Ask the average person to make a list of what’s wrong with their life. They would have little difficulty coming up with a litany of complaints. In short order they would hand you an extensive list. Complaints would include issues with the family, the job, friends, and associates.
Now ask the same person to come up with a list of what’s good in their life. Generally, they would have much more difficulty coming up with the blessings they possess. You would also find that the list of blessings would be much shorter than that of the problems.
Listening to some people you would think that they never had a bright moment in their day. Even the thoughts they keep to themselves are often found to be of a negative nature.
Part of recovery is becoming more aware of our negativity. One suggestion is that every time we have a negative thought, we supplant it with a positive one. Initially this might occur dozens of times. With practice the frequency of our negativity will diminish and be replaced with a sense of blessing.
Personal Reflection: What blessings have I forgotten to acknowledge today?
Each and every one of us has received a most precious gift; the gift of life. When we recover from a life threatening illness, or escape from a serious accident, something interesting occurs. For the following few days, weeks or even months afterwards, we develop a new found appreciation for life itself. We begin to savor some of life’s simple pleasures. A walk in the park because a symphony of bird song, a visit with our grandchildren becomes an overwhelming emotional experience. In all likelihood we have already experienced all of these life moments in our past. What has changed is our perception of the event.
In program, many of us believe that these heightened moments are our Higher Power giving us a glimpse of the reality of the grandeur and majesty of life. After undergoing a deeply traumatic or emotional experience we believe that some of the veils which limit our perceptions are lifted. We have also found that over time as we resume our routines, our perceptions return to “normal”. That being said we can tap into that heightened sense of reality once again. As we practice “one day at a time” we begin to be more present for more moments during the day. As that happens, our reality shifts and our emotions and perceptions are invigorated.
Personal Reflection: How fully do I appreciate my life?
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.
There is a story told where a Rabbi asked one of his congregants to lead the prayer service on the High Holy Days. When the congregant had finished, the Rabbi came up to him and said, “welcome back”. The congregant said to to him, ” but Rabbi, you just asked me to pray, and I didn’t go anywhere”. To which the Rabbi replied, “while you were praying you were thinking about problems at work, problems with your wife and kids and problems with your friends. You certainly weren’t focusing on the prayers, so when you finished I welcomed you back”.
Many of us in program can really relate to this story. We may be present physically, but our minds our often racing at a million miles a minute. Being perfectionists, we are constantly reviewing events that have taken place in both the recent and distant past. Part of our growth is to begin to let go of the past. While not denying our past choices, we realize that usually we are not able to reverse our decisions or their results. Spending time on the past uses up precious time that could far be better spent in the present.
Personal Reflection: How much of your yesterday seeps into your today?