The Heart and Soul of the Matter

“The mind is the last part of yourself to listen to. It thinks of everything you can lose. The heart thinks of everything you can give, and the soul thinks of everything you are.” Neale Donald Walsch

We all have that voice inside of us that we tend to ignore on a regular basis. I ‘know’ when I have done something I shouldn’t have done, that it goes against who I am trying to be, but I still do it.  Why? Because I think that if I don’t, I’ll be missing out on something or I can ‘get’ something by doing it. My mind is analytical and it looks for things to flow logically, it looks for patterns, it looks for cost-benefits. If my mind says I should do it, then I often do, regardless of what my heart and soul might say. I know this is true because most often I would give into the temptation of my addiction even when, at the time,  I was completely clean and sober. I wasn’t considering the negative consequences of taking a substance. I was allowing my mind focus on what I might miss out on rather than what probably would happen.

That’s probably why I was told that my thinking was no good when I came into recovery. It wasn’t trustworth. My mind could find a logical reason when it wanted to get loaded. E-VE-RY TIME! My addiction was my answer to my problems. That’s what my mind believed and why it won every time, until the last time.

I’m not quite sure why my heart and soul won out in the end. Graveyards, prisons and psych wards are full of those whose souls lost that battle. Call it a moment of clarity, gift of desperation, an open door that for some reason I espied being open and I walked through. I really don’t know why I’m living a life that’s happy, joyous and free and so many of my sisters and brothers are not. I do know that I have received a gift. And I intend to offer this gift to others because I know that by keeping it or trying to hold this gift to myself, I will lose it.

My mind, after seven years in recovery is now more conscious of what I would lose should I decide to return to my former way of life. My mind knows what happens to people who do. It’s seen, first hand, what happens. It knows that I am not an exception, that I would again head down that rabbit hole of addiction so fast it would make Alice think she’s having a hallucination.

I have had to train my mind to think in a different way. I continue to train it by working my program, by attending meetings, by doing service work. Step two told me in a nice way that I was insane when it said that a Power Greater than myself could restore me to sanity. And it has. I can trust more of what my mind has to tell me. However, I have learned to listen to my heart and soul because my mind can still try that trick: every once in a while my mind tells me that I’m missing out, that it would be okay, that this time it will be different.

So while in most areas sanity has returned, when it comes to addiction, I turn to my heart and soul. When the thought comes to mind that I can ‘try it’ this time, my heart and soul tell me through a very real feeling in the pit of my stomach that my thought are wrong. My heart reminds me that I have so much to share with others and my soul reminds me that I’m no longer that person I used to be. And for that, I am grateful.

white and red plastic heart balloon on sky during daytime

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Who Are Your Friends?

There’s the old say: you are what you eat.  It makes sense, if you eat garbage you can’t expect to have the body of an olympic athlete.  The movie “Supersize Me” demonstrated just how quickly that change can take place.  There’s also another truism:

“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future”  -Dan Pena

Hanging around with the same five or six people will keep all of you at the lowest common denominator in terms of interests, pursuits and goals. If I try to improve myself, those friends of mine will often, unconsciously and without malice, hold me back from reaching new goals. I do it to myself as well: I wonder what the ‘group’ will think if I do this? By the time I hit bottom in my addiction, I was mostly hanging out with others who used the way I used. If I was going to survive and recover, I needed to get away from that environment.

There was a study done years ago on fleas.  A bunch of fleas were put into a jar and the lid was put on.  After a few days of bumping their heads, the fleas learned to jump only as high as just below the lid of the jar. When the lid was removed, these fleas didn’t jump out of the jar.  They stayed at their level because the believed they couldn’t jump higher than they were jumping. Even subsequent generations of fleas only jumped as high as their parents because well, that’s only as high as fleas jump.  However, if you took one of the fleas from this jar and put it into another jar where the fleas were jumping twice as high, it didn’t take long before the flea learned to go far beyond its former limit.

day242The message for us is very similar. If we stay in an environment where limits are put upon us by social pressures and our own beliefs then making permanent changes in our lives is very difficult. For those of us in recovery, making the choice to be clean and sober is often regarded with skepticism by those we hung around with. It’s important in the beginning to seek out others in recovery to help us and encourage us to move forward. We don’t necessarily drop our old friend, but we spend less time with them. Our common interests are changing. As we move forward in our recovery, they may see the results and want the same, or not. Ours is a program of attraction; it can’t be sold.

I have little in common with those who are still in their disease. I hope someday they will receive their own gift of desperation and find recovery.  I will gladly help in whatever way I can but it’s up to them. I am grateful for my friends in recovery. It’s a very different group of people from my old group. And they continue to assist and challenge me in my recovery. They help me soar in my recovery, showing me that I can not only jump, I can fly, higher than I ever thought was possible.

 

Just Say It!

“There is value in stating the obvious. What is obvious to me is not obvious to others. What seems simple and clear to you is confusing to me.”  Teresa Colón

We live in a world where everyone presumes to know about everything and everyone else.  We think we know what the next person is thinking. And why not? We live our lives connected to social networks, email, TV and telephones.  Viral videos circle the globe in the time it takes to boil an egg. We work and socialize with like minded people so we all think alike, right?

My_Wife_and_My_Mother-In-Law_(Hill).svgWe just don’t see things from the same perspective. My past and my priorities cause me to focus on things that you don’t because of your perspective. What for me is ‘common sense’ might not be the same for you. While the article that caught my attention (link below) has its focus more on the business/work environment, it is also very true in any relationship. I can’t read your mind and you can’t read mine so please tell me what you are thinking.  Not telling me will lead to errors in judgement, anger and resentments. You see the young woman, and I see the old lady.

Here in Costa Rica we have teeny ants that appear out of nowhere to feast on even a single crystal of sugar. Obviously you don’t leave the sugar out. But not everyone knows that. Guests in my home are blissfully unaware of the little critters. I try to make a point about this whenever I pull the sugar bowl from the fridge. My ‘obvious’ isn’t yours. If I don’t tell you, you’ll never know.

Ask couples living who’ve just starting living together about the importance of stating the obvious. Hanging the roll of toilet paper with the end over the top seems a no brainer, unless of course you have a cat. Do you take the garbage out the night before or early morning is a question of how adaptive the racoons and monkeys are in your neighbourhood. Leaving the keys in the deadbolt at night might just save a life in an earthquake. Don’t feed a dog chicken bones. I know these things, but you might not because your experience may be very different from mine.

State your expectations. Many a family trip has been ruined because what the parents want for their children is way different from what their children have in mind. An open discussion before leaving on the trip about the various details can resolve many issues before they even arise. There’s a whole generation between parents and children and that gap still exists between adult children and their parents. This makes a world of difference in perspective and values.

It just make things a whole lot easier if we stated what we think is the ‘obvious’ because: ‘it isn’t’.  Human relations are hard enough without adding to the burden by leaving things unsaid, by making assumptions and by having expectations. As the saying goes, when you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME. Just say it.

Here’s Teresa’s complete article from Medium.com: