I recently found myself, without even noticing at first, complaining regularly. Workplace issues. Relationships with friends. Several things continued to bubble up in my interactions with others and before I knew it, I was on several phone calls a day complaining about the various states of affairs in all different kinds of situations to an array of different kinds of people.
It’s funny; after about a week of this I started wondering why I wasn’t sleeping well. I started questioning why my physical wellbeing wasn’t the greatest. I noticed some increased feelings of nervousness and anxiety. I found myself unwittingly engaging in some stress-induced unhealthy eating and overindulgence. I was a mess! It wasn’t until my spouse made a comment to me the other night after hearing me rant for an hour and a half to a friend about some ridiculous situation that I was able to see the situation clearly for what it was: I was quite literally hurting myself by focusing on and perpetuating the negativity that had wormed its way into my psyche.
I fought it of course. I tried to make excuses to her as to why I was speaking the way I was, why I was engaging in these conversations in the manner that I was, and why it was important that I continued to bring these issues to light that “no one else was thinking about.” But in the end, it was all for naught. She mentioned something to me at the end of our conversation that struck me deep: Be Better. For yourself. You’ll feel better. You aren’t contributing a solution to the problem by endlessly reiterating the problems therein. Such a simple idea, a solid principle, that I was blinded to in the moment by my frustration, negativity, and resentment.
After sitting with that thought for a half hour, I realized how much truth it held. How that type of behavior was truly a product of my addict mind and the way I used to think. For so many years I lived in the mentality that my issues, my problems were the result only of outside influence. I brought nothing to the table and expected the world from outside people, places, and things. I endlessly made observations on just about everything besides myself. And as a result, I lived in a perpetual state of depression and anxiety.
Through the wisdom and insight from my partner I was able to stage an intervention on myself. I really looked back on my life thus far; remembered the agony and misery of living in active addiction and how incredibly blessed I was now to be free from that. How these “problems,” “issues,” and “challenges” were small change compared to the insurmountable obstacles I used to live through on a daily basis. And how I was honestly not helping anyone, or anything, much less myself, by ranting and raving about how things weren’t living up to the unrealistic standards and expectations I had inadvertently placed on them.
The solution is gratitude. It’s looking negativity in the face and taking the high road. It’s listening to others complain, taking the time to see things for what they really are, and offering a healthy, encouraging perspective, if offering anything at all. I realized that I was simply contributing negatively to the issues at hand by adding my own bleak energy to them. I woke up the next morning and started my day off in prayer. I asked God to give me perspective and power to remove myself from the cycle of cynical talk that was surrounding the main issues I had involved myself so closely in. I was able to look at my life and rejoice in gratitude for all the miracles that surround me on a daily basis. My family. My friends, my relationships – my ability to help others, the ability to make a living and truly enjoy the simple things in life. When I’m all wrapped up in that pessimistic, defeatist thought process I truly lose the opportunity to be thankful for the beauty and serenity that exists all around me.
The goal is to “be better.” To honestly, thoughtfully, and tactfully approach tough experiences and problems with a more positive energy. It’s extremely easy to live your life from a reactionary standpoint in these interactions. It’s crazy how simple it can be to succumb to that negative energy and go along with the crowd. The challenge lies in focusing on the positive, even in times of trouble. In relying on God, and the individuals He works through in your life to gain perspective on any given situation and bring constructive, practical solutions to the table.
I’m happy to say that even with these small measures, my situation has improved already. I slept well that night. I woke up and actually had the wherewithal to remove myself from the conversation that had plagued me for the past week and moved on with my day. I saw all the ways I could be helpful in the moment and tried to do the best I could. So many years ago, I was rescued from a completely hopeless state of mind and body in addiction through the implementation of similar, practical strategies. I just lost my way there for a bit; as we all do. We’re human after all.
Keep this little episode in your pocket if you find yourself in similar scrapes. It’s easy to fall down, we’re all fallible, and we’re all going to stray from the path in some way, shape or form. That’s just the way it is and that’s completely acceptable and okay. What makes all the difference at the end of the day is our ability to move forward in these situations, learn from our mistakes, and “be better.” For our families. For our friends. And for ourselves.
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