Lesson through Service

Over the past eight months I have looked for experiences that let me step outside of my own life for a bit – both as an escape and as an opportunity to gain perspective. It is easy to fall into a trap of feeling like my husband’s arrest and addiction are a clear end to my world, but the truth is that life is made up of a lot more than one relationship. Just today, over lunch with a girlfriend, I was saying that its so difficult to listen to voices and influences in my life saying that staying in my marriage will hold me back. I find myself today feeling like life is fuller than it has been in a very long time – I am spending my time pursuing things that feel right, I am successful at my job and have secured a promotion, and my relationship feels solid and makes me happy.

To navigate a lot of my grievances and frustrations with the legal system, I stumbled upon a great volunteer opportunity. I am now working each week with a young woman who is in jail – someone without a voice and is merely part of a broken system. My role is that of a mentor – an avenue to help her see the possibility of a path that is promising and far from what her life’s circumstances would normally lead her towards. The experience, though relatively fresh, has been pretty phenomenal – for personal growth and as a source of strength.

I wanted to highlight a few larger thoughts from the training I completed to prepare me for this mentorship.

  • Depression stops someone from thinking about the future; it is life absent of color – pure blackness
  • Blame is concentrating on the past; Responsibility is concentrating on the future
  • Any one snapshot in time is not reality
  • The interpretation of reality is more important than the reality itself
  • People fail because of their strategy, not because of who they are as people
  • Success comes from changing the strategy
  • You don’t even have to belief in yourself, you just have to take the next step
  • Challenges that you meet head on bring a new level of development
  • Learned helplessness brings opportunity blindness
  • Learned helplessness is the belief that there is no connection between one’s actions and the outcome of events
  • Resilience is the belief that actions, exerted over time, produce outcomes
  • Negative Explanatory Style: stable (no change), global (effects everything), internal (my fault)
  • Positive Explanatory Style: dynamic (things change), specific (problem is limited), external (not necessarily my fault)
  • Substances allow you to run from the feelings you don’t want – If you run, it will chase you – The more you run, the stronger/bigger it gets – If it catches you, it will kill you – At some point you have to turn around and chase it back
  • People think sobriety means a great life – it really means facing problems – and they have gained interest
  • Relapse occurs when the mind changes
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