Just as we strive to protect and conserve earth’s energy resources, we can strive to protect and conserve our own. Become more aware of the impact of things, people, and activities on you and your energy. What feeds you, charges you? What drains and depletes you?
As you grow and become more sensitive to how things feel to you, you’ll naturally grow to dislike and be uncomfortable with whatever drains or negatively impacts your energy. Yes, some difficult, draining situations are inevitable. But we can learn to protect ourselves in those situations. Sometimes we need to let go of people, places, and behaviors that don’t work for us anymore, that drain, exhaust, and deplete us.
Pay attention to the impact of certain people, places, behaviors, and events on your energy. Pay attention to how you feel when you eat certain foods, drink certain beverages, go certain places. Learn to listen to your body, your emotions, and your heart. Be prepared to let go of some things and people along the way. Be gentle with yourself while you do.
Learn to conserve your energy.
It is a precious, valuable resource.
One of our choices in recovery is choosing what we want to think—using our mental energy positively.
Positive mental energy, positive thinking, does not mean we think unrealistically or revert to denial. If we don’t like something, we respect our own opinion. If we spot a problem, we’re honest about it. If something isn’t working out, we accept reality. But we don’t dwell on the negative parts of our experience.
Whatever we give energy to, we empower.
There is magic in empowering the good, because whatever we empower grows bigger. One way to empower the good is through affirmations: simple positive statements we make to ourselves: I love myself…. I’m good enough…. My life is good…. I’m glad I’m alive today…. What I want and need is coming to me…. I can….
Our choice in recovery is not whether to use affirmations. We’ve been affirming thoughts and beliefs since we were old enough to speak. The choice in recovery is what we want to affirm.
Today, I will empower the good in myself, others, and life. I’m willing to release, or let go of, negative thought patterns and replace them with positive ones. I will choose what I want to affirm, and I will make it good.
We were on a trip through the Southwest when we turned around a bend in New Mexico. Lake Albiquiu, the sign said. The campground was seated on a bluff overlooking a large man-made lake. We decided it was so beautiful we’d camp there for the night. We selected just the right spot to give us the best view of the sun rising in the morning. We wanted to see the light hit the red rock cliffs in the distance.
Hiking around the edge of the bluff, we found a tiny cactus bursting with bright red flowers sitting in the shade of a windblown tree. We sat for a while then scrambled down to the water and sat on a big rock that jutted out into the lake. We swam. The water was cold, but refreshing, and the early summer sun felt good on our skin.
Later we cooked supper on the little gas stove. “Should we set up the tent?” I asked, eager to see the new tent set up in the wilderness.
“The weather is nice,” my friend said. “Let’s just throw our bags on the ground and sleep out.”
That was an idea! I had never slept under the stars before. We lay there in the gathering darkness and watched as one by one the stars softly glowed into view. I closed my eyes and dozed.
Moments later, a bird sang a goodnight song from a nearby tree, and I opened my eyes to see a blanket of stars overhead. The Milky Way cut a path through the night sky, and there were so many unfamiliar stars that I could hardly distinguish the constellations I knew. I didn’t want to close my eyes; I didn’t want to miss a moment of this incredible sight.
Camping in a state park may not count to some of the hard-core wilderness folks. But we each have different levels of freedom in our lives. Freedom means tasting new things, having new experiences, and pursuing our dreams no matter how small they might be. Recapture the magic of a time in your life when everything was new and amazing. Discover what’s possible for you. Then be amazed at what you see.
God, give me a sense of the possible in my life. Then help me be amazed at just how beautiful life can be.
Acting as if is another recovery truism that’s been around for a long time. I still use it regularly in my life. I know people who are not in recovery—athletes, performers, artists—who use the technique too.
All it means is that if it’s time to act, we do—whether taking that action feels comfortable or not. Instead of doing nothing, or waiting for confidence, success, or inspiration to overtake and motivate us first, we go ahead and move forward with an action anyway and let the good feelings catch up to us. We act as if the desired change has already taken place.
Action: “I didn’t pay my bills because I didn’t have enough money to pay them off in full,” a man told me. “I had to learn that I could make payments and pay off the whole bill by paying a little at a time.”
Sometimes you can sabotage yourself by trying to do too much at once. If you can’t stop drinking or using drugs by yourself, are you willing to ask for help? If you can’t accept everything about your life in one fell swoop, are you willing to accept where you are and how you feel today? If you can’t forgive someone, are you willing to start praying for that person and let go of the resentment you feel?
Break whatever you are trying to do into small steps. Then take the first step first.
I walked into the small-town diner and sat down at the counter. I was the only customer, but the waitress ignored me. I waited while she sat in a booth, reading the paper. Finally, she lowered the paper. “Is there something you want?” she barked from across the room.
By the time I left the restaurant, I felt as crabby as the waitress appeared. It took a while to figure out what happened, what had changed my mood. Then I realized I had picked up her negative energy—feelings that had nothing to do with me. It was like someone had splashed my windshield with mud.
Most of us have crabby days and an abundance of our own feelings to deal with. We don’t need to let others splash their negative energy on us. We don’t need to pick it up and carry it around. If someone splashes your windshield with mud while you’re driving down the road, what do you do? You wash it off and go on your way.
Learn to tell when what you’re feeling is your emotions, and your business. Learn to tell when someone has splashed on you. You don’t have to take responsibility for what’s not yours. Be done with it as quickly as possible.
Thoughts are energy. Crabby thoughts and
crabby emotions can be like mud. If someone
splashes you, wash off your windshield, send
them a blessing, and go on down the road.
There are times when we simply do not know what to do, or where to go, next. Sometimes these periods are brief, sometimes lingering.
We can get through these times. We can rely on our program and the disciplines of recovery. We can cope by using our faith, other people, and our resources.
Accept uncertainty. We do not always have to know what to do or where to go next. We do not always have clear direction. Refusing to accept the inaction and limbo makes things worse.
It is okay to temporarily be without direction. Say “I don’t know,” and be comfortable with that. We do not have to try to force wisdom, knowledge, or clarity when there is none.
While waiting for direction, we do not have to put our life on hold. Let go of anxiety and enjoy life. Relax. Do something fun. Enjoy the love and beauty in your life. Accomplish small tasks. They may have nothing to do with solving the problem, or finding direction, but this is what we can do in the interim.
Clarity will come. The next step will present itself. Indecision, inactivity, and lack of direction will not last forever.
Today, I will accept my circumstances even if I lack direction and insight. I will remember to do things that make myself and others feel good during those times. I will trust that clarity will come of its own accord.
Look at your life. Look back at the path that you’ve walked this far and celebrate!
One of the joys of walking to the top of a mountain is looking back at how far you’ve come. It’s wonderful to stand on a high ridge and see the tiny footpath stretching off into the distance.
Celebrate with awe how far you’ve come in those first few steps of sobriety and in your faith and willingness to let go of your fears. Celebrate those first faltering moments of learning what it meant to take care of yourself. Even now, with each step you take, you are being transformed. Celebrate!
Turn around. Look. See how far you’ve come. Celebrate the journey that you’ve taken so far.
And look forward to the adventure that lies ahead.
God, help me celebrate all our triumphs. Thank you for walking with me, even when I felt like I was walking alone.