Episode 14 How our stories limit us and keep us powerless

Living While Loving Your Child Through Addiction
Living While Loving Your Child Through Addiction
Episode 14 How our stories limit us and keep us powerless

It feels like your child’s addiction has all the power, but that’s not true. It just takes a shift in perspective and learning where to focus your efforts to take your power back from addiction.  In this episode I give you a new perspective and approach to your child’s addiction that helps you see where your power and control is. 

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This transcript has not been formatted or edited.

I’m Heather and this is the Living With Addiction podcast where I show you how you have more power than you realize when it comes to helping yourself and your child that’s struggling with addiction.

Thursday. So today I want to share with you some of the learning opportunities that my life has sent my way recently. We often hear that life is full of lessons but there’s a key component missing from that statement. It’s only a lesson if we see the opportunity to learn something from the circumstance that life sends our way.

When that happens, I always ask myself, what’s this here to teach me? What am I supposed to learn from this? And how is this situation for me and not against me? But if a situation is highly emotional and painful, then of course I sit in my messy feelings about it before I go through those questions to try to learn the lesson. I mean, the timing has to be right. It’s a human process.

So it’s unique for each person in situation. You have to allow and process heavy emotions before you can access the higher level reasoning area of your brain, the prefrontal cortex. That part of your brain shuts down when emotions are really high. So that’s why you can’t think.

when you’re really angry or sad about something. And I’m working on an episode about processing emotions, so look for that to come out soon. But once emotions are processed and we’re ready to engage in learning, we can learn new concepts and insight into those circumstances. But we learn them

layers. It’s like peeling away the layers of an onion. The longer we understand a concept and the more we implement it in our life, the deeper our understanding of it is and the more benefit that we get out of it in our life. So let’s apply this to listening to my podcast. If you

just listen and consume my podcast, you will experience some mindset shifts. There’s a lot of value in listening to and processing new ideas, concepts, and experiences. But if you listen and intentionally implement what you hear on my podcast, you will experience growth at a completely different level by taking the time.

to actually follow through and use what you’re hearing. But if you take it one step further and you work with me, you’ll get even more out of it. You’ll get to that deepest understanding and the most benefit of the concepts. But most people get stuck at just consuming content. They consume tons of content, they never digest it, they never make it their own, and…

then it just becomes overwhelming. And it starts to work against them and create more confusion instead of solutions. The antidote for confusion is just stopping and just answering all the questions that are, you know, just swirling around in your mind. You had the answers to those questions, you just have to stop.

and answer them for yourself. That’s how you stop the confusion. And this is the process that I went through when I started learning some of the concepts that I teach. I consumed the content from my coach’s podcast for at least two years, maybe longer. And I felt very compelled to listen to it. I knew that it could really help me.

and I felt like I had to listen each week, but I was just consuming it. I wasn’t sure how to implement what I was hearing in my life, even though I could tell there was a lot of value in it. And I couldn’t really implement it until I started working with her. Then the lights came on and it all clicked.

but I had to work with the information that I was learning to get the full benefit of it in my life. And that’s why I offer a lot of like, take these steps and specific actions in my podcasts so that you aren’t just listening, but you have directions to take out and use in your life. So at the very least,

you listen to this podcast, I want you to start implementing what you hear. Don’t just consume the information and not do anything with it. Take actions from what you learn on this podcast. Take actions from what you hear. So back to me working with my coach, one of the first things I learned when I was working with her was that my thoughts create my life.

I learned that our brains work in a think-feel-act cycle. So we have a circumstance or fact in our life. We have a thought about the circumstance. The thought causes a chemical to be released. That chemical is felt in your body as an emotion. That’s how you feel a feeling. It comes from a thought. And we take actions in our life based on the emotions.

that are created by our thoughts. Those actions create the results in your life. That means your thoughts create your reality. You choose your reality, not the circumstances. You have multiple realities available to you for every circumstance in your life based on the thoughts that you choose to think about it.

So a circumstance is a fact in your life like your job title, like my you know a circumstance for me is that I’m a life coach, I have a child that’s been diagnosed with substance use disorder, my marital status, or that I have two dogs. Like those are all circumstances. They’re all just facts about my life. And I’ve known that…

my thoughts create my results. I’ve been using this concept in my life for a couple of years now but recently it just hit me it’s so much of a deeper level that how limiting my thoughts can be and they’re the only thing that stand between me and what I want in my life. A few weeks ago

I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, and it really sent me into an emotional spiral. Not because I thought I was going to die. My prognosis is really good because it was caught early, but because of my fears about how it would affect the quality of the rest of my life. I’m still, you know, very young.

and plan to live a lot longer. And I don’t just want quantity of life, I also want quality of life. So I had a lot of fears about that. And I think that if you could measure the fear that comes from words, I imagine that the measurement of the fear that comes from the word cancer would be very high. There’s just so much loss and darkness associated with it.

And I got so sucked into all of that darkness and all of the thoughts of what I was gonna lose in my life because of the cancer. And at the time, those things that I was thinking felt so real. My story was creating this different reality for me suddenly.

And our stories come from our beliefs and thoughts. And then we see everything through the lens of that story. Because our brain is always looking for evidence that our story is true in order to reinforce it. So it’s a very strong pull for us.

to keep recreating and living in the story that we’ve created about our life. So stories come from thoughts. We have thoughts and once we think the same thought over and over again, it becomes a belief. Then you gather a collection of beliefs and they become a story about your life. So as soon as I heard

the word cancer, I collected like every dark, fearful belief that I have and created a really painful story with them. And I lived in that story for about 10 days. And as you can imagine, I really suffered those 10 days. I was in a lot of pain. And

my story that I was telling myself was very powerful. So having a lot of power over me because it was so limiting and it was just keeping me stuck. And if I had not gone through the experience of my daughter’s addiction and I hadn’t learned all the lessons that I’ve learned from that.

I would have stayed in that painful story so much longer than 10 days because I wouldn’t have understood that I was the one creating that, that my thoughts were creating it. I would have been 100% certain that the cancer, that circumstance was creating it. The same way before I understood about my thoughts and how important they were that I was 100% sure that…

my daughter’s addiction was creating my pain, that it was that circumstance of having a child struggling with addiction that was causing all of my pain. It could have taken me months or years to figure out what I was doing to myself if I didn’t have this experience of dealing with my daughter’s addiction. Because it took me years to figure out.

how to get out of my story about her addiction. And I’m not saying when I say that I got out of my story, I’m not saying that I no longer have fears and that there won’t be any more painful emotions, but I’m certainly not causing myself any more suffering. I’m not.

at the effect of that anymore. I’m able to see where my power and control is in the situation. Now, I think it’s really important that I trusted myself to experience all of that pain and all of the yucky feelings that came up and not try to force myself out of them. I’m not saying that…

there ever comes a point where you don’t, you just get a free pass and you don’t have to experience humanness because that’s a part, very big part of what I experienced when I got so deep into that painful story. That’s just my humanness. And it’s important to experience the full spectrum of human emotion.

experienced the highest highs if you’re not willing to experience the lowest lows. It’s okay not to be okay sometimes and feelings need to be processed. And a friend shared a great quote with me once and I don’t know who to credit for this quote but I had it on my computer screen where I could see it every day for

probably about a year, just to remind me that there is so much experience and knowledge and wisdom to gain from the trials that we go through in life. And that quote was, the medicine for the pain is in the pain. The medicine for the pain is in the pain.

So it’s so important to allow all of the feelings. That’s where I always find the answers. It’s in the middle of all of that. That’s where the medicine is. I never find the answers when I just try to push my feelings down or bypass them. I rarely do that anymore. It’s how I used to live, but it’s not how I choose to live anymore.

And this is the first thing I’ve experienced that way. Like it was my daughter’s addiction where I was going through where I started feeling again and quit living that numb life. So I probably experienced the intensity of this at maybe even a deeper level because

I’ve worked so hard at being a person who feels the full spectrum of human emotions and so I really felt all of the emotions of this in a way that I hadn’t experienced anything before. And I’m proud of the fact that this challenge showed me how much I can trust myself and how much.

have my back and that I can go into something really painful and when the time is right get so much clarity and get myself out of that suffering. So after that 10 days of suffering I realized that the story I was living in was creating my reality.

It just became so clear to me what I was doing to myself. And the circumstance of cancer was not creating my reality or my experience. My thoughts about it were. So think about this. The cancer existed in my body before I knew about it.

Before I knew about it, I was content and peaceful most of the time. So the circumstance of having cancer was not causing my pain, my emotional pain. My thoughts about it were. Now, granted, I’m not saying that cancer is a party. It is not. But for my stage and diagnosis, it doesn’t have to be a prison either.

And that’s where the problem was that I was a prisoner of my story about it. And that story, which remember stories come from our thoughts and beliefs, that story was the only thing holding me back from feeling peaceful and content like I did feel before I knew about the cancer.

And I started noticing how I was just creating limitations in my life. And I was using the cancer as my limiting circumstance. Like it was just the good reason that I couldn’t do something. The cancer wasn’t standing between me and what I wanted. I was.

I was turning my circumstance into a limitation.

Now that’s just a part of human behavior. There’s nothing wrong with me or anyone else who does it. We do it because our brain wants to keep us alive and staying the same, you know, having the same behaviors repeatedly has kept us alive so far. So our brain wants us to conserve energy and repeat what’s kept us alive. We have to…

know how to override our brains built-in safety mechanism in order to get what we want. And that built-in safety mechanism is the resistance you feel anytime you want to try something new. The only time you don’t feel that resistance is when the results seem guaranteed.

or the opportunity is just so damn exciting that you can’t resist it. And throughout my life, I’ve used different circumstances to limit myself. I’ve used my daughter’s addiction, my struggling marriage, then my divorce, my weight, the hours I worked. Didn’t matter what it was. It was just an excuse for me. And all of those circumstances

They had an effect on my life, but the results that I created with those circumstances were totally up to me.

It’s like, okay, I have this circumstance in my life. Now, how do I wanna show up? Who do I wanna be in this experience of this circumstance? I’ve experienced what my life is like when I use those circumstances as limitations and what my life is like when I leverage those circumstances. And it feels pretty…

amazing when I am leveraging those circumstances and showing up for myself and seeing what I can create in the situation. But when I use my circumstance as a limitation, it has all the power. But when I use it as leverage, I have all the power.

And that feels amazing and it creates amazing results. So I just wanna give you an example of how my thoughts changed based on learning this new circumstance in my life. So the thoughts that I was having before my diagnosis were 2021 is gonna be a great year.

My future is bright and full of possibilities. My business is exploding with growth. I feel content being single. At 48, I feel more young and vibrant and healthy than ever. But then, after my diagnosis, here’s a couple of my thoughts. I’m no longer healthy.

My business is going to fail if I get too busy with doctor’s appointments, treatments, and recovery from surgery. The hormone blockers I have to take are gonna steal my youth vibrance and drive in life. My breasts are gonna be damaged and I’m never gonna wanna date again. I can’t achieve what I want to with setbacks like cancer. I mean, those are some really debilitating thoughts.

and since our brains work in a think-feel-act cycle, these sets of thoughts are going to create two totally different lives, two totally different realities. My after diagnosis thoughts created feelings like fear and defeat. Those feelings created a lot of an action, a lot of me doing nothing, a lot of me coming up with

reasons why I couldn’t do the things that I wanted to do. I was using it as a roadblock against myself. Even though I’m physically capable of taking action that would create the results that I wanted, that would create the life that I was originally creating with my pre-diagnosis thoughts, because I’m feeling fear and defeat, I won’t take those actions.

Because that fear and defeat is draining all of my energy. That powerlessness is just draining the life out of me. So while I was having the pre-diagnosis thoughts, the cancer was in my body. I just wanna repeat that again. I just didn’t know or have thoughts about it yet. The only thing that changed was my knowing about it and my thoughts.

My thoughts are my prison, not the cancer. My before cancer thoughts were very free. There were no limitations. The only thing between me and what I want was those limiting thoughts and beliefs and the story that I was telling myself. So once I really could see that, it was just this moment of clarity after so much pain.

this relief washed over me, this realization of I didn’t have to live in that painful story anymore. And I was, it just clicked and I was able to set myself free. And like I said, I’m not saying that it’s suddenly just super easy and I’m not scared of some of the decisions that I’m making, but.

I don’t have to live in that painful story. And I am very aware that I can still create whatever I want. And so I decided to come up with some new thoughts to work on believing. And some of them are 2021 is going to be a great year, just like I was believing before.

I can take extra time to take care of my mental and physical health and still have a thriving business. I can figure out how to be young, vibrant, and energetic even with the hormone blockers. Cancer might affect my timeline, but I can still achieve my goals. And life is full of curveballs, but I know how to hit them out of the park.

Sometimes I totally believe these thoughts and I can feel them in my body. I totally can see myself creating that reality and sometimes that reality feels a million miles away from me. That doesn’t mean that anything has gone wrong. That’s just the process of creating a new belief that’s going to create new results, a new reality.

And I wanted to share this story because I want to show how it really, it doesn’t matter if the circumstances are child’s addiction or breast cancer.

Our future is in our hands because we control the story, we create about it with our thoughts. Addiction and breast cancer don’t hold the power we do. It’s up to us to create our own peace of mind and happiness. That’s what I’ve always said about addiction and that’s what I immediately told myself about cancer when I had this realization too.

It all applies, all the same tools. I have to create my own peace of mind and happiness in this situation. No doctor, no family member, nobody, no friend can do this for me. I have to create my own peace of mind and happiness in this because I only get one life and it’s really important to me to be intentional with what I create in that life. And I’m so grateful.

that I had these tools that I was able to get that clarity to see that to see exactly where my power and control is in this situation that it is me. The circumstance does not dictate my life. So if you’re interested in coaching with me about your child’s addiction or anything else.

Sign up for a call with me using the link in the show notes. And I will talk to you next week. I hope you have a great weekend.

Thank you for listening to this episode. If you wanna learn more about my work, go to heat If you wanna help other parents who are struggling with a child’s addiction, you can do it two different ways. First, you can share the podcast with them directly, or you can share it on your social media. Second, you can leave a review. Talk to you next week.