MARCH 16: Become Willing to Heal Your Heart

We don’t open our hearts by being a tower of strength. We don’t open our hearts by glossing over things in our head. We open our hearts by feeling what we feel. We open our hearts by being vulnerable, honest, and gentle.

We’ve become so strong, so self-sufficient. I can deal with that, we say. No big deal. I’ll keep moving on.

Yet many circumstances we’ve been through, and some we’re going through now, cause break lines in our heart. Some of the fractures are small. Some are big. They really hurt. Maybe certain people in our lives weren’t there for us, aren’t there for us now in a way we’d like them to be. Maybe some deceived us unconsciously or betrayed us deliberately. I can deal with that, we say. I understand. They have their own issues. I forgive…

Yes, people do have their own issues. And we do forgive. But now it may be time to learn gentleness, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness for ourselves as well.

We don’t open our hearts by ignoring the break lines. We take our hand, knowing it’s held by God, and gently run our fingers across each crack. Yes, it’s there. Yes, I feel it.

Yes, I’m ready to heal my heart.

March 15: Let go of the controls

“You have the controls,” my flight instructor says. “No, you have the controls,” I say back. “No I don’t,” he says. “You do.”

My banter with my flight instructor can be amusing at times. It’s not so funny when we fight about issues of power and control in our lives. And usually it goes the other way. We don’t want to give the controls to someone else; we want those reins ourselves.

We want to get our way. And we get upset when things don’t work out. Sometimes, after we’ve been working on ourselves and our control issues for a while, we begin to get complacent. Because we’ve been so effectively using and directing our power, we rarely get in battles we can’t win. Things work out smoothly. We mostly get our way, because we’re not trying to control what we can’t. That’s when it’s easy to think we’re more powerful than we are.

Are you engaged in a power struggle with someone or something you can’t change? Spend a moment thinking about it. Is that really the way you want to use your energy and power, trying to do the impossible, creating rifts, and fighting battles you can’t win? When we try to control someone else or events beyond the scope of our power, we lose.

When we learn to discern the difference between what we can change and what we can’t, we usually have an easier time expressing our power in our lives. Because we’re not wasting all our energy using our power to change things we can’t, we have a lot of energy left over to live our lives.

Learn to say whatever when you don’t get what you want. Learn to let things be the way they are.

God, help me to let go of my need to control and to be open to the flow of the universe.

Trusting Ourselves: March 14

Trust can be one of the most confusing concepts in recovery. Who do we trust? For what?

The most important trust issue we face is learning to trust ourselves. The most detrimental thing that’s happened to us is that we came to believe we couldn’t trust ourselves.

There will be some who tell us we cannot trust ourselves, we are off base and out of whack. There are those who would benefit by our mistrusting ourselves.

Fear and doubt are our enemies. Panic is our enemy. Confusion is our opposition.

Self-trust is a healing gift we can give ourselves. How do we acquire it? We learn it. What do we do about our mistakes, about those times we thought we could trust ourselves but were wrong? We accept them, and trust ourselves anyway.

We know what is best for us. We know what is right for us. If we are wrong, if we need to change our mind, we will be guided into that—but only by trusting where we are today.

We can look to others for support and reinforcement, but trust in ourselves is essential.

Do not trust fear. Do not trust panic. We can trust ourselves, stand in our own truth, stand in our own light. We have it now. Already. We have all the light we need for today. And tomorrow’s light shall be given to us then.

Trust ourselves, and we will know whom to trust. Trust ourselves, and we will know what to do. When we feel we absolutely cannot trust ourselves, trust that God will guide us into truth.

God, help me let go of fear, doubt, and confusion—the enemies of self-trust. Help me go forward in peace and confidence. Help me grow in trust for myself and You, one day at a time, one experience at a time.

March 13

Imagine wearing an energy meter with three zones: green for safe, yellow for caution, red for danger. You’ve got a strip that reads each area of your life: nutrition, sleep, hygiene, emotions, fun, social interaction, and, if you’re in recovery, one for attending meetings.

As long as you stay in the green zone, you’re safe. When you get into the yellow zone, it’s time to pay careful attention. And once you get into the red zone, you could be in real danger. If your battery loses all its charge, you’ll be stopped in your tracks.

Keep yourself charged. It actually gets fun, this taking-care-of-ourselves business, once you get the hang of it.

Prayer: Thank you for promising to do for me what I cannot do for myself. Help me do my part. Help me remember to apply the basics, at least occasionally, with some tender loving care.

MARCH 12: You Have the Power to Redefine Your World

One power we gain on our journey to the heart is the ability to redefine what we believe. We learn to see things in a new way.

We usually have a definition for most areas of our lives, particularly important areas such as work, love, money, and ourselves, but we’re not always conscious of it. The experiences we go through can help our definitions surface, help us see more clearly how we define these areas. That’s called growth. This growth, this process of redefining, will happen naturally on our path. But we can also consciously, actively work on our definitions.

Ask yourself if you’re defining something or someone right now in a way that you’d like to change. Perhaps a work relationship, a love relationship, a project, or an issue is causing you distress. You may find you have the power to redefine this area in a way that minimizes or reduces your pain.

A healing professional and friend once taught me a technique that can be used on any subject you’re trying to define. On a sheet of paper write down everything you currently believe, including and especially everything negative, about the subject or issue. Include all the “I Can’ts” and the “Why Nots.” That’s your current definition.

On a clean sheet of paper write down how you want to redefine this area and your involvement in it. Write down everything you want it to be, what you wish for it, what you think the highest truth possible about this subject could be.

Burn the paper with the old definition. Let the smoke clear away from your eyes. Save your new definition. Then watch how the new definition comes to life and takes shape.

You don’t have to let past definitions
of life, love, God, and yourself limit
you anymore. You are free to redefine
and help create the life you choose;
you’re free to see life in a new way.

March 11: Things happen

A healthy friend dies participating in a sport she loves. A husband works hard on his marriage only to come home one day and find his wife in bed with another man.

A knock at the door, and a starving family opens it to find bags of groceries piled anonymously on the porch. A large order comes in just as a company is getting ready to close its doors, and the owner’s dream is given new life.

Sometimes life twists. Sometimes it goes the other way, too. Things happen. Sometimes we label these events good, sometimes bad. We cannot always see the reason or purpose in them, but most of us choose to believe there’s a Divine plan.

I don’t know why I’ve received some of the blessings I’ve been given; I don’t know why some of the sorrow has come my way. All I can do is trust that whatever comes my way, there’s a lesson at hand.

Are you focusing on the circumstances of your life instead of the lessons? The circumstances are the tools. Be involved in them. Feel the pain of loss and the elation of victory. Let compassion works its way into your soul. Learn caring and kindness for others and yourself, too.

Instead of asking why, learn to ask what the lesson is. The moment you become ready to accept it, the lesson will become clear.

God, help me accept all the twists and turns along my path. Help me learn to say whatever to the good and the unfortunate incidents that come my way.

Living with Families: March 10

I was forty-six years old before I finally admitted to myself and someone else that my grandfather always managed to make me feel guilty, angry, and controlled.

We may love and care about our family very much. Family members may love and care about us. But interacting with some members may be a real trigger to our codependency—sometimes to a deep abyss of shame, rage, anger, guilt, and helplessness.

It can be difficult to achieve detachment, on an emotional level, with certain family members. It can be difficult to separate their issues from ours. It can be difficult to own our power.

Difficult, but not impossible.

The first step is awareness and acceptance—simple acknowledgment, without guilt, of our feelings and thoughts. We do not have to blame our family members. We do not have to blame or shame ourselves. Acceptance is the goal—acceptance and freedom to choose what we want and need to do to take care of ourselves with that person. We can become free of the patterns of the past. We are recovering. Progress is the goal.

Today, Higher Power, help me be patient with myself as I learn how to apply recovery behaviors with family members. Help me strive today for awareness and acceptance.