The Value of Self Determination

Accomplishments despite contrary influence

Authors note: Today is Saturday, I have decided to try and make Saturday a two post day (because it’s my blog and I can!).  Be sure and scroll down to read todays other post “Coping with Societal Negativity” and of course input is always welcome! ~J

So interestingly, the last two days have given themselves up to a very excellent stream of positive consciousness for me as well as an awareness of how strong people can be. I have two stories to relay in this article, both popping up over the last couple of days and both I have found to be quite inspirational to me. The first story had me in such a good mood I can only classify it as an emotional high even though the achievement in the story had absolutely no impact on me directly. The second story while, not actually so much of a “feel good” tale illustrates a long-term determination to succeed and how our failures might assist us over the long term. So, let’s dig in:

Story one comes from a member of my favorite HipChat group (I have mentioned them in prior posts) A Farewell to Recovery. I will note that any stories that I relay in my articles are done with permission and unless requested otherwise I keep the person anonymous.

Our subject recently had a very big announcement, the achievement of a GED or General Education Diploma which is an alternative to a high school diploma here in the United States. You might think “well what’s so special about that many people have GED’s or high school diploma’s, heck that Joe guy has his GED”. What makes this story so positively refreshing to me is that this person was told throughout life that it could never be done! In fact, some of the exact words were harsh enough to include the term “retarded”. Imagine going through your early life being told what you can’t do at every turn and not hearing much about what you can accomplish.

Over the course of about a year and a half this person exhibited the drive and perseverance that most people rarely tap. A fundamentally raw persistence to accomplish what according to the surrounding environment could not be done. What I find even more inspirational about this is that a year and a half is not a particularly long time to study for a GED. Add to that the continuing conversations about the next steps, aspirations to possibly become a Veterinarian Technician or possibly something else. Someone who had nothing but “bound to fail” reinforced over and over, and now quite successfully on a forward track that many “normal” people lack the stones to achieve. This story made my day, and inspired me to work just a little harder on my aspirations as well, thank you for that!

wow must be some socks!

Story two is a little bit different and close to home it involves a family member, my mother who is an avid weaver (don’t ask). She apparently has a “sock machine” which is some strange loom used for weaving circular deal for knitting socks (again don’t ask) which from our conversations is incredibly difficult to use. I had a conversation with her very recently about a pair of socks she was trying to make, in her words she calls them her “F***ety F*** F*** socks” wow must be some socks!

In my mind, mistakes are nothing more than learning opportunities that begin with a negative consequence.

She has been trying to make this pair of socks for what I think is several weeks now (just go buy socks!) at one point having finished the pair but not being happy with them taking the pair apart back to yarn and starting over. Something happens here or there with the loom…. Tear down and start over…. Full moon…. Tear down and start over. At the time of this article posting, the socks are not complete and I’m willing to bet are either in a state of tear down or a state of start over. The endgame is decided in this case, there will be socks! While the idea of toiling so much for a simple pair of socks might not be a positive thought, the side effects are of a very positive nature. With the continued use of the machine, and the continued identification and fixing of mistakes my mother has been able to better master the use of her beloved sock machine! In my mind, mistakes are nothing more than learning opportunities that begin with a negative consequence. (you can quote that).

May your feet stay warm,

~Joe

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Why do I not deserve success?

I think I shouldn’t succeed!?

Writers note: This article came about after a conversation with a regular at the Farewell to Addiction HipChat group who was curious as to why I self-destructed every time I achieved or became very close to achieving success in something. The conversation not only inspired me to write on this topic, but also gave me a greater insight into myself as well as others in relation to success and achievement.

Over the last several years as I grappled with sobriety I’ve seen a great deal of counselors in a variety of situations. Whether it be one on one in an office visit, via an intensive outpatient, or through an inpatient or residential rehab environment. There always seems to be a common question they ask after examining me for a while:

why do you feel you don’t deserve success?

The reason for them to ask this question has been known to me for a very long time, my achievement cycle has been the same for as long as I remember. Since childhood I would find a path to something that would ordinarily be considered out of reach and drive forward like a rabid dog until I would achieve success or get within easy reach of success; and then I would self-destruct. After the self-destruction I would lick my wounds in stagnation for a little while and then start the cycle all over again with something else.

I’ve had conversations about some of my accomplishments, or things that I have attempted and people tend to ask me why I’ve done so many random unrelated things. The idea that I will attempt just about anything no matter how lacking I am in qualifications or ability seems to confuse people, including me. It has been suggested to me that I enjoy the struggle and art of creation; the learning process that often is filled with fits of trial and error and the excitement of doing something that I was never meant to be capable of. If the thrill of achieving the impossible is the reasoning why is it that I stop short of completion or tear down the final product? Counterintuitive would be the phrase I’m looking for, the person that inspired this article asked me “If you don’t feel you deserve success then why even start?” why indeed.

The maddening crux here is the complexity that is human thought

I’m somewhat of a mechanical thinker, I have always enjoyed the art of fixing things this is what I do. The maddening crux here is the complexity that is human thought, conscious and subconscious alike. What makes up our beliefs, our self-identification, mannerisms, values and ideals, how we react, what pleases or displeases us; the scholar will tell you there are “thought mechanisms”. I disagree with this being a mechanically minded person; I can look at a chain of gears and with a little musing understand how they function together and identify where the “breakdown” is in most cases. In my train of thought I have been able to identify the results of the problem I don’t deserve success as well as the consequences I need to destroy this and start again yet even with support from a myriad of sources I have not been able to identify where the “break” actually is.

Could it be that I am not listening to these “experts”? I have been through the process so many times I can almost repeat most counselors word for word from memory; trauma, depression, self-awareness, mindfulness, meditation, sleep hygiene, socializing, so on and so on. I still struggle with the actual solution itself! So, in my usual fashion I decided to come up with my own plan of attack I am going to form a habit of accepting success! As I have formed a habit of smoking there should be absolutely no reason I cannot accomplish this. I am going to force myself to accept whatever my next success may be.

I will keep you posted thanks for reading,

~Joe