Toby Joseph

Lesson 3: The Wanderer – Finding One’s Way


Understand that clarifying your values will help you envision a life free of addiction.


Identify and develop strategies to proactively make positive, self-affirming changes in your life.

The Wanderer

The Wanderer is attempting to move towards connecting with other people, searching for a means of support.  The goal is finding acceptance from others and discovering who you are.

Values for Beating Addiction

“It’s less important what you do, and it’s more important who you are and what you do with that.”                                                                        Toby Tafoya Joseph

Toby has devoted much time reflecting on his personal history and trying to resolve emotional conflicts he experienced as a child and as a young man.  He speaks with passion about the traumas suffered by himself, his family, and by tribal people in general.

One consequence of trauma is the concept of “learned helplessness.”  People learn that their responses to particular social conditions or political actions are of no avail.  Learned helplessness, at its core, is a sense of powerlessness. This refers to a lack of ability to assume responsibility because what a person wants, says, or does makes no difference to people who frame social reality from a place of privilege and who exert control over the lives of others.  The powerlessness a person feels is a form of cultural wounding.

Many alcoholics and addicts who have gotten sober and avoided relapse have directly confronted their anger, their compulsiveness, and their thinly veiled self-hatred.  Correcting faulty beliefs and cognitions is part of this transformation.   Change comes when an individual senses sufficient personal power to make a difference—to begin taking charge of one’s life in order to make it better.  Toby expressed it this way….”I’m going to rise up.  I’m going to find the fellowship, the teachers, the elders, the teachings that will allow me to move forward to this place I need to be.”

Taking a personal inventory of what you truly value is part of the process of becoming healthy.   In each of the five value categories below make a list of actions you might take or goals you may set for yourself.    If you are currently struggling with addiction, it may be important to distinguish between perceptions of the “here and now self” from those of the “possible self”—the self you project into the future—the self you are becoming.

There is no single pathway to wellness.  It is an individual journey with unique hurdles and survival strategies.  There may be setbacks, as well as “AHA” moments.  The point is having a compass to guide you.  This compass consists of……..

  • Thinking about what you envision for yourself.
  • Describing what proactive steps you need to take to get there.
  • Recording all of your ideas and strategies.
  • Sharing your goals with friends and family—it makes them more “real.”

Read what Toby did to give you some ideas about how to approach your transformation process.

  1. 1. Set Goals

“I started doing some classes and some counseling and started to really think about what I wanted and [wrote out] my laundry list of what I wanted.”

Toby set a goal of completing his education and succeeded in earning his GED then going on to take college classes.  His aspirations include becoming a videographer and sharing stories with others.   As a film producer, one of Toby’s goals is to educate others about the injustices suffered by tribal people.  He hopes to accomplish this through the production of documentaries.  At a personal level, Toby has set a goal of helping his children along their journey—to “be there” the way his father had been for him.

2.  Actively Participate

“So I started figuring out what to do to start fixing everything in my life.”

Toby became a more self-reflective person and one engaged in life-affirming activities.  He is no longer a bystander in his own life.  Toby took a new life partner.  He made new friends.  He experienced greater joy in the activities of his growing children and grandchildren.  From his work with counselors he learned techniques he could use to guide and strengthen his personal and family relationships.  He expanded his vision of the world by reading the words of scholars and becoming familiar with other world philosophies.

3.  Develop Health Consciousness

“I’m clean and sober.”

Toby has suffered physical disabilities related to his alcoholism and drug use.  He has willingly embraced rehabilitation treatment and triumphed despite the hardships he had to endure.  He is also making use of traditional tribal medicines to ease his symptoms.  Toby is cognizant of how diet can contribute to obesity and other health problems regarding his children and has accepted the wisdom of prevention (e.g., avoiding fast food).   In contrast to an earlier time, Toby is now deliberately focused on what is required to become healthy and to stay well.

4.  Become Empowered

“There were opportunities where I got to speak about what had happened to our people, and it became important to me to do that.”

Becoming empowered involves learning to care about oneself, and by extension, caring about the lives of others.  Toby came to recognize the impact his father has had on him and the bond they shared.  It’s a closeness he consciously nurtures in his relationships with his children and grandchildren in order to empower them.

Toby has come to understand that devaluing tribal cultures deprives Indian people, both young and old, opportunities to develop a sense of wholeness and pride in their identity.  The sense of his own lack of tribal connectedness and perspective grew in him as he matured, leading him to recognize the importance of investigating his own roots and cultural traditions.  Now Toby heartily acknowledges the efficacy of his indigenous roots and wants to pass this legacy to younger members of this family.

5. Develop Fellowship

“It really took people, people who inspired me, people [who have what I want in my life.]”                                                                                    Toby Tafoya Joseph

Toby recognized that other people he came into contact with formed a fellowship.  This group of people became the teachers, role models, and friends who encouraged him at each new crossroads in his life.  He understands they came into his life just when he needed them most.  In turn, he is accepting the responsibility of being a role model for members of his family—his children, grandchildren, as well as young people in his extended family and in his community.


Now that you have a compass…..Describe your transformed SELF at the end of your Journey.