Words and phrases like stop, slow down, exercise caution ahead, were largely disregarded by us during our days of alcohol, drug and food excess. If anything, the only word we lived by was “more”.
Entering the program provided structure and boundaries for us that were very necessary. One of the first things we needed to do was stop talking and begin listening. It turned out that we didn’t have the answer for every problem that landed on our doorstep. It was a wise move to be quiet and listen to the counsel of those with greater experience.
It was also imperative that we stop acting on our impulsive thoughts. Just because we had a thought didn’t mean we had to immediately fulfill it. When we had done so in the past we often ended up in some serious hot water. Our poor choices had frequently led to divorce, insolvency and medical issues.
Learning to put the brakes on our thoughts and behaviors did not come easily for us. Often we needed to speak things over with our sponsor or another member in the program. We also learned a lot just by listening to others share how they had sped through their own personal stop signs.
Personal Insight: Have I instituted stop signs in my life?
Addicts are not known for their patience. Like everyone else, they undergo the travails of daily living. However, their coping skills are highly underdeveloped. When confronted with the daily tests of life, they quickly turned to their drug of choice. This lack of patience manifests in many facets of their lives. They usually give up on any type of work except for the least challenging. Working at jobs with little challenge often leads to feelings of guilt and shame. They stay in unhealthy relationships because the people are usually less demanding of them. If their partner or friend begins too expect more of them, they move on.
In sobriety, we begin to move away from impatience. We no longer see time as our enemy. We come to learn that things of value often require an investment of time. To advance in a career, a lot of work has to be done over time. Quitting when we hit the first speed bump is not an option in sobriety. The same holds true in relationships. Building a healthy relationship takes work, commitment and patience. It certainly is not going to evolve without, stress, friction and differences. With patience however something wonderful can and will be created. Since our Higher Power created time, we might as well use it.
Personal Reflection: Do I still have issues with patience?
On an almost daily basis we experience fear. Sometimes it can be the type of fear that immobilizes us. Our stomachs tighten, our pulse quickens and our palms get sweaty. When we encounter this type of fear, we feel that there is little we can do until it passes.Then there are other times where the fear is of a much more subtle nature. We realize that something is not right, yet we are unable to place our finger on it. In almost all cases, our fears hold us back from moving forward with our lives.
Recently, a friend from program, passed on a technique that is very effective in countering fear. Whenever you feel fearful, pause from whatever you’re doing. Take a slow deep breath in. As you do so, say to yourself, “breathe in G-d”. As we slowly exhale say, “breathe out fear”. Do a series of these inhalations and exhalations for about five minutes, or until the feelings dissipate. Many have found this technique to be highly effective. By practicing mindful breathing and filling ourselves with our Higher Power, we can let go of fear. You can use this technique with other negative feelings. Breathe out resentment, envy, impatience or whatever else you’re feeling.
Personal Refection: Make a mental note to practice this technique.