After some time passes, it is easy to go stuck on auto pilot.
I do it all the time. I go about my business. I am focused on my daily tasks and not putting enough attention into my recovery. A few days or maybe a week will go by and all of the sudden I am feeling uncomfortable and I can’t figure out why.
As always, the inevitable truth hits me. I realize that I am not taking care of myself the way I should be.
I am not keeping a daily inventory.
It is different for us in recovery. We have an added responsibility to keep a daily inventory and try to do better today than we did yesterday. If we are not constantly evaluating ourselves, then we are moving closer and closer to the drink or the drug.
This is dangerous. For us, it can be deadly.
Everyone in recovery (and everyone else for that matter) should perform checklists on themselves. Evaluating our behavior, determining where we fell short and also where we have been succeeding is critical to self-improvement and spiritual growth.
Always ask yourself a few questions.
Question 1 – Am I Helping Anyone?
I repeat this over and over again when I write. It is that important.
There is a big difference between self-centeredness and selfishness. Being self-centered simply means that everything is about you, that you are the center of everything in your life.
Lots of people struggle with this. When I am being self-centered it means that I am wrapped in self. It’s so simple, but yet so difficult to stay on top of.
The best way to get out of one’s self is to help people.
When you are helping people, you are thinking about them. You are trying to be of service to another person, another human being. You are not thinking about yourself.
Thinking about someone other than myself is liberating.
Question Number 2 – How Is My Spiritual Condition?
Are you trying to fill the void?
It is that hole inside of us that keeps us sick. When we are trying to fill the void we are usually doing so with external stimuli.
We are spiritual beings. It’s the nature of who we are. Every person wants to belong to something. Even atheists can belong to or believe in a higher power. Feeling connected is critical to your well-being, regardless of your beliefs. A daily inventory of our spiritual condition is just as important as a daily inventory of our behaviors. They are one in the same.
I have always been interested in the universe. Studying physics, quantum mechanics and relativity has always fascinated me and given me perspective. It fascinates me so much. I say this because I go to the book store most Fridays and read books by Steven Hawking, Bill Nye or Neil deGrasse Tyson. Sometimes I run into a friend I met there, and from time to time he and I sit over coffee and chat. This friend is a physicist.
He is also an atheist, but physics is his higher power. His spiritual condition is based on science. It makes perfect sense to me. No matter who you are or what you believe in, we all obey the laws of physics. There is no exception. It is something that we are all a part of that connects us to everything else.
Even an atheist scientist has a higher power. He will tell you that he is a better person because of it.
Your spiritual health is directly related to your happiness. Stay diligent about it, because when we get disconnected we become discontent.
Question Number 3 – Am I Taking Care Of My Body?
My sponsor reminds me that addiction is 3 fold.
How often have you seen people get into recovery, and sacrifice the health of their bodies in exchange for sobriety?
I’ve seen it a gazillion times. Food and sloth can easily become a replacement addiction for drugs and alcohol. This is probably the most common coping mechanism for people who are new in recovery and are learning how to deal with their emotions.
Your body is an extension of yourself. It is the only body you will ever own. Taking care of your body will do wonders for your mental state and your sobriety.
Not to mention, the benefits of good health are almost infinite. Exercise will give you a natural high. Good nutrition will keep your mind sharp and your digestion healthy. Getting enough sleep will keep you clear minded and focused.
Do not sacrifice your health for your recovery. You don’t have to be a triathlete or go on a juice diet. You do need to take care of yourself.
Question Number 4 – Am I Spending Time On Myself?
Breathe. Relax. Focus.
With the hustle and bustle of life, it is so easy to lose perspective.
We get some sober time under our belt, and slowly our personal program starts to be put on the back burner. If this happens to you, don’t beat yourself up about it, you simply need to be aware of it.
Keep going to your meetings. Keep showing up to your therapy appointments. Keep showing up at your weekly soccer or basketball game with your friends. To put it simply, keep doing things that make you feel good.
Isn’t it funny how quickly we can lose perspective? We do things that make us feel good. As a result, we start feeling good and the first thing we do is stop doing the things that make us feel good.
I do it all the time.
Again, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you find yourself slipping on meeting attendance or slipping on your meditation, just get back on the horse. You will be back to yourself in no time.
Question Number 5 – Am I Holding Any Resentments?
It is the number one offender.
Resentments are a waste of time. How is your life going to improve by holding a resentment? It’s an honest question. If you can, list one positive outcome of a resentment in the comments section. I can’t think of any.
It is understandable to be angry at a person or an organization or even an idea. Anger is a very real emotion that we all must learn to cope with. But resentments are not emotions. Resentments are choices. When you hold on to a resentment you are choosing to give up control of your emotions.
Bad things happen. Everyone has gotten burned or hurt or betrayed by someone in their lives. It happens. You must learn to let it go. If for no other reason than you want to be happy.
Why would you want to give up control of your own emotions? You wouldn’t, so don’t do it.
Easier Said Than Done
Life happens. Every person on this earth has their own ups and downs. Our sobriety is contingent upon a daily inventory, so we must remain vigilant in our self-evaluation.
We must allow ourselves to make mistakes. If you falter, that doesn’t make you a bad or weak person. It just makes you a person. Don’t let your short comings hold you down. Every experience is a chance to learn.
The culmination of our failures and victories is what shapes and molds us into the people we are meant to be. If you stay sober, if you remain honest with yourself and if you aren’t afraid to see the truth behind your actions, I promise you will live a beautiful and fulfilling life.