Dave\'s Recovery Journal

As part of my ongoing recovery effort most days (if I were “perfect”– which I ain’t — it would be EVERY day), I fill out a form that I refer to as Dave’s Recovery Journal (Yes, if we haven’t yet met, my name is Dave!). The form contains three main sections: Sane Thinking, Food Intake and Physical Movement.

Allow me to clarify the phrase “physical movement”. Since I detest the word “exercise” I use the word “movement”.  In the same I detest the word “diet” and therefore refer to the boundaries that guide my food intake as a “food plan” or “plan of eating”.

The SANE THINKING portion of my journal sheet contains thoughts and concepts that either I’ve heard over the years in various 12 Step fellowships or that I’ve read (perhaps something that I’ve read on the particular day that I’m journaling) in a 12 Step-focused daily meditation book. My favorite meditation books these days is titled Just For Today and is published by Narcotics Anonymous World Service Office (www.na.org).

Yesterday’s reading in Just For Today dealt with the topic of change (and this isn’t the kind of “change” you carry around in your pocket, if you know what I mean!).

Here’s a synopsis of my “one liners” on the topic of change as an essential element of my recovery process…

— Change is an essential element of authentic 12 Step recovery.
— It takes courage to change.
— God is the source of all the courage that I will ever need in order to change.
— Fear = addiction, while courage = recovery.
— Who is it that I should seek change for?  Change needs to take place in me much more than it does in other people, places and situations (in terms of what it takes to stay in recovery)!
— Change can certainly be painful (DUH!!!), but the pain produced by change is almost always LESS than the pain I feel when I stubbornly refuse to change.
— Change takes place one moment, one hour and definitely no more than One Day At A Time.

Speaking of “change”, you might have heard John Mayer’s popular song Waiting On The World To Change, which includes a chorus that goes,

“So we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change…
We keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change.”

While I like this song, me thinks that the lyrics pretty much have it BACKWARDS — as an addict I’ve learned the hard way (and on more than one occasion) that my job is to work on change INSIDE of me. I’ve learned the importance of NOT waiting, expecting or manipulating the OUTSIDE world to change.

As far as “waiting” for the “world to change”? I know that I would LOVE to see LOTS of people, places and instututions CHANGE NOW. But while “waiting” for them to change, I need to be careful to NOT lose my focus on what is an ESSENTIAL element of my recovery process, namely to seeking God’s stength to make changes in MY life.

In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, one recovering alcoholic wisely states that his recovery works best when he concentrates “not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”

Do I still want OTHER people, places and institutions to change? YOU BET — and “early and often” for that matter! But recovery keeps gently (and sometimes NOT-so-gently) reminding that it ain’t my job to try and change others. When I get wrapped up in forcing my solutions on others, then I lose my ability to take the best possible care of myself.

Taking care of MYself? I do that dute best when I seek God’sr help in 1) figuring out what I need to do to take care of myself and 2) giving me the ability to do what I can not do for myself without His grace.

When I think that something OUTSIDE of me needs changing, I’ve found that the BEST thing I can do (if I really can’t stop obsessing about the need for something OUTside of my control to change) is to PRAY about it. God surely knows better than I do whether or not someone or something REALLY needs to change. And He knows far better than I do exactly HOW something or someone else needs to change.