There will be frequent challenges in life regardless of where we live, who we associate with or what we do. Every person encounters this fact. For those of us who were addicts and alcoholics, an additional layer of problems was often piled on as a result of our actions. Lacking the tools to deal with these roadblocks of life, we quickly turned to the one remedy we were familiar with; our substance of choice. Unfortunately, not only did it not solve our dilemma, it often exacerbated the situation.
Coming into the fellowship provided some immediate relief. When we put down the bottle, drug or food our life began to improve. However, we quickly saw that we still were encountering many challenges. At first we may have panicked because self medication was no longer an option. It was then that we began to explore a whole new world of choices which helped us to navigate life’s hardships.
Speaking to a sponsor every day provided us with an outlet for our feelings. We also often received excellent guidance on how to handle various situations. As we began to work the steps we began to turn more and more of our life over to a Power greater than ourselves. Ironically, we also found that by helping others we were able to escape much of the negativity which had been generated by an issue we had been facing.
Personal Reflection: When I’m jammed up, what do I run to?
As we immersed ourselves in the program, we gained a lot of knowledge. We began to understand the reasons behind our drinking, drugging or food binging. A lot of tools were picked up which helped us maintain our sobriety. We might even have begun practices like journaling and meditation. All of these contributed to our sobriety. But the reality is that no matter how many meetings we made; no matter how many times we called our sponsor; no matter how much we planned out our day; unexpected challenges were still going to take place. When that happened we had an opportunity to tap into tools like meditation, reading from 12 step literature or an outreach call. What many of us have found to be most helpful when we have a startle in life is to immediately turn to our Higher Power. We can ask for an attribute of restraint like patience or one of action like courage. Perhaps the most evolved course is to ask our Higher Power what would He have us do in the next moment. When we clear our mind and make a space for an answer it often comes. Sometimes we also gain understanding us to why the “blessed event” occurred in the first place.
Personal Reflection: How do I react to unexpected challenges?
Sometimes we wish we were more like ducks. The feathers of a duck are waterproof.
They are covered with an oil secreted by the duck which creates a waterproof barrier. Of course, in this analogy we are talking about something more than the elimination of umbrellas.
Metaphorically speaking, life rains down challenges on us on a daily basis. Some people are more duck like. When an issue arises, they examine their options, chose one and proceed with the solution. Most importantly, their level of reaction and response is commensurate with the seriousness of the issue. They are pretty waterproofed from overreacting.
Then there are the rest of us. When even a small issue arises, we often overreact. In our minds we visualize the most negative outcome possible. As a result we frequently walk around in a state of negativity. Our interactions with others becomes charged with temperamental language. Until there is a resolution, we can spend countless hours in unnecessary rumination.
Part of sobriety is recognizing when we are sliding down that slippery slope of overreacting to a challenge. When we are able to put the brakes on our thinking, we have entered into a new level of awareness and consciousness.
Personal Reflection: Do I tend to make problems out of challenges?
In this society we place a big premium on getting things done as quickly as possible. Efficiency and speed are some of the holy grails of modern western civilization. People want there Big Macs and Whoppers ready before they receive their change for their order. Drinking drip coffee or using a French press is so passé because it is just too slow. These days we all have little machines that we put in a pre measured cup of coffee and 30 seconds later we have our brew.
Though it might work for coffee, speed does not work for recovery. If we find ourselves rushing through the 12 steps, we are probably not doing them correctly. Experience has shown us that almost anything that has value in our recovery comes along with associated challenges. As we dig deep into our past, and examine our character defects, there will be times that we become stuck in the process. Rather than being concerned about this, we should acknowledge that if we are feeling resistance, we are probably doing something right. Many of us even feel that obstacles are often placed in our path by our Higher Power to test our mettle. We have also discovered that things we once viewed as being impossible to deal with, our now in our rear view mirror.
Personal Reflection: How has adversity helped me to grow?