As we start a new year a lot of people will be declaring new year’s resolutions. I used to do this and it did not work, now I know why.
A resolution is when we resolve to quit something, something that’s not good for us. Addiction easily falls into this category. “Swearing off” is rarely effective because it doesn’t deal with the complex underlying issues involved.
However, the main reason resolutions are rarely successful is that just quitting isn’t enough. In recovery we make a decision to change. We decide to take a new direction; in fact, the word decide comes from the same root word as disciple – it means to follow, to take a new direction.
Decisions are powerful and they are what bring us to a new way of living in recovery. Decisions are what set us on a new journey, a new road so to speak. When we make a decision we let go of our old ideas and ways of doing things. We learn to model others who have been successful at staying abstinent.
Just quitting would be the equivalent to just stopping the car whereas making a decision is like taking a different road.
When I was new in recovery it was difficult for me to see past my present problems and pain. I was stuck in the same old story day after day and I didn’t know how to get out of it. One day I decided to do the day differently. A real decision becomes real action. It’s a decision verses a wish when the deciding thought is followed by an action toward the new direction. We can’t always think our way into right action, we often have to act our way into right thinking. That was a big “a ha” moment for me when I realized how true that little statement is. It changed my life.
The next important piece of the puzzle for me in any decision or change is to focus on where I am going instead of focusing on the past. There is a reason the windshield is much larger than the rearview mirror. There is also a reason we have a rearview mirror. Can you imagine what it would be like to drive down the freeway looking primarily at the rear view mirror? You would have to go very slow, stop often and probably end up in a collision. That is exactly what it’s like to go through life focusing on where you have been instead of focusing on where you intend to go. You might be in the car, pointed in and possibly even moving in the right direction but if you are over focused on the rear view mirror – you are doing it the hard way. I spent way too much time doing just that so I know how painful it can be. I encourage you to learn from the past, but don’t live there. When we are on our recovery path, we are on the right road, traveling in the right direction. When we learn to let go and forgive everything in the past, our lives accelerate in our new positive direction.
I, like most of the people I’ve met on my recovery journey, have a tendency to focus on the past regrets and hurts. We cannot change the events of the past. However, we do learn how to clean up our part in those hurts and regrets and that is when we learn to accept the past. When we learn from it and share it with others that they might heal, that is when it has value.
The other little distortion that can keep us “in park” is when we are over focused on the future. We create all kinds of anxiety because it’s new territory. I will go into depth in a future podcast/blog post on this topic but for now I will share a few little tricks.
First I focus on where I want to go, “I look through the windshield”. To stay present with myself I ask my intuition, my Higher Power, my souls voice to guide my thinking and behavior. When I learn to listen to the still small loving voice I will soon recognize what my next step in that new direction should be. As I develop that trust in my intuitive voice I will gain momentum and learn to enjoy the journey. Just like a literal journey in a car, there is road behind us and road in front of but for right here and right now I am in the car enjoying the scenery, listening to the sound track of my life and singing along. I might have a travel companion or I might be alone with my Higher Power. What I know for sure is that the further I move a long my path the more I learn to trust myself and enjoy the journey, one day a time, one mile at a time.
When we let go of the old story, the old ideas of who we think we are we get the opportunity to take the biggest adventure of our lives and become that which our creator intended us to be.
My goal every day is to sink deeper into today and be as present as I can be so that I don’t miss a minute of what is right in front of me. I can do this more easily when I know I am headed in the general direction that is right for me. That is all I really need to know.
When I turn down the voice of my ego, inner critic and inner child and listen to my intuitive voice, my souls voice and I act upon the direction of my higher power who is always correct, always has my best interest in mind and guides me to the best version of myself, that is when I know everything is all right, right here, right now.
I’m Just Sayin’