Do you have inward strength?

When I was in my second year in high school, I joined the weight training club.  Most of these guys were seniors who had been lifting weights for 3 – 4 years.  And you could tell.

 By the time I reached my senior year I was looking stronger – bigger muscles with greater definition.  You could say I was looking quite ‘buff’!

 I hadn’t lifted any ‘emotional weights’ at that point in my life and, consequently, had very little inward strength.  I counted on others to do the heavy lifting:  Like worrying about my welfare. 

 I was in no hurry to accept responsibility for anyone in this world – let alone myself. 

 It wasn’t until I graduated from college, got a job, got married and became a father… that I realized what responsibility involved.  All of a sudden, I cared.  And the weight of the world – along with all my responsibilities – had fallen on my shoulders.

 It was time to start lifting some emotional weight, and I felt unprepared for the task.  Even small weights were too much.  I wasn’t coping well with my new station in life:  Work, marriage and fatherhood.

 In the background, my addict was doing push-ups the whole time. Consequently, my addiction certainly grew to much bigger proportions taking up more of my time, energy and money.  It was my escape from life and from all the emotional weights that seemed too heavy to bear.

 The thing of it is:  The weights were getting heavier and heavier, and I was growing weaker and weaker.

 It wasn’t until I got into recovery that I began to get stronger inside.  The task of facing my addiction head on by dealing with my fears and resentments has made me a stronger person – emotionally.

 Learning to ‘let go’ is now my weight training program.  And I believe that I’m beginning to see some results.  My emotional and decision-making muscles are much stronger now.

 What about you?  Do you have inward strength?

 If you are in recovery, hopefully you’re discovering that God is doing for you what you could not do for yourself.  And you’re getting stronger – inwardly stronger.

Follow your moral compass

What can I say:  I’m forgetful.

 Just ask my wife.  She’ll remind me to pick something up from the store on my way home from work and, 5 minutes later, I’ve forgotten.  It could be old age, or absent-mindedness, but – be that as it may – I am very forgetful.

 Most of us are forgetful about a lot of things.  And, often, we’ve chosen to be that way. 

 As addicts, we’ve chosen to forget the values we once were taught as children.  We don’t think they’re relevant anymore, especially in this modern world in which we live.  And besides, they cramp our addictive style.

 But inside every one of us there is a moral compass; a standard by which we can know right from wrong.  For we all know the difference between good and bad behavior. 

 When you participate in behaviors that make you feel guilty or ashamed, you will erode your self-esteem and self-confidence.  Far better to engage in activities that you believe are right for you, and aligned with your code of conduct.

 Do what is right for your moral compass!  When you engage in doing what is right, you will find a wonderful and powerful inner peace – and your self-worth will rise to a higher plane.

 Ask your Higher Power to help you heal any situation or relationship, so you can bring your entire life fully into alignment with your inner truth.

Did you know you had a default setting?

I am a human being.  I assume you are as well. 

 We are creatures of habit.  Our minds have a default setting that allows us to repeat certain actions almost unconsciously.  For the most part, this keeps us on track with important stuff – like breathing, the beating of our hearts, and sleep.

 It also comes in handy when navigating ourselves to work each day, writing, typing, talking… It boggles the mind to think about what this default setting really does for us.

 It’s actually part of the “map of reality” you and I have that serves us well, allowing us to learn certain skills and perform most functions without getting nervous or frightened.  Imagine how stressful your day would be if you had to relearn everything over and over – not to mention how unproductive you would become… “now let’s see, how do I turn this thing on?”

 But even though this default setting – for the most part – serves us well, it can also work against us in our recovery.  By allowing the default setting to kick in everyday, we remain stuck in our daily addictive habits. 

 These habits are so strong that they seem to be ‘hardwired,’ almost as if we’re unable to avoid repeating them.

 I’m talking about our default setting:  Half the time we’re not even conscious of what we’re doing.  Something triggers us in the moment, and we compulsively respond by acting out in our usual addictive manner.

 But what we’re trying to do in recovery is break free of old behaviors.  We’re  trying to establish a new default setting – one that steers us in a direction that serves us better, and allows us to break free of old, destructive habits.

When you say ‘no’ you stop the flow!

Recovery is about moving forward.  Yes or no?  Can anyone move forward in recovery by standing still?  Certainly not!

 You must change things up if you want recovery because recovery is all about making changes:  Changes in thought; Changes in speech; Changes in behavior.

 One of the ways we prevent ourselves from moving forward is by saying ‘no’ all the time.  When we’re offered help we say ‘no.’  When we’re asked for our assistance we say ‘no.’ And we remain stuck in our ‘no.’

 One of the ways you can improve your recovery is choosing your words more carefully. 

 I have found it difficult to make better choices about my speech – the words I use when I communicate with other people.  But what has helped me is this:  Becoming more aware of my thoughts and reactions to others.  I begin by getting in touch with my feeling and attitude toward the other person.

 Am I open to this person, or am I closed?  Do I feel comfortable, or am I edgy and anxious?  It really doesn’t matter why I’m feeling the way I do; I just need to be aware of how I am feeling. 

 Self awareness is so important when it comes to making personal change.

 If I am closed, I say ‘no’ to the moment, and stop the flow – the exchange – of positive energy.  And if I say ‘no’ in any encounter with another person, I remain stuck, and I am unable to move forward in my own personal recovery.

 You see, my recovery has a great deal to do with how I relate to others.  I am a human being, and that makes me relational.  If I am struggling to relate well with others, there is something wrong with my recovery. 

 So, how do I remain open?  By saying ‘yes’ – even when I feel like saying ‘no.’  And as long as I am aware of how I’m feeling in any given moment, I am able to choose.

 If I want to move forward in my own recovery, I must learn to choose to say ‘yes.’

“You become what you think about”

In this program of the 12 Steps, I am encouraged to take stock of myself – a kind of personal inventory.  Actually, it’s the fourth step:  “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

And I did do the fourth step – examined all my resentments, my fears, and the hurts I have cause others in the process.

There’s another step that is a continuation of the fourth:  Step Ten.  “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

I still take a personal inventory.  I do it on a daily basis.  Sometimes hourly.  I  try to remain conscious of what I’m thinking about throughout the day. This has made an impact on how I behave – what I do and what I say to others.

But there’s more to the program than just examining all the crud.

I also have learned to give thanks for the good stuff.  It’s a way of taking a personal inventory, but with more emphasis on the positive.  Like giving thanks for the good things in my life: A roof over my head; a car to drive; my good health; steady employment; a loving wife and family; faithful friends that I’ve made in recovery…

I’m learning that what I dwell on will eventually show up in my life.

Dwelling on what I don’t have doesn’t serve me well; it leaves me feeling like crap.  And if I feel like crap, my life turns into crap.  Crap has a way of increasing when I dwell on it.  It becomes my default setting, and I suffer as a result.

But I have a choice now.  In recovery, I can choose how my day will go.  Yes sir; I can decide what to think about – what to dwell on.  But I can only do this as long as I remain conscious of what I’m thinking about.

If I don’t remain conscious (take personal inventory) my default setting is to dwell on the negative.  It is sometimes hard work to stay positive, but it is next to impossible if I fail to do my personal inventory – continually.

When you take your inventory, don’t forget to give thanks for the good things in your life.  What we dwell on, after all, is what shows up in our lives.