What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it’s s’pozed to be. – Anonymous
For most of us who’ve found our way into recovery, there came a time when it was plain as day we needed to change our minds about “how life works” – that is, what we’d been doing and believing up to that point just wasn’t working. In fact, for many, our day-to-day existence had truly become a nightmare: ruined (or damaged) relationships, employment terminated, health degraded, character corrupted, etc., etc.
Through whatever means, recovery’s avenue of hope arose before us and we decided to begin walking that road, clinging onto the prospect that somehow our lives could get better, somehow we could be freed from the dependence, cravings, and obsessions that had enslaved us.
We quickly learned from staff members or those exhibiting solid recovery in 12-Step fellowships that one of the “keys” to successful recovery is to maintain a willingness to change our perspective, to remain teachable at any given moment.
For example, prior to finding recovery, I believed I was destined to use for the rest of my life and nothing I could do would change that. But at my first 12-Step meeting, I heard someone say, “We don’t put our attention on ‘not using forever.’ It’s just for today that we don’t use, no matter what.”
That point of view rang a bell in me and allowed me to quit focusing obsessively on my anxiety about “never using again.” All I had to do was just not use today, do my best to apply the tools of recovery I’d begun learning and reach out for help whenever necessary.
In time, I also saw how that same principle—of abstaining just for today or just for this moment—could help me get through periods when I felt compelled to act out in other areas of my life, as well.
What has become clear is this: When I’m open and willing to change my perspective about myself, others or how to handle this or that situation, I’m actually making room for a power greater than myself to guide me forward in what I think or do.
So, one day at a time, I strive to stay sufficiently humble and teachable, and to keep an open-minded attitude about changing my perspective, learning from others or being guided by my Higher Power.
I now realize one of the phrases that has become nearest and dearest to my heart is the last portion of NA’s 3rd Step prayer, which conveys this willingness to change oh-so-well:
“Show me how to live.”