Decisions

I’ve often asked myself and been asked: “What is the right decision to make here? What do I do?” Since I have been in recovery I know, in some cases, what the right decision is for me. I opt for whatever will keep me happy joyous and free in recovery. That’s an easy decision for me. But there are so many other decisions that can be made and which are just as life changing and not as easy to make. Because, let’s face it, important decisions change the path of our life.

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Where am I going live? What is the next step in my career? Is this the person I want to have a relationship with? Do I get a dog? Buy a new car? Is this the right time to take a vacation?  Do I do a home renovation or do I move? Should I try this new thing? Is this the daily routine I want to continue with? Am I okay with myself or do I start a diet plan? Do I join a gym or go it alone? What is the next step I am to take in my journey?????

I have come to learn that there is no right answer, nor is there a wrong answer. Wherever I go, there I am. Whatever I do, that’s what I’m doing. Sometimes I’ve made a snap decision and it works out well. Other times I have dwelt on the decision and things didn’t go as I expected them to go. And I am learning that there is no perfect answer. It’s not where we are that seems to matter. It’s that we’re moving and not static. It really is the journey we take, not where we end up. Some of the stops along that journey can be great and others I would have prefered to have passed through without a glance out the window.

There are a few things that do ensure that the decisions I make are more to my liking. I can talk to a trusted friend, mentor or sponsor before making the decision. I can meditate on it and ask for spiritual guidance from my Higher Power as I understand it. I can do a list of pros and cons. I like to do the rocking chair test: years from now if I’m sitting on the porch in my rocking chair is this something that is going to matter to me? Will I regret having taken or not taken that path? As time goes on in the process it becomes easier to know, at a gut level, if this is the right decision for me now.

Every decision, every choice will alter where I am going in life. And that’s okay. There isn’t a wrong place to be, only experiences to gather. Trust the process of life, remembering that I will make it through whatever happens, until I don’t.

Enjoy the moment and take the next step, whatever it might be.

 

 

 

It’s Not the End of the World!

How bad things may look right now means nothing.  It’s how good you know they can look with God’s help that counts. Life has a habit of changing itself completely around in 24 hours. Heck, in 24 minutes sometimes. Don’t you dare give up on Tomorrow because of the way things look Today. Don’t even think about it… Neale Donald Walsch

For all of us, times will arise when life seems impossible and difficult and totally unmanageable. It doesn’t matter if we’re in recovery or not. It’s life. It’s how things go from time to time. Regardless, it’s important to keep in mind a few things to help us to get through this challenge.

Whatever is happening, it won’t last forever. Things will turn around and get better. I know that when you’re in the thick of it, time drags and it seems that this will never end. And it will. Don’t quit because you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. It will appear, it always does. I have learned that I can get through everything that life throws at me: death, ending relationships, depression, a broken leg, accidents, arguments and anything else comes along. The pain of today will transform into the joy of tomorrow.  That break-up seems to cause the whole world to crash down. But it will get better. And the idea of using or drinking again? Really? Is that what’s going through your mind? If you want to make things even worse than they are, drink or use.  That will really drag out your difficulties. Time heals

My perspective is a limited perspective. I can only see one side of anything until I stretch my mind to consider other perspectives. How is this affecting other people? I took to heart many years ago the idea to look at the best possible intentions of others. When someone does something that affects me, say, your boss gives a promotion to someone else. From my perspective, it’s the worst possible thing to happen to me right now. It could turn me into a tailspin if I let it. What’s the best possible intention of my boss? It probably wasn’t to make me angry or make me feel I should quit this lousy job. Your boss was probably looking for the best interest of the company. Were you? Perhaps there’s another, more suitable promotion for me, or perhaps work performance is lacking and I’m not really the best person for that promotion. I need to remember that it’s not all about me all of the time (though my Ego would tell you otherwise). There are other factors and other perspective that come into play.  Look for the best intention of others and even if that wasn’t their real intention, it doesn’t matter. I have a positive or at minimum, a neutral thought about it.

What I resist will persist. If I want to get through the worst of things, I need to accept it. I stop fighting it, blocking it, avoiding it. I accept it. This doesn’t mean that I like it, or that there’s nothing I can do about it. It means that I acknowledge its presence and that I will deal with it. Here, the Serenity Prayer comes into play. Acceptance allows me to discern whether it is something that I can change or not change. I can’t change people, places or things, but I can work on me. “Resistance is futile,” say the Borg in Star Trek. It is. Once I stop resisting and accept, I can do something about the situation; I stop swimming against the current.

H.O.P.E. Hear Other People’s Experience. When times are bad, it helps to talk to others and listen to their stories. Perhaps they went through a similar problem. Perhaps they have information that could be helpful. Their example will give me hope if I let it. Many times this happens in meetings. We hear something either in the literature of the program or the shares of other members. Often they aren’t even aware of what we are going through right now, but their experience, strength and hope help us along. We all have our Higher Power. Opening my ears to hear other people is also opening my ears to my Higher Power.

Pray about it. In the eleventh step we ask for two things in prayer: to know what our Higher Power’s will is for us and for the power to carry out that will. If I stop putting my expectations of the outcome of things, if I stop telling my Higher Power just how things should be resolved, I have a better chance of hearing what that ‘will’ is for me.

Difficult times come to everyone. It’s life. I love the line from the movie The Most Exotic Marigold Hotel: “It will all work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.” Trust yourself, trust your Higher Power and give time, time. I can live one day at a time because tomorrow is another day.  I am grateful.

Living in Hope

The topic of expectations has come up quite a lot in meetings of late.  What are expectations and how are they a problem? As a fellow member shared, “Expectation are resentments under construction”.  When I expect something to happen and it doesn’t, then I open myself to anger in this moment and resentment in my future.  Expectations carry with them a sense of the expected: this thing is going to happen.  I have this expectation because of past experience.  I did this in the past and that was the result.  I am doing the same thing now so the result will be the same.  There’s a sense of entitlement to what should happen. I am living in the future.

When I live with expectation, I open myself up to possible anger and resentment because I believe that this will definitely occur in the same way that day follows night.  If it doesn’t, or if it does happen, but not in the way I was ‘expecting’ it to happen, then I feel let down, confused, and perhaps, angry.  Expectation is inflexible and unvarying.  It’s the ‘my way or the highway’ position. I need to remember when dealing with people that this world is not a scientific laboratory.  Yes, when I put oxygen and hydrogen in certain amounts and under certain conditions I can expect to get water.  When I am dealing with persons, places or things, the precision of a lab experiment is lost.  I cannot account for all of the conditions and variables.

Let’s look at a concrete example.  I say to my partner, “I love you.”  If I am in expectation mode, I already have a response in mind. I expect my partner to say something like, “I love you too.”   I have said I love you to this person before, or I have said this to other people and that is the response I received. Anything less than that response could be potentially shattering to the relationship: I question myself, I question my feelings, I wonder about who my partner is loving if not me! Suddenly, instead of an intimate moment, I am questioning my whole relationship with this person.  How quickly I can change my perspective when I live with expectation.

Hope is the alternative to expectation.  If I have hope, there is a desire for an outcome, but there is no guarantee that it will happen as I would like it.  Unlike expectation, hope allows for variance of the outcome.  It doesn’t have to be perfect for me to find contentment. Hope is flexible and allows the unpredictable to happen. When I have a hope realized, I am grateful. I wasn’t anticipating that outcome to occur, so anything that comes from that is pure bonus. In hope, I am living in the moment not in the future.  I am happy.

Looking at our example above.  If I say, “I love you,” in hope, then any response is acceptable, including no response.  I know there is no guarantee that the other person will give me an ‘I love you too’ back.  If I get that, well, wow!  The response may be a deep passionate kiss. Even if it’s an, “I’m not there yet,” I can accept that too.  When I live in hope, everything is a gift.

There is a fine line between hope and expectation. Can I have both at the same time? Not really, I am either awaiting a determined response or I am not.  I must set aside expectation. Live in the moment without preconceived ideas about what should happen and simply allow it to unfold.  There are no guarantees in life so why live as though there are? I know that if my hope isn’t realized that this hope will not die, but continue on, because it is not fixed to a schedule nor to an outcome.  Approach life with the wide-eyed innocence of a child and you will be struck by its wonder and beauty.

♥  ♥  ♥

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Peace