“Be impeccable with your word.” – Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
Whether you’re in a substance abuse treatment center or an impaired professionals program, living with integrity is one of the key behaviors the staff — as well as your family, friends and coworkers — will be grateful to see emerging in you.
Many people who find themselves in treatment for addiction issues have been branded by those around them — typically for very good reasons—as being a “say one thing, but do another” kind of person. That is, unreliable, irresponsible, out of integrity, can’t count on them, on and on it goes.
And no wonder, really! The lives we’ve led when in our active addiction were built upon dishonesty, denial and deception, as well as a heaping helping of self-centeredness. We would do literally “whatever it took” to get what we felt compelled to get. And we continually lied, not just to others, but to ourselves about… well, virtually everything, but especially: “I can handle it,” “I can quit anytime” and “Just one more.”
Our “talk” had become empty and our word meant nothing, at least in the eyes of others who’d tried in vain to encourage, inspire, nudge or even threaten us to “just tell the truth” or “please show up on time for this appointment” (or countless other responsibilities we were asked to uphold, but so often failed to maintain).
So when the time came for us to get help, be it a professionals health program, an executive drug rehab or any other form of addiction treatment, one of the first points emphasized to us was: “You need to become willing to practice being authentic and honest with yourself and others.”
And the operative word here is “practice.” Because we had been steeped in denial and dishonesty for so long, those spiritual muscles of authenticity, integrity, honesty and honor had become flaccid at best and severely crippled in most cases.
As Kelly McClanahan, MSW, CATC IV, has written, “Coming out of denial means facing some harsh truths about yourself, your life and your behaviors.”
But as we harness our courage and commitment to recovery, and begin putting one foot after the other in the new directions of telling the truth, keeping open-minded, being willing to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones to embrace a new behavior or attitude, and the like, we begin adopting positive new habits. And we then start to see and feel the good effects and results of living in integrity, being accountable to others and honoring one’s word.
Actually, what should be pointed out here is that while regaining the respect and trust of our family, friends and those associated with our work, the main effect and most beneficial result is the transformation within us. Our continued focus on becoming truthful, integral and honorable in our words and deeds, while participating diligently with the treatment staff, our sponsor and our recovery network begins to create an “awakening of spirit” and a true sense of freedom, where previously we had been empty and imprisoned by our addiction.
Truly, if we’re willing to put in the effort, one day at a time, “walking the talk” becomes a path of liberation, as well as a means to restore honor and trust in our relationships with both others and ourselves.
 SoberRecovery.com 11/21/14