Many people walk around feeling quite sorry for themselves. They honestly believe that they have few choices in this life. Perhaps they blame their parents who never gave them the love they deserve. Or they might say they are now too old to try out new ideas or approaches. Then again they might claim they are not old enough when it comes to certain decisions. Bosses often get blamed for lack of promotions or increases in salary. The list of excuses is endless.
We in the fellowship also used to complain about our lot. We felt stuck due to our compulsive use of alcohol, drugs and food.
Once we achieved sobriety, perhaps we mechanically referenced those old complaints as well. Within short order, someone in the program probably questioned us on this. They pointed out that we ultimately determine our destiny through the choices we make. Parents didn’t love you? Choose to love yourself and others. Think you’re to old or young to take a new path? Find the courage to take the first step. Unhappy at work? Change jobs or get retrained. For almost every challenge we face in life, there are choices we can make which will impact the outcome. The choice is ours.
Personal Reflection: Have I been avoiding making an important choice?
At some point or other all of us walked thru the doors of the rooms for the first time. Each of us had our own experience with our substance of choice. Whether it was drugs, alcohol, food or some other addiction that brought us here; we had all reached our individual bottom.
The beauty of the program is that the doors of AA, NA, and OA are always open. To walk through those doors the only requirement is a desire to stop using. We are not required to put down our drug of choice to claim our seat. Many a member attended meetings in the beginning drunk, high or right after a binge. We still found ourselves welcomed by fellow members. For those of us who were chronic relapsers, the doors of the program remained open as well. No one ever told us we were not welcome because for the 8th. time we were once again counting days. As long as we had a desire not to use, we were welcome.
The reverse side of the coin was true as well. There were no guarantees in the program about our maintaining sobriety. If we became lax in the practice of our program, the possibilities of relapse always loomed over us. Nothing prevented us from walking out the door and never returning. Membership in the fellowship in and of itself was no guarantee of a lifetime of sobriety.
Personal Reflection: In what direction is the door swinging for me?
When we were younger and in school, many of us struggled with certain subjects. In particular, math was a stumbling block which we had to grapple with. We were so happy when we finally got thru algebra, geometry or trigonometry. We rejoiced in that we would never have to confront math problems again.
Perhaps we should have paid a little more attention in class to the topic of percentages. Often, we still seem to be mixed up around them. When it comes to life problems and their solutions the correct distribution of energy has eluded us. We focus the majority of our attention on the problem. We obsess about it, turning it over and over in our minds for days on end. When we finally have had enough of this behavior we will make a hasty decision on the solution. It’s math class all over again. We have our percentages reversed. Yes, we have to admit that we have a problem and examine it. However, the bulk of our energy needs to be spent on the solution. When we do so, we have a much greater chance of selecting a resolution that will ultimately improve our lot in life. That my friend is the new math.
Personal Reflection: Am I a student of the new math?
If you wanted to, you could probably spend your entire day in a rant about how nothing has gone your way. There is certainly enough material for us to complain about on a daily basis. I mean, has a day passed in the history of mankind where everything went according to plan? Where we didn’t have to suddenly scramble to take care of something. Where we either lost something, missed something or forgot something important. No, every day for everyone has multiple challenges.
The question is, really, the big question is what are you going to do about it. The easy way out is to play the victim and just complain. The problem with that is that it accomplishes nothing. Plus, it’s probably one of the quickest ways to lose friends. Who wants to be around someone who is a negative presence all the time. So there are a number of healthy steps we can take. When something has the potential to negatively affect us, we can make a choice in how to respond. Responding negatively does not have to be our default position. In the program we also recommend self assessment as to how we contributed to, or set ourselves up for the problem in the first place. Were you really surprised that their were no parking spaces when you came a half hour late to the meeting. When we ask that type of question, we discover far fewer things to complain about.
Personal Reflection: Do I complain too much?
There are a number of cartoon characters who perpetually have a rain cloud over their heads. While it’s sunny for everyone else, for them it is raining.
For some people, this description is not far from the truth. Of course we are not talking about weather conditions. Rather, we are talking about life attitude. There are people who walk around under a cloud of negativity for the whole day.
When our feet hit the ground in the morning, we have our first choice of the day. Are we going to choose to have a “good” day or “bad” day. For some of us, this might be a surprising statement. In the past we might have said, “how can I have a good day with all that I have to deal with today”? We have discovered that as we work our program; our attitude is a choice and is not dependent on the events of the day. Experience has also shown that when we include prayer and meditation as one of our first daily acts, our sense of positivity is also strengthened.
Personal Reflection: What kind of day did you plan for today?