Staying Sober: What Happens Today is Up to You

November 10, 2010

You are in addiction recovery, but sometimes you feel like the world is against you. You got turned down by another potential job, your family is embarrassed by your addiction, and you feel overwhelmed with all the change. Does this mean you aren’t going to do well with sobriety? No, not at all. If it feels difficult now, that doesn’t mean that’s how it will always be. You still control the choices that can help you stay sober today.

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Know What You Can And Cannot Control

Many people (including non-addicts) get caught up in what they can and cannot control. It’s easy to get ticked off at the businesses that can’t hire you or anyone right now, the bad financial situation you grew up with, or the family member that still doesn’t understand why you can’t be around drugs or alcohol. But you can’t control those things for the most part. Life is a bunch of moving parts, and you cannot have influence or control over all of them.

For those things you cannot change, your best strategy is learning how to live with them. You’ll either need to wait until something changes, put a past problem back in the past, or realize you can’t change a person’s mind. People in recovery can spend a lot of mental and physical energy trying to change the unchangeable. This often distracts them from the things they do have more control over.

You Have Control Over Your Mindset

You can’t really make another person change their opinion or viewpoint about something. That has to come from within themselves. If your family still doesn’t get it that you can’t be around all the usual booze at the Christmas party, then you need to make your choices accordingly. Do your best to communicate your needs and the reasons, watch what they do in response, and then it’s up to you to determine whether or not you can realistically spend time with them.

You may want so badly spend Christmas with your family. But if it means putting yourself in harm’s way, you’d do better to find other people to hang around with during the holidays. Acknowledge your efforts, their lack of understanding, and move on. The important part? Moving on. That’s where it’s up to you.

The Serenity Prayer

There’s a reason Alcoholics Anonymous has adopted the serenity prayer. Its most famous lines speak to things being changed and controlled.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

This is about choosing your battles and using your energy wisely. It’s so easy to get tangled in pointless family drama, rumination over past relationships, and self-pity over poor choices. It may not be easy facing your own attitude or giving up your old grudges. But doing that can change the entire landscape of your mind.

What Happens Today Is Up To You

There’s more to the Serenity Prayer than just the handful of famous words printed above. But when you talk about making change in your life, it’s hard to find something more honest than that. Your sobriety is something you can manage, but only if you are smart about it. Keep good support around you. Keep learning about what you can change and what you can’t. And most of all, recognize that today is your biggest opportunity. What happens today in your sobriety is up to you.

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