"Optimism for me isn't a passive expectation that things will get better; it's a conviction that we can make things better."
I saw this quote by Melinda Gates displayed on a bulletin board at work and it struck me as deeply ingenious. This short and mighty message speaks loudly and clearly to the addict living in recovery. It speaks not only to the man or woman wanting to make changes in their life but to those willing to be active agents in their change.
The truth about recovery from addiction is it requires hard work. It is certainly not an easy road; however, it is a road that has been successfully traveled by many. These travelers know it is an active process. They had to initiate many changes in order to turn their lives around.
In addiction we have been repeating the same actions over and over again, continuing to expect different results regardless of whether we made any actual changes or not. Recommitting to the same changes over and over again ultimately led to one dead end after another. Inevitably if nothing changes, nothing changes.
So, how can our lives, minds, and hearts change if nothing has really changed?
We may have to start with very small baby steps. Perhaps that means hanging around more with people who are in active recovery, or perhaps it means going to more meetings, or perhaps it means staying in the house more, or perhaps staying out of the house more. It will largely depend on one’s situation and one’s personal story. No one can do the footwork for another. One must make these changes themselves; however, one does not have to make them alone and shouldn’t. When done alone in a vacuum, we place these changes in jeopardy, which once again will lead to complete failure.
When battling our demons, the cornerstone for success is our connection with others. One-on-one hand to hand combat with our disease is a deadly affair. We must provide some leverage. That leverage can be strengthened when we fight this disease together, not alone.
Have you ever played the childhood game RED ROVER? If you have, you will know that to be successful you must find the weakest link in the chain; you must take advantage of exploitation. The strongest survives and the weakest does not. The disease of addiction uses the very same tactic. It will not only stomp on you when you are down and out, but it will make you believe you are in complete control of your fate until the very last moment. Then, boom, you are once again helplessly back seeking your foods, drinks, drugs or addictive behaviors. This is how addiction plays the game and wins! If we want this to change, we must change. My truth was that I could not find my way out on my own. But with the support of other loving travelers, I was able to and to be successful. Do not discount the power of togetherness. Addiction is a disease of isolation; recovery is a lifestyle of community!
Instead of waiting for your life to change, here is your free pass to make it change. You must become the agent. If you want to think differently, I urge you to first act differently. I once struggled to help my dog relax. A trainer and a close friend of mine suggested, "Dave, have Liza lie down then her mind will follow." It really worked. Calming the body, calmed the brain. Try it! Do something different for a period of time and just simply watch in awe as your lifestyle gradually changes. Try to observe that change from the outside looking in and bask in the glow of your accomplishment and build on it. Do not forget to be reasonable with yourself, do not be too harsh; be kind and loving.
Remember change is slow and takes time. Start small, stand tall, and be persistent. Over time there will be a noticeable cumulative effect of all of your changes.
My upcoming blog post will be about New Year’s Resolutions and How and Why They are Destined to Fail!
Wishing You a Year Filled with Deep and Moving Recovery and Fellowship
Don't Give Up Five Minutes Before The Miracle
David Avram Wolfe