You Have the Power!

“Don’t get upset with people and situations because both are powerless without your reaction.”

I came across this quote this week. There was a picture of Buddha with it, but I have no idea if it is a Buddhist quote. If I don’t react to things around me, then I don’t give them my power. It goes along with acceptance. It about how I invest my emotions in the things that around me. When I accept something, I am saying that it is. Nothing more. I am not saying that I like it. I am not saying that it needs to be changed. I am outside of that judgment. It simply is.

My emotional involvement in people or situations will not change anything. Getting angry with another driver for cutting me off will not change anything.  The other guy might not have realized that he did what he did.  He may wonder why some freak in the car behind him is blowing his horn and blinking his lights. He probably can’t hear your shouting and can’t count how many fingers you have pointed into the air. If I accept that the guy cut me off then I am not giving him power, nor am I giving my power to what he did. If I learn to remain calm, and accept, I keep my power and I keep my serenity.

Acceptance does not equal approval.

Acceptance is separate from judgement. I don’t have to like what is happening when I accept it. I am simply acknowledging that it is. I don’t like it when people treat me with disrespect. I don’t like it when I’m cut off in traffic. It bothers me when my efforts go unnoticed or unappreciated. I can still accept that it happened and then make a decision about what to do or not do about it. I don’t have to give away my peace of mind, my serenity when it happens. I have the ability to choose where and how I express my emotions. Another person cannot piss me off unless I let him.

I can’t control people, places or things.

My circle of control extends to about as wide as I can stretch my arms and sometimes it contracts about as far as the tip of my nose. If I am angry or upset or frustrated about something, it is because I have allowed that to happen. You didn’t do it to me, the event didn’t do it to me. I did it to me. That’s a hard pill to swallow at first. My immediate reaction is to lash out. But like everything else, it is a process. First I see that I lashed out when something happened. With some more practice I then recognize it when I am in the midst of it and finally I stop myself before I lash out at someone because I do not want to give my power to them. It’s not a straight line process either; sometimes I am in acceptance and sometimes I jump right to anger.

“…Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly…” Working on our reactions and turning them into responses that are thought out takes time. Trust the process. Trust your ability to make a change. Nothing is impossible.



Through Prayer and Meditation

For many of us, prayer was something we turned to when all else was failing, nothing was going right and the world was crashing in around us: ‘fox-hole’ prayers. Soldiers under fire, huddled in their dug out trenches asking to get out alive. ‘God, get me out of this and I’ll never drink again,’ or ‘I’ll go to church every Sunday,’ or some bargaining chip that is supposed to entice God to help me in this situation.  As if God can be bought off. Once out of the mess, we rationalize that it would have turned out this way regardless of the prayer bargains and continue on our merry way in life as though nothing happened.

A mentor of mine talks about being jobless, penniless and living in the spare room of a friends apartment for over a year. Over a thousand resumes with custom cover letters had been mailed out and not a single interview.  He was depressed, feeling failure and abandoned. He relates, “I remember that one night when I prayed I said, ‘God, give me something useful to do.’ I didn’t put conditions on it, no time limits, nothing. Within two weeks I had three job offers and I ended up accepting two of them in fields that I never knew I even wanted to work in and which turned out to be very rewarding.”

Some will rationalize that it would have turned out this way  regardless of his prayer. It’s a matter of perspective. What it says to me and the way he interprets this is that he was in complete acceptance and open to whatever his Higher Power would send his way: no conditions, no bargains, no pleas; no restrictions on the outcome. It was a simple prayer, “Give me something useful to do.”

In the eleventh step it is suggested that we pray for two things: “…knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.” It’s pretty simple, but it takes a long time to really ‘get’ it. I don’t have to pray to my higher power for world peace, or to save that baby or to find a job. I pray to know what the next right step is for me and for the strength to take that step. I’m learning to pray without conditions, without terms. I don’t need grandiose terminology or holy words. I need openness and humility. I need willingness to face whatever is before me. I need to show up.

In the Old Testament, I think it’s one of the psalms, the writer says, “Here I am oh Lord. I come to do your will.” Its a simple prayer and pretty close to the one my friend Bob stumbled onto. “Give me something useful to do.” It follows the eleventh step of seeking and carrying out our Higher Power’s will for us. Showing up really is half the battle.  It’s letting go of preconceived results and trying to control the people, places and things around me. It’s being open to whatever happens. It’s allowing the current of the river to take me.

For me, it’s a whole lot easier way to pray and to live. It really is turning my will and my life over to the care of my Higher Power, knowing in my essence that this Power has always been there for me in the past, is there now and so, I know that it will always be there for me. Am I there yet? Hell no, but I am on my raft on the river, doing my best to enjoy the ride. And that, I believe, is the whole point of this life.

Thank-you Bob.



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.