:  When I found myself in the abyss of my alcoholism, I pled with my husband to help me, to intervene, put me away, lock me away.  But he didn’t.  He knew that unless I made the change, made the surrender, admit my helplessness, it wouldn’t do any good.

And, YES, I felt terribly alone.  Didn’t everybody drink the way I did?  But why did they always seem so happy and productive?  I was too ashamed, guild-ridden, embarrassed and humiliated to share my story  with anybody.

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3. Know When It’s OK to Feel This Way 

Sometimes having feelings of inadequacy can be a normal reaction. For example, if you are changing jobs or are the first minority in your workplace, it’s only natural that you’d sometimes feel like you don’t fit in. Don’t attach these feelings to your self-worth or see them as a sign of your incompetence; accept them as normal in response to being an outsider. 

Dee:  As you have noticed, my story isn’t just about the “imposter syndrome” for me.  A huge driving force in my story, along with the “imposter syndrome” was my alcoholism.  In all honesty, even though my own dad’s passing at a young age was partially due to his alcoholism, I didn’t know anything about the disease.  Not until I entered a 28-day treatment program for alcoholism.

But my feelings of inadequacy and not fitting in were prevalent way before my drinking got out of control.  I was always very self-conscious.  I never felt like I really fit in…anywhere…and just hoped I could “fake  it ’til I make it”.  

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Having worked the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous numerous times with many trusted sponsors and women, I have found that my life as far as I can remember was fear-based.  Why?  I don’t know the specifics and it doesn’t much matter at this point, except for that I realize it, accept it, thank it for coming, and encourage it to leave.  With this knowledge, acceptance, and yearning to live differently today, my life has become freer.  I can finally feel comfortable in my own skin and value my opinion about myself more than your opinion of me.  That’s huge! 

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4. Reframe Your Thinking 

Once you’ve become aware of your imposter syndrome, shared it with others, and separated when having those feelings are normal, the next step is to start working with your thinking. When a situation triggers your imposter syndrome, first reward yourself for catching it and then shift your thoughts to a more  positive perspective. 

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For example, if the thought of “I don’t deserve this compliment” pops into mind, start by congratulating yourself for recognizing your imposter syndrome. Then shift your thoughts to something like, “I feel undeserving of this compliment right now. Perhaps that’s my imposter syndrome talking. I would like to learn how to better accept praise.” 

Baby steps are key here! You don’t want to go from “I am under-qualified for this position” to “I am overqualified for this position.” You will reject that belief in a heartbeat as completely untrue because it is too drastic of a mind shift. Instead, try something more manageable: “I may feel under-qualified for this position, but everyone who starts something new feels insecure at the beginning.”  

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Dee:  Yes!  Turn whatever negative thoughts come to mind into positives.  I believe that everything happens for a reason.  Not to see us fail, but to help us succeed…to be our best selves!  If we don’t experience those tough thoughts about ourselves and turn them into positive, nurturing mind-sets, we shall not succeed.  Learn from what your Higher Power puts on your plate in a positive and nurturing way. 

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5. Accept Praise Gracefully 

In addition to reframing your mindset, it’s also helpful to learn how to receive compliments, awards, promotions, high praise, and anything else positive aimed at you, gracefully. Once you start becoming aware of how you negatively respond to these things, it’s time to break the cycle of continually seeking and then dismissing validation outside of yourself.  

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To do this, set an intention to learn how to transform your reaction and express gratitude. Try a simple “Thank you” the next time you are complimented. You’ll notice it feels better for not only you, but for everyone else around you, too. 

Dee:  In our society we are taught that “more is better”.  So not true.  And that applies to speaking.  Don’t go on and on when asked a question.  A simple “yes” or “no” will suffice without a long, drawn-out excuse or rationalization.  No one really gives a shit anyway.

And once you start to peel the layers off the onion, which is yourself, you will notice that you can start forgiving, accepting, and even loving that person you are.  You are a special and unique gift who was created with assets that no other human being on the planet has.  Be proud of who you are.  Be proud of being human.  And then share your gift! 

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6. Manage Your Perfectionism 

Many people with imposter syndrome struggle with perfectionism, often obsessing over details and fearing that if they aren’t perfect, they will soon be discovered as a fraud. There are healthy levels of perfectionism—when you use it as a motivational force to excel and commit to high standards. And then there are unhealthy levels—which cause obsession and fear. People who have a healthy sense of perfection don’t let their mistakes weigh them down nor define who they are. 

In essence, do a great job when it matters most and let go of things out of your control. When an inevitable mistake happens, forgive yourself and move on.  

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Dee:  Today I consider my perfectionism to be one of my character defects.  It most certainly didn’t serve me.  Now I can be proud that I have done my best, no more no less, just my best.  As an alcoholic in recovery I still retain my obsessive-compulsive behavior and thinking.  However, since I am aware of this now and how it negatively affects my life, I embrace it, thank it for coming, and then let it go when it appears.

7. Develop a New Response to Failure 

One telltale sign of imposter syndrome is beating yourself up for being human—a.k.a. for making even the tiniest of mistakes. Coupled with perfectionism, a self-critical response to failure (“I should have known better” or “I should have known the answer”) is unhealthy. It is not realistic as we all make  mistakes. 

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So, the next time things don’t go as planned (because they won’t) or you’re wrong (because you will be), try acknowledging the lesson learned, allowing room for self-compassion, and then moving on. Remember that you have just as much right as anyone else to be wrong, have an off day, or need help.  

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Dee:  Today I can laugh at myself when I make an ass of myself.  That’s only because I love and accept myself for who I am today and know that I AM doing my best and, yes, I am human.  As are you.  I don’t judge you for your mistakes.  And if you judge me, that’s not my problem.  I have no control over people, places or things.  And life continues on. 

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Everything that happens in my life is purposely positioned.  Every person I meet, every experience I have.  And ALL are for the purpose of my growth, my success, my sharing my experience, strength and hope with others and to help them through their “imposter syndromes”. 

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8. Make Time for You 

People who suffer from imposter syndrome often work harder than others, to make up for feeling like a fraud. On the positive side, they are highly ambitious and great achievers; on the negative side, they overwork themselves and are prone to burnout. 

Being diligent is a great quality, but not at the expense of your health. Finding balance is key. You do not need to overwork yourself on the job in order to compensate for fictional inadequacies. In fact, redefine what “working harder” means for you—it can be working hard on taking care of yourself. 

Figure out what you need to do in order to take care of yourself and create a self-care program that works  for you. 

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Dee:  This has been difficult because I have always put myself last.  Remember, I cared more about what you thought of me than what I thought of myself.  I am trying my best to nurture myself, to put balance and moderation in my life.  But again, I am obsessive-compulsive to this is harder said than done.  But the seed has been placed and, one day at a time, I practice self-care not only for my reward for jobs well done, but for survival, fitness and sanity. 

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9. Visualize Success 

By being able to paint a concrete picture of what success looks like to you, it can become less vague and more obtainable. That way when it does happen, you won’t be so quick to reject it. Here are some simple ways to help you visualize success: 

Write down your goals. Get it out of your head and onto paper. By being able to communicate your goals, you can more easily imagine them happening.
Picture yourself victorious. Visualize how you navigate a situation—as many details as you can so that it feels true when it happens. 

Dee:  I am lucky I love to write and I have noticed that when I write things down those thoughts sink in, make more sense, and are stronger.  I’ll even write things down over and over again and each time I do the light bulb becomes a little brighter.  Try it!  Like with an affirmation.  It will sink in; it will come to fruition.

When I take the time to quiet my mind, as with meditation, is when my visualizations become more tangible.  Again by repeatedly visualizing, writing things down over and over, thinking about what victory looks like to you, will become more solid and focused.  Your brain will start to realize that this is important stuff, so I best get moving to accomplish and succeed! 

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10. Remember That You Are Not Alone 

Lots of highly successful people experience similar feelings of inadequacy (authors Maya Angelou and Seth Godin; actors Tom Hanks, Natalie Portman, and Felicia Day; and comedians Amy Schumer and Tina Fey, to name a few) and just knowing that others are experiencing it too can make you feel less isolated, releasing the syndrome’s power over you. 

In fact, studies found that 70 percent of people have struggled with imposter syndrome at some time in their lives. Your friends, bosses, classmates, and others you respect may have felt similar feelings of inadequacy. In our competitive, achievement-obsessed culture, it is probably more common than you think. 

So when you realize that you are not alone and actually connected to a lot of successful people who suffer from the same unhelpful symptoms of imposter syndrome, it will help you feel less lonely. 

Remember, you wouldn’t be promoted, complimented, trusted, and praised if you were actually a fraud. Let these tips help you expose imposter syndrome for what it truly is: not reality.  

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Dee:  Finding a group of like-minded people with whom I surround myself has helped me tremendously by comforting me and reinforcing in me that I am not alone.  For me my like-minded people I’ve found in the AA Fellowship.  But there are a wealth of local support groups in your area who are there to help you with whatever ails you…imposter syndrome, addictions, depression, and life itself.  And if the first shoe doesn’t fit, try another until you feel like “you’re finally home”. 

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Thank you for allowing me to share my journey with you.  I anxiously await hearing about your journey so please reach out.  Together we can get through any and everything.  Rid yourself of the guilt and the shame and love yourself for who you are…in all your glory.  You are amazing!  Remember that! 

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For those interested in my Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration, such as the mosaics you see here, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  And if you would like to see this blog on YouTube, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GH6oHjEwhzE.  Mahalo and enjoy!            

With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

About the Author :  Melissa Eisler (/bios/melissa-eisler)
Certified Leadership & Career Coach, Yoga & Meditation Instructor, Author 

Melissa is the Senior Content Strategist at the Chopra Center. Also an ICF Certified Leadership and Career Coach (ACC) and certified meditation and yoga instructor, she is passionate about motivating people to live a healthy, balanced, and purposeful life. You can learn more about Melissa’s coaching practice at MelissaEisler.com (https://melissaeisler.com/). 

The Chopra Center

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If I Didn’t Think, I’d Be Much Happier

If I Didnt Think 

If I Didn’t Think, I’d Be Much Happier

by Dee Harris 

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   I never “thought” thinking would get me in such trouble.  What is thinking?  The process of using one’s mind to consider or reason about something.  Okay, then.  What is rationalization?  The action of attempting to explain or justify behavior or an attitude with logical reasons, even if these are not appropriate.  So that’s where my thinking got me in trouble…by rationalizing.

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    I prided myself for being an intellectual human being.  I studied hard.  I excelled in school.  I believed that if I wanted something badly enough and really put my mind to it, I could get it.  I knew nothing of religion or spirituality.  I only knew of science and intellect.

   Leading up to the time of coming to terms with brain vs. heart I noticed that my intellectual endeavors were diminishing.  My drive and passion were diminishing.  And I had no purpose.  Sad, huh? 

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   In retrospect I can now see where this journey was taking me and the cause of my “just getting by”.  It was addiction.  Mainly an addiction to alcohol.  All starting out most innocently with peers in junior and then senior high school.  I wasn’t enslaved yet and don’t even know when it happened.

   Throughout college I drank on occasion with friends.  Then sometime thereafter drinking started to become more regular for me…and in the end, decades later, regular drinking meant daily drinking.  Life was now in the way of my drinking.

   So this once intellectual and driven human being couldn’t muster enough know-how to go a day without drinking.  And, boy, did I rationalize my destructive behavior as this disease slowly dragged me to and through hell.

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   So what happened?  I finally came to my senses, got lucky, got unlucky, however you want to look at it, but I got the help I needed to stop drinking.  And today I believe my Higher Power made an intervention.  My destructive journey that I needed to endure would now transition to “trudging the road of happy destiny”, as it is said in AA.

   In a 28-day treatment program for alcoholism I started to learn living from my heart, rather than my head.  This was totally foreign to me but what did I have to lose?  I had intellectually screwed my life up by thinking and rationalizing, so “fake it ’til you make it”. 

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  Living from my heart was made possible by a Power Greater Than Myself, of my own understand, that I got to make up.  Yep, from my own little brain.  Over to this Higher Power I turned my will and my life.  My Higher Power spoke through my gut.  You know those feelings.  Intuition.

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   So now my brain, my ego and I are no longer running the show.  The HP has got everything under control and I shall just do the footwork from the messages I get in my gut.  Dang.  It works!

   Not only does it work, it’s so freeing!!!  The heavy load I had been carrying on my shoulders for decades was no longer there.  The fact that this all seemed miraculous and inexplicable helped me to gain trust in this Power Greater Than Myself.

   It’s now been awhile since I’ve transitioned from brain to heart and this way of living still serves me today.  I’m in such a better place of surrender and acceptance and everyday keeps getting better and better.  So thankful.  So humble…

   …and so glad to be able to share my journey with you.  I look forward to being part of your journey and hearing about your story!

   With much aloha, Dee Harris 

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   This blog is also on YouTube as a vlog at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUOL6gJpbrY.  And for those of you who are interested in what I do when I’m not blogging and vlogging, please check out my Art with a Message of “No Stinkin’ Thinkin’” at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Affirmations – Why They Work

Affirmations – Why They Work

by Dee Harris

   I’m a strong believer in affirmations.  The affirmation I made up in morning meditation when I was in a 28-day alcohol treatment program I would have never thought I would still be saying today, and so grateful to have something positive coming out of my mouth about myself until I could finally believe it in myself. 

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   So just what is an affirmation?  An affirmation is a positive statement used for emotional support or encouragement.  And if we can become one-tenth as good at positive self-talk as we are at negative self-talk, we shall notice an enormous change.  I  know I did.

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  Our brain filters out what matters to us based on our goals, needs, interests and desires.  When you say an affirmation over and over again, a couple of things happen. One is that it sends a very clear message to your brain that this is important to you. When you do that, it gets busy noticing ways to help you achieve your goals. 

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   The other way affirmations work is that they create a dynamic tension in our beings. If what I am saying is at a higher vibration that what I perceive the truth to be, the dynamic tension is uncomfortable.  A painful incongruence is felt between what I perceive the truth to be and what I am saying. Since this is uncomfortable, we want to rid ourselves of the tension. There are only two ways to do that: one is to stop saying the affirmation; the other is to raise the bar on reality by making the affirmation and reality match. 

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   So what makes an effective affirmation? First, determine what kind of transformation you want to bring about in yourself—a goal or intention.  Second, if it fits, add an emotion to the mix or a word that qualities the statement. For instance, I am joyfully at my ideal weight of 125. Or, I’m happily living in my own home.  Third, make it positive vs. negative: “I am healthy and fit” rather than “I am no longer fat.”   

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   Some say it takes 21 days of repetition for an affirmation to make its mark on your psyche, so aim to keep your affirmation going for at least a month. Our Censors loathe anything that sounds like real self-worth.  They immediately start up with the imposter routine:  “Who do you think you are?” 

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   So just try picking an affirmation.  Write it 10 times in a row.  While you are busy doing that, something very interesting will happen.  Your Censor will start to object.  “Hey, wait a minute.  You can’t say all that positive stuff around me.”   

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   Listen to the objections.  You will be amazed at the rotten things your subconscious will blurt out.  Write them down.  These blurts flag your personal negative core beliefs.  They hold the key to your freedom in their ugly little claws. 

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   So list your personal blurts.  Where do they come from?  Mom?  Dad?  Teachers?  One effective way to locate the sources is to time-travel.  Once you bring your monsters up from the depths, you could begin to work with them.  Each one of your blurts must be  dissolved.

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   My personal affirmation I came up with in rehab was, “I am a good person.  I am a whole person.”  Take it from me, when I made this up I felt anything but good or whole.  I loathed and hated myself for the predicament I had put myself in and for being weak and lacking self-control.     

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   As I started my life in recovery with the new knowledge about alcoholism I had learned in rehab and the suggestions given me in AA, I still felt so uncomfortable in my skin.  I didn’t know how to live without drinking; my life revolved around drinking up to this point.  Every holiday, every event, everyday getting off work had drinking involved.  But one day at a time I started to gain a bit of clarity.  I was amazed to have not picked up a drink that day when I had tried every way possible which seemed like forever to go just one day without drinking.  I couldn’t do it. 

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   “I am a good person.  I am a whole person.”  Everyday.  Along with making up a Power Greater Than Myself over to whom I could turn my will and my life, I worked the 12 Steps of AA with a trusted sponsor and got to uncover where my ugly negative blurts  came from.    

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   So now come up with an affirmation that negates a blurt.  Positive affirmations may feel very uncomfortable at first, but they will rapidly allow you a new freedom once you  begin to believe in yourself.

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   Thank you for being on my journey with me.  I look forward to being part of yours, so please contact me anytime so that we can be the best we can be…anytime…all the  time…at this very moment!

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With warmest aloha, Dee Harris 

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   For those of you interested in checking out my Art with a Message of Inspiration and Hope such as the above mosaics, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  And for those who would like to see this blog as a vlog on YouTube, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMoAZX-DvOo .  Mahalo and enjoy!

The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron

Affirmations: Why They Work & How to Use Them, by Eve Hogan

Richness Comes from Simplicity

Richness Comes from Simplicity

by Dee Harris

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      Too much or not enough?  I believe the answer to that question depends a lot on the phase of life you’re in.  It probably doesn’t matter much in what part of the planet you popped out of the womb.  You probably started learning straight away in your society that more is better.  I know I did.

   Why don’t we live in a two-story house?  Can’t we drive a Mercedes?  I need new clothes for school and that new toy I saw on TV.  That’s just in elementary school.

   I want my own car and my own room.  I want to do those things my friends are doing and travel the world like them.  Our neighbor just got a pool. 

   I just want to get through college without owing a bajillion dollars in student loans.  I’ve get to get that job so I can have my own home and a brand new car.  I’ll need that stylish attire for that new job.

   We have a mortgage and a car payment now.  The kids are growing out of their clothes.  They need money for that new camp and their sporting events.  We really should get better insurance and started putting money aside for retirement.

   I’m so glad and so grateful to have made it to my sixth decade in life.  Life is much simpler now.  Why did I wait so long to find peace and contentment? 

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   Being so wrapped up in the craziness and drama of life doesn’t award much time for contemplating whether or not one has peace or contentment.  That contemplation doesn’t usually come until things quiet down, the kids are on their own, and retirement is here or just around the corner.

   That’s how it happened for me and I’ve found myself reading books and streaming videos and movies that peak my interest.  I cancelled our subscription to TV since most of what I was seeing was a waste of time, depressing and negative, and downright junk.  So I stumble across across videos showing how to declutter.  Embrace the mountains of shit accumulated through my lifetime, thank it for coming and bringing me joy, and ask it to leave.  

   I read a book suggesting I get rid of 27 things each day for 9 consecutive day.  If I miss a day (which I did twice) I must start again on day one.  I don’t know what day I’m on but I continue to rid my life of 27 things per day.  I’ll always find 27 things to lighten the load.

   The result.  FREEDOM!  Tons of weight off my shoulders!  Space for good chi to flow happily through the house!  And this new chi which serves my highest good makes me think twice every time I need this new gadget or that new toy.  I don’t need anything!  I’ve been blessed with everything I could possibly need. 

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   And I find that the more days that go by where I’ve discarded 27 items from my life make me richer.  Simplicity is my richness, my contentment, my happy place.  No drama.  No chaos.  No poison arrows shooting this way and that way.   And I can breathe and be in the moment.  I can live with gratitude and humility.

   And the awesome thing is that I’m finding I now am more attentive.  I can respectfully give you my full attention when you speak with me.  I can now be more empathetic and compassionate.  I have learned to listen better by decluttering not only my home, but the cobwebs from my brain!

   So know “You are rich, when you are content and happy with what you have.”  And if you’re not feeling it, get rid of what doesn’t give you joy or serve you any longer.  Richness comes from simplicity.

   I would love to hear your stories about contentment, and your feedback as well.  Thank you for being  part of my journey!

   With warmest aloha, 

Dee Harris

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For those looking for motivational reminders to live a simple lifestyle, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  This blog is also available on a YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cz5YGeyBrxk .  Mahalo and enjoy!

Sharing My Message – Toastmasters Ice Breaker Speech

Hi there everyone.  Madame President, Toastmaster officers, members and visitors.  My name is Dee and welcome to my Toastmasters Ice Breaker Speech.

By a show of hands, who here is really excited to be here tonight with no where that you’d rather be?  Sweet.  Well, there’s no where that I would rather be at this moment and I believe there are no coincidences.  No coincidence that we are all here together in this room tonight, affecting, changing, bettering each others’ lives.  I’m really jazzed to be at a point in my life where I’m trying to better myself, and with the ripple down effect, better those who enter my “Dee Bubble”.

When I took a speech class in college I was mortified.  I couldn’t get my body to stop shaking and almost made myself sick with fear prior to giving my speech.  I had memorized all the pages of my speech, vomited it out, and didn’t know what the heck I had said when all was said and done.  I know I want to speak more naturally today and to be myself with rigorous honesty.

Speaking about rigorous honesty, that is one of the lessons I learned once I got sober.  It’s very freeing to be just who I am today, even when I make a fool of myself, and, yet, be okay with that.  That’s a great gift I’ve received in sobriety, the gift of finally feeling comfortable in my own skin and being all right just knowing that I’ve done my best.  I never had this mindset before, when I was active in my disease of people-pleasing and low self-esteem.  With that I can now talk in front of a group of people and not be shaking in my skin, ready to puke my guts out.  Because if you don’t like me, that’s okay.  I don’t take it personally; that’s not my purpose.

Crazy how that happened.  Again, no coincidences that I’ve been provided a journey through life to bring me from a deep, dark place of self-loathing and self-hatred to a place of self-respect and self-worth.

So what am I doing here in Toastmasters?  Well, I’ve always loved to write and am now just experiencing my love of speaking.  This love has awarded me opportunities in the AA community to be of service  the Coconut Wireless Newsletter for 3 years, writing about AA events on this side of the island and then as the Public Information Chairperson and speaking at our local DUI classes is part of that commitment and had become one of my new passions.

That is how I got here.  My new drug of choice is sharing my experience, strength and hope with others hoping that one person will get one thing from my share that will spark a ray of hope and optimism in his or her life.  A message of comfort that no one is ever alone on their journey through life, no matter what’s going on, and together we can get through any and everything.  And it’s okay to take off our big girl panties and ask for help.  Not only should we shed the useless bullshit that has inundated our lives from the moment we were born that does not serve us as moral human beings, but we should shed any guilt and shame we might have put on our shoulders and have been carrying around with us for way too long.  That is why I’m here.  To gain experience on how to share this message.

Today I have an online shop where I sell my Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration.  I also sell at the Pure Kona Green Market every Sunday down in Captain Cook.  And as I drive there early on Sunday morning I am grateful for the prosperity I shall be receiving that day, not in terms of financial reward, but in terms of the wonderful interactions I shall have with like-minded caring and loving individuals who enter my “Dee Bubble”.  I have never gone home disappointed.

However, last year I started to wonder if sharing my experience, strength and hope was being satisfied with one weekly market and social interaction.  That is when the thought of being a Ted Talker or an AA Circuit Speaker entered my mind.  I put it in my God Box because today I have faith and don’t have to know where I’m going.  I just know it feels right and I shall just concentrate on carrying the message to DUI classes, schools, and whatever local organizations are interested.  With that, I joined Toastmasters so that I can do my best to serve my Higher Powers’ purpose of sharing my experience, strength and hope.  Today I am humble…and I am grateful.

Thank you.

Thank you for being part of my journey and helping me to Share My Message.  With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

If you are interested in my Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration, please visit my website at http://www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  And if you would like to see this blog on video, please visit me on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7dkpopPjss.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Let’s Build Strong Children

Quote by F. Douglass

 Let’s Build Strong Children

by Dee Harris

   No particular person nor occurrence made me a broken adult.  No particular person nor occurrence made me an alcoholic.  It is what it is and today I am okay with that; actually, today I thrive because of it!  I am ever so grateful that just for today I do not HAVE TO drink.  And I am blessed today to have a Higher Power of My Own Understanding in my life that helps me to make sense of my journey.

   As I have more moments of clarity under my belt I realize that I must unlearn most of which I carried into adulthood.  I can’t say that my life experiences made me a broken adult, but I can say that a great proportion of it was a lie and I know today it didn’t serve me.

   Growing up watching Ozzie and Harriet and Father Knows Best on tv impressed upon me the perfect family.  Reading Seventeen magazines as a teenager solidified the perfect body shape and attire.  Opinions, media and newscasts pounded into me that more is better and we don’t have to do it morally nor truthfully in order to get it…get the best job, the bigger house, the nicer car, the latest fashions, the fanciest restaurants, the five-star hotels, the status, the bullshit. 

  Geez Louise.  I fell for it…hook, line and sinker.  And it wasn’t until I worked my 4th Step in Alcoholics Anonymous, “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”, did I realize how fear-based I had lived and was living my life.  Because I did not achieve all those “things”, I pretended I did so that you wouldn’t think any less of me.  And that all stemmed from me “thinking less of me”.

   How does that happen?  A bit of bullying as a child for being an Asian-American in a mostly white school.  A feeling of not fitting in with the popular cliques.  An opinion of being “less than” because we didn’t have the two-story house nor the Mercedes.  Shit.  How does that happen?

   All I know is that today. now that I am a grandma, I want to stress to my grand babies how awesome they are, how perfect they are, are special they are.  And I got that as a child.  And then I’ll tell them again and again and again until I impress it so into their beings that they’ll run away when they see Tutu coming.

   But a crucial lesson to teach along with offering praise and affirmations is humility.  Yes, we are ALL born with special gifts, whether or not you want to look at it that way, gifts that others wished they had.  So when you start comparing yourself with others and wanting what they have, remember your gifts.  And remember, too, that these gifts didn’t come from you but from something greater than you, a power greater than yourself, call it God, call it the Universe, call it fate.  Just be thankful, but not grandiose, for your gifts.  They can be taken from you in a heartbeat.

   And let’s give our children some kind of stability at home…and that means as much 100% quality look-them-in-the-eye in-total-mindfulness attention.  Attention…caring, loving, understanding, compassion.  We owe them that!  That’s how we build strong children!

   And when we see children who are lacking that stability at home, let’s do our best to care for them as though they were our own, ever, ever so delicately.  Because not all children have stability.  Oftentimes their parents don’t have stability nor did their parents.  They don’t know any other way.  No judgment here.  Just empathy and understanding.

   So when the bully beats down on our children physically, mentally, verbally and emotionally, we have spent that quality time with our children looking them in the eye and ever so gently explaining how that bully’s life might be.  Right?  And we taught them to not lower themselves to the bully’s level, lest the bully wins.  Right?

   And then our kids can delicately offer understanding and compassion to that young bully who has not yet developed into some mass murderer.  And that young bully will be flabbergasted that someone didn’t bully back, but offered love, attention, and caring.  Hmmm…  Could there be a happy ending?  It’s worth a try, yeah?  How much worse can our humanity get without some effort and hope?  I’m game and I hope you’re in too!

   I love feedback so if you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to post.    Thank you for being here.  With much aloha, Dee Harris

This blog is also available as a vlog on YouTube at www.  For those interested in seeing what I do when I’m not blogging, please check out my Art with a Message of Hope at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy! 

1_TakeCareOtherMOS (orig wht) DbH

I Am Not Afraid of My Truth Anymore

 1_InsprPplMOS (DbH) copy

I AM NOT AFRAID OF MY TRUTH ANYMORE 

by Dee Harris 

Not Afraid of My Truth Anymore

     “My name is Dee and I’m an alcoholic.”  Holy moly.  One of the scariest things I ever had to say or do was admit that I am an alcoholic.  Especially in my first local AA meeting.  Dang.  There were going to people in there who knew me.  They’ll know what a loser I am and how weak I am.

   As a matter of fact at one of my first meetings I saw a friend go by on his bike in front of the club house and kid me about going to an AA meeting.  I quickly responded that I was going to the laundromat next door.  I felt so shitty I uncomfortably, but victoriously, told on myself in the meeting and later made my amends to my friend.

   And in that first local AA meeting there were, indeed, people I knew.  How could there not be?  I had lived in that town 18 years and was a grocery checker.  Unless they didn’t eat, we had met.  

   But something magical happened in that instant I entered the club house.  I got a feeling of “home”.  Damn, I’m home.  I’m comfortable.  I was greeted in this moment of overwhelming fear with open arms, hugs, understanding, and NO JUDGMENT.  No long-ended series of questions and words.  Simple.  Thank goodness, or I would have been out that door in a heartbeat.

   Backtrack a month.  I am going in for an assessment to see if “I qualify” to enter a 28-day treatment facility for alcoholism (an hour away from where I live so no one would no me.  NOT!).    I don’t know what they’re going to ask me.  I don’t yet know about rigorous honesty.  But they do.  They know an alcoholic is going to lie about their drinking habits and how much they drink.  I did.  I “passed” and spent over 28-days in rehab.

   And that first night when I lay in my bed I think that I don’t need to be here; I’m ok now.  I realize that alcohol is my problem and now I can go home and control, or even stop, my drinking.  But deep down inside I knew that wouldn’t happen as I had tried which seemed like forever, so I stayed.  

   Even when I called to make that appointment for the assessment and I was told that after that initial meeting I would be sent home and called back later to see whether or not “I qualified”, one of my first experiences with rigorous honesty appeared.  I said that if I was sent home, I would not return because my mind would think I am now ok because I admitted I had a problem.  I was told to bring my suitcase with me.

   The day before the assessment I want to yell from the roof tops that I am an alcoholic.  I’m going to get help and I won’t have to drink everyday anymore.  But I selectively let one of my neighbors know.  And my aunt and brother (I would have told my mom but she was on vacation in Hawaii).  I, of course, let my boss know.  And my husband and my two boys.  Something magical happened that day; the weight that I shed by admitting I had a problem was magical!

   And then on the morning of the assessment as I was getting ready to make the hour drive, I hear a knock on the door.  I know it is not my husband who had gone off to work.  I know it is not my kids who had gone off to school.  It was my auntie, grandma and brother who had driven two hours to take me, support me, love me to my appointment.  I break down crying, secretly.  I was full of guilt and shame for what I had allowed myself to become.  I was full of gratitude for the love that was apparent by their being there for me.  I was not worthy.  Why the hell would they drive all that way for the piece of shit that I had become?

   My husband and my boys don’t accompany me to the assessment.  Everything with them is blurry because most of my time with them is blurry.  I was a black-out, pass-out, closet drinker.  Only they knew the real me.  And that me was ugly.  And that ugly me is all I can remember of my life with them up to that point.  One who had to drink everyday to that place of pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.  Many of them.  Many, many.

   Backtrack to the day before the assessment.  It was my day off but the day prior I had hit my bottom.  I had not come to when my kids came home from school to get ready for work like I did forever.  I had passed out and missed my shift at work.  The red light was flashing on the answering machine.  The message was from the night manager who was concerned whether or not I was ok; it wasn’t like me to be a no call/no show.  And that night manager was one of my best friends (and still is) but I couldn’t call her back.  I just couldn’t.

   So I fish like I had done so many times before.  Fish for answers from my husband and my boys as to whether I had called back and, if so, what I had said.  I don’t remember getting a response from them.

   So on that day before the assessment I knew I had to talk to my boss to let her know what had happened.  What kind of excuse can I make up?  But I was so sick and tired of making up excuses, living a life that was a lie.  A life that was full of hiding.  I was exhausted.  So I told her the truth, on the phone, because I didn’t have the guts to look her in the eye.

   She listened.  She offered empathy, kind words and support.  She got me into a recovery program that changed my life, saved my life, gave me a life, and I shall forever be grateful.

   So one day at a time I get better.  I go through the 28-day program for alcoholism.  I am the poster child for AA and do everything that is suggested to me there.  But something inside of me is missing and I can’t put my finger on it.

   So after about seven years I one day at a time get worse.  I go to fewer meetings, do less service and stop reaching out.  And then one day when offered a drink on automatic pilot I  reply that I haven’t had a drink for 13-1/2 years so no thank you.  That drink was left there for me in case I changed my mind.  

   At that point in sobriety my mind was once again king.  It was running the show.  My ego had once again taken over.  I had forgotten how awesome it was to live from my heart with my Higher Power in charge.  I had forgotten what it was like to be humble and grateful.  I had forgotten what it was to be a newcomer.  And I had forgotten that unless I give it away, I can’t keep it.

   So I drank that shot of tequila.  And IMMEDIATELY, and I mean IMMEDIATELY, the disease, the devil, whatever you want to call it, reared its ugly head in victory and yelled, “MORE!”  So my friend gave me another.  And the lying, cheating, hiding and all the negativity that alcoholism smothered me with once again took priority in my life.  That quickly.  Positivity and optimism turned to negativity and hell.

   Today I realize that shot of tequila and that friend who left it for me was a God Shot, a message from a Power Greater Than Myself that I have a purpose to share my experience, strength and hope with others suffering from the disease of thinking, whether it be alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, overeating, sex, shopping, abandonment issues, abuse, or life itself.

   Today I am not afraid of my truth anymore.  I am comfortable in my own skin.  I can be who I was meant to be and love myself, with all my character defects.  I no longer live in fear that you won’t accept me, judge me, talk about me.  You’re on your journey and I am on mine.  When our paths cross (like they are right now) I can give you the respect you deserve for your opinions even though they might not be mine.  That’s the beauty of life and the humanity placed on this planet.  I shall learn from your opinions and experiences and become a more compassionate person.  And I shall share my compassion with those who enter my bubble.

   Thank you for crossing my path.  I look forward to hearing about your journeys.  With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

   For those interested in experiencing another avenue of my sharing my experience, strength and hope, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!