It is impossible to walk away from years of using without having impacted many people and institutions. A good part of the work of program is to be honest about our past actions and their impact on others. Much of what we’ve done can’t be undone. What we can do is to make amends to people where appropriate. Admitting to others how our behavior negatively impacted them and taking responsibility for it is a big part of recovery. Part of this process includes financial restitution where necessary. These actions in their own way can help clear away much of the wreckage of the past. Having the humility and honesty to own up to our past actions help us greatly grow in the program.
We can also apply these principles on a daily basis when our behavior is not in alignment with the program. This means taking responsibility, admitting we were wrong and making amends. This too will help us evolve in our path of sobriety.
What we shouldn’t do is attempt to clear away the wreckage of the future. We operate along the principle of one day at a time. If we are obsessing about the future, and ruminating on different scenarios, we are definitely not living in the moment. Our Higher Power will take care of the future. We just need to take the correct actions today
Personal Reflection: What wreckage am I focusing on?
There are people in life that are naturally upbeat. They’re the ones who jump out of bed ready to greet a new day. Traffic jams on the way to work do not faze them. Even when it’s raining cats and dogs outside, they have a smile on their face and a skip in their step. They just seem to be able to transcend the daily vicissitudes of existence.
Then of course there are the rest of us. Our nature is quite different. We find those traffic jams frustrating and regret not having brought our umbrella. However, we too have the opportunity to recognize all the good that life has in store for us. The difference is that we need to take definite steps to bring us to a place of happiness and serenity. Part of this process is having on open mind about upcoming events. Rather than going to a negative place based on erroneous expectations; we would be better advised to allow life to unfold moment by moment for us. When there are frustrating detours, we need to learn about taking alternate paths. We might discover some unexpected gifts along the way.
Personal Reflection: Does anything need polishing in my life right now?
In the 12 step rooms, one of the most oft repeated words is “acceptance”. In fact this word is a cornerstone of the program. For many a newcomer (and for some not so newcomers), this was a difficult concept to grasp. We felt that the only reason we had ended up in the rooms was because of the set of cards we had been dealt. “If I had grown up with a different set of parents, I wouldn’t be sitting here today”. “Had my friends been different when I was growing up I wouldn’t have started drinking as a teenager”. “If only my teachers had encouraged me more in school, I wouldn’t have made the choices I made”. As we gained some time in the program, we began to realize that we needed to accept our past choices. Bemoaning the past would not help us change the present or plan for the future. We couldn’t undo the past. What we could do was live our lives one day at a time; and sometimes one hour or one minute at a time. We certainly couldn’t change the past, but we could live fully in the present.
Personal Reflection: Have I fully accepted my past?