Don’t Leave it to Chance

“Choice, not chance, determines one’s destiny.” Author Unknown

I came across this quote in one of the recovery web pages that I follow. For many years I would have said it was chance that determines my fate in life. I would have said you’re dealt the cards your dealt and you just have to make the best of it. I didn’t really bother, let alone believe in setting goals because life is going to steer you to go through the rapids or the waterfalls whether you like it or not. Some people are winners because that’s how the universe wants it for them and others, well, you know, karma can be a real downer.

I’ve come to look at things differently now.

I see that in the short term, for example, when I am feeling depressed or down, I can sit and wallow in my self pity and sadness. Or I can do something about it. I can go for a walk, go to the gym, talk to someone. Yes, I have to accept it, but I know that I have a choice to stay in my depression or act. The exercise or a phone call are action and action is what is needed. I make a choice and act.

When I was in the bitter morass of my disease, I knew I was harming myself and that I couldn’t get out of this alone. I accepted that. Once I stopped fighting, I was able ask for help. The assistance of others, my Higher Power along with my own determination helped to raise me out of a pit of my own making. Continued work on myself with the help of my Higher Power and my friends in recovery help to ensure that I stay this way. Had I really believed in fate, I probably wouldn’t be here any more to write about it. My recovery is not the result of the flip of a coin. It is the result of my choosing to move forward and co-create this new me with the help of my Higher Power.

I continue to choose to work with my Higher Power to re-create a new me. I am not the same person as I was when I came to the program. Ask those who knew me then. They’ll tell you.  I know that I have made big changes in my life and I know that my choices and my efforts have done a great deal to ensure that I did, in fact, change. I continue to change. I am not content to let the status quo remain as it is. I believe that my destiny is to ask, learn, grow and share as I make my way down the river.

“I may not command the wind, but I can direct my sails.”

This applies to all aspects of life. Things happen. I can’t control other people, places or things. But I do have a choice: I can do nothing and things will stay the same, or I can make a change and shift where I am going in life. And yes, it is a great responsibility. I can no longer blame my family, where I live, my friends for me state. Part of becoming an adult it taking responsibility for the decisions, or failing to take them in the past. I do have control.

Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change.

The courage the change the people I can.

And the wisdom to know it’s me.

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Self Sabotage

Somehow addicts and alcoholics have a way of doing something very well, until a certain point. Then, just when they are about to have a great success, they go on a party spree that completely ruins their chances at success. In the movie “Flight” with Denzel Washington, just when his character was about to be free and clear of any charges, he has that fateful drink and drinks the complete mini bar in his hotel room. This is very typical of an addict before recovery and once in recovery as well.

Why is it that when I am about to make changes in my life that are going to be beneficial to it I suddenly stop doing those very things that will help to improve me or my life? Why do I give up just when it seems that most of the work has been done? Why do I sabotage my success?

It comes down to feelings of self esteem and self worth. I don’t feel that I deserve to reap the benefits of what I do. I don’t think I am good enough to be doing whatever I am wanting to do. I feel that I should accept my lot in life and not ‘tempt the gods’ or make notice of myself. These feelings of self esteem were planted in my in my early years by family, friends, community, religion, school and self. I do not blame anyone for how I feel today because I also know that I have the ability to make changes in how I think and feel.

Also wrapped up in this is a fear of success as well as fear of failure. If I fail I am sure I will feel depressed about it. And if it’s successful? Then that implies changes in my life and I’m not sure about what the changes will be and how that will affect me. I might have to step out of my comfort zone. I let myself focus on all of the negative aspects and fall into the vicious circle of lots of thought and no action.

I can change how I relate to the world and how I allow it to affect me. I have done that through my recovery and working the Twelve Steps. I know how to recognize when I am in my ‘moods’ and when I can change them. I can recognize when I am acting in a manner that is not in keeping with how I want to be acting. I can focus on the positive and stay away from the negative. Do I always do these things?

I wish the answer was yes, always.  But that’s not so. I fail to live up to my standards, too often. I know from listening at meetings that I am not alone in this spiral of negative thinking. So I focus on one thing a day. I don’t have to accomplish everything right now. Just one thing. Ask someone a question. Do the investigation. Write part of the report. Once I get down to the task I feel better about myself and realize that the fears I had really are unfounded. One small step today. Another small step tomorrow and in a week I can look back and measure how far I have come. I know there is still more to be done but I look at the gains I have made and those can help me to take today’s step forward.

It all starts with just a small action: mine.

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Priorities not Resolutions

“Spend all of your time on those things you value most — on those things which you believe go beyond the here-and-now. The more time you can spend on things you believe to be of infinite worth, the more powerful your daily life and behavior will be.”  Benjamin Hardy

Making changes in one’s life is difficult. It is hard to push through even a single change; we are creatures of habit. We like the predictability of knowing what is going to happen next in our lives. Changes are fought tooth and nail. We want things to stay the same. That’s why New Year’s resolutions don’t work: the energy required to make the change is far more than we are willing and sometimes able to give.

Resolutions often fail because we have not really ‘resolved’ to do anything. We have made a decision to, for example, lose weight, but have not made specific plans for how that is going to come about. When a strong temptation comes, we easily slip up and try that left over fruit cake or chocolate. And once you slip, it seems to be human nature accept the failure and fall back onto one’s old ways. Where was the decision? Where did the resolve go?

Priorities are different than resolutions. A true priority is something that is extremely important to you and that you will strive to work toward come what may and regardless of single actions. A priority is based on what you value. A priority comes before anything else. By definition then we have few priorities; just a few things that we hold above other things in importance.

“Priorities are the most fundamental and powerful thing in your life–they reflect your values and goals.”  Benjamin Hardy

If I choose to make a healthy body a priority in my life, then I don’t need to make a resolution: I do those things which will create a healthy body. I will ask how I can achieve this healthy body. I will read about it. I will make decisions about food, exercise and activities that will work toward this priority. I will measure the changes until I achieve that healthy body and I will continue to maintain it. Along the way I will have learned and applied much about this priority. I’ll be less likely to skip exercise or eat food that conflicts with my priority.

A number of years ago I made recovery a priority in my life. It still is a priority. Am I perfect at it? No. And I still work on it in all parts of my life. These past few months I have made writing a priority. So I am doing all the things that make writing an integral part of my life. I am learning about techniques, I am part of a writers’ group. I believe that writing is important for me so I write something everyday.

I choose my priorties in life. I don’t give that option to anyone else. I strive to spend a lot of my time writing. Am I always successful? No. But it is a priority so if I fall short I can pick myself up and move forward.

This year, don’t make resolutions. Why not take the time to do some reflection and decide what your priorities in life really are. When you know ‘who’ you want to be and ‘why’ you want to be that way, then the ‘how’ of achieving it will naturally follow.

Happy New Year!

Read Benjamin Hardy’s full article here: 30 Behaviors That Will Make You Unstoppable

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