Monday, 15 October 2012

To Be Yourself is to Become Yourself

This is a guest post that I wrote for Mark Michaels on his blog, Beyond Faith ... Into Freedom.  Do yourself a favour and check out his site.  Besides articles, he has an ebook and a few courses you can sign up to - brilliant.  Here we go ......

My name is Sara and I am an alcoholic from South Africa.  I feel honored to have been invited by Mark to write a guest post for his website.    The 12 step program, for me, has been the only option for successful recovery.  It offers a design for living which can be implemented in all aspects of your life.  In pondering what to write, I thought I would share a couple of the 12 step principles that have worked for me and, by the Grace of God, will keep me clean and sober one day at a time.

Whatever your addiction is, acceptance is the foundation on which to build a new life in recovery.  Willingness to change is the key.  Most addicts have been affected by either abuse, lack of love or circumstances that have lead them to be emotionally insecure.  Although it is not your fault that life has dealt you a raw deal, when you reach the point where you realize that you cannot continue wrecking your own life and the life of others, it becomes your responsibility to make some changes.  Page 449 of the Big Book says it all, quote:
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation - some fact of my life - unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes”.

During my years of addiction, I was self-centered and negative in my attitude towards life.  When I did the dreaded fourth step in the AA program and analyzed situations that lead to resentment and fear, I came to realize that in most cases I was the cause of my own destruction.  Learning what my character defects are and taking steps to keep them in check, has helped me to react in a more positive manner when faced with adversity.  Holding onto anger, fear and resentment is a sure way of going straight back into the hell of addiction.  Deal with them, make amends where due and then let them go.  
Gratitude is an important attitude to keep.  Often we addicts find ourselves back on our pity pots, thinking why me, why did this have to happen to me?  Remember that there are others out there a lot worse off than you.  It is a good idea to keep a gratitude journal and add to it from time to time.  You will find you have a lot more to be grateful for than you can imagine. Ask yourself the question: Through all the pain that I have gone through, surely there must be a reason for it?  Perhaps our destiny is to go out and help other people overcome addiction.   Follow the advice of the brilliant Mahatma Ghandi who said:
“Be the change you want to see in the world”.
Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people, reading inspirational books and following motivational people for example Jack Canfield, Deepak Chopra, Hale Dwoskin and the wonderful Neale Donald Welsch will all help towards maintaining a positive attitude.  Brian Tracy quotes:
“You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude towards what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you”.

When I started recovery, I was carrying around a load of guilt.  As soon as I learned to forgive myself, I could move forward.  I also found that people do not like you to change.  You certainly find out who your real friends – the ones that support you in any way they can.  Whatever harms were done to you in the past, forgive those that caused them.  When someone goes out of their way to belittle you or hurt you in your recovery, forgive them too.  Show tolerance for they do not understand.  Forgiveness is not to gain the other person’s approval – you do it for yourself as part of your journey towards faith and unconditional love.  So from this day on, if you have not done so already:
“Love yourself - accept yourself - forgive yourself – and be good to yourself, because without you, the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things.

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