Resentment is a Spiritual Lesson Not Learned

Resentment is a Spiritual Lesson Not LearnedMost of the time our anger, irritation, frustration, is just a tempest in a teapot.  We make up a story to stoke our anger because we are angry, we need to be angry, and we want to be angry, so we produce anger. It has nothing to do with the other person at all.  It is all about being an angry person.

“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”

don Miguel Ruiz

Conversely, nothing we do is because of other people, It is because of self.  No one can “make” us angry; we are just looking for reasons to project our anger.  It is all about us.  Understanding this puts us in charge of ourselves, not victims of the guy whom we are blaming. We can change ourselves, we can’t change him. That is the empowering fact that allows us to resign from victimhood. Our friend Tom says, “It isn’t them, it isn’t them, it isn’t them!

Remember, resentments have an adverse effect on recovery:

  • By focusing on others, we ignore our own character defects.
  • Resentment is poison. It keeps us toxic and stressed.
  • Resentment is a common relapse trigger. It is the Number One Offender.
  • Resentment robs us of peace and serenity.
  • Resentment is a waste of time and energy.
  • Resentments destroy relationships.
  • Resentments separate us from our Higher Power.

“It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us,” AA 12 & 12, p. 90.

So how do we stop the blame game? I think immediate action is called for. As soon as we recognize the disturbance, we want to take action. I mean take action before saying a word.

“Why is peace so hard? she said & I said peace is easy. Keeping our mouths shut is hard.” StoryPeople by Brian Andreas www.storypeople.com/

So what actions will produce good results? I have a few tools that I use to forestall the words that will disturb the peace. One that I like a lot is my Step Seven prayer: Please take my (anger, resentment, irritation, frustration), God. Take it and change me. I have no power. You have the power. Thank you for making this change in me. Step seven is so effective because it shows willingness to “let go and let God”.

Here are instructions for a way to deal with resentments from the book Alcoholics Anonymous, Freedom from Bondage, p. 552:

“If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free…Even when you don’t really want it for them, and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.”

Forgiveness is a pathway out of resentment. Unforgiveness is subjective and judgmental and arrogant it is a demonstration of lack of love. We give away our power. When we say to the person we resent, “If you act the way I think you should act I can be happy. If not, I will suffer from toxic emotions.” (Of course we really don’t realize that we are choosing toxins, but that is the way it is.) When we do that, we choose powerlessness by denying responsibility for our thoughts/beliefs and feelings.   Forgiveness is objective and suspends judgement returns us to love and acceptance. Shall I live in toxic resentment or peaceful love?

Kay Sheppard, LMHC, CEDS, CET

Tuna Salad with abstinent cracker

This is a full meal if you serve it with 1-1/2 cups salad greens.

Tuna salad and cracker
Tuna Salad with abstinent cracker
Print Recipe
Servings
1 meal
Servings
1 meal
Tuna salad and cracker
Tuna Salad with abstinent cracker
Print Recipe
Servings
1 meal
Servings
1 meal
Ingredients
Tuna Salad
Cracker - this is how I make my cracker because I don’t eat oats
Servings: meal
Instructions
Tuna Salad
  1. Mix and serve tuna salad on 1-1/2 cups salad greens on the cracker or with 8 ounce diced cold potato for potato salad.
Cracker
  1. Mix everything in a sprayed glass pie pan
  2. Microwave on high for approximately 10-15 minutes
  3. If the cracker is still soft, flip it and microwave for another minute until it is crisp.
Recipe Notes

Mix and serve on 1-1/2 cups salad greens, with 8 ounce diced cold potato or a cracker.
Notes: I do not use pickles with natural flavors. I use deli pickles. Our local market carries Ba-Tampte Garlic Dill pickles which are entirely clean.
Use Duke Mayonnaise which is sugar free, We have checked with Customer Service at Sauer Brothers and have been assured by the representative, who is on our food plan, that this product is safe for us.
Be sure to check the ingredients on mustard. We do not use mustards with natural flavors or wine (in Dijon mustard),

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What Will Acceptance Not Cure?

What Will Acceptance Not Cure?We read these amazing words “… and acceptance is the answer to all my problems today”[1]. Could that possibly be true? Think of all of the ills in your world today and how acceptance applies.

I started learning the lesson of acceptance my first five minutes in recovery. I was given a precious little pamphlet by Father Vince Collins entitled Acceptance: The Way to Serenity and Peace of Mind.   I read it until it was ragged.  One of my favorite passages which I have remembered for almost 50 years is this one: “An old Arab, whose tent was pitched next to a company of whirling dervishes was asked, what do you do about them? I let them whirl!”[2] Just consider his options; he could fuss, mumble, complain, swear, scream, yell, pray, shake his fist at them, or he could accept them just the way they are. “Let them whirl!” That’s acceptance! The same goes for all external environments. Whatever occurs outside of us is subject to acceptance.

The Serenity Prayer suggests we “accept the things we cannot change”.   It does seem to be the best option.   Somehow, refusing to accept the things I cannot change is like banging my head against a brick wall. There is no positive outcome. It is futile, frustrating and painful.   I cannot change persons, situations or circumstances—external environment. The good news is that I can change myself. The path to change involves recognition, admission, acceptance and action.   Change the world and nothing happens, change myself and the world changes. In order to do that, I must be aware of my internal environment. What is going on inside me? I must identify the thoughts that create my irritation, impatience and anger.

Our anger comes from lack of acceptance. Anger starts with judgement, criticism, blame, expectations—and all other ego demands.   Every fight, divorce, war, barroom brawl, and resentment starts with: “I’m right, you’re wrong, you’d better change!” Where there is no acceptance there is condemnation which creates the illusion of power and control. The price we pay for being right is our peace of mind, happiness, serenity. We can’t be right and be happy!  To find happiness, we have to give up the illusion of control through acceptance and surrender.

Another recovering person and I were doing some step work this week and we came upon a really important point to consider. We both had similar experiences that involved being irritated by the behavior of a stranger. We both spoke to the person we felt irritated with in an appropriate way, thinking we could help solve a problem. We both got violent rageful reactions to our comments. Our conclusion, after thinking the situations through was this: “It is a spiritual that every we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us..” [3] A better choice than to comment would have been to identify and correct our irritation. In other words, hit the problem where it starts—with me! This would have been a good time to say the “other” serenity prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the person I cannot change, courage to change the person I can, and wisdom to know that person is me!” These situations would have presented the perfect opportunity to say silently:” Bless him/her, change me.”

It is not just people but situations that create the need to accept as well. Just think of a list of situations that need to be accepted: health concerns, economic issues, political differences, the economy, the weather, the past, and most important: our addiction. Sometimes we change our attitude, sometimes we change our behavior. If we can’t change the external environment, we can respond to it in a healthy way. It’s not what happens, but how we handle it that makes all the difference.

So is acceptance the answer to all our problems today? If not, it is a really good starting place!

[1] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition p. 417 Copyright 1976 A.A.W.S. Inc.

[2] ACCEPTANCE the way to Serenity and peace of mind. by Vincent P. Collins,  p. 1 St. Meinrad Archabbey, Indiana. ABBEY PRESS, St.Meinrad Ind.47577

[3] AA 12&12 Step Ten, p.90

Marinade or Sauce

This recipe is for a vey good marinade or sauce that I serve with brown rice or roasted potatoes. I have used the sauce on baked pork chops too — very good.

Marinade or Sauce by Kay
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Servings
1 batch
Servings
1 batch
Marinade or Sauce by Kay
Print Recipe
Servings
1 batch
Servings
1 batch
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients.
Recipe Notes

Spoon 2 tablespoons on 8 ounces sliced tofu. Bake at 350 degrees until browned, about 15 minutes. Serve with brown rice or roasted potatoes. I have used the sauce on baked pork chops too—very good.

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Ratatouille Recipe by Kay

Here’s a recipe for baked ratatouille that I love making.

This recipe is for my large batch of ratatouille.

Ratatouille Recipe by Kay
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Servings
1 batch cooked vegetables
Servings
1 batch cooked vegetables
Ratatouille Recipe by Kay
Print Recipe
Servings
1 batch cooked vegetables
Servings
1 batch cooked vegetables
Instructions
  1. In a large sprayed baking pan (11 x 15) put a two pound bag frozen peppers and onions. I get mine in Walmart. They are called Fajita Blend.
  2. Add chopped summer squash, zucchini and eggplant to fill the pan. I use my chopper.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees until the vegetables are soft for about 20 minutes.
  4. Check the eggplant to be sure it is cooked.
  5. Add 1-½ jars of Classico Roasted Garlic spaghetti sauce.
  6. Return to oven and complete heating the dish.
Recipe Notes

One cup equals one cooked vegetable.

I recommend having two cups with four ounces Italian flavored ground turkey and one cup of brown rice. Have two cups of salad at your other meal that day.

 

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Potato Salad

Great tasting potato salad with mustard dressing and tuna fish.

Potato salad with tuna
Potato Salad
Print Recipe
Servings
1 meal
Servings
1 meal
Potato salad with tuna
Potato Salad
Print Recipe
Servings
1 meal
Servings
1 meal
Ingredients
Servings: meal
Instructions
  1. Combined mustard, mayonnaise and yogurt for dressing
  2. Toss the potato and tuna together with the mustard dressing
  3. Add diced onion and celery to the mix.
  4. Serve on salad of raw vegetables for a complete raw vegetable meal.
Recipe Notes

Remember to have two cups of cooked vegetable for your other meal that day.

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Take Care of This Moment

Every day, every moment offers an opportunity for growth and change. Sometimes the opportunity is real, sometimes imagined.  We have two types of challenges in life; first, there is reality where we get to deal with serious illness, relationship disputes, unemployment, death of a loved one, and other major life issues.  Secondly, there are the ones we make up all by ourselves.  These are ego demands such as dissatisfaction with life on life’s terms (I want what I want when I want I it!), resentments, whining, complaining, criticisms, blaming, and all other attitudes that show lack of acceptance and forgiveness.  That is just stuff that we have made up that seems real.

We can be grateful for the day when there are no major challenges because those are the days that we can practice the recovery principles of evaluation and correction of the “made up stuff”.  In other words, we go to work on those defects of character that keep us miserable.  We identify those traits which we need to address in our daily tenth step inventory.  It is critically important to stay conscious and current on our shortcomings.  Once identified, it is time to apply the principles of steps six and seven, eight and nine.  If others are involved we owe amends or forgiveness, if not, we owe it to ourselves to change the attitude that is creating our stress.  Doing this work on a daily basis is like exercising a muscle, we get stronger, better at it, and eventually it becomes our way of life.

In his book, Rewire Your Brain, Dr. John Arden lays out a simple formula for how to harness this science for personal behavior change. It follows the acronym FEED (Focus, Effort, Effortless, Determination)

  • F for Focus: Attention activates your brain, so you want to pay focused attention to the behavior, memory, or pattern to repeat or remember.
  • E for Effort: Take deliberate, specific action to program the new behavior or thought pattern. Practice. Even if it’s hard. Even if you fail sometimes. Keep practicing. The more you think a thought or take a specific action, the stronger the neural network gets. Note: many people give up on new initiatives before they have practiced enough – made enough “effort” – to create sufficient neural network.
  • E for Effortless: Once the neural network becomes wired, actions that once required effort become effortless. Think of the effort required learning to drive a car; years later it’s effortless.
  • D for Determination: Finally, you must exhibit the determination to keep the neural network strong. “Use it or lose it.” Continual practice builds the neural network even further until it becomes your dominant pattern.

That is the neuroscience of recovery too.  So here is the wisdom: do the work every day, deal with the daily annoyances and irritations that are demonstrations of our disease of attitudes.  When we do the daily work, we become ready for the big stuff when it hits.  An example of this in my own history came about in 2004 after I had seen a physician who told me in so many words that I had cancer.  She didn’t say it outright because as we all know it takes a biopsy to be sure.  However, what she did say to me was this: “That is not a cyst and this is why.”  She then explained the difference between a cyst (which I thought it was) and a tumor.   After a period of ice cold shock, after I got home, I said a prayer.  I was standing in the living room when I said, “Whichever ways this goes—live or die–I accept it.”  Well we all now know the outcome; I completed successful treatment with an attitude of acceptance without fear or complaints.  At that time I realized that I was able to “accept the thing I could not change” because of my practice (at that time) of acceptance for thirty-seven years.

Every day we have opportunities, real or created, to strengthen our acceptance and forgiveness muscles.  And by doing so, we develop a brain/body/mind/spirit that is resilient and ready to take on the next challenge.

Looking Back – Happy New Year

Happy new year from Kay SheppardWell, here we are starting a new year. I love January, it is the month I celebrate the beginning of my recovery in January 1967, when I was blessed with the gut-level experience of Step One. I knew, finally, after many years of resisting the idea with my list of reservations, that I am powerless. At that time I identified alcohol as my current drug of choice. Over the next 48 years of continuous sobriety, I have been able to identify many mood altering activities that had to be addressed in order to get connected with my Higher Power–and stay connected!

Certainly, as we all know, I got in touch with the idea that I am powerless over certain kinds of food. Ten years after my recovery began, in January 1977; Janet G. came up to me after a meeting and said: “Do you know you talk about food and diets all the time?” I didn’t. She went on to say: “There is a program for that.” “Is it a twelve-step program“, I asked? When she assured me that it was, I joined up and got abstinent in January 1977. After one brief (one candy bar) relapse, I’ve stayed abstinent since August 1977. At that time, my gut-level Step two experience took place. I knew without reservation that I must be abstinent from addictive trigger foods in order to have an orderly, productive, sane way of life. The food was making me crazy!

I am not sure when I had my powerful Step Three experience, but I do remember what happened. I was so sick of my character defects that I prayed: “Take me and change me, I cannot go on like this. I can’t stand myself.” The great gift there was that I realized that the only thing that stood in the way of a peaceful life was me! The good news was that I could change. I have used all of the tools at my disposal to change and grow in order to stay abstinent, and I stay abstinent in order to change and grow.

Gratefully, I have the inventory steps to help me with the detective work of discovering what is going on in my operating system. What can I conjure up today to screw up the works? There is always something going on. You know about progress, not perfection, right? As time passes, the defects and shortcomings become very subtle. Something can crop up when I am reading the headlines, scrolling through Facebook, or just sitting around reminiscing. Little bits of anger, fear, or guilt can surface to get in the way of my spiritual journey. It is so much fun, identifying and dealing with these defects. It is like getting the upper hand over the ego. There you go again Edging God Out! Not for long, because I am on to you and I have tools, support, and the God of my understanding to rely upon. And I get to make amends too. By making direct amends I get to restore and rectify the damage I have done. There is real freedom in doing that. Then there are living amends—I get to live according to the principles of the program: honesty, hope, faith, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, restitution, perseverance, spirituality, and service.

Recovery is such a good deal. For me, God’s will has been way beyond anything my finite mind could imagine. Whenever the phone rings or an email shows up in my mailbox, I can clearly see that God’s calling. I have been invited to share my message in Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Australia, Mexico, Ireland, and lots of the US states including Hawaii. Five publishers asked me to write a book on Food Addiction, and none of them even knew I was literate. I have talked to Russian and African food addicts on Skype. Right in the middle of writing this article for the newsletter, I got a call from New York City. It was amazing and the woman didn’t even know who she was calling. She had my number listed as Kathy Sheppard. After we had talked for a long while, she said: “Kay!?” It didn’t matter, our talk was awesome. Every day is a new awakening, experience, beginning. This life is really “beyond my wildest dreams.” And all I really have to do is trust God, weigh my potato and answer the phone.

Praying your 2015 is Happily Abstinent, Kay

Happiness is an Inside Job

Happiness is an inside job.  The only way happiness can be achieved is to remove the blocks that we ourselves create against it.  During the holidays, we often spend more time with family and that can present a wonderful opportunity to review our feelings’ list.  Old feelings we didn’t even know we had might come up.  What a surprise!  Our long-term memory can be a storage bin for old stuff that is reactivated as our holiday plans take place and we think about people, places and situations of the past.

Recently, a friend defined our four basic feelings in such a simple way that we all took note.  She said:  Anger is the feeling I get when I am not getting my way today.  Resentment is the feeling I get when I didn’t get my way yesterday.  Fear is the feeling I get when I think I won’t get my way tomorrow.  And depression is the feeling I get when I think that I never get my way!

When old ideas and the emotions they generate come to the surface, we have the tools to change them.  All we really need to do is change our thoughts. After all, it is only a thought and a thought can be changed. The good news is, a good feeling follows a good thought.  When we change our attitude about a person, place or situation, we reap the reward.  Who wouldn’t rather feel peaceful, joyous and happy than resentful, fearful and sad?  Sometimes we can simply say: bless him/her, change me.  Then pray for all the good things you can think of for that person. (Let’s face it, most of our old stuff falls into the category of resentments.)

In one of the stories in the AA big book, the author shows us the way to be free of resentments.  She says: “In my prayers that morning I asked God to point out to me some way to be free of this resentment. During the day a friend of mine brought me some magazines to take to a hospital group I was interested in, and I looked through them and a “banner” across the front of one featured an article by a prominent clergyman in which I caught the word ‘resentment.’”

He said, in effect: ‘If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don’t really want it for them, and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.’

It worked for me then, and it has worked for me many times since, and it will work for me every time I am willing to work it. Sometimes I have to ask first for the willingness, but it too always comes. And be-cause it works for me, it will work for all of us.”  Alcoholics Anonymous (Fourth Edition) pp 561-562. 

It seems to me, to follow this formula, we could identify our resentments, pray for two weeks for the persons we resent and that would take us right through the holidays.  In fact, we could just go ahead and pray right up until New Years day.  What a good ending to our year and what a good beginning for 2015.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, holiday season and the best New Year ever.

 

 

 

Holiday Recipe: Cranberry Relish

abstinent cranberry relishThis cranberry relish is so good with turkey for breakfast and metabolic.

Ingredients:

1 package of raw cranberries

1 navel orange

1 cup of drained crushed pineapple

Preparation:

Wash and drain 1 package of raw cranberries
Wash and halve 1 navel orange
Put orange half (with rind) and package of cranberries in food processor
Pulse until the berries and orange are the consistency of relish
Stir in 1 cup of drained crushed pineapple

Six ounces equals one fruit serving