Day 4: Strenghten your Good, Intelligent Habits

Day 4 of 12 Days of Emotional Sobriety

Addiction can be thought of as a destructive habit that continues despite the negative consequences it creates.  It’s possible to change addictive habits but it requires commitment and ongoing effort to find a healthy balance in life. I once heard it said that if you stop drinking without replacing it with something better it would be as painful as watching paint dry. Boredom sets in quickly and drinking becomes a good option. Those who struggle with relapse often lack a solid set of good intelligent habits that replace the multitudes of behaviours that supported and justified their addiction.

It’s so important to have a routine of positive habits to replace the negative lifestyle of addiction. Whether that involved criminality or just plain laziness when it came to showing up for life, emotional sobriety is about cultivating inner peace & usefulness. This is a lifelong process and starts with each new day and each new challenge.

Many addicts grew up in families that created negative beliefs about themselves and the world. This negativity translates into self-loathing, self-doubt, learned helplessness and a loss of hope. These attitudes and outlooks on life are part of the addictive habit. Being committed to challenging and changing your limiting self-talk, is the first step to creating a solid foundation of good, intelligent habit formation. This will be followed in action by healthy, life-sustaining activities, that give back to the world in meaningful ways.

Tip for Today
Challenge yourself to a 24-hour ‘negativity fast’.  This will require a great deal of attention to your thoughts and feelings. Having a negative thought or feeling is not the problem – giving it energy by embellishing it as truth is the problem.  Each time you think negatively of yourself or someone else, quickly replace it with “I chose love today” or, “I suspend judgement for now”, or whatever sounds like a simple, positive antidote in the moment. Then immediately decide to do something useful. It could be attending to a chore, or calling a friend who is going through a tough time or taking care of some outstanding business.  Make a conscious effort to lay down good, intelligent pathways for health. Emotional sobriety is an inside job – that gets manifested in your (outside) world.

There is no better time than the holiday season to create a positive habit of giving to others, to help yourself and your emotional recovery.

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 #5!


Day 3: Structure Your Time and Energy Wisely

Day 3 of 12 Days of Emotional Sobriety

I did a test a few years ago that confirmed that I have a personality that “abhors routine”. I chuckled thinking that in my addiction that looked like total chaos!  In recovery, it can become a lack of structure. We all know how common the diagnosis for A.D.D. (attention deficit disorder) has become. I think of myself and so many other addicts I know and how we all could have been (and maybe still could be) diagnosed this way. A lack of structure and discipline can lead to an ongoing sense of confusion and turmoil, long into recovery.

All successful people have routines and structure. I have a morning routine that I am pretty committed to, that allows me to start my day in a positive and mindful way. I plan what I will do with my ‘free time’ based on what feeds my soul and creates something of value in my life. In contrast, if we jump from one thing to another, in hopes of fitting in or because we don’t want to be alone, we lack the discipline to make good decisions that enhance recovery.

Many addicts are ‘people pleasers’.  We do what we think others want us to do, and lack an internal GPS system to know and respond to what we want ourselves. We are busy filling up our calendars with events that help us feel wanted – often at the expense of getting what is needed to be done. This is especially true if what we need to get done isn’t something we ‘like’ to do. Our denial kicks in and we procrastinate and distract ad infinitum.

I’ve had to learn that discipline and routine are now a part of my new personality. I still like to break up the routine when I can, to keep my addicted brain happy, but I mostly know what I must do, and I plan my days and weeks accordingly. I stay connected to myself, I take 100% responsibility for the choices I’m making and I preserve my precious time and energy for the things that are both the most important (life responsibilities) and most enjoyable (a life worth living). The holiday season is a time of increased parties and invitations. Make sure that you are not moving into a chaotic spiral that is leaving you depleted rather than energized.

Tip for Today

Get your calendar out and look to the week ahead. Give yourself permission to structure your week, making it a priority to support your emotional sobriety. This might include: showing up for work (if you have a job), looking for work (if you don’t), daily household tasks (cooking, cleaning), time with friends/loved ones, time spent in recovery activities, quality time with yourself (take yourself on a date), prayer and meditation, reading books that stimulate your mind, learning, & shopping for the week.  See if you can conscientiously decide to make the most of your time and energy and then watch how successful you are in following through without distractions. You will become more self-aware of what, if anything, trips you up and you can then adjust accordingly.

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 the next one!


Day 2: Take 100% Responsibility for your Decisions and Attitudes

Day 2 of 12 Days of Emotional Sobriety

One of the common emotional deficits that alcoholic/addicts face is the tendency to blame others for their own errors or slip-ups. Sometimes we do this without even knowing, because we lack self-awareness. When we are not taking 100% responsibility, we get self-protective and push back against those who may be unhappy with our behaviour. Often I hear, “I knew it was wrong to get defensive as soon as I said it, but I couldn’t admit it.”

It’s obvious that one of the biggest blocks to overcome in being responsible is the swallowing of our pride. Pride is the opposite of humility (which is different from humiliation – and it’s too bad that these two words, that have such different meanings, sound so much alike).

Humility is the characteristic that defines a higher aspiration for ourselves. The world’s greatest teachers and mentors model high degrees of humility. It’s what makes them great. Humility is what shows the world that you are ok with you and at the same time, you are striving to be better.

Our attitude adjustment has two main components: redirecting our negative thinking to positive thinking in effortful ongoing ways, and recognizing that pride and ego are the culprits that prevent the ongoing growth of our emotional sobriety.

Tip for Today

If you do something that hurts someone in even a small way; or if someone tells you something about yourself that is hard to hear, try taking a big swallow (literally) and tell yourself, “I’m swallowing my pride and ego at this moment that wants to prove them wrong”, and simply say, “I’m sorry I hurt you. Is there anything I can do to make it better?”
Trust me, just saying that alone will make a huge difference. Staying current each day by cleaning up any wreckage you may have intentionally or unintentionally caused, will enhance your emotional sobriety enormously.

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 the next one!


Day 1: Increase Self-Awareness

Day 1 of 12 Days of Emotional Sobriety

I want your holiday season to be the best one ever. Improve each day by staying in touch with your thoughts, feelings and beliefs and then focusing on the ones that support your recovery and eliminating those that don’t.

Denial comes in many forms. One of the ways denial works is by telling you that spending time getting to know yourself is “selfish”. That getting comfortable with your uncomfortable internal states, is not necessary.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Knowing yourself and making healthy, conscious decisions that allow you to “stick with the winners”, is only selfish if you think that staying clean and sober to contribute to society and help others is selfish.  That doesn’t add up in my books.

Focusing on becoming a better version of yourself is a gift you give to those around you.

When sobriety feels hard, don’t ignore it – find a friend to talk to, journal about it or put the problem in your God jar and trust that you are not alone.

Then get into action – get busy with something that matters to you, that moves you along the continuum of good health and happiness.

Staying connected to your inner self allows you to begin to know – in your gut – whether something feels right for you or not.

It’s called intuition and it’s your direct connection to your highest self.

Tip for Today

If you have to make a decision and you are uncertain whether it will support your recovery or not – sit quietly for a moment and get centered inside yourself: imagine there is an elevator in your head and put the situation inside.  Now, let the elevator move slowly down your body and into your gut.  Open the door. You will get either a ‘resounding yes’ or a no.  Anything that is not a ‘resounding yes’ = a ‘no’. It’s that simple. Then check it out with your sponsor or mentor to ensure you are indeed on the right track.

My wish is that you will continue your journey towards long-term contented sobriety by actively doing the things that create healthy change in your life.

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 the next one!


Sobriety Matters: 12 Tips for Celebrating Sobriety This Holiday Season

The best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones is to take your sobriety seriously this holiday season.

Over many years I’ve learned, both personally and professionally, that material objects — whatever fancy things you might think another person wants, aren’t in any way as important as you managing, protecting and caring about your sobriety. By doing so, you prove to them that it is your number one priority.

There is no other time than than the holiday season which is more important or more challenging to do so.

With that in mind, I’m offering proven tips for you to stay focused on being your best sober self.

Over the next 12 days of Christmas, I will expand on one tip each day with an explanation of its importance and how you can put it into practice.

Remember: You alone decide the value of a life free of addiction.

Here is some help along the way.

Tips for making your Sobriety Matter:

  1. Stay in the middle of your herd.
  2. Stay off the slippery slopes.
  3. Mix your own drinks.
  4. Remember that “no“ is a complete sentence.
  5. Never barter with your sobriety.
  6. Deliberately do something good for someone else each day.
  7. Take life ‘one minute at a time’ if necessary.
  8. Recognize and avoid people pleasing.
  9. Stay forward focused.
  10. Be your own best friend.
  11. Be grateful for what you have.
  12. Say a prayer for peace, for yourself and for the world.


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Happy Holidays!