i wrote a manual to teach foreign Business Types how to make presentations in English. The compliment i hear most about it is that it’s very practical, that the student can easily apply it to their business life. My point is, i hate writing a post like i did a couple days ago where i just say something like “Give up your problems to God” without concrete, practical tips on how to do that.
To remedy that, here are a couple suggestions on how to “Let Go – Let God”.
1. Repeat “I gave that up to God” Until the Thoughts Stop
This is the mental equivalent of plugging your ears and going “nah nah nah nah nah nah” to drown out someone else’s talking. It’s childish, but it works.
This was the first tool i learned when i entered recovery. My sponsor told me that the basic tenet of sobriety is the simple sentence, “I don’t drink no matter what.” Whenever i caught thoughts about drinking creeping into my mind, i learned to squash them with the mantra, “I don’t drink no matter what.”
Now, the instant i find myself lost in my thoughts of fear, insecurity or worry, i tell myself “I gave that up to God.” As soon as a stress resurfaces, “I gave that up to God.” The moment I — “I give that up to God.”
Find a phrase of your own and use it whenever negative thoughts sneak in…it works!
2. Pack Up Your Worries
i started creating my own mental exercises. My latest one is to imagine myself packing all my concerns about the neighbor, plumbing, internet… into tiny (because they’re such little problems) boxes that i then label and load onto a hot air balloon with “For God” written in huge letters on the side. When the balloon’s basket is full of all my worries, i cut the tether and release the balloon which floats up higher and higher, out of my reach and then out of my sight, until it reaches its creditor (because i give my Higher Power a lot of credit).
Play a part in your sobriety! Be an active non-alcoholic.
To begin, here’s a new entry to my GlossAAry. (Yes, it’s pertinent…there’s a madness to my method!)
Where the pink elephants used to live, and what you have left now they’ve gone.
Right next to Cloud Nine, the Pink Cloud is the feeling of relief you feel when you stop pounding your head against the stone wall of inebriation, convinced you will somehow break through.
Not everyone experiences this high in the first year of sobriety, and usually those that do get it say that it lasts only a few months.
In my previous post, where i discussed how the second year of recovery presents some unique challenges, fellow Recovery Artist Mrs D left a comment saying,
Oh, I want to know more about this .. heading as I am into my second year…
i think in my case, one of the reasons i’m finding it harder to trudge the road of Happy Destiny in Year 2 A.D. (After Drinking) is that i did experience the Pink Cloud. If i remember correctly, it began in my 2nd month of sobriety and lasted about 2 months total. After that, the feelings faded.
Why? Since i was feeling good every day, feeling good became the new norm. If you win the lottery daily, there comes a point when you stop throwing a party over it.
How can we fight this complacency? One of the tools i use is the Gratitude List. Reminding myself of how far i’ve come and the misery i came from is powerful encouragement.
The only other way to really get a taste of the hell i escaped from is to have a taste of the hell i escaped from, and that’s just crazy talk. i’ll take a boring day in Heaven over a rough day in Hell any time.
A few weeks after i began my recovery (over 20 months ago!), i had a problem, freaked out and ‘had to’ take a pill to sleep. i should say here that, oddly enough for someone who is addicted to everything else, pills never did it for me. They took too long and were never strong enough for me to develop an affinity for them. Anyway, immediately after taking the sleeping pill, i realized i should have cleared it with my sponsor first. When i told him about the incident at our next meeting, he was angry that i hadn’t called him and called it a slip.
Why hadn’t i called him? Simple, i didn’t even think about it. Ironically, one of the factors that led up to my suicide attempt was the same thing: i am incapable of asking for help—i perceive it to be a sign of weakness.
Last Sunday, i had a coffee with my sponsor and while discussing all the issues i’ve got going on at the moment, i began to feel better, calmer, more together. As he gave me advice, I started thinking more clearly. i especially understood i should have called him earlier rather than let myself sink lower and lower.
Then, one of the pieces of advice he gave me was to reach out to a friend in recovery in the States. Being told by someone helping me that i needed to ask for help was finally direct enough to drive the message into my brain.
Asking others for help is a tool in the Toolbox.
First off, there’s this addition to the GlosAAry…
Gratitude = Great + Attitude.
Taking a break from living to appreciate life. Gratitude for an addict means recognizing and appreciating the gifts recovery has brought–things the disease had promised but never delivered.
A common suggestion for alcoholics in recovery is to keep and regularly update a Gratitude List of all the things that sobriety has given them which drinking took away.
When i first started my recovery, my sponsor told me to keep a Gratitude List. Simply put, it was supposed to be a list of all the things i was grateful for, so i put things down like, “My Family”, “My Apartment”, My Job”…
It took a little while, but then i clued into the fact that the idea isn’t to write a “Rainbow Pony” list of all the things i appreciate and like, but rather a concrete enumeration of all the things i have because of Recovery and wouldn’t have without it.
My list changed to:
- i’m less angry
- i’m less depressed
- i now have the courage to continue trying
- i’m better at extracting myself from unpleasant situations
- i enjoy good times more completely
- i appreciate music more
- i need fewer breaks from my day
- i panic less
- i see my defaults more clearly and in their proper perspective
- i’m a better example for my children
- i’m better at prioritizing
- i’m more honest about admitting my mistakes
- i get more done
The list goes on and on…
Now, if i ever face a situation where i’m tempted to drink, i’ll be able to look back on this list and see all of the things i’ll be giving up. Or, even more likely, if i get too confident and start thinking i’ve got my addiction under control, i can reread these items and see all the things recovery gave me that i could never get for myself.
Powerful tool, that.
There’s a pithy saying in AA and, like many of our trite expressions, a few words hold a lot of truth.
Meeting Makers Make It
The idea is simple. Those who attend regular meetings are more successful in maintaining their sobriety.
When i started in the program, i hit one meeting a week but then i found a sponsor and he suggested a minimum of four a week. One of the things i learned quickly in AA was to read the Big Book, go to meetings and listen to my sponsor. So i did.
Up until recently i was feeling a little more secure and so i let my rhythm dip back to one a week again. Lately, however, things have gotten a little hairier in my world so i decided i needed to up the dosage. Not to say i’d made a mistake in cutting back, i only recognize the symptoms of fear and anger and self pity and i know where to go to cure them.
Also not to say i’m afraid of relapsing. i feel bad enough as it is and i know alcohol will only make everything worse. i don’t need worse. i’ve had worse and i deserve better.
Hence, 6 meetings a week (despite my reaching a year and a half sober on the 11th of this month). There is a peace in those rooms that i’ve not found anywhere else and i’m grateful that in times like these i know where to go to get shelter from the storm and haven from the hell.
A woman in the rooms shared that she was an angry young lass…so much so that when, in college, her roommate confronted her by saying “You’d rather be right than happy!” she mocked her friend for being ridiculously obvious. It was only much later, in recovery, that she realized how foolish the statement was.
This got me thinking. When i was drinking, i would have rather been drunk than happy. That realization put me on my ass. How insane is that!? i’d truly believed i was drinking to make myself happy when the exact opposite was true!
Now let’s go a step further. We take the sentence and replace the word “right” with a blank.
I’d rather be ________________ than happy.
Whatever words work in that blank (sad, angry, eating, alone…) represent the biggest threats to your sobriety.
For those in AA:
This magic formula can also be used to help you target specific areas in Step 1 where your life has become “unmanageable”.
i’m wrapping up Step 6 of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step Program…
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
My super Sponsor who is older than dirt and wise beyond his years is not too keen on the whole self-flagellation thing and i must say i think anyone in AA who focuses on the negative doesn’t really get the program. It says in the literature that we are all about spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection. Hell, my perfectionism is what got me into trouble in the first place. i placed such high (no pun intended!) demands on myself that i needed alcohol to console me when i inevitably failed to live up to my own unrealistic expectations.
In order to demonstrate how entirely ready i am to remove my defects of character, my sponsor told me to write a list of what i was like when i drank and what i’m like sober so that i can have black & white evidence of how i’ve already started removing my defects of character and to encourage me to keep heading down this path.
i also decided to look at my Step 1 list again. In Step 1 (“We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable”), i wrote down all of the ways in which my life had become unmanageable and i thought now would be a good time to see how far i’d grown.
In conclusion, i’m far from perfect but i’m better off than i was and everyday sees me stronger than the day before. i’m definitely looking up!
In a meeting this morning, someone shared that they were the youngest of 7 children and that two of this person’s sisters were molested sexually, became depressed, and committed suicide when the speaker was 16. The molester? He was the speaker’s older brother.
When hard times come (and they will come, they come to everybody), on a piece of paper write down all the crappy things you are experiencing. It’s OK to use several pieces of paper, if necessary. Reread the list. Losers will see a list of excuses. Winners will see a list of challenges.
You cannot choose what happens to you. You can choose to be a Winner or a Loser.
When is a reason not a reason? When it’s an excuse.
i am not totally insane. When i am angry, i have a reason to be angry. When i am sad, it’s because i have a reason to be. Then again, when i went on a binge, i always had a reason to as well.
i would wager that most if not all mass murders, rapists and serial killers have a reason to explain away their actions. i know for a fact that Hitler, Pol Pot and Ben Laden had reasons to justify their atrocities.
Reasons, however, are not “get out of jail free” cards. Having a reason, obviously, doesn’t make you right or mean you are doing the right thing.
The next time you find you have a reason to drink, to yell, to pout, to scream, to run away and hide, substitute “excuse” for the word “reason” and see if that makes any sense.
Sometimes, doing the right thing means ignoring the reasons to do the opposite.