Recipe for Change in Short means making small daily improvements, and constantly acknowledge what you are doing well.
Here’s a sobering thought:
One thing I could never really accept about being an alcoholic was the idea that I was powerless over my behavior. In my head I certainly believed that was true – I knew that for many years I had been unable to control my drinking and had suffered horribly because of it. But once I finally realized how powerless I felt in my heart, I decided there was no way in hell I was going to stay there.
I think we all know that feeling of being scared or powerless, but it is one we usually try to avoid, rather than just sitting with the feeling and trying to understand it. So when it comes right down to it, how do you think a person really feels about being an alcoholic?
“Hi, I’m Zeke, and I’m powerless over my own feelings and behavior. In fact, today I’m celebrating my eleventy-billionth day of admitting I can’t control myself.”
I can’t speak for anybody else, but semantics and context are important to me and in the above statement I hear a long-time member of AA still blaming his poor performance on his inability to control himself. I cannot afford to lose my sense of responsibility for my life because it is MY LIFE and I’m the only one who can change it.
Anyway, from the beginning of my sobriety, hearing crap like that annoyed the heck out of me because I’d had enough of feeling like a loser. Fortunately, I had also heard a member of AA say, “A loser isn’t someone who falls down; a loser is someone who stays down,” and I was flexible enough in my thinking to be able to accept that.
At that time, I could clearly see the downside, as well as the upside, to talking as though my former addiction would forever give me an excuse for being a screw-up or terminally unhappy… which is another way of describing depression. I decided it wasn’t for me to always feel powerless, to always be recovering, but never actually in recovery, never fully recovered.
So, of the two options – feeling powerless or feeling (internally) powerful – it was pretty clear which way of thinking, feeling, and doing would serve me better. As long as I can think, then I have the power to make choices, and I choose to admit I once had a problem with alcohol, but I reject that I am currently powerless.
Let me explain the rationale behind the foregoing statement. By taking responsibility for my own recovery and my own choices, I believe that I free up a bit of time for my Higher Power – whom I choose to call God – so He, She, or It can look after some really important things rather than doing for me what I can do for myself. I will admit, however, that I do send up a prayer every night before sinking into sleep that I receive the strength and wisdom so that I might be of help to others. Then, I sleep like a rock… a rock that has to get up once or twice to visit the bathroom; but that’s a sign of aging, not of poor sleep.
At the beginning of my sobriety, I wasn’t entirely certain of what constituted good, positive, and productive choices, but – as the Moralists say about pornography – I thought I would know it when I saw it. And then – like a bolt from the blue – I heard a friend say to another friend that good choices were mainly a matter of choosing a better way to interpret things. Eureka! I got it! Right then and there, I got it.
When I quit pouring alcohol down my throat, I began to take total responsibility for my thoughts, feelings, and actions… and took responsibility for using the intelligence that had been granted to me. I am not a victim and refuse to allow anyone to treat me as though I am.
Many members of AA go crazy when I say that but many others nod their heads and agree – not necessarily agree with the way I do all things, but in the sentiment. Those folks are, for the most part, the ones I count as friends.
Let’s be very clear…
I have also been granted free will and I have a history of misusing it and I do not blame anyone (including God) for the crappy results of my crappy behavior. It all rests on my bony shoulders. No one else gets to lead me into temptation – I have always managed to eagerly sprint my way into lots of temptations.
Today, my definition of clean and sober means so much more to me than “not drinking”, “not smoking” or “not doing drugs”. It means being able to accurately sense the environment around me, and having a clear mind through which to make effective decisions.
When I am healthy, I see the world clearly, unbiased by fear or desire. I can hear both praise and criticism, without either going to my head. And I feel secure and flexible, rather than insecure and powerless. Smells become authentic and revealing and taste is true and tantalizing. All my senses are fully open to pleasure, while providing my brain with the necessary information to steer me away from pain.
From this objective point of view, where my body is still able to provide accurate information to my brain, and my brain is clear enough to effectively assess all the sensory information it receives, I can make decisions that are in alignment with my purpose, values, and objectives. I can see my available options, and judge the results of my decisions before they actually occur.
Here’s another example…
What if I really want a relationship with someone, but deep down in my heart I have a subconscious belief that “people can’t be trusted”? How will those subconscious feelings cause me to act? At the very least, I’ll be guarded, suspicious, and doubtful. So then what kind of things will I usually be on the lookout for? Anything that confirms my doubts! And so what will I inevitably find? Things that confirm my doubts!
You see how that works? Let’s look at it again.
When all I can see is the “bad” in the world then I shouldn’t be surprised when that is what I get. Is that a paraphrase of “You reap what you sow?” You tell me.
When dealing with their addictions, many people who have tried to quit and failed will only see more evidence of their inability to succeed. A solution is still open to them, but there is no way for it to be seen in the direction they are currently looking! Eventually, after so many failed attempts, they just resign themselves to accepting there is nothing more they can do about it.
Do not ever allow yourself to get trapped there. Instead, think of the positive steps you have already taken and be open to ways to improve your strategy. Ensure you are on a reliable path and keep moving forward. Just remember it is the meaning you give to things that ultimately leads to your results. In this case, a better belief might be: A loser isn’t someone who falls down; a loser is someone who stays down.
Let this sink in…
When I am sober, my mind and body work together, so that my spirit flows freely. And that is when I fully feel as though I have truly found freedom.
What’s your recipe for change?