Holding out my hand

In my last post I responded to a comment in a way that has really stayed with me.

I wrote, “The day I recognized that holding out a hand was much more powerful than pointing a finger, everything changed.”

It took me a long time to believe and accept this. I was absolutely certain that rules and goals were there to keep me motivated, in check and compliant. Perhaps they did do that. But they did not make me calm and happy, or satisfied with my results. Instead, they created a perfect storm of criticism and underachieving. All that accomplished was that I felt worse and worse about myself the more I did. As I got thinner and fitter I became so much less accepting of my body. I knew alcohol was part of this and I constantly swore to cut back. And failed time and time again. So I made more rules made them stricter. How crappy is that???!!!

Holding out a hand, for me, meant I started doing things because they made me feel good inside. Helpful things. Quitting drinking was obviously a big one. But I have a lot of food and exercise baggage that fell into this category too. I found a therapist. I threw the scale away. I started eating more. I let myself enjoy food. Especially cheesecake. I love cheesecake. I changed my inner critic into an inner cheerleader and I purposely recognized each and every small achievement. Over time it has become just how things are. I like, appreciate and love me.

When it come to others, I take this even further. I assume everyone knows how to criticize themselves. I am pretty sure anyone who is stuck in a cycle of addiction, whether it be alcohol, food, etc. has tried to implement many rules and regulations to get themselves “on track”. Every time we do this, and don’t succeed, it just reemphasizes the belief that we are not enough. Not good enough, committed enough or strong enough. That maybe we need a bigger stick. Punishment. Consequences. Fear.

Other people don’t need me to point out their failures. They need me to hold out my hand and show that someone thinks they are important enough to succeed. That others see them and understand. That they understand where they are and that there is a kinder, gentler way. Not an easy way, but a way that will leave you content and happy. That it is worth putting aside that fear and trying something different.

Trying and failing is not a sign that you are unworthy, broken or flawed. It is a sign that you are willing to change. And you will eventually succeed if you realize that you are worth the kindness.

Love is always the answer.

Stillness and Peace


24 thoughts on “Holding out my hand

  1. Gorgeous post Anne. Thank you. I love, love, love your “hand” quote and use it to end my piece for ProTalk which should be out soon. Your voice is valuable to the recovery community.

      1. Yeah, we are. Wanting to free myself and sometimes I can, its just so engrained. Guilt and shame, I grew up on it. I guess if I really want this to change I need to sit down with it and see what is keeping me. Let’s see.

  2. Oh, Anne. This nearly made me cry again, but in a good way! I identify so much with the “I didn’t meet my goal so I’m going to ramp it up a notch” bit. Never rewarding, always punishing. I’m taking time out every day to focus on being kind to myself, but it’s tough. You certainly sound like you’ve made great progress in that department, and your words hold so much wisdom :).

    1. I have. Huge changes.
      I teach yin yoga now. Old me would never have taken the time to do yoga, let alone yin. But every week when I teach it fills me up with love and joy.

      I punished myself enough. I’m doing the things that bring me light.

  3. What a wonderful post Anne. I love your ‘holding out your hand’ quote. I need to do this too. We need to be kinder to ourselves and others. I often feel flawed and inadequate because I have a drinking problem. I am a nurse and would never think of anyone with an illness as having a flaw, yet I am so hard on myself. I need to change this way of thinking. You sound like you are really at peace with yourself. This is something I aspire to. A x

    1. It is very hard to let go of the shame or feeling of failure that alcohol abuse holds. But by overcoming it we really show courage and strength.
      Finding that kind voice to use with yourself is a game changer.

  4. Dear Anne,
    This is so perfect! Teaching yin yoga is awesome, too!
    I hope your journey continues to bring good things, and I hope I can learn form you!

  5. Love this Anne. I can relate. My tendency to punish and make rules runs deep…12 yrs of Catholic School followed by a military career and I seemed to internalize the idea that the only way to succeed is through discipline, rules, punishment and order. I thought that being able to withstand abuse and harshness made me tough. And that this toughness was good and strong. I saw kindness as weakness and I thought that people who reached out a hand when someone didn’t deserve it…well they were weak. I actually thought that I had to earn my right to exisit. I am just beginning to recognize how self deprecating my treatment toward myself has been. Anne…your comments to me have helped me really “see” this…and I am grateful. You have a rare, special and insightful ability to write very healing posts I feel so lucky to “know” you.


    1. Thank you. I try to write from my heart. To put into words the huge shifts have experienced.

      Sometimes I think I might come across as weak in person now, but I know I glow with happiness and light from inside.

      People just don’t realize the power of stillness until they experience it.

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