Since my book came out, I have had all sorts of revelations. I have learned that there are those who truly support my endeavors and unfortunately, those who appear to make it a point to tarnish my characcter perhaps due to their own shortcomings. I had some people on Facebook call me a “fraud.” Others have gotten nasty if I don’t answer their friendship on facebook, and some who I thought were my friends, erase themselves from my facebook and email contact list all together which has been hurtful.
However, on the other end of the scale, I have made so many new friends as I have evolved into an author. I have been blown away by all the wonderful support I have received and especially at my book signings. I am in such gratitude for the many new and old friends alike who have been sending their positive energy my way and for my book.
All os this reminds me of how when we get clean and sober sometimes we have to walk away from good friends or toxic relationships. But it’s even harder to keep hanging around with them when you’re trying to change your life. This is just as true for you in sobriety. Old friends who still drink or use are triggers for your old behaviors. Their social activities revolve around drinking and drugs. You’re not being fair to yourself exposing yourself to temptation when you’re with them. When you spend time with your old friends, you’re setting yourself up for relapse.
You need to make new, sober friends who reflect your new values. You’ll be able to relax and be yourself around friends who share your values–rather than having to constantly say no and explain your sobriety to people who always knew you as an addict.
The same goes with my new career; it is much easier for me to surround myself by the people who believe in me and my message and to ignore those who may be envious of my success or who feel the need to put down my message. Although I don’t expect everyone to be happy for me or support my book, I refuse to allow myself to be brought down by those who set me up for pain, just like I have had to stay away from those people in my life who are still entrenched in their disease who are filled with negative energy. As my book, The Law of Sobriety suggests, when we put out into the universe positive energy, that is what we will attract back into our lives; and that is exactly where I wish to live.
A friend of mine recently moved to a new apartment. I don’t know if you’re like me, but the very thought of moving makes me start shaking. It’s the idea of packing up all my stuff that gives me so much anxiety. Over the years, we accumulate so much, and moving means we need to sort through it all, get rid of a lot, and pack up the rest. Whenever I think about it, the task seems monumental.
My friend didn’t particularly enjoy the packing up either. But she told me she loved the unpacking. In her new place, all the closets and cabinets and drawers were empty, and as she unpacked each box, she decided how things would be arranged in her apartment and exactly the best spot for each item. It’s the only time our closets and cabinets are so well-organized.
This got me to thinking about clutter. Clutter– physical, mental, and emotional–is one of the things than can block us from achieving our goals. We let things accumulate without sorting through them, and without either getting rid of them or putting them in their place. Clutter of all types is negative energy, and when it fills our lives, it crowds out the positive energy.
I’ve talked a lot in this blog about mental and emotional clutter, but clearing out the physical clutter is every bit as important. Objects can have powerful associations for us, and holding on to an object can be a symbol of holding on to a counterproductive belief or a behavior. Do you still have that cocktail shaker, that ashtray, that sweater your mother gave you that you always hated, that photo of you with the boyfriend who never treated you well?
Throw that stuff away–and throw away all the negative energy that goes with it. Imagine your life as cleaned out as my friend’s closets in her new apartment, stripped of what you don’t need all ready for you to decide exactly the right spot for everything.
As addicts and alcoholics, you all understand you have no room for un-resolved anger in your recovery program. On the other side of anger is resentment or a feeling that some injustice has been done to you. Something or someone is irritating you or it is “just not fair.” Don’t you wish you could just control your resentments by controlling your anger? Not so easy, right?
On many levels resentment separates you from others and from yourself. There is no loving compassion or forgiveness when you are resentful. Ask yourself, “What am I resentful or angry about?” “Am I angry because my spouse is still dealing with pain from the consequences of my behavior?” “Am I resentful because my boss expects too much out of me when I just got out of rehab?” These questions and others similar all have to do with a belief system that if people, places, and things, “would just go my way” all would be well. In other words, it is everyone and everything that is causing you to be angry and resentful. You go through life feeling other people and circumstances are responsible for your happiness. Well, what if your spouse forgave you like you wanted or your boss lightened up your load out of understanding your new recovery? Would you then be happier? Would you then feel permanently resolved of all anger and resentment? Probably not. Why? Because before long someone or something else will come along to irritate you again so you can again build up a resentment? That is how it goes for alcoholics and addicts. As soon as one thing goes your way, you feel temporarily content, but just around the corner is that next thing to cause you discontentment. If you want short term happiness, go ahead and let outside people and circumstances make you happy? That may be okay for a while, but if you want true happiness, it is time to look within and to understand your thought patterns. People and places no longer need to change in order for you to be happy. Instead cultivate an attitude of joy, interest, contentment, creativity, and growth. Once you learn these positive emotions, anger and resentment take a back seat.
How to do you cultivate these positive emotions?
1. Notice your positive emotions throughout the day. Write them down and label them, “Gratitude”, “Serenity,” “Confidence.”
2. Notice what your thoughts were when you were experiencing these positive emotions.
3. Notice what is happening in your body when these positive emotions surface? Do you feel expansive? Are your shoulders lifted?
The more you notice these positive emotions, the more often you will begin feeling them. As you begin to feel more positive, negative emotions may erupt, but they will not take up as much energy as they once did.