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Becoming A Retired People Pleaser Guest Author: Adam Stephens

As the spring sets in, I've had ample opportunities to sit next to the big window in my den, coffee in hand, and enjoy the bright daylight. It's my favorite spot to work, and most of all, write stuff down.

I'm in the process of putting together my first book. Putting words on a page is a reflective process that helps us deeply connect with our lived experience, and the past year has been an experience, no doubt.

I have learned a lot in my recovery journey, but the most healing trait I've been blessed to develop is the power to hurt consciously.

Does that sound crazy? Hurting is bad…right?

Suffering is hard, and none of us do it all that well, but let's be honest, it's a reality for all of us. Relationships are tough, and it takes a serious dose of humility to accept the world as it is.

It is difficult to walk alongside people who, much like ourselves, are struggling. Sometimes we just wait for our turn to talk. We offer advice and solutions. In reality, we aren't always helpful, even if we intend to be. When we attempt to fix, we are actually judging. We're signaling for the other party to be quiet and go hurt somewhere else.

We don't understand how to watch them suffer, and it's because deep down, we are scared of our own stuff. We are terrified of realizing that life does indeed involve suffering that can't be delayed, numbed out, or avoided.

Some of us need to do substantial healing work just to realize that it's ok to hurt. All of us are wounded. Even the bravest of us need help. I'm here to tell you that it's ok to break; it's ok to be imperfect.

Codependents and people pleasers are really good at using the actions of others to mirror their worthiness. They use the approval of others as a signal that they are doing alright, and the consistent need for that approval guarantees dysfunction.

That’s a good old fashioned recipe for burnout, and that recipe kept me locked into disordered eating, and poor self care habits for a long time.

When this was pointed out to me as a newcomer in recovery, I perceived the message as hostile. I would get really…I mean really upset.


There are no mistakes!?

Everything is an opportunity for spiritual growth!?

I didn’t welcome these insights, but I started to get better.

Accepting ourselves as imperfect allows us to receive the world as it is. It frees up a little more bandwidth for joy because we are no longer rushing around trying to guard ourselves against the first sign of pain or trouble.

In recovery, I discovered that the nature of God is Love.

Love is like Light. It illuminates. The Light is on, always has been, and always will be. Nothing false can stand in God's redeeming Love. Ignorance gets swallowed up.

No amount of evil or imperfection can extinguish God's Love for us. No amount of pain will last forever.

You don't have to earn God's Love. You're worthy because you are. If you weren't valuable, you wouldn't be here. None of us would. The universe has a purpose for all of us, and it will repurpose each of us when necessary.

Faith in a loving God allows us to remember that we don't suffer in vain. No matter how dark things appear now, there is no suffering that can stand forever.

Letting go is a big deal, even if it is merely due to the perceived cost of hanging on. We don't need to be spiritual before we can have a spiritual experience. We can fall flat on our butt and heal all at the same time.

Awareness is the first step in recovery; in fact, I would go as far as to say that in some cases, awareness alone is the recovery experience. Some situations don't require understanding or action; they only require acknowledgment and perhaps forgiveness once we are ready to do the work.

Accepting my brokenness felt beautiful. I finally reached for a God that was big enough to handle my life. I can't describe how much happier I became. Even sadness became a gift. It just pointed me back to the truth of the Light. I have accepted my worthiness. I have gained strength.

Above all, I have discovered one universal truth. The world can not satisfy the heart of man. There are two options. You're all in on ego, or you're surrendered. We either keep fighting, or we throw our hands up. We walk in God's world as willing participants, or we're left to kick, scream and squirm on our own. We have a choice; we can't have it both ways.

My experience has shown me that you have to go all-in if you wish to deepen your spiritual life. It only makes sense once you begin to break through the fog of your attachments, and I can assure you it's worth taking the risk.

Start where you are. Walk towards that Light

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