Coping with life after getting sober: 3 TIPS!
My name is Brian McAlister and my sober date is August 2, 1990.
When I crawled into recovery 25 years ago I was a beaten and broken man. By following suggestions from people who were able to get and stay sober I learned how to stay sober too. The challenge became: I didn’t just want to be sober, I wanted a great life!
Unfortunately, most of the truly good people who helped me get sober had no more clue than I did, at the time, of how to move beyond the 12 steps, turn dreams into reality, and achieve abundance. Sure we were all going to meetings, finding spiritual prosperity and staying sober, but something was still missing.
Just to clarify, my definition of abundance is more than money or material wealth. It includes:
- peace of mind
Is this all there is?
I was born with the “MORE” gene. That’s probably why I became an addict. It’s part of who I am. Over time, I began to realize that if my Higher Power built this character trait into me then surely it could be put to good use.
I have seen scores of addicts get sober yet not be able to experience all the joy and abundance addiction recovery offers. They continue to struggle in their relationships (getting out of a codependent relationship may require some outside help) and suffer the burden of financial scarcity. These real challenges and struggles are often a contributing factor to relapse. Most addicts find themselves at some point asking themselves:
- Is this all there is?
- Am I destined to spend my life in 12-step meetings?
- Will I always be struggling to make ends meet?
- Will I ever find true love?
- What is my purpose in life?
Don’t get me wrong. I attend at least four to five meetings per week and I owe my sobriety to the strong foundation the program has given me. But I firmly believe the true joy of recovery is practising the principles in ALL my affairs. If you are seeking solutions or just some fresh ideas on how to move forward in recovery, let me offer a few suggestions:
TIP 1: Be careful how you talk to yourself.
We talk to ourselves all day long. And the conversations either propel us forward or drag us backward. During active addiction many of us developed the habit of mentally beating ourselves up. This sadistic habit can stay with us long after we stop using. “The voice” in our head tells us: I’m not good enough, pretty enough or talented enough. Sometimes we reinforce weak suggestions such as:
- Someday I’ll fall in love.
- Someday I’ll finish college.
- Someday I’ll make more money.
Remember – Today is Someday!
Suggestion: Write down four positive affirmations and read them aloud several times a day or whenever you drift into unproductive thinking patterns. Over time, they will become part of your subconscious. This is an easy way to create a new positive habit. A few examples would be:
- I was created to be sober, free and loved.
- I can achieve all my goals.
- I can create the reality of my choosing.
- I am healthy in body, mind and spirit.
TIP 2: Ask yourself better questions.
Better questions produce better answers. Better answers ensure better results. What kind of questions are you asking? Do you begin your day with unproductive questions such as:
- Why do I have to wake up?
- How come I never get a break?
- Why do I have to go to work?
- I don’t know if I can succeed, so why bother trying?
These types of questions instantly produce negative emotions putting unneeded stress on your entire being. Physically our bodies tense up, adrenaline spikes and we can even feel achy and nauseous. Mentally we become depressed. These types of questions are carryover habits from our days in active addiction.
Suggestion: Begin a new more empowering habit of starting your day in a productive way by asking better questions. Examples would be:
- What would I do today if I had unlimited time, freedom and money?
- What would I do if success were guaranteed?
- How am I going to have fun TODAY?
This is not idle daydreaming. This is how you design a life. All human accomplishments begin in the workshop of the mind. These types of questions, when answered intelligently, give you clues as to what really interests you.
When you do something you like, you do it with enthusiasm and it doesn’t feel like work. Do something with enthusiasm, instead of for a paycheck, and you typically do it well. Do something well and you will earn more money. Other examples of better questions might be:
- What do I enjoy doing?
- How can I do something enjoyable and get paid for it?
When you do what you enjoy, then work becomes play.
TIP 3: Take action.
Faith without works is dead.
We all have had good ideas and grand dreams about what we want to do, own, or accomplish but few of us take the consistent action required to turn our dreams into reality. A successful life rarely happens in a flash of brilliance or in a moment’s stroke of inspiration. More often it happens by taking consistent focused daily action over an extended period of time.
A good idea might come, but unless we take focused action, nothing will come of it. All the tools needed to maintain sobriety in the long-term are transferable into everyday life. Sometimes the hardest part of becoming successful, beyond sobriety, is just getting started.
Suggestion: Write down one action step you could take today to turn your dreams into reality. It might be as simple as making a phone call. Maybe you want to register for a class. Perhaps you could find a mentor that already knows how to accomplish what you are seeking to accomplish. After all, isn’t that how most of us got sober? At the very least write down your goal and place it where you will read it every day.