“She said we can’t even be friends…” Why?

Recently, a friend of mine shared how excited he was that a new lady he fancied had showed him she also had romantic interest in him. He gleefully recounted how amazing everything had been on their first meet-up. He also shared that both of them were engaged in addiction recovery and the she was quite serious about her sobriety. A week went by and they had a second date, but the second report was the polar opposite of the amazing first date story from the week before. My friend shared he was surprised when she told him she was not able to begin a new relationship right now, that he understood, but she continued to tell him she also could not even be friends with him right now due to her needs to focus on herself and her recovery.

This was not what my buddy wanted to hear at all. In our conversation that day, he said, “I bet her sponsor told her that stuff.” The good thing is my friend was able to find peace in the end of his new fling, but still seemed troubled by the “why” of her decision.

All of the sudden one of my favorite lessons from “The Magic Story” came to mind and I told it to my buddy.

Keep your pack light

When making a steep climb or long hike – keep your pack light.

Life shows up. When it does we all at times make choices or encounter situations that knock us off our forward path of progress causing a slide in the opposite direction. Sometimes the slide down can be so far and so dramatic that we say that person has hit rock bottom.

Whether at rock bottom or just way off course, you have traveled a path downward far from your original starting point. You know the path back because you were the one that took the trip to the place you are now. But the way back is up and likely a steep and challenging climb. What advice would you give to someone who is about to embark on a wicked challenging climb? Of all the advice I have heard one of my favorites is, “keep your pack light.”

This simple advice is open to interpretation and is impacted by each person’s determination of what is essential to be placed in their “pack.” As demonstrated in the song “Bag Lady” by Erykah Badhu, she sings, “No one ever told you all you need is you.”

When commencing a recovery climb it becomes more challenging the more you are carrying. I shared this all with my friend and he smiled and nodded his head as he processed what I was saying. His lady friend most likely was at a point in her climb where she needed to keep her pack very light and in her assessment she didn’t even have room or the capacity to “carry” a new friend.

Smiling my friend said, I understand now.

What’s in your pack? Have you done an assessment lately of what you are carrying?


#May I Share My Journey

Today for May is Mental Health Month we kick off “I Share My Journey” with a share from KOTS founder Don West, Jr. This piece was originally shared on February 6, 2018 on his personal blog and we feel the message of being in the Now and accepting as it was perfect for someone out there today. Enjoy…

Here. Now. The Right Place For Life…

Los Angeles, California

Today in our Advanced Life Coaching group at the West Central Mental Health Center, Marilyn J., our group’s facilitator, gifted us an amazing piece by Jeff Foster, entitled, “The Right Place For Life.” The short piece was exactly what I needed to help me accept the circumstances of my own now, here, where I stand. As I sat in the group earlier today, I decided that when I got home later I would engage in the “Finding Forester” exercise of using another’s writing as a starting point to finding your own voice. Unlike the character in the movie, I do not have Jeff Foster’s permission, nor his mentorship, but just the same I will attempt to use his words as a starting point to find my own on this topic of the present moment. Below is my first draft. Enjoy!

Trust in wherever the path shall lead…

You have kissed it with your heart and soul. And now, your heart is broken. You no longer feel comfortable in your own home, not even in your own skin. Everything you have worked so hard for is falling to pieces right before your eyes. You feel like you have lost that essential something, that special keepsake of your heart that defined you, that thing that made you, “you.” It feels as though something within you is missing. Life is presenting as unfair, unkind, wrong, or even worse, life no longer feels “real” anymore. You yearn to escape, to just get away. You ache to jump back in time, to the way things used to be, -or- fast forward past NOW, to that wondrous way that things could be. You feel isolated, misunderstood, without direction and no one can help. You are convinced that no one can possibly understand your current situation because nobody else has ever stood in your shoes.

You feel as though you have arrived at the completely wrong place, at the worse possible time.

Stop. Focus on your breath. Contemplate that everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be at this point in time. How do we know things are exactly, right? Because this is exactly how things happened.

The Universe can not go “wrong.” Only our perception of what IS can be “wrong.” Our life only feels like it is going “wrong” within the confines of our own meat minds, within our own thinking.

What we tell ourselves is only our “story,” our “movie.” Step out of the movie of past and future, to scenes of “back then,” or dreams of “if when,” and instead turn and face this sacred moment, the NOW of this moment, the only true moment that exists.

Settle down and feel your own presence, right here in this sacred space, focus on the steadiness of your breath, a constant stable rhythm amidst the chaos of the world. Feel every part of your body, full of sensation, tingling, each part full of life. Feel the weight of your body, noticing how it interacts with gravity, being pulled downward toward the earth as if pulled magically from its very center. Feel the life force pulsating in your heart, observe the rise and fall of your chest. Embrace the raw life that is here, covering you, filling you, animating your every move. Focus on the vibrations in your head and the activity in your stomach. Notice how your feet contact the ground, observe the air as it flows past your nostrils. Concentrate on your ears and all the sounds occurring all around you, rising and falling.

In this awareness of the NOW, know that the next step of your journey can only be taken from here, right where you stand, in this present moment. Know that the ground under your feet, the only true ground, is ready to meet your next step. Relax in the joy of not knowing what the next step will be before it is actually taken. Trust in the knowledge that you cannot trust right now; the path shall reveal itself in its own time. Do not fret about the future. The true path ultimately will emerge, as it always has and always will. Be present. Be here. NOW.

Your energy may be low, your heart may be broken my friend, and your old aspirations may have evaporated into the ether no longer on track, but luxuriate in the knowing that you’re always in the right place for life. Today it is here. NOW.

You, Just You is Enough…

“Your real identity is spiritual and spiritual only. You are not your name, age, weight, address, religion, education level, relationship status, job, bank statement, medical or psychiatric diagnosis, or any other attribute by which the world identifies you. If you tell a lie long enough you start to believe it.”

~ #WCMHC Advanced Life Coaching Group

#MentalHealth #MentalHealthAwareness #KnockOutTheStigma #identity #AwakeningToTruth #AdvancedLifeCoaching #PostModernCoaching

Introducing the Eight Dimensions of Holistic Well-Being

8 Dimensions Pyramid - KOTS

We recognize that our purpose here on earth is greater than doing things or collecting things.  Here at Knock Out The Stigma, Inc., (“KOTS“), we seek to provide our community with a holistic set of tools and information to empower them in increasing their own happiness and satisfaction with their life’s journeys.  The search for balance in life often leads one to examine their holistic well-being.  Holistic well-being is the pursuit of continued growth and balance in the eight dimensions of well-being. A lot of people think about “well-being” in terms of physical health only.  The word invokes thoughts of nutrition, exercise, weight management, blood pressure, etc. Well-being, however, is much more than physical health. Holistic well-being is a full integration of all six dimensions of our physical reality, as well as our mental and spiritual well-being. It is a complex set of interactions that when balanced together leads to quality of life.

Holistic well-being is commonly viewed as having eight dimensions.  Each dimension contributes to our own sense of well-being or quality of life, and each affects and overlaps the others.  At times one may be more prominent than others, but the neglect of any one dimension for any extended length of time may have adverse effects on overall health and often is the cause of “dis-ease.”

Exploring The Eight Dimensions of Holistic Well-Being

Level 1 – Environmental Well-Being Dimension

Many people focus on the grander scale of the environment when discussing this particular dimension focusing on cleaner air, oceans and conservation efforts. We like to think of it in a much more personal sense. We define our environment as the places where we spend our time. This does include the oceans and the great outdoors, but more directly we see it as our bedrooms, homes, offices, cars, etc. These are our personal environments. Environmental wellness is an awareness of the unstable state of balance in our homes and communities as well as across the entire earth and the effects of our daily habits on the physical environment. It consists of maintaining a way of life that maximizes harmony within our homes and throughout the earth and minimizes harm to the environment. It includes being involved in socially responsible activities to protect the environment. It starts will cleaning and organizing our personal quarters.

Tips and suggestions for optimal environmental wellness:

  • Explore the Chinese principles of Fung Shui for your home and/or office
  • Deep clean and organize the place you spend most of your time
  • Stop your junk mail
  • Conserve water and other resources
  • Minimize chemical use
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Renew your relationship with the earth

Level 2 – Physical Well-Being Dimension

Physical wellness encompasses a variety of healthy behaviors including adequate exercise, proper nutrition and abstaining from harmful habits such as drug use and alcohol abuse. It means learning about and identifying symptoms of the disease, getting regular medical checkups, and protecting yourself from injuries and harm. Developing such healthy habits today will not only add years to your life but will enhance the enjoyment and quality of those years.

Tips for optimal physical wellness:

  • Exercise daily
  • Get adequate rest
  • Use seat belts, helmets, and other protective equipment
  • Learn to recognize early signs of illness
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods
  • Control your meal portions
  • Stop smoking and protect yourself against second-hand smoke
  • Use alcohol in moderation, if at all

Level 3 – Emotional Well-Being Dimension

Emotional well-being is a dynamic state that fluctuates frequently with your other six dimensions of well-being. Being emotionally well is typically defined as possessing the ability to feel and express human emotions such as happiness, sadness, and anger. Our clients have found wellness in this dimension more attainable when once they recognize they are the Observer of their own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Having an awareness that you are not these things and separate seems to promote wellness. It means having the ability to love and be loved and achieving a sense of fulfillment in life. Emotional wellness encompasses optimism, self-esteem, self-acceptance and the ability to share feelings.

Tips for optimal emotional well-being:

  • Tune-in to your thoughts and feelings
  • Cultivate an optimistic attitude
  • Seek and provide support
  • Learn time management skills
  • Practice stress management techniques
  • Accept and forgive yourself

Level 4 – Financial Well-Being Dimension

The financial dimension challenges us to master our economic landscape.  In this dimension, we seek to develop satisfaction with both our current and our future financial situations.  Financial well-being includes our relationship with money, skills to manage resources to live within our means, making informed financial decisions and investments, setting realistic goals, and learning to prepare for short-term and long-term needs or emergencies. Part of this dimension includes an awareness that everyone’s financial values, needs, and circumstances are unique.  Most express a need to expand their knowledge of financial matters and understanding of the tools available to find mastery in this dimension.

Tips and suggestions for optimal Financial Well-Being include:

  • Develop and stick to a balanced and written budget
  • Learn to understand and apply the Rich Dad Poor Dad Cash Flow Quadrants
  • Make and execute a plan to eliminate your debt
  • Consult a financial professional for advice and guidance
  • Continue your financial education through live seminars, webinars, YouTube videos, books, magazines, etc.

Suggested Resources/Reading for Financial Well-Being:

1. Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!  Personal finance author and lecturer Robert T. Kiyosaki developed his unique economic perspective from two very different influences – his two fathers. One father (Robert’s real father) was a highly educated man but fiscally poor. The other father was the father of Robert’s best friend – that Dad was an eighth-grade drop-out who became a self-made multi-millionaire. The lifelong monetary problems experienced by his poor dad pounded home the counterpoint communicated by his rich dad. Taking that message to heart, Kiyosaki was able to retire at 47.

2. The Richest Man in Babylon  Beloved by millions, this timeless classic holds the key to all you desire and everything you wish to accomplish. This is the book that reveals the secret to personal wealth.

The Success Secrets of the Ancients—
An Assured Road to Happiness and Prosperity

Countless readers have been helped by the famous “Babylonian parables,” hailed as the greatest of all inspirational works on the subject of thrift, financial planning, and personal wealth. In language as simple as that found in the Bible, these fascinating and informative stories set you on a sure path to prosperity and its accompanying joys. Acclaimed as a modern-day classic, this celebrated bestseller offers an understanding of—and a solution to—your personal financial problems that will guide you through a lifetime. This is the book that holds the secrets to keeping your money—and making more.

Level 5 – Intellectual Well-Being Dimension

The intellectual dimension encourages creative, stimulating mental activities. Our minds need to be continually inspired and exercised just as our bodies do. People who possess a high level of intellectual wellness have an active mind and continue to learn. An intellectually well person uses the resources available to expand one’s knowledge and improve skills. Keeping up-to-date on current events and participating in activities that arouse our minds are also important.

Tips and suggestions for optimal intellectual wellness include:

  • Take a continuing education course or workshop
  • Learn (or perfect) a foreign language
  • Seek out people who challenge you intellectually
  • Read, Read, Read
  • Learn to appreciate art in all its forms

Level 6 – Social Well-Being Dimension

Social wellness refers to our ability to interact successfully with our global community and to live up to the expectations and demands of our personal roles. This means learning good communication skills, developing intimacy with others, and creating a support network of friends and family members.

Social wellness includes showing respect for others and yourself. When we see those we interact with as mirrors of ourselves, we have opportunities to grow and develop a deeper understanding of what we see. Contributing to your community and to the world builds a sense of belonging.

Tips and suggestions for optimal social wellness include:

  • Cultivate healthy relationships
  • Get involved
  • Contribute to your community
  • Share your talents and skills
  • Communicate your thoughts, feelings, and ideas

Level 7 – Spiritual Well-Being Dimension

Spiritual wellness involves possessing a set of guiding beliefs, principles, or values that help give direction to one’s life. It encompasses a high level of faith, hope, and commitment to your individual beliefs that provide a sense of meaning and purpose. It is the willingness to seek meaning and purpose in human existence, to question everything and to appreciate the things which cannot be readily explained or understood.

A spiritually well person seeks harmony between what lies within as well as the forces outside.

Tips and suggestions for optimal spiritual wellness:

  • Explore your spiritual core
  • Spend time alone/meditate regularly
  • Be inquisitive and curious
  • Be fully present in everything you do
  • Listen with your heart and live by your principles
  • Allow yourself and those around you the freedom to be who they are
  • See opportunities for growth in the challenges life brings you

Level 8 – Occupational Well-Being Dimension

Occupational/Vocational wellness involves preparing and making use of your gifts, skills, and talents in order to gain purpose, happiness, and enrichment in your life. Oprah instructs us to seek to find our bliss, the thing that brings us joy, and then seek to find a way to make money or monetize whatever it is that brings you such joy.  The development of occupational satisfaction and wellness is related to your attitude about your work. Achieving optimal occupational wellness allows you to maintain a positive attitude and experience satisfaction/pleasure in your employment. Occupational wellness means successfully integrating a commitment to your occupation into a total lifestyle that is satisfying and rewarding.

Tips and suggestions for optimal occupational well-being include:

  • Ask yourself if you would do anything at all with no limitations
  • Consider what your life’s journey has prepared you for that is unique
  • Create a vision for your future
  • Choose a career that aligns with your personality, interests, and talents
  • Be open to change and learn new skills

Now that you have reviewed all eight dimensions of holistic well-being what are the first things that come to mind? What are you going to do differently in your life to achieve more balance and well-being? Do you have a better understanding of how everything in our entire world impacts our holistic well-being?