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Resilience: That’s something an addict/alcoholic discovers in their back pocket when they overcome a difficult situation. It’s the ability to bounce back after the multitude of knocks we’re sure to get just by being alive.

In the using days, problems often seemed unsurmountable, so the only way to “deal with it” was to drink or use. In sobriety, that’s no longer an option. Instead, we sometimes try to “deal with it” by shopping, gambling, sex, video games, food, exercise, you name it. In the end, those behaviors don’t really correct the problem.

Sobriety presents us with an opportunity to learn how to live without the crutches of drugs and alcohol. Instead of infusing ineffective “solutions” to mounting troubles, we now have a toolbox equipped with the 12 steps. One by one, step by step, viable solutions will unfold. Before we know it, the hard work pays off, and our proverbial tool box gets filled with a variety of options. Mine has, anyway.

When I come across an aversive situation, I now have choices. I start with the foundation: the 12 steps, remembering I can approach difficulty one breath at time if need be. Or I might  engage the tools of a meditation practice, asking myself, “Am I breathing?”  Try it. You might even discover that you’ve been holding your breath!  Other times, I might engage the tools garnered from my yoga practice, asking myself,  “Am I present?” The majority of the time, however, it’s a combination of all three, allowing me to season my responses/reactions accordingly.

Recovery teaches us to face adversity with an open heart and a present state of mind. It teaches us that our previous acts of avoidance merely created a diversion to feeling better. The wreckage of our past proves when we walk around the issue, the solution feels and often is unattainable.  Here, in sobriety, we learn to “uncover, discover, and discard,” rather than to “run, hide, and duck for cover.”  So, if/when you find yourself faced with adversity, ask yourself this: “Is my reaction helpful or harmful?” If nothing else, you’ve provided yourself with a break and an opportunity to do the right thing.

Related articles:

Kevin Griffin: A Buddhist Approach to Recovery: Step Four — Searching and Fearless (huffingtonpost.com)

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