What do AA and recovery have in common with Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, a Chinese author, and Benjamin Franklin?
A year ago, I wouldn't have known how to answer this question. In my case, I was sentenced to go to AA. Now, after having completed the 12-steps, I know it by heart, and having repeated it more times than I can count, it has kept me on the straight and narrow:
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
It certainly sounds logical, and it is, yet it bears repeating, because most of us have difficulty accepting change. In order to get sober, however, we need to do more than just accept change, we have to embrace it.
I found that stepping out of my comfort zone was my key to recovery. I also found that it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I needed something to lean on, some simple formulas I could use at any time of the day or night to get me through those fragile moments when I really, really wanted a drink.
The insanity argument alone isn't enough to keep me from jeopardizing my sobriety. I needed more than one mantra to fall back on. This is what I learned:
1. Trying to please everybody leads to failure - Abraham Lincoln had this figured out when he said, "You can please some of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time." Trying to do so is a one-way ticket to failure, and the frustration that comes with it. While we should certainly do our best to treat others kindly, how they may feel about our decisions is not our problem.
2. Mistakes are part of learning - Regardless of how good of a support system you may have, no one expects you to remember every suggestion or achieve perfection. In fact, learning from your mistakes has a much greater positive impact. You will see your progress as each lesson is learned.
3. You can always HALT - Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. When any of these feelings hit you, it is time to stop, take a breath, and take a step back. We need to be gentle with ourselves as we are developing healthy coping skills. The best way to do this is to remedy any of these stressors as soon as possible. Self-care keeps us strong.
4. No regrets is best - Hurt and hardships make us stronger and mold us into who we are today. We can look back over our life experiences with gratitude as we realize this, and we can feel secure in the knowledge that things are just as they should be.
5. Have no shame in your game - A wound that is always covered will not heal; at some point, you have to let it open to air. It is the same with our past actions; we have to stop hiding who we were in order to understand how to make better decisions in the future.
6. Make a habit out of doing the right thing - Whether it is self-care or doing something nice for others, the more positive choices we make, the more stability we will build. Getting out of our own heads is empowering.
7. Each day is a new opportunity - We can't change the past any more than we can predict the future, but today is ours to control. Each day brings both challenges and opportunities, and all of them are ours to embrace.
Remember, we have already done the hard work of getting sober. Each new day is now a gift.
If you or your loved one needs help, contact us today and feel free to talk to us about addiction treatment programs at our affordable drug and alcohol rehab that fit your needs. The Anaheim Lighthouse is a modern and effective addiction treatment center in Southern California.