Obviously we all want to overcome our addiction and live this awesome new life in recovery that is supposedly available to anyone who is willing to “do the work.”
We can use a sponsor in recovery to help us to figure out exactly what this work is.
In addition, if you don’t have a sponsor, you might use a therapist, counselor, or mentor of some sort in place of a sponsor.
Now a sponsor in AA or NA is traditional someone who will guide you through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. They will typically listen to you as you do your fifth step, and they will show you how the other steps work and how they apply to your life.
But in my opinion a sponsor in recovery can be much more than that, and their job should not end when they have walked you through the 12 steps of a recovery program.
I think that everyone in recovery needs a sounding board as they move through their life and through their recovery experience because of the simple fact that life keeps throwing new challenges at us.
Over and over again, life is going to keep surprising you. Maybe not every day, and maybe you will have several months or even years of nothing but peace and serenity, but eventually, everyone goes through some drama. Everyone goes through some tough times eventually. This is not said to be negative, or to be pessimistic, but that is just how life works. It goes up and it goes down. We all have to experience this ebb and flow eventually.
If you continue to live your life in recovery then you are going to be facing new and unique challenges at some point. Period. We all go through new experiences and life is going to put new challenges up in our face from time to time.
The proper way to respond to these new challenges in life is to face them head on and not run away from them.
But often we will want to run and hide. We will want to distract ourselves from the issues. And when we are doing this, we often do not realize that we are doing this.
And that is the nature of character defects in our recovery–if we knew about them, if we were fully aware of them, then we likely would not have the problem.
Our defects are there because we minimize them, we deny them, we are oblivious to them. So we need help in order to identify these problems in our life.
Without a sponsor or a mentor of some sort, you are likely going to miss out on a lot of peace and serenity in your recovery journey.
We all have certain “pain points” in our life. These are issues or defects that we have that cause us to lose serenity. And like I said, we may not even be aware of what these defects are.
So we need to talk with our sponsor or mentor in order to figure out what our pain points are.
My suggestion is that you prioritize like this:
Sit down and brainstorm a list of all of your character defects. Then, go ask your sponsor what they think your defects are, or what your stumbling blocks are in your life and in your recovery. Better yet, go ask several different people this same question, and try to get a variety of feedback and insight. If you attend AA meetings, then ask people who you are close with at the meetings the same thing. What do they see as being your biggest issue that you are facing? What is your main defect of character? How are you stumbling in recovery and missing out on serenity and peace? How are you sabotaging yourself?
So then you can sit down and compare your own list that you made about yourself with what other people see as your main issues. Collect all of this data and summarize it, then take it all back to your sponsor and prioritize it. Figure out what issue that you are facing that is costing you the most serenity, that is creating the most pain, anxiety, or frustration in your life.
That one issue that is causing the most problems is where you want to place 100 percent of your efforts at first.
This is how you prioritize your recovery.
Once you are clean and sober and stable, you need to start “doing the work.” This is the work. You figure out all of your problems, defects, hang ups, and issues–and then you create a list of them and prioritize them by level of impact.
“Level of impact” means that, if you could magically fix one of your issues or problems right this instant, which one would bring you the most relief?
That is the problem that has the most impact, it is doing the most damage to your serenity, and that is what will become your priority.
What you do NOT want to do is to try to tackle your entire list all at once. Forget about the big long list of issues or defects. You will hit them all eventually.
But right now, you just want to zero in on the biggest offender. The way to do this is to go through your motion again, see your therapist, your sponsor, your trusted peers in AA, and ask them how to deal with that particular issue that you have identified as being the “biggest offender.” Ask each of them if they have overcome that problem, and if so, how did they do it?
Again, don’t just ask one person. Don’t ask only your sponsor. Instead, talk to every resource that you can find, gather a variety of suggestions and information, and then make a plan accordingly.
And put all of your effort into this one issue. What you are going to be doing is figuring out the habits that counter your issue, then creating those habits in your own life.
For example, one of my big defects was self pity. I asked for help, and found that most people used gratitude to overcome self pity. It was the direct counter for my problem. So I established a habit of gratitude–incorporating it into my prayers, making lists every day, and so on.
Once you create this positive habit that counters your defect, you are pretty much done with it. In other words, you fixed your problem completely, so long as you continue with the positive habit that counters it. This is how you overcome that defect permanently. This is how you can then move on to the next defect or problem on your list.
If you keep doing this, over and over again, your life will get so much better that you will eventually cry tears of gratitude when you realize just how far you have come, and how much better your life is.
But, you have to do the work.
Make a list of issues, problems, and defects that are robbing you of peace and serenity.
Then sit down with your sponsor and prioritize that list.
Then pick the biggest issue on the list and tackle it with all of your available energy.
Keep doing this over and over again, and your recovery will become joyful and serene.