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Making the Commitment to Live Life.

An incredible skill that I have learned in recovery is commitment.

If you have had some trouble making positive commitments in your life, then stick around and read this.

Throughout my life I had a terribly difficult time committing to much of anything. When I did commit to something, I looked good out of the gates.

Over time though my commitment quickly descended into oblivion.

The disease of addiction had a grip on me for way too long. The only thing I really could commit myself to was numbing pain with chemicals.

By the time I used for my last time, even my commitment to using disappeared, thank god…

Of course, I don’t really call the actions taken while in active addiction, my own personal commitment. I didn’t feel in charge of that process.

I was more like a crazed squirrel, foraging to gather enough nuts to make sure it doesn’t starve during the winter.

It was pure instinct.

Pure instinct to protect me from the perceived danger of coming down. Insane or not, my brain was doing its best to protect me.

In fact, the way I ended up getting clean was because my family contacted Social Services, they worked out the process of terminating my rights to do anything but go to treatment for one year.

I was insane. They all knew it. Though it took some time to realize how crazy I actually was!

Help Commitment

Thankfully someone else made that commitment when I couldn’t do it for myself.

It wasn’t until I began waking up from my fog in treatment and at recovery meetings that I began making the decisions that would lay the groundwork for making positive commitments.

During my time in treatment I realized that even though I was under state commitment, I needed to make this recovery and my life my own.

So, when they said I needed to go to 2 recovery meetings a week, I decided to go to one pretty much every day. And when I had to earn points to go outside by doing homework, you better believe I was all over that!

I went above and beyond, to show MYSELF that this was mine. That this is my life and I am choosing to live. And that I am not being forced to!

This is the type of mentality that has helped me to have the last almost 10 years clean! As well as accomplishing many lifelong dreams like being happily married, becoming a father, graduating college and owning a home.

The level of commitment I have for life has grown immensely over the years. And the stakes have gotten remarkably higher!

Even though the stakes are higher, the process of achieving goals stays the same.  Plus, I don’t get to relax just because I have achieved a lot in the last 10 years.

My brain needs excitement, and to feel like I am living MY OWN life.

To make my life MY OWN I need to live above and beyond my current situation, while working hard in my current situation.

Commitment to Dream

This is how a mind stays connected to building a great future reality, letting MYSELF know, my RELATIONSHIPS know, and even LIFE ITSELF know that I am ALL-IN!

When we show that we are ALL-IN with our commitments, the amount of blessings come into my world is tremendous!

Life can be amazing, not so damn boring. This takes effort though! And something I need consistent reminders of..

So if you are struggling with feeling like your living your own life today, make more of those decisions that show commitment to making it more of YOUR own!

It’s not like anyone else can do this for us…

In my next article we will discuss living life on default. Which to me is neglecting to make enough positive commitment with our lives.

Living on default has horribly negative effects. I will talk about them, then lay out some important guidelines for staying off default mode and, living a life worth living!

Thank you so much for stopping in and checking out this article today!

If you enjoyed what you read and would love to see more, then go ahead and sign up to receive notifications for new posts in you email.

You will also receive a copy of our tried and true Therapeutic Writing Guide!

Much Love,
Travis H

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Pushing positive energy through the negative.

 

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I am a strong believer in the law of attraction! I have also experienced how it works in my life.

When I put out positive energy I am met back with that same energy. Just the same as if I am putting out negative energy that is what I receive back. This has been a great thing for me to implement in my life and it ALWAYS works.

Lately even though I know it works, I have had an extremely difficult time putting out that positive energy, which is not something that you do just once at the beginning of the day. Rather, it is something that you continue to do throughout your entire day. That, or it simply will not be effective!

It has been very difficult to follow through on staying positive, as of late. I begin my day by thinking positively and feeling love for what’s to come, but when that first negative thought or feeling comes it can be easy to let it hijack my whole day.

One area that is hugely impacted is at work. I work at Costco, which I normally love, and I interact with people my entire shift.

I am sure everyone can relate to shopping and ending up with that crabby cashier which can put a damper on your whole experience! I never thought that I was the crabby cashier. Well, it turns out that I am more that person lately than I thought.

When one unreasonable customer begins pushing my buttons they no doubt are feeling my “stabby eyes”, as my husband calls them. If just one of these customers comes around I can have a drastic personality change! And it will make it more likely that others after them will feel my wrath.

I am generally an upbeat and friendly person who never minds striking up conversation with those who come through my line. I smile and laugh with others and love to help cheer people up. Currently I am none of those things which has got me a bit down.

It’s not that I don’t want to be grateful, because trust me I do. I think that with all the changes that have come with being pregnant and being off one of my medications, that it has become a lot harder to manifest the positivity that I once had. This only increases fear and anxiety in my life.

I find it important to see exactly how this is affecting my everyday life. Gaining perspective on this is what drives me to make changes. What I know is that this issue has stopped me from fully being myself, leaving me feeling irritated and angry.

I am done hindering myself from having a great day. I am also done preventing myself from seeing all the positive things that are going on around me!

Although I am not trying to do it intentionally, I am making things harder for those I am working with. Ultimately, I am making it hard for anyone who encounters the negative energy I am fostering. This includes my family, friends, and even my cats!

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In my last post I mentioned how I would focus on bringing more gratitude into my life. This is something that can help me to attract positive energy, and not keep my day hijacked by the negative in my own head! Here are a few ways I have been able to do this!

1. Stop and list things I am grateful for in my head- This acts like a timeout if you will. Doing this at work helps to turn my mood around, even if for a few minutes.

2. I have a symbol to help remind me to be grateful- I picked this up from “The Power by: Rhonda Byrne.” I picked something that I love. Every time I see a turtle I stop and really invoke feeling of gratitude and love in my life. I see it in jewelry,on t-shirts, kid’s toys, and more. “Affiliate Link Below”

3. I take a moment to breathe- This allows me to slow down and relax a little. When this happens, I can focus on feelings of gratitude, and get back to my friendlier personality.

4. Putting myself in others shoes- At work I have found it helpful to think about how coworkers might be affected by my energy. I know that when I work with someone who is constantly negative it can take a toll on my mood and sometimes I find myself feeling negative right along with them.

5. Thinking helpful thoughts- When I can get outside of my head and think of helping others, that can keep me from treating them badly. Thinking of helping others has helped me to stop the negative thoughts and start thinking positive thoughts. Then I am able to laugh with and not criticize, to smile at and not scowl, and to love and not hate.

Each of these things helps me to incorporate more positive energy into my day, which is something that I really need right now. Actively practicing this is what makes for a good day and I become someone that others want to be around.

Well that is all I have for now! Thanks for taking a moment of your day to read this! Feel free to share if you found this to be helpful.

Also, look over to the sidebar and sign up to My Life Experiment’s email list to receive our free Therapeutic Writing Guide, and to receive My Life Experiment blog directly to you email!

I hope you have a great day!

 

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Relationships are About Contribution, Not Management!

By: Travis Hagen

Hey everybody, thank you for stopping in to My Life Experiment.

As you may have noticed there will be a new author making contribution to My Life Experiment, my wife Casey Hagen! When first starting My Life Experiment I wasn’t aware that this would be a thing that would come to be. Though when the idea came to try and get Casey on board with contributing, I immediately knew it was a solid gold idea!

Casey and I come from similar life paths, in that we have lived through the pain of addiction, have rocked it in recovery, and way more often than not have been strongly supportive contribution to the fulfillment of each other’s ambitions.

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What has worked so well in Casey and I’s relationship is that we have our own personalities, our own friends, and our own recoveries. I don’t feel the need to attempt to micromanage Casey’s life, and Casey has been able to do the same for me. Thank god!

We are able to have all of these things be separate, but still come together on enough things so that our relationship isn’t left to be too needy.

I don’t know about you, but I can get the feeling of suffocation quickly in any relationship! Without necessary space I am likely to freak out. I tend to be a bit of an introvert as I discussed a couple of posts back. That and I have had ample problems with other people’s expectations, and with those I perceive to be authority figures.

I remember one time when I was cleaning the fridge back at our old apartment. As I was cleaning, Casey walked by and said “Great job babe” or something similar. My immediate response was “you’re not my manager.” It was pretty funny to me, but I think it took Casey a little for bit for her to have the same sentiment for the comment.

Just so you know, I don’t believe my wife is my manager.

I have given ample thought to this situation and here is what I am concluding. Some unresolved stuff in me thought that she was trying to condition my behavior… So, I revolted!

I imagine this feeling is common place in relationships that require this amount of time to be spent together. Or maybe I am just justifying my behavior 🙂

Despite occasional revolts from feelings of being controlled, thankfully Casey and I have worked well together! But it isn’t controlling each other that has helped our lives together grow so rapidly.

We certainly push each other, encourage each other, and compliment each other! We understand that in order to have a happy relationship, we need to change, grow, and find success in new territories.

Casey knows that my success is her success, and my clean fridge is her clean fridge. And most of the time, I stay reminded of the very same thing!

Team Players!

We understand that we are a team. We realize that the team needs the fridge to be cleaned, the litter boxes to be emptied, the dishes to be done, and so on and so forth with the never ending list of responsibilities there are to take care of.

Even though sometimes innocent comments about my cleaning performance can be viewed as attempts to condition my behavior, it doesn’t really matter because that is all part of the process.

To be in a healthy, intimate relationship, we must allow the other person to leave their mark on us. They need to know that their needs, are needs that not only they care about.

Now does it really matter that compliments may be a great way to make it more likely that someone will behave the way I would like them to? When it comes to having a healthy relationship, of course not!

Casey isn’t making me be in my marriage, nobody is making me show up to weekly baby appointments, and cleaning the litter box. Nobody is forcing Casey to make any contribution to My Life Experiment blog, or any of the thousand contributions she has made to my life.

We choose to be in this relationship. And we choose to make it a healthy one. Both individually and mutually making contributions to each other!

A big reason I have been able to keep my end of this relationship healthy is because I have kept my own mental and emotional health in check. This has come from me showing up for my personal recovery.

Another great tool I have is the Therapeutic Writing Guidelines we have developed. This writing process has made huge contribution after huge contribution to my recovery. If you would like to obtain a printable copy, go ahead and join My Life Experiment’s email list on the side bar! You will get a printable Therapeutic Writing Guide, as well as receive our new blog posts directly to your email.

Thank you very much for stopping in to My Life Experiment once again or for the first time. We appreciate you all for supporting this family endeavor!

 

The Pros and Cons of Being Naturally Not so Social.

The Pros and Cons of Being Naturally Not so Social.

By: Travis Hagen

A couple of weeks ago on My Life Experiment I wrote about “Gaining Self-Acceptance for my Not So Social Nature.”

In this article I just want to lay out some of the pro’s and con’s to having a social style that doesn’t desire all that much social interaction.

I enjoy laying out the cons to things, since then I can build up the thing with the pros at the end!

Some Cons to Having a Not So Social Nature:

  1. I will not seek many opportunities to socialize- I know that socializing is very important for maintaining mental and emotional health. My style leads me to isolate pretty easily if I am not careful. And isolation is not good for my continued growth.
  2. When I want to Socialize, others may not want to- Sometimes I really do feel like socializing. The whole introverted thing is not an all or nothing proposition, I just happen to be more inclined to not want to socialize than to want to. So, since I am really good at hanging out with myself, I sometimes find it difficult to let people believe I actually want to hang out!
  3. Style Strengthens with use- I understand that what I do most often, is what I am learning most about doing more. I don’t learn how to socialize more until I actually socialize more often. To be more balanced with my social life, acting out on my nature too effectively does not help me learn a new way of living my life.
  4. People Might Follow me- People that may watch what I do in recovery sometimes see my style and think, “well if Travis doesn’t socialize then why should I.” This could lead someone that naturally has a more social engagement style to isolate themselves from the growth that comes from interacting with others. I help other addicts in recovery, and we tend to take things to extremes!
  5. Not selling myself enough- Lets face it, to be successful in life requires selling our personal brand (reputation)! In order to be selling, I need to put myself in front of buyers! That goes for this blog, my job, my recovery, and every other relationship. If I don’t sell people on my reality, they will naturally go up into their heads and make assumptions about me. And these assumptions may not benefit the kind of life I desire to live!

pros and cons

Some Pros to Having a Not So Social Nature:

  1. Recharge my own batteries- Many people need others to recharge their batteries. I do find some recharge from other people as well! But more often than not, I find that other peeps drain my batteries more than charge them up. So, when I need to recharge I can do some meditating, do some writing or just relax, and boom my batteries are all charged up!
  2. A Unique Life Perspective- I have spent much of my life sizing up the world. I sit back, and I watch, I study, I read. When I open my mouth, the thoughts are usually from a perspective that other people haven’t thought about! This has led me to come up with creative ways to solve problems that maybe other people are not thinking of.
  3. Development of Self Knowledge- To not be surrounded by people has helped me get to know myself in a way that I would have had a difficult time doing while being constantly surrounded by others. I realize that gaining self-knowledge does require some social engagement, but ample time reflecting by myself is paramount for me getting to know myself.
  4. Freedom from social expectations- Now that I have been gaining more acceptance of my social style I have been able to separate the expectations of others, from expectations I actually care to take responsibility for meeting. This frees me up to do more things that I care to do, instead of running around co-dependently taking on too many other peoples
  5. Time for Making my own Decisions- Something that I deeply need and enjoy is having peace and quiet for making big decisions. I feel that if I do not think through my decisions that I may end up acting irrationally. Thankfully I am quite alright being solely in my own company, so I can peacefully come up with my own part of the plan without the presence of other people. Then If I cannot figure out the plan, I can then communicate with others to figure out the rest.

I realize that my nature is naturally Not So Social but writing this Cons and Pros list has opened my eyes to some new insights!

The world that I live in, in order to find great success, does seem to favor those that are more extroverted and willing to socialize. So, for me to find the kind of success I desire, and desire for my family, does require me to crack open my not so social shell from time to time!

I realize that just because my nature tends to be naturally not so social, that does not mean that I cannot learn to be more social. But that it is quite alright for me to respect my limits and not expect myself to be something that I am not.

If there is one thing I hope that you get out of this article, I hope that you can see that it is perfectly fine to be yourself. This goes for if you have a not so social nature, as well as if you have in my opinion, too social of a nature!

I also hope that you take one more thing from this article. I hope that you see that whatever social type of nature you have, there are many bonuses to learn how to be more of your opposite!

My Life Experiment is all about learning new ways to live. I cannot simply accept my not so social nature, and let it be that. I have my tendencies but there is always room for improvement!

Thank you so much for stopping by!

That is all we have for today on My Life Experiment! If you have enjoyed this article, please give us a share on your social media and sign up to our email list. Those on our email list receive notice of our latest articles and will receive a copy of our soon to be completed Therapeutic Writing Guide!

Anxiety in a Joyous Time

Anxiety in a Joyous Time

By: Casey Hagen

I have experienced great excitement in my life on several different occasions, but each of those events doesn’t even seem to come close to the level of excitement that I have for bringing my baby Ada into this world with my husband. Our lives are about to drastically change, and we are ready. Although there is also great anxiety!

At this point we are waiting in anticipation to lay eyes on our little girl for the first time. The house has been filling up with things for her and her room is finally finished. To see the bassinette in the bedroom, to sit in the new rocking chair, and to wash and fold her tiny cloths are all things that fuel this excitement.

I picture her sleeping, crying, smiling, crawling, and the laughter of each of us as we enjoy these moments. I even picture the messy house, sleepless nights, and the dirty diapers. We are ready! I love each of these thoughts as they come up and I feel an immense amount of gratitude. I even feel gratitude for the hard moments that are about to come as well because it is all part of the process.

But to go along with all this excitement there is plenty of worry and anxiety. When I first learned that I was pregnant I had to quickly wean off a certain medication that I was on. It helped me with depression and anxiety symptoms. This has been difficult for me at certain points throughout my pregnancy.

I work a customer service job and I have noticed a significant increase in anxiety when it comes to talking with people. When it comes to any type of confrontation I feel like I am ready to crawl out of my own skin. And now that we are down to the last few weeks everything physically and mentally seems so hard. One thought that helps is knowing that this will not last forever.

This is all completely uncharted territory for both my husband and I and new experiences can be scary. From time to time I wonder whether I will be a good enough mom or worry about the birthing process. It’s ok, even normal to feel some amount of anxiety for what’s coming.

Right now it is so important for me to take care of myself so that I can be in the best spot mentally when Ada is born!

This means that I need to continue the practice of feeling grateful, keep talking about these feelings of anxiety so that i am not harboring them all to myself, and continuing to maintain a healthy daily routine  no matter how uncomfortable I am emotionally.

When I am practicing gratitude in all my affairs I start to feel better. Thoughts like “I can’t do this, or I am not good enough,” turn into thoughts of loving myself and knowing that I can accomplish what I set out to do. Gratitude has the ability to turn my mood around.

This has been one area that I have been lacking in at work and I can see the impact that it has on how I am interacting with people. It makes for a long and hard day when I fail to focus on why I am grateful.

The reason that I find it so important to continue to talk about my feeling of anxiety is because it seems to lessen those feelings. I am able to listen to feedback from others and keep myself accountable to what is going on.

Maintaining a healthy daily routine will help keep balance in my life especially when everything feels so hectic. This will take stress off my shoulders and allow me to feel somewhat normal right now.

As long as I am focusing on these things I know that I will be ok. I WILL be in the best place I can be. In fact, I already am!

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my article. If you like what you read today please feel free to share on social media. You can also click to be put on the email list as well. Until next time.

 

 

The Gifts of Self-Awareness and Finding my Conscience!

The Gifts of Self-Awareness and Finding my Conscience!

Hello there! Thank you for stopping in to My Life Experiment.

Today I have been thinking about some of the gifts that recovery has given me. Many of the things that recovery has blessed me with are more tangible things, things like being in a happy marriage, a very soon to be father, owning a nice house, and having a decent job.

But many of the gifts of recovery are what have actually made those more tangible gifts possible.

Recovery has helped me develop sanity by finding a principled way of living. Helping me learn, Honesty, Open-Mindedness, Willingness, Patience, just to name a few. Without practicing these in my life, I don’t stand a chance at staying sane, and staying clean.

There was a thought I had today that spurred me writing on this topic. The thought was “what is the most important thing I have learned from recovery?”

Although it is difficult for me to pick a most important thing I have learned. The self-knowledge and self-awareness I have learned seem to be a clear stand outs for the most important!

Most of my life before recovery I spent bouncing off one experience to another without really any clarity of why I was doing it. If there was “clarity,” the logic came from a very foggy mind, and I could convince myself of some crazy stuff..

What is very interesting is that I didn’t happen to bounce from one healthy experience to the next healthy experience. No, it was quite the opposite!

The actions I took seemed to be led by two puzzle pieces:

1. The easiest action I could take.
2. The most exciting action I could take.

Now I realize I am staring at another question here. Was it easy to deal with the consequences of committing crimes, or to create so many more problems for myself and others? Hell no, it wasn’t but those were not things that I thought through before tearing off into the next, probably not so good decision!

Of course, I felt remorse and regret when I caused problems. And when I felt those things, I desired to change my behavior. Sometimes I would change them, for a little while. But eventually I would find myself sliding back into old behavior.

Sure, through my life I have caused a lot of problems, but to me there is one main problem. I had no clue who in the hell I was. I lacked self-knowledge and self-awareness!

To me, without self-knowledge there is no self-awareness. And without self-awareness, there is no maintaining the required actions to hold my best possible life together. There is also no keeping me from destroying my life with the tendencies I resort to on default.

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A huge piece of self-knowledge I didn’t have for many years, is that I am an addict. That there is something in my brain that, when triggered, begins a downward spiral of negative thinking and negative actions.

Getting control of this spiral, keeping myself out of it, and learning how to move myself in the other direction has been what recovery is all about.

So today I know that I am an addict, and I am aware of what I need to do to recover. I am more aware of what thoughts and actions, bring me closer to starting my downward spiral, even subtly.

I have also learned how to separate my feelings about myself from the negative behaviors I habitually engaged the world with! And the troublesome thoughts that lead me to feel like acting on those behaviors are mostly nipped in the bud, as soon as the arrive in my mind.

Over the years I have come to learn more about who I truly am. I know that if I am seeking excitement by something that is illegal or destructive, that there is a bigger issue. Up above I mentioned two puzzle pieces that guided my addict behavior.

Here are the puzzle pieces that primarily guide my actions today:

1. What is best for my family?
2. Does this fit positive direction I have?
3. Do I really want to behave like this?
4. Am I going to regret this behavior later?

I notice that the above puzzle pieces were not based on questions, but these ones are. That is because I have a good relationship with my conscience today. When I ask it questions I get answers back that are more in tune with who I am!

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For many years I didn’t have a good relationship with my conscience, I didn’t ask many questions about what was best for me. Like I said I seemed to just bounce from each experience to the next, basically lost. Unaware of the conscience I had, and the possibilities that existed on the other side of the insanity I lived within.

Gaining self-knowledge and self-awareness are beautiful things. I don’t necessarily like everything I am learning about myself, but at least my thoughts and behavior are not such a horrible waste of my time and energy! On the flip side of the bad, I am growing quickly into the kind of life I adore living.

Now, I don’t claim to have full knowledge and awareness of who I am today. I would be a damn fool to believe I had that. If My Life Experiment has taught me anything up to this point, it has taught me that there is much more to be discovered about life. There is also much more to be discovered about myself!

Thank you for stopping in to My Life Experiment. We will definitely have more to say on the subject of self-knowledge and self-awareness in the future. But that is all I have to say today!

If you have enjoyed what you have read, then give us a share on your social media! And to receive My Life Experiment to your email, sign up below!
Much love everybody and take care!

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