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Priorities by Mike H.

Priorities by Mike H.

I have 26 years in recovery and 19+ years working at a treatment facility for adults.  I am still amazed at how many of us make our recoveries much more difficult than they need to be.  The terms “in your head,” “over-thinking it” and “over-analyzing things” come up a lot.  Those who are working recovery and have time in the program understand that the above issues all relate to control and acceptance.  Giving up the need to control every aspect of your lives and accepting guidance from those who know the way is the only path to an alcohol-and-drug-free life

When a client enters treatment and begins a sentence with “I think…” I immediately cut them off and remind them that their very best thinking got them here.  I tell them, “Don’t think, follow directions.  You were given a daily schedule to follow.  Don’t think about it, follow it.  You’ve been asked to get a sponsor.  Don’t think about it, get one.  You’ve been asked to write your life story.  Don’t think about it, sit down and write it.”

This is easier said than done, I know.  It took me several (okay, many) attempts at sobriety to finally get it right, and I do remember how difficult I made everything offered to me, insuring that this recovery “stuff” would never work for me and my just-around-the-corner relapse would be someone else’s fault.

So how do we learn to “get out of our heads and into our hearts” and begin the recovery process?  How do we learn to trust a process when we’re not sure we even understand it?  Well, I believe we must get the newcomers to accept something they do understand and can easily implement.  This begins by getting a commitment to make recovery your daily top priority.  Nothing comes between you and your recovery.  The understanding and the ease of this comes with the fact that this is “just for today.”  This is the primary path.

I have had the same daily priority since June 22, 1987.  Today I will stay sober.  I accept, that in order to this, these are some things I should do and some things I shouldn’t.  My “shoulds” and “should-nots” have changed over 26 years, but really not that much.  I still include prayer, gratitude and contact with the recovering community as “shoulds,” and I accept that my character defects are always ready to be stirred up.  My “should-nots” focus on behaviors that feed these defects; ego, laziness and indifference included.  If they are present, I have put something ahead of my priority to stay sober today and I need to address the behavior.  I should not ignore these behaviors.

I believe those new in the recovery process can understand and accept a daily commitment to staying sober by doing a few basic things like attending a meeting and a few basic “should-nots” like avoiding others who do not support their recovery.  I encourage these newcomers to journal each evening about the things they did that day to make and protect their priority.

A client recently ranted on for several minutes about all the things going on in his life that were bothering him and “wrecking his recovery.”  I asked if he was sober and he replied “of course.”  I suggested that he give a prayer of gratitude for that, stop the complaining and enjoy his sobriety.

I have just about completed another day in recovery with my daily priority intact.  I will think no farther ahead than going to sleep tonight.  If tomorrow arrives, I will deal with it then.


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