Recovery, True Self and Joy! Sober- The Heart Way
Sooner or later, not using or drinking just isn’t enough. The “high” from sobriety begins to wear thin. Our tolerance for sobriety has risen, no different than when we needed another drink, or another hit to get to the same place. That is when I began looking for my true-self and the joy in becoming sober.
I can remember how excited I was to get my first-year coin from A.A. and being just as excited in year two. I was doing the work. I recognized my life as unmanageable and had turned myself over to a Higher Power.
By year three I was making my amends, sometimes for the second time. I started thinking about sponsoring. Service work was becoming a regular part of my routine and going to meetings took about as much effort as breathing. Well, maybe a bit of an over statement, but meetings were at least OK.
Things really changed by year 5. I was sober and reasonably happy. I was employed and had some friends. My life had expanded beyond AA/NA and recovery wasn’t my only conversational topic. When I got my five-year coin, I was proud, but the feeling of excitement wasn’t there. Not using or drinking brought much respected and revered normality, (whatever that is!) but not the peace or joy I wanted. As I listened to others at meetings, I heard the same thing from men and women in mid recovery; “What’s next?” “Isn’t there more?” “I still don’t know who I am or what I want.” And that began the quest.
Next Steps in Sober The Heart Way!
Ask yourself some questions, the wording may be a little different, so think of these questions as directional.
- Am I living my plan or am I letting the situation dictate my life?
- Do I require more “stuff” or more expensive things and vacations to achieve something close to happiness?
- Is my relationship with my partner all that it should be?
- Have I replaced my addiction with a new addiction like work or tv?
- Am I satisfied?
- Am I joyous?
If the answers to these questions leave you wanting more out of life, let’s get started on the path to Reclaim Your Joy!
Remember when recovery seemed daunting?
First, congratulations on your recovery so far. Going to your first 12 Step meeting isn’t easy. You are alone, and this is the beginning of looking at yourself in a new way. Early on, your story focused on others. The hurt, regret, anger, loneliness spoke to you in a way that “allowed” your addiction to take more and more control over your life. Perhaps you began missing important work and social events. The denial of a problem began, and the rationalization took over.
If you were unlucky, over time, your “other” self, required more, and as you fed that person the arguments, missed work opportunities and financial woes mounted. The change in behavior drove your support away and being alone became the new norm.
If you were lucky, you caught yourself before you lost everything, yet the underlying emptiness still existed.
You know there is a next step in your recovery. The next step will lead you to;
- A life containing a healthy balance of work, play, service and honest relationships.
- Living and loving according to your True Purpose. A life where you know and understand your needs, values and strengths.
- Understanding why you act in a specific way and to remain true to your new self.
- You are living in the present. You are right here, right now. You no longer live in your present-past or your present future. You have released the depression and anxiety. This is living a life of loving-kindness and compassion.
How to get started on Sober- The Heart Way!!
Over the years Reclaim Your Joy! has developed an approach to recovery that focuses on living a sober life of purpose. Sounds difficult or spacey, doesn’t it? It isn’t. It is entirely possible for you to reveal the true you, perhaps for the first time. Knowing your purpose allows you to set healthy boundaries, be honest in relationships, act with integrity and best all be present. A life of loving-kindness allows you to recognize words, actions and thoughts that used to send you to your less-true self.
Your move to Joy begins with gratitude. Gratitude is something we have in large quantity in early recovery and as sobriety becomes the norm, we forget to be grateful. We fall into routines with our partners. We complain about the weather instead of recognizing that rain helps nature grow, the heat helps the crops, winter marks a time of reflection and anticipation of new growth for nature and us.
Melody Beatty, one of my favorite authors summarizes gratitude wonderfully!
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Gratitude is where we start our Sober- The Heart Way Program. After a few weeks, you will recognize that you are blessed over and over, every day, continuously. You’ve probably heard the expression; “Don’t leave till the miracle happens.” Well, miracles happen every day, all the time. We just don’t take the time to appreciate and honor them. Here are a couple of great suggestions to get you started;
- Each morning, before the world comes into view, pick one person, event or situation that has meaning to you and express your gratitude. Perhaps you look at your partner and are thankful for someone that supports and loves you. Or, visualizing an event for the day that will put a smile on your face.
- Opportunities for gratefulness happen all the time and are quickly forgotten. Take two minutes each day to jot down three bullet points that summarize these moments. The remembrances are for you. If the bullet points don’t have meaning for others, that’s fine, they will prompt your memory.
Here’s a story. Early in my new found sober life, I went to a meeting and there was a statement that really impacted me. My Gratitude Journal entry that day was; “I went to a meeting today and a guy said something really important.” That’s it. When I flip through the pages of that journal and see that line, I can picture the room, see the people and remember what was said. The feeling and the impact of the emotion come back as strong as if the event had just happened.
- Last one. Before 10AM, text or call someone special. Let them know that you are thinking of them and wish them peace and a great day!
And there’s more to Sober- The Heart Way. For everyone.
Reprogramming your brain through regular gratitude is enhanced through meditation and learning to be present. I will be spending more time on this incredibly important topic in a following blog, but for now, know this, most of us live in our present-past or present-future and not the present. Depression is regret about the past and worry and anxiety is fear of the future. Now is all we have, and we need to re-learn living here and now. This all part of our Mindfulness training. Now, I know, how many more times do I have to hear that mindfulness word? Mindfulness shows up everywhere, bur is it new? Nope. I bet your mom or grandmother said to you- “Count to 10 before you get angry!” or “Take a deep breath.” That’s mindfulness and those are two ways to stay present. Another is through a regular meditation practice.
Meditation doesn’t mean emptying your mind, it means, sitting quietly, eyes open or closed and just being aware of your breath. We are thinking creatures, so today’s meetings, the grocery list, the parking ticket and everything else will come floating in. When they do, just repeat a signature word, like “think”. The thought will vanish, and you can come back to now.
A Sober Meditation Exercise to get you started.
Breathe: Breathe in for a count of four and then out for a count of four. Be aware of your breath, moving in and out. Use your other senses; is the air cool or warm. What sounds are present, nature? The City? How do your clothes feel on your body?
You will have thoughts come in. Your grocery list, business projects, bills or a rude co-worker. When that happens, use a “return” word to bring you back to your breath. I use “think”. Humans can’t think of two thoughts simultaneously and using the word “think” brings me back.
Recite: Have something nice or motivational to say to yourself. “Today I will be the positive me.” “I am perfect, just the way I am.” There are tons of great places to find positive affirmations. Here is one.
Gratitude and meditation are two major components of our program. You will be supported through your individual sessions as well as structured guided meditations and suggested readings. A great recommendation, right off the bat is; “Joy on Demand” by Chad-Meng Tan. Did you know that Google has a Chief Joy Officer? Well, that is Mr. Tan’s title! Central to his process is a regular meditation program.
The Secret in Sober- The Heart Way! Just for you!
Gratitude and meditation are our foundations and what follows those practices will be your guide for today and beyond.
So, who are you? For some, as we age our life takes on a predictable shape. We go to school and maybe more school, get a job, which leads to a better job. Perhaps marriage and maybe another. For those of us in recovery, we strayed from the lineal predictability of life. Something moved us away from our true selves. Can you clearly define your needs and values? What resonates with you, nature’s beauty? Loyalty and honesty? Passion and love? And if you knew, how would you use those precious qualities to live a life a life of purpose and rigorous honesty?
The process we will share with you will show you what motivates you and how to use your innate qualities. By incorporating recognition keys of successful embodiment and implementation of your true self you will construct a Purpose Statement that becomes your path. You will use your Purpose Statement to identify emotional, health, relationship and professional goals. It is your reward tool. It also prevents you from taking life for granted and letting the little annoyances of day to day trials get in the way.
Here’s an example. When I first wrote my Purpose Statement, I had a line which read; “I have a partner in life.” At the time, I was divorced, living in a tiny apartment and my bank account was of the piggy bank variety. But having that line and living its intent, I put myself into situations where I would meet someone. And I did! Now that line reads; “Kerry is my partner for life.” We are married and successfully working together at Reclaim Your Joy! Awesome!
Having that line; “Kerry is my partner for life.” is a driver for me. Of course, we have some tense moments, just like any other couple. But when the blood pressure begins to rise, and I feel the heart beat quicken and the cheeks flush, that one line blazes into my head- “Kerry is my partner for life.” And I ask myself, “Is this argument I am about to have worth jeopardizing a relationship this important?” The answer is always, “No.” It doesn’t mean that I back down, but it does mean that I act like an adult and a caring adult, at that.
Your Purpose Statement will become your road map.
Are you ready for The Heart Way journey?
If any or all of the items below are you, then you will benefit from joining our program.
- Four or more years association with any 12-step program
- Unsure about what life has in store for you
- Have difficulty in relationships
- Reliant on finding happiness from external sources such as tv or shopping
- Sober, but not joyous
Also, please check out www.facebook.com/soberisawesome