Series Two; Blog Eighty-Five
Holidays are times for reflection. It’s a season to slow things down, review the direction of life and to consider making course corrections. Sometimes in recovery, you get into a rut of saying or doing tasks that you tell yourself need to be done, but there is no evidence that the task promotes progress in your journey. Indicators of being stuck in recovery are: making commitments that you don’t follow through with, procrastination, and refusing to address painful issues in your life. Signs include discouragement, malaise, decrease in enthusiasm and passion toward doing recovery work, and a pervading pessimism about positive outcomes in life. If this describes you, you might need to create something new in your recovery approach and the way you live your life.
Be intentional—Assert leadership in your life. Take time to revisit and renew your vision for recovery and life. Everyday wear and tear in life has a way of blurring vision and blunting inspiration. Many people settle for less when life demands more. M. Scott Peck in his book, The Road Less Traveled, reflected on his experience, stating that life is like a metaphor of the desert. Many traveling through the desert arrive at the first oasis and camp there, engaging the amenities of the oasis, never willing to pack up and complete the journey through the desert to land with water, food, and supplies on the other side of the desert. This metaphor fits the recovery journey. To get through the trials, testing, and struggles in recovery, you must assert personal leadership that overcomes complacency and creates clear focus on the rewards of continued growth. Be intentional. Sometimes you have to do, or put up with what you don’t want to do now in order to experience what you want in the future. First steps from being stuck might be clumsy. Take inventory of your resources to be what you want to be and go where you want to go. Don’t underestimate your own capability and then let the universe guide you. The dawning of transformation will appear in the horizon as you walk toward doing something new.
Don’t forget the basics. Don’t abandon or forget practicing the basics that have saved your life. Bring the lessons you have experienced with you to the present moment. Assess your application of the fundamentals of recovery (working the Steps, connection with 12-Step community vs isolation, telling on yourself, and engaging your sponsor around steps and life support). If you have weakened your efforts here, improve your lack of intensity before you move forward to new days ahead. Incongruence in your program will accelerate dissatisfaction. It is tempting to avoid the basics while you flirt with moving toward something new. This increases vulnerability to addictive behavior.
Horizontal climbs won’t work: I once took a group of youths on a hike at Laramie Peak in Wyoming. We divided into two smaller groups for the hike to the summit. One of the groups didn’t like the trail, complaining it to be too steep. So they decided to walk around the mountain looking for something a little more horizontal. Their investigation led them back to where they started. There was no other way to the summit. In order to ascend a mountain, you have to think vertical. In recovery, it is tempting to avoid facing the steep climb of doing the next right thing and attempt to divert your recovery journey by wandering and looking to a path less radical or severe. Time and again I have witnessed addicts who have needed to come back to where they began and face what needs to be addressed in order to ascend the mountain of change necessary to create something new. Lessons learned do not mean they go away. Sometimes the lesson will appear in different shapes and forms. Be willing to do things you don’t want to do in order to accomplish things you want to create. Climbing out of where you are stuck will mean that you must think vertical.
Take time to figure out who you are and don’t get stuck in the “should do” category of living. Examine the “shoulds” in your life. Who said I should be doing anything? Are the things you are telling yourself you should be doing true expressions of your legitimate goals, responsibilities, and commitments? How much time do you spend doing what you want to be doing or doing what you need to do in order to have what you want? How many hours do you spend doing what you think you should do to please someone else, whether you need to or not? Are you doing what you know you must do in order to achieve who you are and what you want? The only way to know yourself is to learn to be true to your heart. When you experience a lack of zest and zeal for living, it could be that you are trapped with doing a bunch of “shoulds” to please others. If you continue to do this for long, you will lose who you are. Sometimes there are responsibilities for others that you must take into consideration. Ultimately, you must become disciplined to listen to your heart in order to know who you are and prioritize what you are doing. When your “shoulds” intersect with your wants, you will begin to walk through life with heart.
Know and respect your limits. Creating something new requires humility to recognize what you can and cannot do. You won’t be able to embrace it all. In creating a bucket list of things I want to do in the next year, I realize that some of them are beyond my limits for one year. When I recognize where I am limited, I can better create a viable pathway to do what is feasible. Feasibility studies always clarify limits. They also clarify possibilities. For example, alcoholics in recovery who know their limits about not being able to drink also know they get to enjoy the possibility of a manageable life. Creating something new always requires that you be realistic about what you can and cannot do. So, respect yourself and work within the confines of your limits and create something new!
Create positive connections. Hang out with people who underscore “Yes You Can”. My granddaughter gave me a red rock that is inscribed “Yes You Can”. I carry that rock with me and create support with others who are also working to develop something new in their lives. I don’t want to be connected with people who think you cannot ascend a mental mountain. That said, support does not exclude being challenged about being realistic or being held accountable about a lifestyle that fuels imbalance. Creating something new while harming relationships is not an option in recovery. You don’t need “yes” people, but support people who believe you can achieve something new, while challenging you to be congruent to your values and limits.
Let go of force and let the fruit of creating something new come to you. When you take leadership in your life and proactively get unstuck, you will create a space where the flow of energy will bring achievement that is fulfilling and satisfying. When you stop trying to force something to exist in your life, it is more likely it will show up. Letting the results of your efforts come to you will take you away from a zero sum mentality of existence. It will foster serenity as a fruitful reality.
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