Human nature, it would seem, can be innately self-centered. Not necessarily in the sense of a child throwing a fit when they don’t get what they want; but in the way that our thoughts tend to be geared inward, toward ourselves when left unchecked. In recovery, I’ve found gratitude and thankful living to be directly correlated to the amount of peace and serenity I feel in my life at any given time. Considering the life I used to live, filled with chaos, pain, loss, and mental and emotional instability, you’d think it’d be easy to keep a positive mindset with whatever current situation I may find myself in. But alas; the blinders can come on quickly and I lose my insight when I’m not doing the things I need to do to take care of myself. Last week I found myself in one of those unfortunate episodes where I was feeling down on myself and my circumstances, ruminating consistently on my own situation. None of it could even be deemed consequential and generally tended toward being of my own making. While our feelings and struggles are always valid, and an integral part of the human experience, chances are, someone else is always going to be going through something more difficult than I.
I shared in my last post that I had recently gotten extensively into running and its ensuing lifestyle. A lot of my thoughts in life are directed toward that; toward training, my goals, and my personal physical fitness. It brings me a great deal of joy to run. It provides me with mental clarity and happiness on a regular basis. Due to my knee issues there have been times where I’ve had to take a break from my training, and since I’m out on the roads and trails almost every other day, I generally start to go a little stir crazy when I’m stuck on the couch with an ice-pack. Last week was one of those weeks. I started obsessing about it. I focused on it. I felt the sting of loss that a huge part of my life and recovery was slipping away from me; this turned into a cascade of negativity and hopeless feelings pretty quickly. Bad thoughts can spiral out of control when we hone in on the negative aspects of whatever life might be throwing at us at any given time.
I was quickly reminded though of just how lucky and blessed I truly am. I was sitting at home ruminating when I was reminded of a friend who recently had a series of accidents that has left her with a broken arm and leg. I was reminded of my daughter, who currently has a hard cast on her leg to correct some issues she was experiencing with her foot. Two people close to me in my life that I love and care about are essentially experiencing a period of disability where they require assistance most of the time to complete even basic tasks, and here I am thinking of myself. I felt silly. I felt guilty for focusing on my menial issues, in light of others’ experiences with more serious ones. Despite my issues, I can still walk. I still have the capacity to heal and run freely with time. While they will as well, their recovery will be far more prolonged than mine. I made it a point, right then and there, to revert my thinking and attitude toward service, toward what I can do for someone else. This has never failed me in my attempts to take steps in the right direction and get my own thinking straight. Helping others, resolutely turning our thoughts over to God, and do what we can do to be of assistance is vital to recovery of any kind. It almost always takes a painful episode, some type of internal struggle for a hard-headed individual like myself to see the light, to feel the grace and blessings in my life. This was just another wake-up call, to show up for somebody else and get out of my own head.
I made it a point to check in with my friend, daily, to see if there was anything I could do to make her experience a little easier. I made it a point to engage with my daughter, to get creative in the ways we can have fun and cut loose while she’s immobilized. As soon as I had asked God to help me live in His will, to give me the power and strength to do so, these actions took place. I stopped worrying completely and wholly about myself and my minor inconveniences. Life isn’t always simple. It’s not always sunshine and roses. And whatever you might be going through, whatever internal hardship or tough situation it might be, your feelings are valid. Your struggle is valid. It’s natural to feel sad sometimes. It’s natural to feel discouraged when faced with depression surrounding hard life situations. But if we can take a moment, to meditate, to sit with God in his presence, we’ll truly see that there is always something to be thankful for. There is always opportunity to improve, to work on shedding ourselves of our inherent human selfishness and to work with others to make their world a better place. I personally guarantee, living in this state of mind will make yours better too, as it has mine, in this very moment.
Sean – In Recovery
You can read, comment and ask questions for Sean to address in his blog on the PAL website, home page – www.Palgroup.org