Resilience in Recovery

04. Resilience in Recovery

I’m going to grow through those tough situations, but it’s when I have the preparedness, when I’ve got that resilience with me, it’s different. When put into a growth moment, everybody grows, but not everybody has resilience.

Milestones are a big thing in recovery. Everyday is a celebration, everyday is a huge win. Celebrating a friend’s milestone is always exciting!

I asked Siri how long ago Oct 25th, 2012 was. Today I’m celebrating 2,110 in sobriety!

My life looked completely different 2,110 days ago. I wasn’t anywhere near as resilient as I am today. Who I was then, is not the same person I am now. I’m really thankful & grateful, there’s a lot of support I’ve received along the way. A lot of patience people extended to me early on, when I was on the struggle, the daily grind.

Now I’m in a position where I can share my message with others. By sharing my hope is to help those who need a little nudge. One of the hardest things for me in recovery was identify with is the idea of:

Who was I going to become after I remove alcohol & substance abuse from my life?

What shell of a person is going to be left over. What’s going to be left after ‘the wake of destruction.’ I imagined it to be a wake of destruction of some sort,  it really wasn’t. But in my mind I built to up to being that. I thought I was not going to survive this, the friends I had made, the life I had built, the lifestyle I was living. It wasn’t a very healthy lifestyle, nor was it very supportive, or resilient.

It was hard enough to want to believe in that myself. That fear, it wasn’t the decision that made me hesitate, it was the fear of what was I going to be afterwards. I had the doubt in myself that I couldn’t achieve these things, and the amount of work that would be involved in making that happen seemed insurmountable.

Starting a life over again, who am I going to be left with for friends? Who’s going to want and go hangout? Who’s going to want to go to the movies? Or go to dinner? These are things that socially I had built up to being as ‘big things’. They mattered a lot to me then, at that time in my life I had different values. I had different focuses, I didn’t have a healthy mindset, I didn’t have healthy friendships. I didn’t have a healthy lifestyle. I wasn’t living the best way I could.

Part of that I would attribute that to this idea I had in my head about not being able to achieve, or not being able to accomplish. I simply can’t say, “when someone doesn’t have that, just give it to them.” It’s not that easy. If someone is struggling with addiction, I can’t say, “Just cut it out, you’ll be fine.”

The hard part with that statement is it can’t be something that dismissive or as all encompassing. I can’t paint everyone with the same broad brush, everybody deals with this struggles individually.

The same struggle for me isn’t the same struggle for you.

Similarly the same challenges for me are not the same challenges for you, but they are still challenges, they’re still struggles. How we manage them is individual as well. There’s healthy ways to manage it, and there’s ‘other’ ways to manage it.  The whole point of this episode is help engage others, start conversations, have healthy discussions.

I don’t want to say this post is for those who haven’t made the decision, no. I made this so we have a place where we can talk. For those who have made the decision already, that they want to live this outstanding life. That they want to move forward with this decision.

Earlier I shared how afraid I was BEFORE making the decision, I didn’t realize that there was such a wave of support, there’s an ocean of information, there’s way more caring, there’s compassion, there’s way more emotion out there than just barely getting by.

In the heat of my addiction I only had two mindsets, I had one which was a mindset of lack (and that ruled everything). It made decisions for me, what I was going to do that day. Things were either really really good, or they were really really bad. If things were really good and I have a healthy mindset, I’ll be okay. But if things are really good and I have a negative mindset, if I’m making poor life decisions, — If the wrong parts of me are making decisions, that I shouldn’t be empowering, if I’m giving them more weight and more thought, pretty soon one thing leads to another.

In another episode we talked about the match stick, throwing it into the garbage bin. The garbage bin catches fire. If I don’t deal with it, and I throw that garbage bin in a larger bin outside, that will catch fire. And if I don’t deal with that, then the whole house catches fire, or the building next to it catches fires.

If left unchecked, unhealthy thoughts can lead to very poor decisions.

Poor decision making skills isn’t just a small habit to fix, it’s not something I can cure overnight. It’s not something I can simply make go away. It takes time to exercise. In my recovery, I never had this belief in my mind that I could do these things. I believed I never deserved nice things. Not like nice jeans or nice clothes, but I didn’t believe I deserved a good solid relationship, I didn’t believe that I could go out and get my driver’s license (or learners). I held beliefs that would limit me, before I even started.

Very similar was the thought, “Who was I going to become after I make the decision to give up alcohol & substance abuse?”

If I let Fear make decisions for me, I’m never going to get to live an Outstanding Life.

If I live in that fear & doubt, I’m never going to be open to the idea of something bigger, better, and brighter. But the challenge becomes, how do I create that feeling in others? How do you help connect that in others? If someone doesn’t have that natural language built into them, you can’t share those things with them and just have it be open accepted, unless they’re open, willing, and ready.

Admittedly I was not in a spot where I was open, willing, or ready. In a previous episode I shared, the movie Flight with Denzel Washington, where he flys the plane upside down. There’s a spot in the movie where Denzel’s character went to an AA meeting, and they were having fun & laughing.

It sounds silly, but I thought to myself, “If Denzel can do this, so can I.” That was 2,110 days ago. I’m not down playing my recovery down to a movie scene, but what I am saying is, had I thought things through in an empowering way, had I thought things through in a much more supportive way, I didn’t need to panic.

I made it way bigger of an issue than I needed to. I let those issues make decisions more than I should have. I let those issues take control away from me, because of that I wasn’t in a spot where I could let recovery into my life. I wasn’t allowing myself to grow.

What is resilience to you?

When it comes to an event / crisis standpoint. When we’re given no other options but to grow, when we’re given no other choice but to succeed. When we have no other window of opportunity other than to make it through, that’s the event / crisis point. When we absolutely have to make it through the other side. If we’re going to make it through it, we’ll need to grow.

In order to grow, I’ll need to be malleable, I’ll need to be able to shift , shift my beliefs, stretch myself to be able to fit that crisis, to fit that what’s needed. In order to make that happen, it can’t just be something where I aimlessly throw myself into that crisis / event point, and pray I’ll somehow make it through.

In order to make it through, I’m going to have to actually grow. I’m going to need to grow by expanding myself, expand my world to a 3rd dimension, to be able to push myself through it. That is growth, hopefully everybody makes it through. When I’m put in the moment I will grow, otherwise I will not make it through that moment.

When it comes to resilience, it’s something that you have before the event / crisis point. Resilience is something where I have that innate energy already within me, I have that knowing, I have that certainty, I have that compassion for myself. Not to be mistaken for arrogance where I can believe in myself so much that I’ll make it through it.

Instead I’ve had the practice, I’m prepared, and I believe in that process.

I believe in myself to the point where I know I can do this. I believe I can make it through this, so that when I’m presented with an event crisis point, that resilience carries with me. When I have that resilience, my whole world can change. Everybody has to grow in those moments, growth comes, and growth goes, I can be thrown into a difficult situation, the bank bounces my cheque, I lose my car keys, those are menial things. I’m going to grow through those situations, but it’s when I have the preparedness, when I’ve got that resilience with me, it’s different. When put into a growth moment, everybody grows, but does everybody have resilience?

Resilience to see through that event / crisis point, to believe in something more than ourselves. To believe in something bigger than you, something bigger than me, and have the belief that you’re going to make it through it. Not just aimlessly having blind faith, that you believe you’re going to make it through… because that falls into the growth category. Growth is okay, growth will get you through the moment. But the next time a situation arises, are you prepared?

Maybe it takes a series of growth moments before we start stretching ourselves, until we maintain that resilience. To allow that resilience to fold into our daily life, to fold into what we’re prepared for, to fold into the next level of an Outstanding Life.

There’s so much more out there to experience, that’s not a limiting belief.

What is a crisis?

A crisis is any event that is, or expected to lead to, an unstable and dangerous situation affecting an individual, group, community, or whole society. Crises are deemed to be negative changes in the security, economic, political, societal, or environmental affairs, especially when they occur abruptly, with little or not warning. More loosely, it is a term meaning ‘a testing time’ or an ’emergency event.’

From a normal person’s perspective, they wouldn’t be impacted the same way as someone who’s on the recovery struggle, who’s in the heat of their addiction, who’s letting themselves be run rampant.  A normal person who’s impacted by a crisis, would be something that’s unstable for them, because it’s a dangerous situation that’s affecting them. If a normal person is impacted negatively, that would be considered a crisis event.

If you were to take somebody who already is in an unstable position, who has an unstable mindset, who is already in that raw emotional state. In addiction, we have two emotional states, things are either really really good, or they’re really really bad. Decisions made in either emotional state, can lead to poor decisions because they’re based on inhibited emotions.

In AA meetings they’ll say, “If things are really good, go to a meeting. If things are really bad, go to a meeting.” There’s more truth in that than I gave credit for when I started my journey. I didn’t appreciate how important that was.

When things are good, I want to go out and celebrate. I want to go and do things that are amazing. When things are bad, I want to go and complain, I want to go and mope. I want to sulk. That’s not a healthy way to deal with things, nor is going out and celebrating continuously every three and a half minutes.

Again to somebody that’s a normal person, they don’t go and look for reasons to drink or consume substances. People who are struggling (like addicts and alcoholics), we will use them as excuses to go and do these things. I’m not saying we take mountains out of molehills, what I’m saying is there’s different event / crisis event points depending on the level (degraded) that persons substance abuse has become, or how much alcoholism has taken over their life.

A normal person won’t be as impacted as much as someone who has a destabilized moral compass.

When we don’t have that growth opportunity, it’s very hard. When I went to rehab with 50 other guys, they told me, “When you come back a year from now, look to the guy left of you, look at the guy to the right of you. A year from now, only one of those two guys will be there.”

I didn’t get it. I thought everybody was going to come back a year from now. “I mean we’re all here right now”, I said.

They explained that out of the 50 guys, only two will come back. I was still hesitant. I could list all their names, where they’re from, how they got to rehab, where they want to go. I got to know everyone personally. They shared it’s a reality that I will get used to.

Sure enough a year later I came back, and there was two guys there. 2. That’s the moment it became real for me. I appreciated that not everyone has the same sense of resilience. Not everyone has been given the same opportunity to grow. Not everyone has the same level of compassion for themselves, and for others.

I truly believe that if given the opportunity to do amazing things, people will.

The last thing I want, the last thing anyone wants is to be held back by these limiting beliefs. The last thing anyone wants is to be living in this shell of a person.

I was this hallow empty person for many years of my life. I’m thankful that I’m here, I’m grateful for the higher power, that I’ve been given the ability where I can impact others, and help others. These big crisis / events that I had when I was younger, 2,110 days ago are not the same crisis events I face today.

I still have event crisis points, but I don’t let them make decisions for me. I no longer panic. I can identify where things are coming from, I can see where they’re moving to, I can help develop a plan to move forward.

Keys to Crisis Management

  1. Pre planning & crisis prevention
  2. Managing at critical mass
  3. Reincorporating lessons learned

I can see something, I can make a plan for things a head of time. Here I am 2,110 days later and I have somewhat of a plan, it may not always work. But it’s a plan that can be refined and I can move forward with it.

Step 1. Pre planning & crisis prevention. If you were to try talk with me before my life in recovery. I wouldn’t even have a step 1, I would be jumping into step 2 right away without any pre planning. I would have waited for things to build up so much that eventually it becomes unbearable.

My life had become unbearable. It had become unmanageable.

Getting to that state now, where I can identify an issue (when a habit becomes a problem). I can start moving forward, to crisis prevention (so that maybe I can help mitigate this). If I can’t stop it from happening, at least I can mitigate it. Ask myself, “What can I do next time to help move forward in a much more positive light?”

Step 2. Managing at critical mass. When everything is thick, when it’s go time, when there’s no other option but to succeed. Just like Eminem in his 8 mile story, when there’s no choice but to go up. But that’s the benefit of being down!

Step 3. Reincorporating Lessons Learned. After every challenging point in my life (now that I’m 2,110 days older), I’ve got to the point where I ask myself, “What worked, and what didn’t work? What were the successes, what are the quick wins? What are some things I learned, that I could have done better?” There’s some meetings I have to go to at work, where we sit down afterwards and ask openly, “What worked, what didn’t work? What feedback do you have for me?” I wouldn’t be able to ask those questions 2,110 days ago. I wouldn’t even be in that position if I wasn’t willing to be open to feedback, much less embrace it. Part of the cycle is the circle of life, is including feedback. Part of the circle of growth includes the crisis event point, but it also includes growing and learning from it.

If I believe that there is a successful outcome in the future, that exists, I may not understand what it is right now in the moment, but I can believe that it’s there. And just the belief that it’s there, I recognize there is a limit to my knowledge. By recognizing the limits of my knowledge helps create the foundation that allows me to embrace something beyond that limit.

I begin to ask questions, “If I was wrong, how would I be wrong? If I were wrong, what are somethings I could do to help exercise that?” What muscles can I flex now, so that it’s not going to be a big issue later, if that was the issue. Maybe I’m the issue. Maybe my problems are the one’s causing the issue. Maybe it’s got nothing to do with other people. I begin to open up to the world of, “maybe it’s not them, maybe it’s circling back to me. Maybe there’s some ownership, maybe I can keep my side of the street clean here. By doing so, it allows me that flexibility to live a life that’s outstanding. It allows me to grow beyond what I see as my experiences.

If all I ever do is look around and see 360 degrees of mirrors, if what I look at and see is just seeing things in other people that I identify as separate, as different. I’m looking for ways to disqualify, or discredit them by separating myself from them.

I’ll catch myself saying statements like, “He’s doing this.” or “They’re doing that just to get to me.”

I’ll become consumed by all these thoughts, that are not helpful, they’re not supportive, they’re not conducive to this Outstanding Life I want to live.

Deepak Chopra said, “It’s the same ocean of information that exists outside of us, as inside of us. That it’s what we choose to recognize in other people that we help identify in ourselves.

I’m not saying don’t credit anything that’s not good, but if I’m looking for aspects of myself in others, if I’m looking for a way to relate to somebody first. Looking for something we have in common, I start bridging that connectivity more than I am looking for ways to disrupting, or discrediting, or separating myself.

When I start separating myself, I’m letting parts of myself make decisions for me that I shouldn’t. If I start discrediting, or removing that before I even begin, I’m not relating. If I’m not relating, I’m not relate-able. If I’m not relate-able, I can’t really develop a solid foundation with someone because I can’t relate to them.

I’ve had 2,110 days of hard lessons, the hardest ones were at the beginning. The hardest one’s I needed the most help, and the most patience. A lot of people were patient with me, now I have the ability to give back and be patient with other people. Now I can help others by encouraging other people to grow.

By opening the language, by opening up the can of worms of this show, it starts a conversation, it opens communication. Tomorrow will be day 2,111 and it will be a good day. Everyday is a good day, everyday I’m not going to panic, I’m going to have fun. I’m thankful for this opportunity that I’ve been blessed with where I can share and grow. By having resilience, by believing in myself, to move through the challenges life presents itself with. Thank you!

 Thank you everyone, Take Care.


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