"Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life" – JK Rowlings
Putting down the bottle (or pills) is the easy part. Staying sober is hard! I always thought I had a "drinking problem." What I had was a "thinking problem."
Heavy drinking DID eventually change my brain's chemistry, and I became addicted to alcohol (alcoholism). But it was my thoughts that first started my drinking, and my need to escape from my emotions.
My distorted thinking turned into dysfunctional actions. It wasn't until I went to rehab and began working the 12 Step recovery program that I was able to change my thinking and work my way back to a healthy life.
When I did the work in the program I began to examine and question my thinking. Eventually I found a pattern of distorted thoughts in reaction to life's harder times. Most of my thoughts were lies I told myself and stayed wedged in my subconscious. Eventually the lies became my reality
-- who I believed I was -- not who I really am.
Through working the 12 Steps I began to achieve clarity of mind and strength of character. To continue my emotional and spiritual growth, I have to behave and think differently than I did in the past.
These are some of my daily tools for living an emotionally sober life:
1 – GRATITUDE - Be thankful for what you have - not what you don't.
Every day, make a list of all you’re grateful for and thank your Higher Power.
2 – SELF-CARE - Move a muscle - change a thought!
Shower daily, eat healthy -- greens, proteins -- and wear clean and comfortable clothing that make you feel good about yourself. If possible, take walks outdoors; look at the trees and listen to the birds. Enjoy the beauty of nature. Exercise -- yoga, light weights, cardio, prayer and meditation.
3 – ACCEPTANCE - Live life on life’s terms.
Some days are easy and some not. It’s how you approach obstacles that help you grow emotionally while keeping sane. Look at obstacles as opportunities to learn. Life won’t get better -- you’ll get better at life!
4 – MINDFULNESS - Be in the moment - it's all you have right now!
My mind used to be stuck in the past and filled with regrets, causing depression. OR it was stuck in the future (usually at two in the morning!) and I was filled with anxiety. Now I live in the moment. Where should you be? Look at where your feet are.
5 – SERVICE TO OTHERS - If you want self-esteem - do esteemable deeds.
I wake every morning thinking and asking my Higher Power who I can help that day and how I can make my part of the world a little better. By thinking less of my needs and wants it gets me out of my head (remember the dangerous six inches between the ears!) and helps make me less self-absorbed. Helping others helps me become a more caring person and that is a great outcome!