Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Internal locus of control

Often, painfully, we get to learn that our needs are never going to be met by people, places and things. When that happens we are at a loss what to do or where to turn. The sense of disappointment and despair can be crippling, often making suicide an attractive option. Out external locus of control has failed us.
So what do we do?
We obviously need to find an internal locus of control.
But how do we do that?
Simple! By recognising our need for help.
That recognition of our need for help accesses us to an internal locus of control – a control that will always satisfy our needs and never let us down.

What does it take?

When we make a big deal of things - that’s what we get: A BIG DEAL

That’s why we try and avoid ‘black & white’ thinking or ‘catastrophe’ thinking. Our problems are caused by not what happens to us but by the way we react to what happens to us. So, we ‘engage brain before opening mouth’; challenge negative thoughts (always based on lies) and replace them with rational thoughts (always based on truths). We also have to ‘toughen up’ and, paradoxically, become vulnerable all at the same time. And what does ‘toughening up’ mean? It means accepting that I’m a survivor and not a victim. And becoming vulnerable? That means showing people who I am – the authentic me, warts and all. We have to be brave, therefore, in order to recover. It takes guts. It takes stick-to-itiveness too. What else? Well a belief that recovery is possible.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

All of a sudden, however, things had changed

One aspect of my recovery that worried me very much was my self-seeking. I was still envious of other peoples’ success; wanted to earn more money than anybody else; and wanted to be more successful than other people.

This self-seeking, incidentally, was totally outside of my control and all I could do was accept it. After all, I’d long ago learnt that I had to accept myself ‘warts and all’ – that’s how I overcame my alcoholism in the first place, by accepting what I was and recognising my need of help. But thirteen years down the line and my self-seeking was as potent as ever and immune, it seemed to me, even to ‘acceptance’.

All of a sudden, however, things had changed. Once my decision was made to access a college course on Addictions Counselling and to become a "giver" instead of a "taker" – I felt different, somehow. The best way I can explain it is that I felt as if I’d come off the back of a wild horse that I’d been riding for the past 57 years. All of a sudden I knew I wasn’t in competition with anyone else any more; and what had seemed so important to me once – money, prestige, success - had, all of a sudden, lost their lustre.

Miraculously, my whole outlook on life had changed. That’s one of the promises that’s made to alcoholics like me if we work hard at our recovery – ‘Self-seeking will fade away’ –; but I genuinely never thought for one moment that it would happen to me – after all I was no saint. Out also, finally, went my fear of people – no longer tied to this inhibiting fear of ‘what people thought of me’, I could now begin to enjoy the exquisite freedom to be the authentic me - to be true to nature.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The illness can work for us

The illness can be my friend. It keeps me on the rails of my recovery.

How come?

The pain of holding a resentment gets worse year on year. Therefore, I choose not to hold a resentment. Instead I choose to confront the issue head on and deal with it.

Likewise, the emotional pain of loosing my temper gets worse year on year. Therefore, I choose to deal appropriately with my anger.

And the pain of lying gets worse year on year as well. Again I choose to be honest.

See how the illness keeps us getting well?

Now it’s your turn. Can you think of other examples where the illness becomes your friend and ally?

Monday, 15 March 2010

A risk worth taking

The juiciest, ripest fruits are always to be found on the highest, most difficult branch to get to. We have to always risk in order to get to them.

The same is true about recovery. The biggest risk in recovery is showing people who we really are. That’s the biggest risk of all - showing people that we’re human. That we don’t always know all the answers; that we sometimes don’t even know what the questions are; that we’re frightened; insecure; lonely; shy; that we make mistakes and that sometimes we fall flat on our faces – and that’s it’s OK to be all these things. ‘Confronting the burden of being human’ as Eric Fromm puts it – that’s what constitutes Recovery from addiction.

I am going to be vulnerable today and show others the authentic me? It’ll be a risk well worth taking.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Laughter is the best medicine

Taking myself too serious1y can get me into trouble. I have to loosen up; lighten up; and have a laugh at myself. When I don’t – nothing seems to go right somehow; no one else does what I want them to do; and things tend to not work out for me either.

I can’t really put my finger on what’s wrong. It’s just that I don’t feel a 100 percent; that I’m not firing on all cylinders. It’s as if a dark cloud has suddenly appeared in the otherwise blue sky of my recovery.

This is when I need other recovering alcoholics and addicts the most. They can see in me things I can’t see for myself – that maybe I’m taking life a little too seriously.
“I’m sure God’s having a right old laugh looking at you now” they say. “If you could only see your behaviour through His eyes, you’d collapse laughing as well!”

So, let’s all of us stand back today and put things in perspective by having a laugh at ourselves, our struggles, our stubbornness, our defiance, and our desires. I’ll promise you one thing: you’ll feel much, much better if you do. Laughter, after all, IS the best medicine.

Try taking a good dose or two of it today.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

I've had a shitty day today - and that's OK

I’ve had a shitty day today. Then I remembered to take my friend’s advice! I have to learn to take the rough with the smooth; the tears with the laughter; the richness with the poverty. That’s what being sober is about.
A friend of mine once took a coin from his pocket and showed me the “heads” and the “tails”.
“Were you like me as a child?” he asked, “always wanting the coin to land on “heads” and being disappointed if instead it landed on “tails”?
“Too right I was” said I. “I used to get really annoyed when that used to happen to me.”
“Well, look”, he said. “If I want to own this coin and put it in my pocket then I have to take the “heads” with the “tails. I can’t own it unless I do that.” And he pocketed the coin, adding “The same is true about life. If you want to own your life you’ll have to learn to take the bitter with the sweet, the bad with the good; the “heads” with the “tails.”
“How do you manage to do that?” I asked
“By asking for nothing” he said “expecting nothing; and accepting everything that comes my way!”
And that’s how I live my life today as well - accepting life on life’s terms; not as I want it to be but as it really is. Today was a shitty day. And that’s OK by me.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The dangers of knee-jerk reactions

What gets into trouble is when we give a knee-jerk reaction to specific events, comments or behaviours.

It’s not what happens to us that gets us into trouble; it’s how we react to what’s happening to us. In our drinking days our reactions would be “black or white” – we’d go to that “catastrophe thinking” mode where the things that had happened to us would be the worst ever. Alternatively, we’d enter that sublime, exquisite mode where the things that had happened to us would be the best ever and we’d be in our 7th Heaven. Both reactions, of course, were unrealistic and, inevitably, got us into trouble – particularly the former when I would metaphorically (and sometimes physically) lash out without thinking to “punish” the perpetrator of whatever action that had upset or threatened me.

We have to learn to avoid knee-jerk reactions. Instead, we need to learn to respond. And that means learning to be responsible for our actions, words and thoughts – leaning to look at the whole picture; trying not to personalise things; and realising that life, in the main, exists in the grey area – neither too white nor too black. The word compromise comes to mind. The secret of a long and happy marriage I’ve found!

So, we need to engage the brain before opening our mouths. That gives us precious seconds during which time we can choose how to react. Do I hit out, hurt others and have to suffer the inevitable uncomfortable fall-out, sometimes for weeks on end? Or, do I bite the bullet, think things through, and then respond in a calm and measured way? The latter doesn’t preclude us from dealing honestly with hurt feelings incidentally. But it does preclude us from dealing inappropriately with hurt feelings.

Today, am I going to react with a knee-jerk reaction? Or will I be good to myself and others and respond in a mature fashion? It’s my choice. And we must remember that: we do have a choice.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Return to blogging/ dychwelyd at y blogio

I have finished my new book, No Room To Live, a journey from addiction to recovery. The book will be published on 17th May. I can now return to my regular blogging.

Wedi gorffen y llyfr newydd, No Room To Live, a journey from addiction to recovery. Bydd y llyfr yn cael ei gyhoeddi ar y 17eg o Fai. Byddaf yn dychwelyd at y blogio rheolaidd yn awr.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus/Happy St David's Day

Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus i bawb ohonoch.
A happy St. David's Day to you all.

Being true to nature - that is, being able to be your true, authentic self, and being able to accept the way you feel; the way you think and the way you are, warts and all - is the perfect antidote to all addictions.

Bod yn chi eich hun - y gallu i dderbyn y ffordd 'rydych yn teimlo' y ffordd 'rydych ym meddwl; a'r ffordd yr ydych, y da a'r drwg - yw'r ateb i bob dibyniaeth.
Ewch i'n gwefan i ddarganfod mwy/ Visit our website to find out more: www.welshcouncil.org.uk