Principles

84. TWENTY YEARS IN RECOVERY – JULY 28, 2015

20th

I, like many people, used to let my mind wander obsessively on two types of thoughts, worry and regret. I could conjure future fantasies and find any excuse for not moving forward at the moment. Likewise I had similar skills that would keep me immobilized when looking back on my life. “What if?” and “It’s too bad.” were the same chapters I kept rereading. The reality I didn’t know at the time was that both these places are unreal; paranoid fantasies used over and over to fuel and excuse self-destructive behavior. Keep in mind worry and regret are NOT equal to reminiscing and planning. The latter two are healthy and honestly, necessary.

These days I concentrate mostly on what’s in front of me, and there’s a lot. I have a tendency to work on the moment; living and breathing with expectations of the future fueled by forgiveness of the past. So far, I’ve found no better way to live. A life without the fear of tomorrow or the pain of yesterday is the greatest gift of my recovery.

Does it feel like twenty years? Not really, and for that I’m grateful. This disease is always there, it never really goes away. Probably the best that can be done is to keep it behind me which in turn forces me to stay ahead of it, always moving, always learning, always helping.

I will say this, the BEST people I know are those who have gone headfirst and thoroughly through the program. They have nothing in common past A.A. They all have different beliefs and priorities and they are all utterly reliable and honest. There are those who feel 12 step programs are not the best route for those struggling with addiction. I have a little to say about this. The program itself says two things, and always has, that it’s a choice to be made by the individual when all other avenues have been exhausted and that it’s simply not for everyone.

Keep this in mind……..EVERYONE QUITS, AND MAN I MEAN EVERYONE.  How you choose to get away from the demons of your life is a choice; just please, don’t choose death.

The cross and coin in the picture were given to me by my wife in honor of this day. The A.A. coin commemorating my twenty year mark is solid silver. My Love; she is thoughtful and supportive.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

77. THE WRITING’S ON THE WALL

sayings

Anyone who has sat through even a single twelve step meeting has heard and seen more than one piece of what can sometimes come across as clichéd advice. Framed sayings are on the walls and even more are usually tossed out during any given group discussion. When hearing over-quoted and under-explained philosophies, I can understand why those who are in and out several times (which I imagine most are; I was) eventually start to roll their eyes at seeing such examples as “Let go, let God.”

My personal belief is to NEVER use one of these “sayings” around newcomers without explaining the structure of how they work. This is not only unfair to the listener; it’s irresponsible of the speaker. When a newcomer is told “One day at a time” are they really going extract any usable information from just the adage itself? I doubt it. We who are beyond the initial pain and fog of coming out of a life lived under the influence have an obligation to explain the logistics of the idea. I think anything less is arrogance.

One of the most common statements I hear in meetings is “Stick around and the miracle will happen.” Believe it or not it was over six months before I was finally aware just what the miracle was. Yes, I’d probably read the Big Book three times by then, but I’d never made the connection. I was flabbergasted when I finally did because by then it had already happened. In the fourth edition at the top of page 85 from the chapter “Into Action”  it’s made clear just what the “miracle” is. This is what it says. “We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it.” Be honest, would you have been just a little more motivated at the beginning of your program if the answer were available rather than just the question? Knowing that the day will come where you may not even think of having a drink? Is that a miracle? It was, and still is, for me. Do I think that holding back this information from a newcomer could lower their chances at recovery? Yes, I most certainly do.

Another piece of advice I hear frequently is to strongly suggest those new to the program to not get involved in a relationship for at least a year from their sobriety date. This one I’ll just explain outright. If you are already in a relationship, so be it; but those who are single should not seek companionship for the recommended time, and for damn good reason. Here’s why. The program is designed to change behavior from self-destructiveness to benevolent-constructiveness. This takes time and discipline as I’m sure anyone reading this would agree. When we seek comfort or companionship in others we will, without knowing it, be attracted to those who support what we believe in. In other words we will subconsciously seek reinforcement of old patterns. This is where we think we will find comfort. This is where we think we will begin anew when in reality we are rekindling old habits. Addiction is sneaky and it WILL seek ways to reassert itself. In the arms of what we think may be love, may lay nightmares of continuing the past. I have seen it myself. Those who look at each other in meetings with hardly any time away from their demons may think the common ground of A.A. (or any 12 step group) will strengthen once they join together will be quick to find they are dead wrong. Good intentions are not enough to overcome what has become instinct. We must place ourselves in a place of discomfort for a decent period. This means immersion into an environment of constant challenge to our old way of living. Here we will face loving criticism from those we have chosen to guide us to a better place. I was lucky enough to know this ahead of time. Many are not.

Obviously this article could go on long enough to fill a book. My desire is to ask you to continue what has been suggested here. Please, I beg you from my heart; do not tell someone who is lost and afraid for every moment, shaking with tremors and fear, “One day at a time” without explaining how to do it. It’s like pointing to a vault and telling them there are answers beyond, but they must search for a way to open it themselves. We must attempt to define the actions, not simply by relating the outcome but by, at the very least, telling them where to find the key. Even I must admit there is some benefit in being slightly covert because this may stimulate curiosity and self-motivation, but when the labyrinth becomes too overwhelming it will serve to discourage instead.  When we know why something needs to be done, we are much more motivated to follow through on the actions required.

I have a passionate opinion about this subject. Please consider what I have shared here.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

   

56. RADIO SHOW #1- BlogTalkRadio

microphone

This is a link to a radio show I was a guest on from Tuesday April the 22, 2014. It’s a basic discussion of my goals for the future and some background information on who I am. Thank you again Mark Rawson and Mike Snyder for making this a pleasant and comfortable experience. I look forward to further collaboration.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/spiritualconnectionsradio/2014/04/23/daniel-lockwood-mens-show-tuesday-8pm-est

52. BUILDING CONFIDENCE

henry-david-thoreau-dreams-quotes-if-one-advances-confidently-in-the

There was a time, not so long ago, when believing in myself was nothing more than knowing I could drink a fifth of vodka and then eat a whole extra-large pizza in one sitting. My skills were as dull as a marshmallow and my drive was limited to wherever the closest liquor store was.  I placed no value on my existence, nor did anyone else. It was as if I were incarcerated, doomed to watch the world pass me by through the bars of my little window. To be honest, I was jealous of those who seemed to flow through their days with focus, determination, and purpose. Their attitude was one of self-respect, fortitude, and dedication;  while mine was one of lack, self-destruction, and selfishness. I wanted more than anything to possess what seemed unreachable. Through practice, patience, and effort I was able to nail down the following definition of success and fulfillment.

I believe above all other (material) pursuits, beyond money, power, and fame there sits at the top of the mountain, confidence.  Once possessed nothing else is needed. This elusive quality is the elixir of manifestation. It moves in grace, planning its strategy while embracing the moment, knowing what it wants without ignoring the audience. It does not seek to improve its image by boasting or advertising.  It is quiet, calm, and aware. It does not complain, nor does it ridicule. It gives credit and takes little. When this behavior is attempted by those who don’t understand how it must be carefully developed, it comes across as cockiness, and this of course, is the way of oblivion.

Here is the equation- Cockiness wants admiration for its “abilities” without being asked to provide actions or a history to back them up. Its modus operandi is recognition and approval. It prefers the sales pitch over the product. Confidence, on the other hand,  wants to take action, thereby allowing it a chance to build a list of achievements. It needs no recognition from others and cares not for trophies. It prefers the product over the sales pitch.  Cockiness lives in a state of reactiveness, it plays the antagonist. Confidence is about moving through life proactively and it plays the ally. Cockiness is quick to point out what needs fixed and is easily insulted, which means it’s reactions are mostly of a mistrusting, defensive nature. Confidence is quick to complement and willing to help, which means it’s actions are mostly trusting and cooperative.

How many seek the self-assured life  but  settle  for its adversary?  I certainly have on many occasions, especially when I was a young man. It’s easy to understand the temptation of trying to impress others without having to provide evidence. Shortcuts have an appeal, but rarely do they yield reward. The “reward” in this case is the journey, nothing else. It’s like trying to convince someone you’re a bodybuilder without having the muscles to prove it. It sounds funny, but this type behavior is overwhelmingly common.

All I can share is what I know so far. Most of what I’ve picked up over the years comes from mimicking the patterns of those who already possess what I want. Here is a list of twelve bullet points that might help. It’s not professional, it’s just my opinion.

  • Don’t ask others to believe in you; believe in yourself.
  • Make a list of values and ethics that will force you expect more from yourself than others will ever expect from you.
  • Moving or thinking somewhat slower allows for more calculated actions and responses. It will appear to observers that there’s a dedicated mind  behind the process; which there is.
  • Be quick to admit fault. This removes the temptation to blame.
  • Be quick to admit defeat. This creates partners instead of rivals.
  • Be quick to offer praise, be hesitant to express dissatisfaction.
  • Shine a light on the past to sell the future. Nothing beats a track record.
  • Avoid anger, frustration, and resentment. Remember, “He who walks away from confrontation with the lowest blood pressure, wins.”
  • The only punishment allowed for “failure” is to keep going with a new strategy. Repeating old tactics isn’t permitted.
  • DO NOT hesitate to ask for both help and criticism from those who are better than you.
  • Say “Yes” and “No” a lot without embellishment. I.E.- Do you want to eat out tonight? No. Would you be willing to help me next Thursday? Yes.
  • Strive to become better than you were yesterday. The only person you are allowed to compete with is who you were.

Am I always confidant? No. I am, however, much more than practiced I used to be, and I expect this skill will increase with continued awareness. Not a day goes by where I don’t  “break” at least some of these rules and end up paying instantly for my ignorance. At least I am also confident that by action I’m quite capable of demonstrating what NOT to do.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

50. FIFTY POST SUMMARY

50 dollars

Well……..I thought I would mark my fiftieth post with a list for easy access to what’s been written so far. Hope this isn’t too boring, it wasn’t for me.

  1. Welcome to my Blog! This introduces who I am and why I decided to create this page based on my frustration at trying to find entry level material to the subject of self-help, self-empowerment, and self-actualization. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/02/self-help-for-beginners-welcome-to-my-blog/
  2. My Favorite Joke It’s just what it says and it really is my favorite.  https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/03/my-favorite-joke/
  3. How to Know if You are on the Right Track- The importance of mentoring, lowering defenses, and taking criticism is discussed. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/04/how-to-know-if-you-are-on-the-right-track/
  4. What I Believe- Just me letting the reader know what kind of person is behind the subject matter presented here. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/09/what-i-believe/
  5. 12 Step Meetings- Behind the Doors- Written to illuminate a little of what goes on at 12 step meetings. Very benign, straight to the point, and informative. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/11/12-step-meetings-behind-the-doors/
  6. Baby-An Example of my Artwork- Off topic. Meant to let people know a little more about me. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/12/baby-example-of-my-artwork/
  7. What is the Purpose of Language?- Illuminating topic on a commonly ignored subject. Some humor. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/15/what-is-the-purpose-of-language/
  8. My Favorite Bumper Sticker Lots of humor and a very important way to look at the world. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/19/my-favorite-bumper-sticker/
  9. The Right Questions- A better way to find the correct answers, part one. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/25/the-right-questions/
  10. My Second Favorite Photo- Amazing shot, inspiring! https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/25/my-second-favorite-photo/
  11. Eliminating Regret- How to rid yourself of what I think is the biggest cause of suffering on the planet. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/28/eliminating-regret/
  12. Advice from the Ground Floor- One of the first lessons I was taught when I first quit drinking. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/06/11/advice-from-the-ground-floor/
  13. A Gift to a Friend- Expressing myself to someone whom I owe my life to. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/06/21/a-gift-to-a-friend/
  14. The Strength of Compassion- A life changing realization that came from a tragic event. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/07/07/the-strength-of-compassion/
  15. Taking Chances- Harnessing real power and using it to explore life’s possibilities. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/07/16/taking-chances-2/
  16. A Holiday Story- One of my favorites. Full of humor and a really cool ending. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/07/18/a-holiday-story/
  17. Liberty Re-Written- Twenty reasons why I know the world is a better place that it was only 150 years ago. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/07/24/liberty-re-written/
  18. Being Tough- A Must read for most, especially men or those who have men in their lives. Will take you for a spin. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/08/10/being-tough/
  19. What I refuse to Believe- More information on who I am and where I stand. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/08/14/what-i-refuse-to-believe/
  20. Approaching Life Politely- It’s not what you might think. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/08/29/approaching-life-politely/
  21. Another Example of my Artwork- Off topic a little. This was a gift to Wayne Dyer. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/09/21/another-example-of-my-artwork/
  22. Please Forgive me….- Self explanatory. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/10/14/please-forgive-me/
  23. The Importance of the Right Question- A better way to find the right answers, part two. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/11/03/the-importance-of-the-right-question/
  24. I Would Not…. Life philosophy. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/11/05/i-would-not/
  25. All the World is a Mirror- How I see myself. Some humor. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/11/19/all-the-world-is-a-mirror/
  26. What Does GOD look like?- My interpretation on how the universe flows. Meant to introduce the concept of GOD to those who might be apprehensive to the idea. No “religious” ideas are pushed.   https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/11/28/what-does-god-look-like/ 
  27. Coming Full Circle- Waking up to an aspect of becoming more self-actualized. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/12/10/coming-full-circle/
  28. A Change of Perspective- How I came to see the world in a different light. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/12/24/a-change-of-perspective/
  29. In Search of Beauty- The exercise of opening my eyes to what what’s really out there. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/01/25/in-search-of-beauty/
  30. Come in and Rest a While- Invitation to new readers. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/02/02/come-on-in-and-rest-a-while/
  31. “We Cannot Be….- An important observation of life. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/02/02/we-cannot-be/
  32. “The Right….- Another important observation. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/02/03/the-right/
  33. “In the house….- Yet another basic, but often ignored philosophy. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/02/03/in-the-house/
  34. A Life of Peace- The basic fundamental I practice to remove turmoil from my life. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/02/10/a-life-of-peace/
  35. Please Stop By- Another open invitation to all. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/02/11/please-stop-by/
  36. Living in the Moment- An epiphany I had some time back, a little sad, and very true. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/02/16/living-in-the-moment/
  37. I Confess…..- I’m human too, with some funny flaws. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/02/18/i-confess/
  38. A Perfect World- A short observation on how we judge ourselves. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/02/20/a-perfect-world/
  39. Take a Stand- About choosing and following a clear path in life. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/02/23/take-a-stand/
  40. A Very Short Story- It speaks for itself. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/02/25/a-short-story/
  41. Outrunning the Demons- How I found and eliminated my worst enemies. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/03/01/40-outrunning-the-demons/
  42. I Love You!- It’s just what it says. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/03/04/i-love-you/
  43. Endless Possibilities- A short equation on how to remove the shackles of life. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/03/04/endless-possibilities/
  44. Satisfaction Guaranteed- A quick philosophy that ensures lifelong contentment.  https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/03/05/satisfaction-guaranteed/
  45. Change your Life-Lose your Luggage- Why the past means nothing in the course of tomorrow. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/03/07/44-change-your-life-lose-your-luggage/
  46. Cleanliness is next to Godliness?- Check out why here. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/03/08/cleanliness-is-next-to-godliness/
  47. No Limits- Another way to approach life with determination. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/03/09/46-no-limits/
  48. Walking with Purpose- Just a healthy way to move through the days. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/03/10/47-walking-with-purpose/
  49. Embracing Tomorrow- Why I don’t believe in age or its limitations. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/03/11/48-embracing-tomorrow/

Thanks you so much for your support this past year. I look forward to many more connections and revelations as time marches on.

Please follow my blog. Comment and share as you wish.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

           

45. CHANGE YOUR LIFE – LOSE YOUR LUGGAGE

“Lost Luggage”, a new Shirt.Woot t-shirt design by Matt Leyen.

“You have NO idea what I’ve been through.” I’ve heard this frequently from those who have walked a road of suffering and yes, it’s true, I don’t know; honestly it doesn’t matter. I’m not being harsh or cold, but we cannot move forward without letting go of the past, and I’d bet my life on it. If you really do want help, or know someone who does, the best thing is stop worrying about where you came from and start caring about where you are going. Don’t think that what once happened is doomed to repetition. Don’t talk about how others have let you down, or how you’ve let yourself down, and  don’t relive it, just leave it behind. No more sentences are allowed that begin with “it’s too bad…….” or “what if….” This is the ONLY way to progress. Excuses are the enemy. They are bred exclusively from what cannot be changed or affected. EVERYONE who has stepped from chaos into harmony has done this.

I’ve been taught that most people go through life with two dominating mindsets. They’re consumed by worrying about the future or regretting what has happened. Neither of these exercises are productive, and I ought to know, I was a master of the game. When I was focused on what I couldn’t modify or influence I had little to no time to savor the moment let alone act upon it. I spent most of my waking hours looking for ways to blame. Remember this – choosing to live a life of re-action over a life of pro-action is self-imposed slavery. I’m not talking about charging through the days aggressively, I’m talking about improving the functions of being awake, aware, and alert.

It is okay, however, to reminisce and plan. Neither of these attitudes are based in remorse or victimization. I choose to not live in days gone by, but that does not equal forgetting about what is inevitably going to harm me; old patterns and habits. I also choose not fantasize or dwell upon the “worst case scenario” but that doesn’t keep me from preparing for the possibility of bad things.

Self-respect (NOT arrogance) is the goal of all who are motivated to change their lives and their futures. Self-pity is the goal of those who want to justify blaming everybody else’s lives and their past. All the garbage we carry with us as our “business card” is  nothing more than one giant reason not to improve. All that luggage we drag through life is only needed for trips into the past. If there is nothing in our baggage we would wish on anyone else, then why keep it for ourselves?

These three similarly themed “mantras” will help keep a new life in focus.

          1. Change for the better equals abandoning our history.

          2. Where I was doesn’t matter, where I am, does.

          3. Blame is the battle-cry of self-destructiveness.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

44. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED

guarantee

“I always get everything I want, all I have to do is change my mind.”

The ego holds us back from so much in life. Why do so many stick to old paths when they can see they will eventually lead nowhere? Change your mind, and change your life. Don’t concern yourself with being right, concern yourself with admitting fault so a new directions can  become optional. Strength is the reward of  humility while weakness is the penalty of inflexibility.  

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

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42. I LOVE YOU!

SONY DSCAnd I intend to prove it……….

Please stop by my site and see just how much. I’m looking for new subscribers and will respond to all who would like to leave me a message.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

40. A VERY SHORT STORY…..

short story 001

39. TAKE A STAND

N. Hill

The group of people I avoid the most are the ones who ride the fence of life. They’re pretty much okay with  everything and will take sides with anyone standing next to them. There’s no passion, no drive, no heart behind their actions. I don’t dislike them, I simply am drawn to those who have a desire to change the world. What you really might find strange about me is that I’m attracted to those who have opinions and ideas that are opposed to what I am moving toward because at least these people are also walking a path of firm decision. And who’s to say I’m right anyway? I would never look for a fight or even want to debate them, but there’s something envious about someone who is absolutely devoted and focused to the task they have chosen. This might explain why we (if you would allow me to project just a little here) have a fascination with figures who have almost wrecked our planet. No need for names, but it’s quite clear that staring into the fire of infamy can be seductive. It also explains why we  revere and honor those who have (almost always) sacrificed their lives in the name of what they believe in. We look to these people and have a tendency to tip our hat first to “who they were” before we acknowledge “what they did.” I have no problem with that, it’s a good thing. All of us seek role models if we are looking to cultivate our inner flame.

I haven’t promoted any literature yet (other than eluding towards the Big Book and 12 steps) but it’s time I did. A book was released in 1937 that became the standard by which all similar texts have since tried to emulate. It’s called “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. It reads in an antiquated style, but the information is spot on. The title is purposely misleading; it’s NOT about money. It’s about fueling the fire within and never letting naysayers affect it. Personally I prefer the audio version as it won’t allow me to skip or casually skim over certain parts. I’ve gone through it several times and always walk away with more information and more conviction.

There are some suggestions I would like to add in relationship to my own experiences.

First- Be vigilante in standing for something rather than against anything. There’s a HUGE difference here. When we fight we grow weaker, when we promote we grow stronger. I will not waste my energy on trying to defeat the opposition because that takes time away from creating what I want. If I focus on tearing down rather than building up, is that not counter productive?

Second- Let “you” be the biggest reason anyone would want to get behind whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. When we shove ideas into other people’s faces they are almost always defensive, even if they think the idea has some merit. Why? It’s because there’s no reason to invest in it, and most people don’t want to risk a loss; especially without a sales pitch. IF you sell yourself, your enthusiasm, your energy, your  dedication, then they will want to align with that, and that means believing in what you believe in. Whenever I talk to people I get captivated audiences EVERY TIME. If I were to approach people meekly and do nothing but ask them to read what I’ve written I may as well be handing out free toilet paper samples, wouldn’t make any difference.

Third– Don’t do anything for money, power, fame, or other material gain. Do it because you MUST. Do it because if you don’t, you will live a life of regret for never having tried. Do it because your inner voice is pushing you to take dreams and turn them into reality. We all carry a vessel inside from birth that needs filling, and the only way to do it is to follow your desires. If you knew that what you envision now will someday actually happen, what would you endure today? Few step over that line and as a result they never learn how to overcome their fears.

One last thing to point out; I think it’s less painful to stand in front of our dreams than behind them. When we pull, those we meet see us first. When we push those who are in the way simply move over. If we slip while pulling, we may fall, but if we slip while we are pushing, our load just might move backwards and crush us. It’s an easy metaphor to envision and hard to get out of the mind. We must take a stand in front of our beliefs, not behind them. Become what you believe in.

I believe in you, and I will stand in front of that for the rest of my life.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood