Entering sobriety, it was extremely difficult for many of us to process anything except the simplest of concepts. Luckily, the philosophy of the rooms can be distilled into a two part system. The first emphasizes the need for us to apply ourselves. Recovery is not something that is just going to come to us. There is real work involved. Whether it means calling our sponsors, or making a meeting, we need to put ourselves out and take an action. Once we adapt to this concept we take it on the road so to speak. We begin to apply it outside the rooms to our life in general. We slowly but surely begin to make commitments in life and then show up to honor them.
The second part of our system is rooted in learning how to cope when things don’t go according to “our” plan. How are we going to react to disappointment and rejection? Will we get up, dust ourselves off and get back on the treadmill of life? Or will we steep in anger, fear and frustration and just give up? True sobriety understands that once we put in the effort, the results are in the hands of our Higher Power. As we grow spiritually, we find that “our” plan and “His” plan are more and more often in alignment.
Personal Reflection: Is your action response ratio in the correct proportion?
Medical school these days is a rigorous program. Part of the reason for this is that every year the body of medical information increases. In fact sometimes this is due to the discovery of yet another disease which heretofore had not been properly identified.
To this vast sea of technical information we can add another disease which has plagued people for centuries. We can term it the “trying” disease. Many people are afflicted with it. It manifests itself every time a person says, “I’ll try”. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. “I’ll try to meet you next Tuesday”; “I’ll try to put in an application for the job”, “I’ll try to start an exercise program”. We could go on infinitum. The problem with using the word “try” is that you are not committing to anything. Implicit in “try” is that you might not be able to fulfill what you’re committing to. It leaves a back door open to flake out. This is especially applicable to an active alcoholic or addict. How many times have we heard a person say, “this is my last drink, drug or food binge. Tomorrow I will try to stop”. Alcoholics and addicts can’t be given any possibility of a back door. We need full throttle commitment and action. Anything else becomes a “try”.
Personal Reflection: Do I sometimes suffer from the disease of try?
Obsessive thinking can be the bane of the recovering alcoholic or addict. Without our drug of choice our minds can run rampant with fear and worry. At times, we are almost immobilized by our thoughts. Usually these thoughts are tied into future events.
Part of sobriety is understanding that that future outcome is ultimately not in our hands. Of course we still need to take actions to best ensure that the desired future outcome has the best opportunity for taking place. The challenge is that when we are in anxiety, we can almost become immobilized. The key is find the inner strength to take an action towards our goal. Sometimes we are so overcome with fear that we can’t even get out of our beds. Then the action in that moment is to force ourselves to throw off the covers and get dressed. What we discover at that point is that once we begin to take action, our system gets jump started and further movement towards our goal takes place. Pushing through the initial resistance is the hardest part of the process. Once we do so, our anxiety decreases as we put in energy to reach our goal. On the deepest level we are still powerless over outcome. We are not powerless over resistance to action and the elimination of anxiety.
Personal Reflection: How do I push through resistance?
We are the first to acknowledge that AA, NA and OA are spiritual programs. The second of the twelve steps states, “we came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”. Many of us can attest to this first hand. We had tried on our own to stop using our drug of choice. It was only when we called upon a Higher Power for aid that our obsession to use was lifted. It really was a miraculous moment. Years had been spent on a hamster wheel of use, abstinence, relapse and regret. Now, suddenly we had been able to step off the wheel.
Before we got too excited however, an old timer probably set us straight. Yes, we needed to have faith in a Higher Power. Yes, our obsession to use had been lifted. With all that we were informed that the work of the program had just begin. On a daily basis we needed to take certain actions to maintain our sobriety. The more diligent we were about these actions, the stronger our recovery would be. It was not only about putting down the drink or drug. Action also included the building of emotional sobriety. This was done thru meetings, sponsorship, prayer, meditation and all of the other tools of the program. We had faith that when we did the work G-d would take care of the rest.
Personal Reflection: What actions helped keep me sober today?
Many people in this world complain of being stuck. They are in relationships studded with problems, at jobs which they hate or feel are dead ends and they are often facing chronic health issues. When you examine all of these challenges, it quickly becomes clear that many of their issues are reversible. Relationships can be worked on through therapy and programs including 12 step. When these strategies fail, it might be time for them to move on. Work dissatisfaction can often be remedied by switching jobs. Many have also taken courses and training which have yielded professional advancement. Some of us have have embarked on totally new careers based on personal interest. Varied health issues began to clear when we gave up our drug of choice or initiated an exercise regimen or a new food plan.
All of these reversible strategies have one thing in common. They are all based on a program of action. Some of those people who complain of being stuck, will reach a “bottom” and hopefully through a spiritual awakening begin a lifelong journey of change brought about by action. Unfortunately, there are also those who remain deeply unhappy and unhealthy. At the merest suggestion of the necessity of engaging in spiritual and emotional work, the conversation gets changed by them. For this group,we need to pray that they have a spiritual awakening.
Personal Reflection: What areas of my life require taking an action right now?