As most of you know, I have been in recovery from addiction for eight years. Everyone asks me how I managed to stay clean this long, and my answer is always the same; by leaning on others who got clean before me, and absorbing what they had to say like a sponge.
There is a large community of people just like me, that had learned to secrets to living a life free from drugs and alcohol—and they were more than willing to share them with me. I observed these people intently, I listened to things they had to say and I watched how happy they were without the use of drugs. While listening, I have overhead countless clichés, advice and tips. Some of it went in one ear, and right out the other when I realized it didn’t apply to me, however some advice – struck me like a lightening bolt, and changed my life.
I am going to share some incredible advice from some of the wisest people I have met. People who have been to hell, and found their way back. This knowledge has helped me to overcome countless obstacles, setbacks, and disappointments. These don’t only apply to addicts or alcoholics, I believe the following list can help anyone who is looking to evolve and better themselves.
Be gentle with yourself. We are often times our own harshest critics, we tend to beat ourselves up over something, before anyone else has a chance to. If I make a mistake, I don’t let my inner thoughts allow to me to believe I am a failure. Mistakes and accidents can and will happen. Embrace them, learn from them…and move on.
Look down at your feet. My father, who was also in recovery before he passed used to tell me this all the time. He’d say, “Look down at your feet, that is where you are at this moment in time. You are not in the past, you are not in the future – you are right here, right now, in this moment, the next moment is not promised. Focus on where you are at this point, and stop worrying about where you will be 10 minutes from now.” This changed me.
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new.” The Dalai Lama said this originally, and obviously he didn’t say this directly to me. A counselor at my old rehab center quoted him and it made a huge impact on me. During conversations, I would anxiously wait for the other person to finish speaking so that I could say my piece, which means I wasn’t listening to a word they said, just waiting for my turn to talk. I wonder how many important things I missed in doing so?
You can’t pour from an empty cup. You can’t expect to be any good to anyone, if you are drained mentally, physically and spiritually. This is also why on airplanes they say to “First put your on your oxygen mask before helping others.” Because if you run out of oxygen, you can’t help anyone else.
Learn to let things go that you cannot control. This one is huge, and while I truly understand the significance and truth to this statement, I regularly find myself having to verbally remind myself of this in certain situations. Trying to control things beyond your control does nothing but create relentless inner turmoil. I must recognize I am powerless, take a deep breath, and exhale the responsibility of fixing the situation, releasing it into the universe where a power greater than myself can bear the burden of sorting it out. I am always amazed at the weight that is lifted during that exhale.
“If you fuel your journey on the opinions of others, you are going to run out of gas” – Steve Marable . This author and behavioral scientist said this originally, but someone in the rooms shared it with me during a personal bout with low self esteem. This one took a lot of practice, because the need to be liked by others is ingrained in my DNA. I regularly need to remind myself that “my value doesn’t decrease based on others inability to see my worth.” (Another favorite of mine, although I’m not sure who originally said it, as there are conflicting reports.)
Resentments are like setting yourself on fire, and expecting the other person to die of smoke inhalation – I am the queen of holding grudges. After hearing this I realized “my enemy” was probably going about their daily life, not thinking twice about me – meanwhile I was stewing in anger and hatred for the person. It was destroying my inner peace and achieving nothing.
The only difference between good days and bad days, is your attitude. They say life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. This is so true. If I get a flat tire, I can either allow myself to fill with rage, calling the tire company to curse them out and tell them how incompetent they are, spending the remainder of the day reflecting on my bad fortune – or – I can take a breathe, laugh at this misfortune and realize the tire has popped and that is now in the past. Then I can begin to calmly come up with a plan to amend the situation. One of these choices will result in a ruined day – and it is all up to me.
Play the tape all the way through. If you are in recovery, you have probably heard this saying countless times. What this basically means is “Before making the decision to use, don’t just think about the part that seems fun then shut the tape off, play it all the way through to see how it ends – usually in jails, institutions and death.” However this doesn’t only have to apply to using, it can apply any time we find ourselves on the brink of making an impulsive decision. What does the end of the tape look like, and will we be happy with the results.
Stop projecting. This one is my favorite, because it is so important. So many of us spend our days looking toward the future, worrying about things that haven’t happened yet. The dreaded “but what if” causes fantasies of imaginary situations that are purely hypothetical and result in nothing but stress. We are projecting. We are looking ahead, instead of being present and we are meeting our problems halfway, instead of waiting for them to come to us. This advice has allowed me to spend less time worrying, and more time living.
I truly believe that I’m a better person today, than I ever was, even before addiction. The reason being that today I live by a specific set principals, principals that I was taught through the program of Narcotics Anonymous. In the program, we don’t just learn how to stay clean, we learn to live a meaningful and purposeful life. We learn how to be the best version of ourselves possible. I believe that if we as people – addict or not – remain teachable, than there is no limit to the ways that we can grow, and the things we can achieve.
Love it!!! All so true!
Insanely useful, thank you so much for sharing!
So glad you found it to be useful 🙂
So Fabulously Helpful!! Thank you Tiff❣️
Girl you are the true meaning of a success story. Addicts like us need to learn from you. Everything you share is on point. Thanks for being you…
Wow. Thank you so much brandy, that means alot to me ?
This is an awesome list! Thank you for your insights, Tiffany. I will be saving this for future reference.
I am so happy you got something out of it!! Thank you 🙂
I tried obsessive compulsive anonymous for awhile and it was a tremendous help, however I couldn’t find a sponsor to take me through the steps (same as the 12 steps) I love the 12 and twelve book ???? So I stopped doing it. It was all done over the phone which was fine just no one was willing to sponsor! Such a bummer ? This was great! Thanks!
I have never had to face the demons youve had to face, but this was so enlightening. I have had friends face those demons, and while I know Ill never understand completely this post and your blog has helped me to gain more persective on how I can be supportive in my community. Thank you for sharing.
I just wanted to let you know that. You have helped me a lot in what I’m going through right now and I appreciate you using what you’ve been through and helping others. ?? I hope to one day be able to do the same.
What a perfect way to express the beauty of the recovery process. I will share this with newbies I talk to … With your permission.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I love your videos! ❤️
These are all very good points to live by. I especially like the one about resentments. I always think about telling people that have insulted me or are unreasonable how I feel about them now. You’re right, they take up too much of my “brain time.” They’re not thinking about me I’m sure!
Great advice for anyone in life!
I feel like I need to hear this everyday. At this moment this advice has arrived exactly when I need to hear it.
I’ve read this at least five times since I first saw it this morning. I think I may write the 10 things on a piece of paper and stick it on my bathroom mirror. I can’t pick the most important one, but I can say I’ve made projecting into a sport since I was little and what you wrote about that in particular really hit home. Thank you for what you do, you say a lot of very meaningful things in a fun and funny way that really touch a lot of people. You’ve done really great things with your life.
Thank You! I’ve become complacent these last few weeks, allowing the distractions of work, a new puppy and a little personal drama get in the way of all of my daily reminders and meditations. You’re one of my inspirations.