It Works if You Work It: Recovery Takes Dedication

Looking Forward to Today

By now, most of us have heard the unofficial 12-Step program slogan: “It works if you work it!” Most newcomers to the rooms of recovery get an earful of this phrase after just about every meeting. It’s certainly thrown around enough that most of us stop really hearing it after a while. And we certainly stop paying attention to what it really means. The 12-Step program is nothing short of miraculous for so many of us who are alcoholics and addicts. Working the 12-Steps has changed most of our lives and turned them into something beyond our wildest dreams. However outlandish that sounds, it’s no exaggeration. It’s the truth for so many of us. So excuse us if we get too excited, but we were once dying from alcoholism and addiction just like you and every other newcomer. When they find the rooms of recovery, we want them to know this…

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Taking It One Day at a Time

man-performing-yoga-on-beach-jaywalker

Pretty much everyone has heard this phrase at one time or another: “Take it one day at a time.” It’s advice that we might get at a yoga class, from a therapist, or a sympathetic friend. When we come into the rooms of recovery, we are likely to hear it more than ever before. Everybody seems to be saying it. It’s probably even on a plaque or sign somewhere in the meeting room. When we hear something often, and from multiple sources, sometimes we actually end up understanding it less. We subconsciously tune it out and ignore it without even thinking. We certainly don’t think about it or try to understand or bother taking it to heart. When something is repeated often, we start to take it for granted. “I hear it all the time, so we must all be doing it and know what it means. Right?” Not exactly….

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The Value of Our Communities

men-playing-soccer-jaywalker

Almost every human alive is part of a community. We can define community in multiple ways. The most common meaning is “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. Community can also mean “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” These two definitions often appear together. Whether it’s our roommates or immediate family, we have our own small community, but it scales up from there — all the way up. We have our work community, our city, our state, our country, and finally, our planet. Community stretches from the smallest to the largest scales in our lives. Whether or not we like to think we’re a lone wolf, pretty much everyone is part of a community. No man is an island, no matter how much we may think differently. Even if you never…

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Principles Before Personalities

principles over personalities

For any alcoholic or addict newly introduced to the program of recovery, it is incredibly likely to hear the phrase “principles before personalities” at pretty much every meeting we attend. We’ll hear it said a lot in general. But what exactly does it mean? And what is it trying to tell us? Personalities Most of us already understand what a personality is. It’s simply how someone acts and treats others, especially in public. Some people’s personalities are pleasant, charming, and friendly. Other people’s personalities may be unapproachable, gruff, or even a little unlikeable. It’s a harsh reality perhaps, but it’s unlikely that we are going to become friends with every person we meet — and that is totally fine. We naturally gravitate toward certain types of people, and to each their own. But in our disease, it’s also unlikely that we were always tolerant and understanding of people whose personalities…

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How Can I Be Fearless?

facing your fears

In pretty much every action movie ever made, the hero is somebody fearless. Sometimes the world can seem like a pretty scary place, so of course we want to be fearless. It sounds great. To never be scared of anything ever again? Sign me up! But this is real life, not an action movie. The fearlessness of, say, Wolverine isn’t really achievable. The guy is practically immortal, so there’s nothing for him to be afraid of. Do you remember the scene where Indiana Jones had to walk across the invisible bridge? That’s the kind of fearlessness we’re after. Indy was visibly frightened, but he did it anyway. He showed bravery and courage. He took a leap of faith. Sometimes we have to be fearless about taking leaps of faith in our own life, especially when it comes to our recovery and our spiritual growth. There are going to be a…

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What Can the 12-Steps Really Do for Me?

12-Steps

This is a really big question, and it’s got a pretty big answer. We’ll get to that shortly. This big question is probably the most common, and the truth behind the answer has to be experienced firsthand to really understand. But if you’re dying to know what the 12-Steps and the program of recovery can really do for you, look around in a meeting. You will see alcoholics and addicts who have been restored to life, who have had their attitudes and outlooks transformed, and who now enjoy freedom and recovery in a way of life that is ever-increasing in amounts of joy, purpose, and love. For many of us who come to the rooms of recovery with little to no awareness of what goes on in them, the 12-Steps can seem unrelated to our problems. We’re dying of alcoholism and addiction, our lives are in shambles, our relationships are…

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How Can I Get Out of My Rut?

stuck in a rut

Are you feeling like lately you’ve been stuck in a rut? Are you unable to find the energy to break a self-destructive pattern? Maybe you’re just plain old-fashioned bored. Or maybe things have been particularly hard since, say, March of last year? Well, you’re not alone. Everybody feels stuck in a rut at least once in their lives, but usually a lot more often. And these days, most of the country feels stuck in one way or another. It’s human to feel overwhelmed sometimes. Sadly, sometimes we have a bad day that stretches into a few, or we don’t feel our best for a week or longer. It happens to everyone, but that doesn’t mean we have to just lie down and wait for the clouds to pass. The fact that you’re here asking how to break out of your rut is the best first step toward shaking things up….

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Outside Issues: Emotional Health

emotional health

Emotional health is an important issue to address, especially for alcoholics and addicts in recovery. So often, our emotional health gets misplaced or swept up by our mental health and spiritual health practices. It’s a common pattern to focus on our mental and spiritual health in recovery because if we get too far off course in these areas, the effects are usually very noticeable and acute. Skimping on spiritual health drives us closer to relapse and opens the door for the mental obsession to return, so when we feel our spiritual health declining, we can hopefully address it. When our mental health isn’t being taken care of, we can still tell that we’re anxious or depressed, even if we hide it well. But when our emotional health is out of whack, we can often overlook it. We may chalk up the little signs to other causes or even misdiagnose the…

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Resting on Our Laurels

resting on our laurels

This may not be a commonly used phrase anymore, but it still gets a lot of airtime in the rooms of recovery. The words may sound old-fashioned or even silly, but they illuminate an attitude about actions that can be very subversive and potentially very destructive. We may not even be aware that we hold this attitude, and it will undermine us all the more if it goes unseen. This odd phrase means well and is meant to save us from avoidable trouble. So let’s take a closer look at what this phrase can help us understand about life and our recovery. What Does It Mean? To “rest on our laurels” means to relax and rely on our past achievements or success as justification for not achieving new things or new success. It comes from the ancient Greek and Roman societies, where high-ranking and high-achieving people were awarded crowns made…

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Using Hope as a Tool in Treatment

hope in treatment

It is nothing less than heartbreaking to suffer from alcoholism and addiction. Not only for those afflicted directly but all who know and love them. It is a devastating disease that wreaks complete havoc on so many lives. It is precisely this aspect of alcoholism and addiction that calls for nothing less than real and powerful hope in response. This is not a pop psychology, New Age treatment for the disease — it is a working part of the 12-Step foundation of lasting recovery. Without at least the possibility that every aspect of their life can improve by finding and maintaining recovery, alcoholics and addicts may not find enough incentive to do the work that recovery requires. After all, alcohol and substances provide temporary relief of mental, emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical pain. If there is not a strong chance for healing and transformation, there may not be enough momentum…

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