heavy-934552_1280Thriving and striving: two action words that have very different effects on my mind, body and soul. How I speak to myself and the thoughts I have before words leave my mouth, have become fundamental parts of my functionality on this planet and plays a vital part in how my world manifests. More to the point…language plays a vital part in how I manifest my world.

Through my training in several healing modalities I have become abundantly aware of how each of us has the ability to heal our own bodies, minds and hearts. While that belief may be rather radical and far reaching for some, it is my experience that it is totally possible and happens daily, even from the most extreme of illness. I trained in Reflexology, Reiki and Therapeutic Massage before I ever even considered that substance abuse was something I engaged in. Yet I knew I was unwell and dis-eased. When I got clean and sober I studied further in energy healing and began to really understand the concept behind what we feed our bodies, our minds and our souls is what creates wellness or dis-ease in our lives. Even using the word dis-ease as opposed to disease (something I learned about 20 years ago from Lousie L. Hay Books) helps me to understand the state of my body at the time of illness. I am not at ease and the knock on effect of that turmoil was, for many years, catastrophic.

This concept further helped me when I began to seek help for my substance misuse. I understood finally that the dis-ease of my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual body was causing me to seek refuge in chemicals, food, relationships, exercise – even the compulsion to buy shoes was providing me with some momentary relief from the turmoil within my being. (I do have a pretty impressive shoe collection now though – that I never wear). My list of addictions and unhealthy behaviors was long and touched every part of my life. It baffles me and many others, that with such extensive training behind me and quite a bit of knowledge about how to be well, I still managed to find myself in rehab and mental institutions. The simple answer to that is, knowledge and training is only effective when it’s practiced and trusted. We also have to feel worthy of health and happiness. I did not feel worthy of anything close to either of those. I trusted nothing and nobody; another symptom of my dis-eased being, and a defense mechanism I’d picked up throughout my life.

I have this friend; let’s call him Damien (because that is his actual name), who teaches a method of healing that is super simple and productive. Yet for many this simplicity is preposterous and goes against everything that we have been told. (He will be bringing his knowledge and wisdom to the general public soon – watch this space). He has compounded my earlier learning about how we think and talk to ourselves and brought me to an even deeper level of understanding and awe at the power of the human psyche. He has, on several occasions, pulled me up on the things I think about myself. Having a friend like Damien is akin to being in recovery from alcoholism for several years, going back out and then trying to really enjoy drinking again. You can never again convince yourself that consuming stuff that’s bad for every part of you is a good, enjoyable idea!

And so I got to thinking about how I now go about my daily living and the concept behind thriving wall-612177_1280and striving (hence the theme of Junes expert panel topic). I began to ponder the words and their relevance to me. Here’s what I came up with.

I’m not a big fan of the word strive. For me it conjures up images of struggle and heaviness. I see myself exhausted and not allowing myself the ease and freedom to progress naturally and in stages. I see myself pushing against huge obstacles, often pushing in the wrong direction, towards things I think I want and beyond anything that is good or natural for me. I envision myself holding my breath, my body full of tension, and my mind ready to explode. I must get to where I think I want to be by tomorrow. I reach my destination exhausted, only to discover that where I got to doesn’t actually interest me at all. Even as I say the word, the sharpness of the S sound makes my eyes narrow with discomfort and creates a feeling of dread in my chest. It’s a hard and unforgiving word to me. It’s competitive and ruthless.

I must STRIVE to be clean and sober.

I must STRIVE to get the perfect job.

I must STRIVE to have a perfect body.

I must STRIVE to be the best.

I must STRIVE to be liked and accepted.

The word thriving is much more pleasing to my sensibilities. It’s such a beautifully light word and as it passes through my lips, I can almost feel myself lift up into the clouds. My breath becomes deep and effortless….and there is a natural flow and energy that supports me fully. I can relax into it. I can trust it. I see and feel myself in a state of ease and comfort regardless of what situation I am facing. I feel myself energized yet calm and productive. I feel like I am worthy. I am enough. I want to jump higher and higher. I want to share this blissful feeling I experience with everyone around me.

And so to me thriving as opposed to striving is a change of language and perception. It is completely flipping the coin on societal expectation and looking at things from a much simpler, lighter and nurturing aspect. It is in its basic, most authentic state – just being who you are without apology. And not the manufactured you – but the real, ‘one and only’ YOU!

The idea of me really becoming who I am was a frightening concept. I had to open my mind to other unconventional possibilities and take responsibility for my own healing, to get to the point I’m at now. I had to be unafraid of the consequences, both good and bad. Let’s face it, I’d been through a large proportion of the bad, so another sucker punch to the torso didn’t phase me. But what did frighten me, was being well and whole. How do you function as that version of yourself? Could I actually maintain that lifestyle…and what if I got a taste of it and then realized that really I’m not a thriver but the bottom of the barrel wannabe (just for the record there’s no such thing as a bottom of the barrel wannabe)? For many years, in my mind, thriving was for other people somewhere else – like America where anything is possible, or Buddhists in the Himalayas – just not for me.

I had to learn to trust myself and deprogram from what I thought I knew about my body, my mind and my soul. That process brought me to living outside of my comfort zone most of the time which was challenging but also appealed to the thrill seeker in me. It also made and still does make some people around me uncomfortable (which brings me great delight at times because I’m still 14 at heart). But being planted in your own truth is the most thrilling, fulfilling and empowering thing you can imagine. It caused me to question everything I had ever read or heard or thought. The aim of my recovery was to create a life I didn’t need or want to escape from. I understood that life brings challenges at times, but I just wanted the strength and ability to deal with those challenges effectively. Actually I wanted to be able to deal with any situation brilliantly – or my version of brilliantly (I’m an all or nothing kinda gal).

masks-827730_1280So I set about cleaning up my thoughts and my words and the corresponding results and emotions that followed were pretty amazing. When I altered my thought patterns I changed my whole life. I became worthy, and useful and beautiful. I became fierce and independent and grateful. I became a survivor, a doer and a giver. And not in anyone else’s eyes – but in my own. The only eyes that matter.

Don’t get me wrong, I still swear like a sailor – a whole ship full of sailors actually. I’m not sure life would be worth living without the ‘F’ word. I can also still cut you in two with just a few words when I’m being less than goddess like perfect. Getting dressed in the morning and looking at myself in the mirror I catch myself thinking life would be better without this c-section scar or if my butt was half the size. But I can tolerate myself even when I slip up. After all habits and conditioning of a lifetime can take time to break – but I’m breaking them one at a time and I’m thriving – because I like that word better!



Nicola is our Blog and Article Editor at InTheRooms.com. Her work has been published internationally in many recovery publications and poetry books. She is a qualified Reflexologist, Masseuse and Life Coach. She has created content for intherooms.com for 7 years. She was Editor at iloverecovery.com. She is also an author at The Girl God books. She has lived with type 1 diabetes since she was 7 years old.


  1. I totally agree with your piece, and you have said it so well. I have changed the language I use to and about myself and it has changed my feelings about myself. “Stupid” was a word I used frequently referring to mistakes large or small. I even used it as an appellation when talking to myself. Ceasing the use of that word alone allowed me to change my self image. Many other adjustments have been made since then and I find I am kinder to myself and kinder to others. Usually.
    Thank you for your essay.

  2. Lovely piece. I am still learning to trust myself. I am starting CBT next week which, I am hoping, will be informative. Thanks for your wise words.

  3. Beautifully written and powerfully insightful, Nicola. Language does change everything. In one of my trainings with Tony Robbins, he asked us to write down the 6 feelings we experienced most frequently in a week ( things like frustrated,angry, depressed, confused — good ones too, but then he had us change the language of those feelings to minimize the intensity or to challenge the fixed state. So angry became “pickled” or some funny variation, and when we used that word consistently it broke our default pattern allowing us to examine the intensity. More choice was available and we were able to shift the experience. People who stopped using certain words started to eliminate those feelings. Language is power F!#@ YAH! ( from one sailor to another 🙂 )

    • Nicky Reply

      Coming from you that is a huge compliment Tsgoyna. Much appreciated xo

  4. Wow! What great insight for me Nicola, thank you so much for reminding me that knowledege and training is only effective when it is practiced and trused. I have a long way to go in the process of being gentle with myself but I promise I will thrive to do so. Namaste:)

    • Nicky Reply

      Much love Shirley – thank you for your comment. I wish you the best with all you do xo

  5. Great article. The world thrive makes me feel like I’m producing, like I’m doing the best, like I’m excelling. Thank you for the new perspective.

  6. Starlight Willing Reply

    Wow ! Thank you for this article !
    It was just what I needed to read today, especially this line:
    “language plays a vital part in how I manifest my world”.
    I have been in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship for years— with MYSELF !!!
    The negative self talk had been so cruel but has gotten much kinder since I came into recovery!
    I have this quote posted on my bathroom mirror as a reminder:
    “If you only realized how powerful your thoughts are, you’d never think another negative thought again”.
    Thanks again Nicky !

    • Nicky Reply

      Thank you for the comment Starlight Willing. I can so relate to your relationship with yourself. You literally have to take no shit from yourself and that I’m afraid takes practice! Love that quote!

  7. Great article. I happen to be in that “striving” mode here lately and needed to see this put into perspective. Thank you. I guess it is possible to go in and out of these two modes huh? I seem to and I am looking for a way to stay in the positive one. Any suggestions?

    • Nicky Reply

      Hi David. My suggestion to you is – though it may seem a little silly – to picture yourself as the little boy version of yourself. If you were that little boys guardian and responsible for his development, how would you speak to him? I’m sure it would be with love and kindness. I’m sure you would allow him rest, and praise him everyday even for small things. I’m sure you would treat him like the most precious thing in the world. So every time you are whipping the crap out of yourself for not being good enough, not doing enough etc., remember that inside you still need that same nurturing as you did as a little guy. It’s always always about balance in everything we do.

    • Nicky Reply

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it Redneck…..and we all got a little redneck in us!

  8. Kathleen Russell Reply

    Love this Nicola! I related to the Feelings and energy around Strive. It just never felt positive or encouraging. The perspective swith, Thive and Be Alive, now there is Hope! Beautiful message. Thank you Xo

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