I Am Powerless and Humble…

**  This blog is dedicated to my daughter and anyone who suffers from an addiction, as well as the loved ones that are standing by watching, loving and encouraging them to wholeness again.**

The 12 steps are a group of principles, spiritual in nature, that are to be practiced as a way of life for those suffering from addiction.  The idea is to help expel the obsessive behavior (drinking, drugs, or any addiction) so the person can feel and become happy and whole again.  These principles are so powerful they can be used to overcome not only addiction, but limiting beliefs and harmful thoughts and behaviors in the non-addict as well.

Reference:  Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (1981), Alcoholics Anonymous World Service, Inc.

Step #1:  We admit we are powerless and our lives have become unmanageable.

 

Complete and utter defeat…or as I like to call it…surrender.  No one likes to admit they are wrong, let alone suffer the humiliation that often accompanies the admission.  The truth is, it is only by admitting that something outside of ourselves took our power that we are then able to be free.  As the Bible says, “the truth will set you free.”

We all allow something in our lives to take our power…money, people, places, thoughts, drugs, alcohol.  You know what it is for you.  It is that one thing that almost immediately makes you feel less than what you are.  When we feel powerless, we tend to make choices that follow suit…choices that render us powerless.

I often do an exercise when I am working with corporate groups that help individuals identify their personality tendencies.  I call them tendencies because I believe that once we are aware of something, it can be changed.  We may lean towards one behavior or another, but we always have the power to make a different choice… one that serves us rather than harms us. This exercise is called The Behavior Matrix.  Individuals identify themselves as a Controller, Supporter, Analyzer or Promoter.  Each category has a characteristic associated with it that is a characteristic the person who identifies with that category tends to have a hard time exhibiting in their daily behaviors…especially in relationships.  The one that always stands out to me (maybe because I fall into that category) is the Controller category.  Controllers find themselves needing to show more humility in relationships.  Controllers also tend to want to control situations and people around them due to fear.  Mostly fear of not being in control and knowing the outcome.  I remember when I first heard the word humility when I did this exercise; I needed someone to give me an example or definition of it.  I was a bit disconnected from my own reality then.  In order to allow yourself to feel humbled by something, you must also have an underlying hope that once the admission takes place, something better will take its place.

When my father died 6 years ago, I struggled with hope.  I not only couldn’t define it for myself, I felt void of it…hopeless.  This paired with the lack of humility was a devastating combination.  I already felt hopeless and was mad at God, so what good was trying to understand it all…let alone admit that maybe what the issue was my relationship with God.

Everything comes back to our relationship with God.  What we call our struggles and challenges are simply God’s way of bringing us back to him.  How else does a relationship strengthen other than through challenges that test its very nature?

Hitting bottom is a common phrase we hear in the addiction circles.  One must “hit bottom” before they are ready to admit defeat and humbly enough admit to be powerless to that which brought them to their knees. What I have learned beautifully from my daughter and from countless others in the field, is that “bottom” is different for everyone. For one it may be losing everything they hold sacred in their life and for another it may be a scare with the law.  Our bottom depends on the lessons we each have to learn in this lifetime.

We have different experiences because we have different lessons.  No one person experiences the same thing the same way.  We bring to each experience our past, conditioning, strengths and challenges.  Our future is made up of our present choices.

Admitting you are powerless and have lost control and manageability of your life allows the doors for opportunity to open.  This admission cracks a window in your castle so the winds of change can enter.  When your computer freezes and becomes powerless due to a glitch, you shut it down and reboot it.  Trust me when I tell you that we all need “rebooting” at least once in our lives (some of us several times).  Thank God for control-alt-delete!

Where do you lose your power?  Regardless of whether or not you call yourself an addict, spend some time identifying the thoughts, people, things or places that render you powerless.  In what areas has your life become unmanageable?  The first step to recovery and balance is awareness.  Awareness allows for a pause in the sands of time so you can then have the time to make a different choice.

The choice is always up to you…

Aware, awake and humble,

Chris

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

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What is YOUR Addiction?

 “I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.” 

― Edgar Allan Poe

 

It has been awhile since everyone has heard from me.  Some still have not heard from me.  I thank those who have respected that silence lovingly.  My silence is not due to writers block, nor is it due to just having nothing to say.  I always tell my friends that God gives me my writing and speaking material through life experiences…I recently had to inform him I had enough material.

The last two months have been a journey for me.  A journey I would not wish on any parent.  If you read my blog regularly, you are aware that I am of the firm belief that pain is how God gets our attention and the greatest lessons we have yet to learn come to our attention through pain.  Pain usually comes around the corner when you think you’ve “got this” and are exactly where you should be with your lessons.  God always has a different plan.

For the last 4 years, I have had the challenge of having a daughter who is addicted to heroin and crack cocaine (I write about this with her permission).  This is the first time I have written about it…actually, the first time I have had the courage to write about it.  In those 4 years I have learned a lot, mostly through pain.  We have had our ups and downs, as those of you who are loved ones of addicts know all too well.  In January I was blessed with my grandson, who is a beautiful soul and was born an addict.  He made it through his time well but his mother did not.  My daughter, after spending 28 days in rehab in December returned for another 20 days in March.  She is now 36 days clean and we are taking it day by day.

The way I tackle the challenges in my life is through educating myself as much as I can on the challenge I am having.  Until recently, I have been in denial and unable to bring myself to even read anything about addiction.  What I am learning is quite amazing.

You do not have to be addicted to a chemical or alcohol to be an addict.  We are all addicts to some extent, based on my observations.  My addiction?  Perfection.  I have believed, up until recently, that if I were not perfect I was not deserving of love…therefore, I was addicted to any behavior that would help me attain perfection; control, over-working, obsessing over little things, worrying, etc.  Of course, none of these behaviors guarantees perfection, but our ego tells us otherwise.

What is your addiction?  Control?  Sex?  Drama?  The best way to deal with an addiction is to first become aware that you have a problem, are powerless because of it and admit that your life is unmanageable because of it (Step 1 of the 12 steps to recovery).  I am not sure which is harder…being the one with the addiction or being the loved one watching the addiction unfold.  What I am seeing is way too many beautiful souls suffering with addiction.  Something needs to be done.

In honor of all of those who are dealing with an addiction, either as an addict or as a loved one, the next 12 “Journey Back to Self” blogs will be covering addiction and the 12 steps…with the Chris Sopa spin on them, of course.  My hope is that someone will read these blogs who needs help, needs to be understood, needs information or just needs to know that they are not alone.

We are all in this together…let’s tackle this once and for all.

**Reverend Angela Peregoff on why we have limitations and challenges:

“Embracing it is seeing the value in it, being awed by it, extracting the gold from it, and knowing that your limiting belief and the experiences it leads you to are so central to who you are and how you’re evolving that you wouldn’t give it up for anything.”

~Rev. Angela Peregoff

Hugs,

Chris

 

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

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Self-Love

bookcover-315highThis is an excerpt from Chapter 5 Believe in Yourself of “Choosing the Life You Were Born to Live:  How Changing Your Thoughts Will Change Your Life” by Chris Sopa published by Balboa Press. Click here to purchase your copy!

Self-Love

Love yourself, accept yourself, forgive yourself and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things!

If I were to ask you if you loved your children, you would more than likely answer with a very rapid “Yes!” Don’t you find it funny that we can so unabashedly love an extension of ourselves but not love our own selves?

When we think of the love we have for our children, we know we love them because of how they make us feel. We would do anything for them, no matter what. We would give up anything for them. Make any sacrifice for them. We want the best for them and do whatever we can to make sure they have the best life possible. You know when they are sick or not feeling well because your “mother/father instincts” tell you so. You know them so well that you know what they need, what their moods mean, and when they are just plain tired or hungry.

Just for one minute, I would like you to be your own parent. Treat yourself as you would that child you love so much. What would you do first for you? What do you need right now?

If you find it hard to answer these questions and to know what to do for yourself, you are lacking self-love. We do not take care of that which we do not love.

If I were to tag one area where almost all of my clients have a similar missing link, it would be in the area of self-love. When I ask them to do a Bucket List of things they want in their lives, I get a list of things they want for their spouses, children, and friends. When I ask them to take some time during the day for themselves, even if it is just for five minutes, I get the guilt response of “I don’t have time” every single time. Funny how when our children need our time we find the time but when we need the time, there is no time. I ask all of my audiences to ask themselves this question: “If you treated your friends like you do yourself and if you said to your friends what you say to yourself, how many friends would you have?” I always get a gasp from the audience at this point. You know the answer.

I have wondered often about how we get to the point where we lose our love for ourselves. We are born with it. We are born with the Divine knowing that we are important, lovable and worthy. What happens? Where does it go?

Over our many years of living, we allow people, things, thoughts, and places to take our power. Every time we allow something into our thoughts that takes away a little piece of us and makes us think we are not important enough to have love in our life, our power has been taken. We know this has happened by how we feel. As soon as you have an interaction with someone or something and it makes you feel “bad,” you know you have lost your power. You could lose your power to a specific person, money, a job, an actual place, a thought pattern…you name it. Every time you allow your power to be taken, you lose a little bit of self-love. Balance is not letting anyone or anything love you more than you love yourself.

Self-love is THE most important thing you need in this life. In order to have self-esteem, which we will discuss later in detail, you need to love yourself first. You cannot hold yourself in esteem until you love yourself. The question becomes, once you lose it, how do you get it back?

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

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The Power of Choice

bookcover-ChangeYourLife-266x400This is an excerpt taken from Chapter 4, “The Power of Choice” from “Choosing the Life You Were Born to Live:  How Changing Your Thoughts Will Change Your Life” by Chris Sopa. Click here to purchase your copy!

We did not come here to make choices. We already made our choices. What we are here to do is to learn to live into our choices and understand why we made them.” ~The Oracle, “The Matrix”

Choice is the most important gift we have been given in this human incarnation. Free will to choose what we want to experience and what we want out of this particular life is truly a gift. I find it hard to fathom how some individuals do not believe that they can create their own reality:  If this were not the case, why would God have given us the will to choose?

Having this gift requires responsibility—the responsibility to be aware of the highest, best, and most thoughtful choices. Not just the ones that benefit us personally, but the ones that benefit mankind as a whole. Choice implies conscious awareness. That is why becoming aware of what is limiting you is the first step. Once you are aware of something, you now hold that awareness in your conscious mind. It no longer sits in your subconscious mind, hiding and masking itself as fear. You now are conscious of it, which means you now have the responsibility to do something about it, to make a different choice.

All we have are the choices we make, one at a time. And from such choices are created larger events of humanity. It is simply up to each of us to trust that every choice we make matters.” ~Caroline Myss

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

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Your 7 Impossible Things

This is taken from Chapter 3 ~ Overcoming Limiting Beliefs from “Choosing the Life You Were Born to Live:  How Changing Your Thoughts Will Change Your Life” by Chris Sopa, published by Balboa Press.  Click here to purchase your copy!

“One great way to see where your fears lie is to bring them up in your mind for a brief moment in time so you can shed some light on them.

A wonderful exercise I have my coaching clients do is to list seven things in your life you want so bad but are scared to death will never happen:  Your “Seven Impossible Things.” Why seven? Because seven is a very sacred number and there is a certain power in having to force yourself to think of more than just three or five things. You have to go deeper into your mind and deeper into your fears.

The key to the exercise is to list the seven things you want and then walk through all of the reasons why you think it won’t happen…what you fear will get in the way of it happening. Then, in a column next to it, list all of the reasons how it could happen.

When you take the time to really think through and put on paper your fears and then possible solutions to those fears, the fears lose their power. The fears turn simply into obstacles that can be easily overcome with a plan and a little faith. You then are also focusing on what you want to have happen instead of all of the reasons why it cannot happen, using the power of your thoughts to manifest exactly what you need.

Having a plan, is one of the ways to overcome fear; another way is to understand and know that Divine is there to help you on your journey. You are never alone.”

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

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Waiting for Normal

Hunger, thirst, cold, fatigue, your own physical and mental limitations – you will feel all of these.  This teaches you about nature, more than that, you come face to face with yourself.”  ~Willi Unsoeld

If your life has been anything like mine over the last year, high and low tides rather than “smooth sailing” has been the norm.  I personally have noticed that whenever I am in the middle of a “low” I am anxiously awaiting for things to get back to “normal.”  In the middle of tears the other day and feeling pitifully sorry for myself, I stopped in my tracks and asked “what the heck is normal anyway?”

I realized that, to me, “normal” meant having absolutely no bad feelings or events happening in my life.  I get to stay in my daily routine, uninterrupted and pleasantly invite the highs into my life, praying for the lows to stay at bay.  If that is the case, in the last 42 years my life has rarely been normal!  Life is easy to live when things are going the way you think they should.  You go about your life with ease and are feeling pretty good about yourself.  The minute something happens that knocks you out of that routine, something that makes you uncomfortable, we feel “off” and try desperately to get back to our comfortable routine.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a workshop by Gregg Braden, author of the new book “Deep Truth.”  Gregg addressed this idea of waiting to return to normal using our economy as an example.  When our economy takes a down turn, many people put their lives on hold, waiting to spend their money or take that trip until things return to “normal.”  What I find interesting is that when things get back to normal, it is never how it was before anyway.  Something (or someone) has always changed.  Has it really gotten back to normal or has enough time gone by that we are now just used to the new way things are…the new normal?

As humans we do not like discomfort.  We try desperately to stay comfortable and predict the future events of our lives.  We like to know what is going to happen when, how others are going to react to us…even go so far as to structure our lives around the weather.

I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t like waiting.  Instead of waiting for my life to get back to “normal” I decided to re-define my personal definition of normal.

“Normal” = a state of centered consciousness and balance an individual maintains no matter how the outward circumstances of the individuals life present themselves.

I am here to live my life, not to wait for it.  Yes, during trying times, it is sometimes much harder to find the joy and balance we so enjoy but those feelings are simply a state of consciousness, which means WE have control over them.  We so often give the power of our lives over to outside circumstances, people and events and then allow our lives to get out of control, all the while blaming someone else for our misfortune and bad feelings.  Ultimately, YOU are in charge of your life, your feelings and your thoughts.  Instead of waiting for things to be normal and perfect in order to feel better, create your own state of being by choosing how you want to feel and do what you need to do to make that so.

Life will never be perfect if you constantly expect it to be.  You must create your own perfection.

Light and love to you for a “normal” day,

Chris

 

Choosing the Life You Were Born to Live:  How Changing Your Thoughts Will Change Your Life” by Chris Sopa published by Balboa Press.

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

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A Precious Human Life

“Every day, think as you wake up,

Today I am fortunate to have woken up,

I am alive, I have a precious human life,

I am not going to waste it,

I am going to use

All my energies to develop myself

To expand my heart out to others,

To achieve enlightenment for

The benefit of all beings,

I am going to have kind thoughts towards others,

I am not going to get angry,

Or think badly about others

I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”

~His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama

 

Choosing the Life You Were Born to Live:  How Changing Your Thoughts Will Change Your Life” by Chris Sopa published by Balboa Press.

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

 

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

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Finding Meaning

Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.
~Victor Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning

We have all heard the phrase, “what does not kill me makes me stronger.”  Let’s face it, some of us have had some pretty bad things happen in our lives…terrifying, heart-wrenching things.  Things we do not want to think about let alone talk about.

No matter what has happened to you, the past cannot be changed.  The event is there and cannot be erased.  But…there is one thing that CAN change – your perspective.  Victor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning describes his life in a Nazi concentration camp.  What he noticed was the prisoners (who were all undergoing the same treatment) that found meaning in their lives, or something to live for, continued to live.

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.  They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  the last of the human freedoms –  to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

You and I could experience the same exact circumstance but what will be different is how we each embrace, interpret, value, symbolize and respond to it.  How we respond, is a matter of personal choice.  We were given free will – the ability to choose – in order to experience a balanced life and to grow as a human being.  Growth occurs through our greatest challenges…those are our greatest moments and the exact moments we came here for.  Yes, we embrace the experiences that bring us joy, such as the embrace of a loved one, but the very thing that allows us to appreciate that moment is our past challenges that we overcame…the exact circumstances that made us who we are today.

Take an inventory of those things in your life you now call challenges and evaluate how you are choosing to look at that challenge.  What meaning are you giving it?  What can you do to feel better right now?  What did you learn from the challenge?  What would you do different if that same challenge was presented to you again in a different form?

Use your challenges as life lessons that build you up rather than tear you down.  In order for your life to change, YOU have to change.  Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing, you will stay the same.

Lots of love to you this Valentine’s Day,

Chris

Choosing the Life You Were Born to Live:  How Changing Your Thoughts Will Change Your Life” by Chris Sopa published by Balboa Press.

Click here to purchase your copy!

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

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Excelsior

“If you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining.”

~Pat (Bradley Cooper), from “Silver Linings Playbook”

After my three week trip back east and coming home Wednesday completely exhausted, I found myself on Friday night wanting to get out.  There is a great movie theatre near me that is a restaurant-style movie theatre, so I thought, “what the heck!” I will take myself out to a movie!  I was in need of motivation, so Hansel and Gretel was out!  I decided to go see Silver Linings Playbook.  Ok, I will admit, Bradley Cooper did have something to do with this decision…why lie, but I was so glad that I went!

In short, Pat (Bradley Cooper) is a mental case.  He gets out of an institution after an eight month stay to live with his parents (Robert DeNiro playing his equally emotionally challenged father) to get his life back on track.  I won’t give the rest of the movie away but what caught my attention was Pat’s attitude.  In coaching, we use affirmations or “trigger words” to help snap people out of destructive thinking habits.  Triggers can be positive or negative.  Ex-addicts understand the word “trigger” well…they are taught to stay away from triggers in order to stay clean.  Pat had 2 triggers – his negative one being a song that he heard in his head when he became stressed out and was about to have an episode and a positive one, which was only one word:  Excelsior.  Excelsior was a word Pat used to stay positive.  It reminded him that there is always a silver lining if you look hard enough and to never give up.

We all have our own personal challenges.  Everyone has asked themselves the question “why me?” at some point in their lives.  My personal belief is that these challenges are a blessing.  We have the challenges that we have because that is the exact area in which we need healing.  How are you supposed to heal something if you are unaware of it needing healing?  Besides, if you had nothing in your life to work on – if everything was perfect – admit it, you would be bored!  Your life would be like watching paint dry!  The challenges in our lives are what give our life color, they are what make us strive to be better than we are and they are what make us human.

The real challenge is who you decide to be as you overcome your challenges?  Do you know your triggers – good and bad?  What are you doing every day to make yourself a better person?  What is your definition of a “good person?”  Do you see the lining as silver or gray?

If you do just one small thing a day for yourself out of love, you will soon see that the life you are trying so hard to make perfect already is perfect…because YOU are the star!

Trust in life and what you need will be there…always!

Hugs,

Chris

 

Choosing the Life You Were Born to Live:  How Changing Your Thoughts Will Change Your Life” by Chris Sopa published by Balboa Press

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

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Attraction

“You do not attract what you want; you attract what you are.”
~Wayne Dyer

 

Our desires are what motivate us to move in our lives.  We are constantly giving birth to new desires…as one desire is fulfilled; another one almost immediately takes it place.  As humans, we need something to look forward to in life.  We do not do very well with the same ole, same ole day in and day out.

The Universe works on laws.  The law of gravity keeps our feet planted on the ground and the law of attraction draws things that are alike together.

As humans, we are energy beings.  We are made of cells, which on many levels, vibrate.  Our feelings even carry a certain vibration – anger being very low on the scale of vibration and joy being very high.  The thoughts we choose to focus upon dictate our feelings, therefore dictate our vibration level.  Our vibration level is felt by others – which is why you can walk into a room and go “Whoa!  What is going on in here?”  But, our vibration is also felt by Universe and is the main vehicle through which we communicate with it.

The Universe picks up our “signal” and because it only follows laws, kicks in the law of attraction.  You feel lonely, so it delivers to you in the form of experiences, opportunities to be lonely.  It notices where you are putting your attention (your thoughts and feelings) and takes that as communication that “this is what you want.”

Just as we sometimes have to work on our communication skills in life, we must also pay attention to how we are communicating to the Universe.  If you want to manifest certain things into your life, you have to feel and think as if those things are already here.  In other words, you have to BELIEVE that your wish has already come true!  (I am a millionaire…I am just waiting for the money to arrive in my bank account!) .  Practice paying attention to your thoughts and feelings this weekend.  Where are you putting your attention?  Who are you being?  Are you being someone who complains and worries or are you being someone who practices joyfulness and hope?  Everything that happens to us in our lives happens for a reason…no matter how you choose to interpret it.  The Universe is kind and only creates situations in which we will be best taken care of.  Trust it and trust yourself that you have the strength, power and control to dictate your life to go where you want it to go.  That is why we were given free will…USE IT!!

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life;  not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”
~Kahil Gibran

Attracting love and light,

Chris

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

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