STEP 4 YOU BUILD

By now you have noticed the use of substances or behaviors to cope or avoid.  You’ve also figured out what it is you may be coping with or avoiding.  You’ve come up with other ways to cope or avoid and you’ve practiced those other ways enough that you feel comfortable with using them.  Now it’s time to build yourself up more and more.  Your ability to handle stress, disappointment, frustration, conflict and other unpleasant feelings and experiences is important to overcoming use of substances or addictive behaviors to cope and avoid.  There are many ways to build up your confidence, strength and resilience.  Pay attention to your physical responses to various situations to notice where exactly in your body you begin to feel uncomfortable.  Also notice what the discomfort takes the form of.  Do you feel panicky?  Do you feel sad?  Do you feel mad?  These are clues.  As you notice these feelings begin to tell yourself you can handle them and you can get through the situation.  There are pages and pages of affirmations or coping statements available on various self-help sites.  Search for affirmations or coping statements for the specific feelings you notice most.  Thoughts will be there too however it’s the feelings you may notice first.  The uncomfortable feelings are what often drives us to use substances, food, shopping or various other things to avoid or cope.  The important thing is to begin noticing your specific feelings and begin building up your ability to handle or manage those feelings.  Increase your ability to endure them.  Think about a wave in the ocean that eventually crests and falls away.  Emotions are like that too.  They will swell, crest and fall away.  “I can handle what I have to handle when I have to handle it” is a great way to begin building yourself up.  Another saying that may help is “I am strong, confident and wise”.  Some people use songs, poems or quotes to accomplish the same thing.  We’ve all heard of “The Serenity Prayer” famous for use in 12 step programs.  Remind yourself you can cope with feeling unpleasant or uncomfortable…it’s not a big deal.  People everywhere are uncomfortable and handle it just fine without using substances to numb themselves.  People everywhere experience all kinds of unpleasant things and live through them one way or another.  You can too.  Step 4 is about building yourself up in those areas you feel weakest or most vulnerable.  As you strengthen these parts of yourself you will find your need to cope or avoid with substances or addictive behaviors is less and less over time.  Stay at this step as long as you want or go back to one of the earlier steps if you need to.  There is no time frame on this process.  You can stay on any one step forever if that’s what works best for you.  No pressure, no deadline, no criticism–this is your process and you decide what to do and when to do it.  Enjoy:  Readings in Recovery

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