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Day 12: Cultivate Peace Within & Live in the Moment

Day 12 of 12 Days of Emotional Sobriety

There is no better time than the holidays to cultivate a feeling of peace within. Most people these days are increasingly busy making it a challenge to stay mindful and present to our lives. Peace is defined as “freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety or obsession; a state of tranquility or serenity.” This is a must for addicts who are vulnerable to relapse when ‘restless, irritable and discontent.”

Being peaceful doesn’t mean you have to stay sitting still. Instead, I think of it as an inner shift in the face of our busyness. It’s the way we stay connected to our Highest self, which in turn is connected to the Higher source of knowledge, peace, and power. Becoming skilled at doing this, especially when our lives are full, is what helps us maintain a sense of serenity. For me, it is my daily meditation practice which keeps me centered and calm and ready for each new (busy) day ahead, with all its many challenges.

Living in the moment allows us to generate peace through our attentiveness and acceptance of whatever life is presenting to us. I recently had a friend pass away in a kite surfing accident. He was only 49 years old with a 9-year-old son. It was such an unexpected tragedy. It reminded me, once more, that life is a precious gift that we cannot take for granted. Living each day as if it is our last, reminds us to let go of unnecessary stresses and focus instead on what is most important. Our commitment to pray and/or meditate regularly changes brain patterns which in turn, change our personality patterns – for the better.  We learn to show up, even during stressful events and maintain a sense of calm, level-headedness.

Tip for Today

Set aside 5-15 minutes to connect with your inner self. Give yourself permission to put out of your mind all the tasks and stressors for this time. Start by following your breath and imagine it is a calming presence that expands into each of your cells. Imagine that your breath is connecting you with the Source of all power, peace, and knowledge and letting it fill you up, You might notice a sense of “I am connected” or “I am safe”.  Let yourself enjoy this state of being for as long as possible.  Silently chant ‘I feel peace’ as you continue to feel into your calm state. When finished, go about your day, taking breaks as often as possible to remember to use your chant, ‘I feel peace’, to bring awareness to the calm inner state.  Experiment with this process repeatedly to build a new pathway for peace within.

It has been a pleasure to share these 12 tips towards Emotional Sobriety with you over the past 2 weeks. I hope they have been beneficial to you, your loved ones or those who might need them most this holiday season. If you missed a few or would like to read/share them again, you can find them here. 

On behalf of The Good Life Therapy Center, I wish you a joyful, peaceful and merry Christmas & New Year.

Warmly,
 

Day 11: Be of Service to Others

Day 11 of 12 Days of Emotional Sobriety

The third pillar of recovery, after personal recovery and unity with the fellowship, are

acts of service. This takes us out beyond our own self-interest and allows us to, often for the first time in our lives, feel like we have found meaning in life. It’s critical because most people in the throe

s of addiction are ‘takers’. In early recovery, they think that doing things for others “sucks”. I was once told that “if it’s not inconvenient, it’s not service”, and that has helped me adjust my attitude over the years.

There is an undeniable spiritual alchemy that occurs when we give from our hearts without looking for something in return. It’s difficult to put into words. If we pay attention, we’ll notice that we feel uplifted. We feel as though we finally belong because we have something of value to offer. We have discovered a key to happiness.

Saint Frances said it best: “…it is by giving that we receive.”

Acts of service can be large or small. I know a couple who every Christmas anonymously buy other people’s groceries when they are checking out. They watch to see who looks in need, then they let the cashier know they will pay the bill. They set a budget and give in this way. There are also so many ways we can make a difference that don’t cost a cent.

Tip for Today

Think about the days ahead and ask yourself what type of service you could accomplish. Sit quietly and let yourself sense into what feels meaningful to you. Perhaps you want to volunteer your time at a shelter; cook a holiday meal for someone; help a neighbour or friend; or reach out to someone struggling with their recovery. Create a plan to make it happen and follow through. Remember showing up for life and being accountable means taking action. It will result in a sense of emotional maturity and well-being.

Don’t forget to share this with your friends and family who could benefit from 12 tips to keep you emotionally sober this holiday season. See you tomorrow for tip #12!

Warmly,
 

Day 10: Give Others the Benefit of the Doubt

Day 10 of 12 Days of Emotional Sobriety

Sometimes people’s intentions are malicious – but most of the time they are not. Most people do not set out to intentionally hurt others.  And yet, it’s impossible to be close to other human beings and not get hurt, from time to time. This is especially true for alcoholics/addicts who tend to be particularly sensitive emotionally. Our sensitivity is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it allows us to connect deeply with the world (when we allow ourselves to feel). It’s a curse because it often underlies the need to use our drug of choice to completely numb out.

Emotional sobriety means you can handle the normal emotions of everyday life. Building resilience in this area is important for your own emotional well-being. I love how Dr. Ellyn Bader describes it in the work she does with couples. She explains how crucial it is to build “emotional muscle” to be able to show up in life and in your close relationships. One way is by giving others the benefit of the doubt. That means we don’t have to attack everyone who disappoints or frustrates us, nor do we need to ‘ghost’ them.

There is no possible way to build healthy, long term, reciprocal relationships if you are not able to manage your emotional triggers and reactions to what others say and do. There is a very important perspective in the recovery literature that states: “Whenever I am disturbed, there is something wrong with me.”  It’s a harsh truth because it demands 100% responsibility. No one to blame. No one to shame. Emotional growth means that you can tell the difference between everyday hurts and serious abuse, (which does not apply here). It means you are being both kind to yourself, but also to others. Most of us are doing our level best each day. Can you see that in yourself and others?

Tip for Today

Remember a recent event when someone said or did something hurtful to you. Or think of an upcoming holiday event where you must be around someone who you find difficult. Imagine yourself giving that person the benefit of the doubt.  You might think, “Sounds like they are struggling”; or “I’m really glad I don’t live in their skin, it must be hard”.  Giving someone the benefit of the doubt doesn’t mean agreeing with them. It doesn’t even mean sticking around them. It simply means allowing yourself to find some compassion for their suffering. By doing so, you shift out of being a victim and avoid a downward emotional spiral that makes you vulnerable to relapse.

Don’t forget to share this with your friends and family who could benefit from 12 tips to keep you emotionally sober this holiday season. See you tomorrow for tip #11!

Warmly,
 

Day 9: Practice Gratitude

Day 9 of 12 Days of Emotional Sobriety

One of the most powerful tools in your recovery toolkit is gratitude. It’s impossible to feel sorry for ourselves when we are being grateful. That does not mean dismissing real emotional pain. There are lots of things that are hard in life. Working these issues through is important to have a life worth living. But often, our ‘stinking thinking’ is what keeps us spinning our wheels. It’s the tendency to see the glass of life half-empty rather than half-full and becoming help-rejecting complainers. We become restless, irritable and discontent – primed for another drink. And trust me – no one likes being around us when we are like this.

Gratitude, much like happiness, is a state of mind. Cultivating gratitude is a good, intelligent habit in recovery. It gets us focussed on what we do have, rather than what we don’t. The neuroscience is very convincing on this topic. What we focus on is what we become. When we decide to stay connected to the small and large ways in which we are blessed, our lives improve. It’s an upward-moving spiral.

Tip for Today

Each evening through the holiday, make a list of 3 things you are grateful for.  Make sure you create a unique list every time. This will allow you to stretch your reach to include more aspects of life than you may have thought about before. Take time with each item on your list to let it travel the long road from your head to your heart. See if you can let yourself experience gratitude in your body as well as your mind. Then practice ‘random acts of kindness’ with others so that you could (potentially) be one of the items on their gratitude list.

Don’t forget to share this with your friends and family who could benefit from 12 tips to keep you emotionally sober this holiday season. See you tomorrow for tip #10!

Warmly,
 

Day 8: Be Realistic

Day 8 of 12 Days of Emotional Sobriety

Many addicts suffer from ‘fantasy functioning’. We come by it honestly, if we have grown up with a lack of healthy, positive role models for life. In attempts to compensate for low self-esteem, we push ourselves relentlessly to be some unrealistic version of perfection. We believe that life should be easy and that we will meet our soul mate and live happily ever after.  When that doesn’t pan out, we beat ourselves up or we drink again.

Being realistic about life is about accepting what is possible. We may all be created equal in God’s eyes, but that doesn’t mean we are all the same. Knowing your limitations, especially when it comes to accepting your addiction, fosters contentment – a feeling that is elusive to addicts.

Perfection is a concept that doesn’t exist. It is a debilitating strategy meant to cover up shame. Being willing to cut yourself and others some slack for your humanness is a quality that will foster greater happiness. There is a recovery slogan: “Live and Let Live” which I love. It sounds simple but is tremendously deep in meaning. It means living our lives and not expecting others to follow suit. It means finding compassion for others so that each person can decide for him/herself what is best.

During the holidays, many people may want you to join in with activities that don’t support your recovery. Letting yourself live by your own principles and priorities, while not judging them for their choices, will go a long way in creating more emotional sobriety for you.

Tip for Today

Take stock of your day and ask yourself if you are being realistic about what you want to accomplish.  Are you doing too much? Or not enough?  Are you judging someone who has made different choices than you would make in the same situation? If so, see if you can ‘live and let live’, allowing space for everyone to walk their own path in life. Notice what happens when you make this shift or if you are struggling, what is blocking you from this change in perspective.

Share this with your friends and family who could benefit from 12 tips to keep you emotionally sober this holiday season. Don’t forget to leave a comment below if this resonates with you or if you have tips of your own you’d like to share. See you tomorrow for tip #9!

Warmly,