Man I have made some crappy decisions in my life. I have a few examples in my wardrobe as we speak. Perhaps the Wendy’s combo I had for lunch was not the greatest choice made by a guy with high cholesterol. My credit card balances reflect an epidemic of other retail disasters and lapses in wise decision making.
My behaviors in the past have also shown a deviation from brilliance and mindfulness that at times still rear their head to remind me that I have not always been a straight shooter. Some of my relationships current and past also have a few scars. I wish I had some emotional Bactine for some of those decisions and damage.
I also had spent time in years past enhancing my moods, perceptions, as well as social enjoyment by the application of “mind-altering” substances. Sadly things like Dos Equis beer did not necessarily make me “The most interesting man in the world.”
I remember a shtick where Bill Cosby was talking about people taking drugs. He said he encountered a person’s defense of this behavior saying: “I take drugs because it intensifies my personality.” He said, “Yes, but what if you are an a**hole?” Good point; taken and noted.
Now I play for the “other team” and am a proud participant in sobriety-based endeavors. I have a stack of little coins showing certain milestones, as well as the “big trophy” of the fact that I feel better, am healthier, appreciate life more, and have positive or improving relationships for the most part. The old behaviors shrink in my rear-view mirror.
Do I hold ill-will to those who partake? Nope. If you reach out, I reach back, that’s the deal. (As it should be in many areas of life.) I don’t proselytize in any of my belief systems. As I have learned: I try to have people appreciate what I do through attraction, not promotion.
In recovering from the grips of the negative behaviors I mentioned above, my brethren and I are presented with a series of “12 steps” to break free and move beyond the troubles associated with such a lifestyle. I have heard the words: “Foolish, worthless, cult, it doesn’t work, yadda-yadda” pertaining to the groups program. You be the judge.
I have found the principles outlined invaluable to not only recovery, but in life in general. They are simple, compassionate, reverent, and progressive steps of behavior that allow one to grow and move beyond those things that bind us.
I do not want a copyright issue on one hand, but more so I am going to “paraphrase” the steps meanings so one may see the usefulness in other areas of life. I will not number them as I think it is a collective achievement. For me it has been likened to the action of spokes on a wheel that support forward movement and momentum, as opposed to start at the beginning, move to the end then complete. Sometimes we need to be reminded of what we already know. Regularly.
Here’s the nutshell, but presented in a way that shows its value as a philosophy. You insert the particulars as they may pertain to you and your life:
There comes a time when we realize we are powerless over “things, people, and circumstances” and we lose our ability to manage how our lives unfold accordingly. A realization occurs that there is “Someone”, or “Something” beyond ourselves who may be able to help, who may have a solution, a compassionate guidance to restore us to where our lives return to a quality state. Once we decide to go beyond ourselves and our self-will, and place our navigation in the divine guidance we so desperately need in this moment, we start to make the turn. We do not have to “define” our faith as much as “invest” in it.
We need to look at ourselves, look deep into our souls and determine what is nourishing us, and those things that are toxic; in all areas, thought, word, and deed. We may find that sharing our pain with those we trust on this Earth and beyond is cleansing and releases the burden we hold inside taking the space for healing. It is okay to reach out.
If we seek guidance; guidance of a divine and pure nature, a beacon that guides us to where we should adjust our rudder, we can then realize a new path has been embarked upon, and old ways and maps can now be shed. Sometimes we must ask for help in not only shedding the past behaviors that led to us veering off course, but to continue to shed light upon the path we now tread.
Nothing is more crippling emotionally and spiritually than words left unsaid, personal and emotional damage left unidentified, apologies withheld, and avoidance of accountability. Make it right my friends. Regardless of the outcome, a dialogue can lead to forgiveness; whether it be of others or yourself. Remember to do this often; time doesn’t always heal all wounds.
Being able to regularly turn inward, allows us to stay connected outward. Prayer is when we speak to the Divine, meditation is when we listen. It is a dialogue at times. Both are necessary and healthy to staying on course. Once we find a steady course to follow, we can share the light of our beacon and behavior to allow others to venture alongside us. They can find solace in the calm space between our wake as we venture forward enjoying the same gesture of those who tread before us.
I wish there more groups or meetings for people who simply needed a friend, a place to vent, one of a spiritual non-imposing nature to allow others to not feel alone and become recharged from time to time. One that does not judge welcomes all when they fall, and whom you could call if you stumble. A place where many beliefs, socio-economic statuses, races, creeds, and ages can join, if only briefly to celebrate moving forward and shedding our emotional shackles. I have a few suggestions. I am sure you do too. Keep your arms open wide.
I just pray you do not have to go through the “initiation” many of my friends did to earn their seat in these meetings. You are still free to apply a few of the things I mentioned.
I also know that nowadays when things are rough, and not going my way, a milkshake can be quite intoxicating too, and afterwards you won’t wonder: "How the heck did I end up here?"