Paying It Forward

There are many gifts promised with recovery in the 12 step programs, but two that I hear about most often are the joy that comes from helping another as you were helped, and applying the principles learned to other areas of your life, thus making you that much more joyous, happy and free.  This early in recovery, I assumed that these are benefits of the distant future, but today I had a small taste of what it feels like to give away one of the lessons I have learned, and it truly is a gift.

The message I had the opportunity to pass on has to do with staying in the present moment.  There are many popular slogans in the 12 step programs centering around this theme… “one day at a time,” “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that is why it is called the present,” and so on.  These are well-known for a reason, they make a lot of sense, but when serious emotions set in, such as regret for mistakes of the past, or anxiety about fears for the future, how can they apply?  The words become meaningless unless you have a practical application.

This was not an easy lesson for me to learn, it has taken a lot of practice, and I have not come close to perfecting this skill.  But, when I start wallowing in mistakes I have made in the past, I use a physical action, like shaking my head and consciously reminding myself that whatever is troubling me is in the past.  I then consciously redirect my thoughts to something more productive.

More prevalent for me these days are worries about the future.  When my thoughts get tangled up in this pattern,  I again stop the thought process by consciously becoming aware of my immediate surroundings, then asking myself, “does this worry affect me right here, right now?”   The answer has been no every time I have asked it, and this exercise always brings some measure of relief.

These may sound like simplistic practices, but if you struggle with either of these thought patterns, you would be amazed at how much they will improve your life!

Posted on March 23, 2012, in Recovery. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I love the simplistic practices mentioned. If we all applied them to our lives, it would be so much easier to deal with worries.


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