Fairly quickly after my last drink I found myself moving towards a strange place. Old habits once anchored by my alcoholism began to lose their footing. So much of my life had balanced upon this single point. Perhaps the most prominent of these demons was the need to blame. Everything I had pushed away began to rush back in; emotions long-lost, dreams forgotten, and memories of pain and anguish I had tried so hard to bury. My life of apathy was about to vanish. Luckily I had a good program and sponsor who guided me along without allowing me to fall.
I found many of my belief systems were nothing more than elaborate excuses. On the back of many of the dozens of tokens available to anyone in a twelve-step program are the words from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “This above all: to thine own self be true.” In order to follow through on this declaration, one has to eliminate the triggers used to convince ourselves that we are indeed victims.
In my experience those triggers are nothing more than simple words. Refusing to use them has kept me from sliding back into old patterns. Following is a list of examples that, if either spoken or thought, will provoke a negative, self-destructive reaction in my life.
- Seduction – The bottom line here is no one can make you do something you don’t want to do. As long as we choose to remain sober there are no situations where we have no choice and there are no situations with only one choice. If someone is holding a gun to my best friends head and says, “Take this drink or I’ll shoot” do I have a choice? Yes. Granted it’s a lousy one, but there are always alternatives. If someone slips you a drug and then proceeds to take advantage of you, did you or do you have a choice? My opinion on this extraordinarily rare (thank God) situation is this; you’re not doing anything to begin with, it’s ALL on the other person. This sounds like a dichotomy to my earlier statement, it’s not. When we are capable of making choices, then there are always choices; and this scenario is taking place 99.999999999% of the time. Can I be seduced? Absolutely not, and all the “what ifs” in the world won’t change my mind. No one can coerce me without my permission. If you believe others can control you, then you will have handed them your soul. Please don’t.
- Luck – The reason I refuse to believe in luck, good or bad, is because as soon as I do, I open myself up to being a victim, and that’s something most claim but few can prove. I just had back surgery and after the operation I developed blood clots in my lungs and pneumonia. Was the entire episode bad luck? Nope. Were there things in my past I could have done to prevent such a situation? Of course! Perhaps there should have been less careless lifting of heavy objects? No doubt about that. I suppose I could have seen my Doctor more for regular check ups. Maybe I could have followed a better diet, done more exercise, and asked for help instead of letting my ego say “I can do this by myself.” Any current “story line” in my life has roots in the past that I made choices on. Just because I had no foresight to today doesn’t mean I’m at the whim of chance. This why we have the ability to plan and prepare. Owning our lives is quite empowering and this action will force the best out of every tomorrow. Things are still going to happen I do not wish for, but my hindsight will anchor those moments to where I made certain decisions.
- Hate – My argument is “why?” Nothing productive comes from this stand. Hate, for those who think it’s the opposite of love, is actually unrefined anger; and the opposite of anger is joy. The opposite of love is fear; this is the foundation of anger. As soon as I move past any fear those branches attached such as turmoil, conflict, worry, anger, and suspicion also disappear. Keep in mind that saying you hate something is pretty much the same as saying you’re scared of it. I don’t hate anything. This doesn’t mean I accept everything either. It simply means I will not allow myself a reason to experience unnecessary fears. Remember, the more we fear, the more we defend, and the more we defend the more we cut ourselves off from higher truths. If we become unwilling to embrace new ideas and situations then we choose to stagnate. Here is where we wither and die; mentally at first, and eventually a probable premature physical death as well.
- Impossible – Everything now in existence was once considered impossible. Everything. Never say “I can’t” because right behind you is the next person who will at least try. When stuck in a corner, try this little exercise. Ask “what would someone else do to make this work?” You’ll be surprised at how quickly an answer comes. It may not align with your priorities or principles, but there is ALWAYS a way to complete the task. It might involve getting into hot water or pissing off the boss, but the path out of tangled problems is rarely smooth. History is proof and there’s further evidence. Ask this second question and you’ll see what I mean, “A year from now, will this have been resolved?” Yes, every time. Either you’re going to be a part of the solution or someone else is. It’s up to you.
- Blame – Dropped this like a hot rock. It’s a cancerous attitude and you already know these people. When blame is embraced we hand control of our lives over to EVERYONE. We also drop any need to be responsible. Do you want to be a puppet? Then by all means, please accuse everyone for your lousy lot in this world. If I didn’t have the biggest hand in my life it would belong to someone else and sorry, just not going to let that happen. There have been times in the past where I did just that, both by neglect and choice. The neglect almost destroyed me and the choice saved me. Now……here’s the REAL kicker; you’re also not allowed to blame yourself. Why? Because you are not the same person you were yesterday. No one is. The past does not equal the future. Just because something happened yesterday does not mean it will today. The best people I know are ones with whom I would never associate with if they were their former selves. When you refuse to blame you embrace hope, choice, and growth.
Well, I know that’s not a lot of words but they do seem to get used to death by the majority of people, so if nothing else, they are popular. I swear I really don’t use these words when referring to myself. I occasionally might say, “She thinks she’s a lucky person” or “He has a lot of hate” but that’s it. If you can help me think of more to add to the list, by all means please drop me a line.
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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood