** This blog is dedicated to my daughter and anyone who suffers from an addiction, as well as the loved ones that are standing by watching, loving and encouraging them to wholeness again.**
The 12 steps are a group of principles, spiritual in nature, that are to be practiced as a way of life for those suffering from addiction. The idea is to help expel the obsessive behavior (drinking, drugs, or any addiction) so the person can feel and become happy and whole again. These principles are so powerful they can be used to overcome not only addiction, but limiting beliefs and harmful thoughts and behaviors in the non-addict as well.
Reference: Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (1981), Alcoholics Anonymous World Service, Inc.
Step #1: We admit we are powerless and our lives have become unmanageable.
Complete and utter defeat…or as I like to call it…surrender. No one likes to admit they are wrong, let alone suffer the humiliation that often accompanies the admission. The truth is, it is only by admitting that something outside of ourselves took our power that we are then able to be free. As the Bible says, “the truth will set you free.”
We all allow something in our lives to take our power…money, people, places, thoughts, drugs, alcohol. You know what it is for you. It is that one thing that almost immediately makes you feel less than what you are. When we feel powerless, we tend to make choices that follow suit…choices that render us powerless.
I often do an exercise when I am working with corporate groups that help individuals identify their personality tendencies. I call them tendencies because I believe that once we are aware of something, it can be changed. We may lean towards one behavior or another, but we always have the power to make a different choice… one that serves us rather than harms us. This exercise is called The Behavior Matrix. Individuals identify themselves as a Controller, Supporter, Analyzer or Promoter. Each category has a characteristic associated with it that is a characteristic the person who identifies with that category tends to have a hard time exhibiting in their daily behaviors…especially in relationships. The one that always stands out to me (maybe because I fall into that category) is the Controller category. Controllers find themselves needing to show more humility in relationships. Controllers also tend to want to control situations and people around them due to fear. Mostly fear of not being in control and knowing the outcome. I remember when I first heard the word humility when I did this exercise; I needed someone to give me an example or definition of it. I was a bit disconnected from my own reality then. In order to allow yourself to feel humbled by something, you must also have an underlying hope that once the admission takes place, something better will take its place.
When my father died 6 years ago, I struggled with hope. I not only couldn’t define it for myself, I felt void of it…hopeless. This paired with the lack of humility was a devastating combination. I already felt hopeless and was mad at God, so what good was trying to understand it all…let alone admit that maybe what the issue was my relationship with God.
Everything comes back to our relationship with God. What we call our struggles and challenges are simply God’s way of bringing us back to him. How else does a relationship strengthen other than through challenges that test its very nature?
Hitting bottom is a common phrase we hear in the addiction circles. One must “hit bottom” before they are ready to admit defeat and humbly enough admit to be powerless to that which brought them to their knees. What I have learned beautifully from my daughter and from countless others in the field, is that “bottom” is different for everyone. For one it may be losing everything they hold sacred in their life and for another it may be a scare with the law. Our bottom depends on the lessons we each have to learn in this lifetime.
We have different experiences because we have different lessons. No one person experiences the same thing the same way. We bring to each experience our past, conditioning, strengths and challenges. Our future is made up of our present choices.
Admitting you are powerless and have lost control and manageability of your life allows the doors for opportunity to open. This admission cracks a window in your castle so the winds of change can enter. When your computer freezes and becomes powerless due to a glitch, you shut it down and reboot it. Trust me when I tell you that we all need “rebooting” at least once in our lives (some of us several times). Thank God for control-alt-delete!
Where do you lose your power? Regardless of whether or not you call yourself an addict, spend some time identifying the thoughts, people, things or places that render you powerless. In what areas has your life become unmanageable? The first step to recovery and balance is awareness. Awareness allows for a pause in the sands of time so you can then have the time to make a different choice.
The choice is always up to you…
Aware, awake and humble,
Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and Google+.What is YOUR Addiction?
“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.”
? Edgar Allan Poe
It has been awhile since everyone has heard from me. Some still have not heard from me. I thank those who have respected that silence lovingly. My silence is not due to writers block, nor is it due to just having nothing to say. I always tell my friends that God gives me my writing and speaking material through life experiences…I recently had to inform him I had enough material.
The last two months have been a journey for me. A journey I would not wish on any parent. If you read my blog regularly, you are aware that I am of the firm belief that pain is how God gets our attention and the greatest lessons we have yet to learn come to our attention through pain. Pain usually comes around the corner when you think you’ve “got this” and are exactly where you should be with your lessons. God always has a different plan.
For the last 4 years, I have had the challenge of having a daughter who is addicted to heroin and crack cocaine (I write about this with her permission). This is the first time I have written about it…actually, the first time I have had the courage to write about it. In those 4 years I have learned a lot, mostly through pain. We have had our ups and downs, as those of you who are loved ones of addicts know all too well. In January I was blessed with my grandson, who is a beautiful soul and was born an addict. He made it through his time well but his mother did not. My daughter, after spending 28 days in rehab in December returned for another 20 days in March. She is now 36 days clean and we are taking it day by day.
The way I tackle the challenges in my life is through educating myself as much as I can on the challenge I am having. Until recently, I have been in denial and unable to bring myself to even read anything about addiction. What I am learning is quite amazing.
You do not have to be addicted to a chemical or alcohol to be an addict. We are all addicts to some extent, based on my observations. My addiction? Perfection. I have believed, up until recently, that if I were not perfect I was not deserving of love…therefore, I was addicted to any behavior that would help me attain perfection; control, over-working, obsessing over little things, worrying, etc. Of course, none of these behaviors guarantees perfection, but our ego tells us otherwise.
What is your addiction? Control? Sex? Drama? The best way to deal with an addiction is to first become aware that you have a problem, are powerless because of it and admit that your life is unmanageable because of it (Step 1 of the 12 steps to recovery). I am not sure which is harder…being the one with the addiction or being the loved one watching the addiction unfold. What I am seeing is way too many beautiful souls suffering with addiction. Something needs to be done.
In honor of all of those who are dealing with an addiction, either as an addict or as a loved one, the next 12 “Journey Back to Self” blogs will be covering addiction and the 12 steps…with the Chris Sopa spin on them, of course. My hope is that someone will read these blogs who needs help, needs to be understood, needs information or just needs to know that they are not alone.
We are all in this together…let’s tackle this once and for all.
**Reverend Angela Peregoff on why we have limitations and challenges:
“Embracing it is seeing the value in it, being awed by it, extracting the gold from it, and knowing that your limiting belief and the experiences it leads you to are so central to who you are and how you’re evolving that you wouldn’t give it up for anything.”
~Rev. Angela Peregoff
Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn.