MAY 19: Don’t Be Afraid of Making Mistakes

Don’t be so afraid of making a mistake. That energy can create more mistakes. It can stop us from enjoying what we’re doing. It can block us from creating freely and making something beautiful.

Sometimes it’s necessary and important to make mistakes, to fumble around and do something poorly so we can learn to do it better next time. No matter what we’re doing or what we’re learning, we have to start somewhere. Look back at the past. We learned by trying, stumbling, falling, getting back up, and trying again. But we wouldn’t be where we’re at if we hadn’t begun where we were.

Jump in, begin, and do the task as best as you can. Stop worrying about mistakes, and let yourself do it as well as you can right now. If you do it wrong or poorly, you can do it over again. And when you do it in an attitude of love, you won’t fail. You’ll learn something new about yourself, life, and the task.

Love yourself enough to try. Let yourself make mistakes. Tell yourself you don’t have to do it perfectly. Let yourself have fun while you’re learning. Start where you are, and do what you can. Learning and getting better will happen from there.

You may not always know the best way in
the beginning, but if you keep trying, you’ll
quickly learn to tell when you’re on track.

May 18: Use your creativity in saying when

Grace was the single parent of a seventeen-year-old son—Shawn. Shawn was charismatic, powerful, strong-willed, intelligent, and chemically dependent.

Grace loved Shawn deeply. But she also felt trapped by his rebellious teenage years, coupled with his drug and alcohol usage. Shawn had been through treatment once, did well for a while, then had relapsed. Shawn had a driver’s license and a car. In his sober times, Shawn handled the responsibility of the car well. And the agreement was, if Shawn relapsed, he would relinquish the keys.

The problem with chemical dependency is that denial and lying go hand in hand with the disease. When Shawn began using again, he also began lying to his mother. It didn’t take long for Grace to see and understand what was going on. She knew what her boundary was. Take away the car.

Grace was clear about what she could and couldn’t do. She couldn’t make Shawn stay sober, but she could refuse to allow him to drive.

Grace took action. She grabbed a screwdriver, went outside, removed both license plates from Shawn’s car, and drove directly to the post office. She then mailed the license plates to a friend of the family and asked that friend to keep the plates until Shawn sobered up.

Shawn knew a boundary had just been clearly set. Six months later, when his plates were returned to him, he was sober and ready to respect the responsibility involved with driving an automobile.

Sometimes, it’s not enough just to say when. We need to get creative in how we say it, too.

God, help me know that you will always be there to guide me in setting limits, when it is my responsibility and in my best interests to enforce a particular boundary.

Boundaries: May 17

Sometimes, life and people seem to push and push. Because we are so used to pain, we may tell ourselves it doesn’t hurt. Because we are so used to people controlling and manipulating us, we may tell ourselves there is something wrong with us.

There’s nothing wrong with us. Life is pushing and hurting to get our attention. Sometimes, the pain and pushing are pointing toward a lesson. The lesson may be that we’ve become too controlling. Or maybe we’re being pushed to own our power to take care of ourselves. The issue is boundaries.

If something or somebody is pushing us to our limits, that’s exactly what’s happening: we’re being pushed to our limits. We can be grateful for the lesson that’s here to help us explore and set our boundaries.

Today, I will give myself permission to set the limits I want and need to set in my life.

May 16

Whenever we start thinking we’ve seen, heard, or done it all, we can be assured we haven’t. Something new is just around the corner.

Application: Whenever lazy thinking kicks in, whenever we find ourselves spouting judgments about something before we’ve checked it out, whenever we start relying on assumptions and not paying attention to what we see, hear, and feel, it may be time to open our mind.

MAY 15: Lighten Up

The time for heaviness is past—heaviness of body, mind, spirit, and heart. That heaviness many of us felt was part of a time now gone. It’s time to lighten up.

“He was a different person,” she said. “Cheerful. Happy. Fun to be around. Things that used to bother him no longer did.” The woman was talking about her husband of only three years. She had dated him for a long time. Then after nearly dying of a heart attack, he was changed, transformed. They married and had the best three years of their lives before he died.

Those years were possible because he had learned to enjoy life, learned the value of love.

We don’t have to wait to open our hearts and enjoy life. We don’t have to wait to lighten up. We can do that now. We know that we can trust, that we can journey through each stage of our lives with open hearts, loving and living freely.

Let go of heaviness. Seek that which is light.
Gravitate toward joy. Your soul and body will
lead you, if only you will listen. Walk lightly.
Speak and laugh lightly, as much as possible.
Go lightly along your way.

May 14: Say when it’s time for a change

Eventually, enough is enough. We have held on to our broken dream until it has become a weight on our back, held on to our broken relationship until we cannot find the strength to give it another go, and clung to expectations, fears, worries, and chains until we can’t stand the strain any longer.

We’re at a crossroads. One path leads further into familiar territory. The other path leads to a breakthrough. What lies on the other side, we can’t see.

It’s the void, the unknown, the unknowable.

This isn’t death. It’s a rebirth, an awakening as profound as that moment when sobriety first takes hold of the lifelong drunk. Or when the confused codependent takes those first steps of self-care.

Are you willing to risk it? Have you reached the point yet where enough is enough? Or will you take the other, more familiar path back to continue rehashing what you’ve already been through? Sometimes it’s easier to stay with our limitations and with what doesn’t work. At least then we know what to expect.

Take a chance. Try something new. Go ahead. Step on that new path, even though you’re not certain where it will lead. See! Right around the bend is a glowing light. The new path may not be any easier to walk than the old path, but this new road will lead to joy.

For now it’s enough to be willing to change.

To do that, step into the void.

God, help me see the things that I need to let go of to continue my growth. Help me walk away from what’s comfortable and known into the unknown and what I can’t see or predict.

Property Lines: May 13

A helpful tool in our recovery, especially in the behavior we call detachment, is learning to identify who owns what. Then we let each person own and possess his or her rightful property.

If another person has an addiction, a problem, a feeling, or a self-defeating behavior, that is their property, not ours. If someone is a martyr, immersed in negativity, controlling, or manipulative, that is their issue, not ours.

If someone has acted and experienced a particular consequence, both the behavior and the consequence belong to that person.

If someone is in denial or cannot think clearly on a particular issue, that confusion belongs to him or her.

If someone has a limited or impaired ability to love or care, that is his or her property, not ours. If someone has no approval or nurturing to give away, that is that person’s property.

People’s lies, deceptions, tricks, manipulations, abusive behaviors, inappropriate behaviors, cheating behaviors, and tacky behaviors belong to them too. Not us.

People’s hopes and dreams are their property. Their guilt belongs to them too. Their happiness or misery is also theirs. So are their beliefs and messages.

If some people don’t like themselves, that is their choice. Other people’s choices are their property, not ours.

What people choose to say and do is their business.

What is our property? Our property includes our behaviors, problems, feelings, happiness, misery, choices, and messages; our ability to love, care, and nurture; our thoughts, our denial, our hopes and dreams for ourselves. Whether we allow ourselves to be controlled, manipulated, deceived, or mistreated is our business.

In recovery, we learn an appropriate sense of ownership. If something isn’t ours, we don’t take it. If we take it, we learn to give it back. Let other people have their property, and learn to own and take good care of what’s ours.

Today, I will work at developing a clear sense of what belongs to me, and what doesn’t. If it’s not mine, I won’t keep it. I will deal with myself, my issues, and my responsibilities. I will take my hands off what is not mine.