5 Recovery Sayings: Are You Talking the Talk or Walking the Walk?
Words are the building blocks of a meaningful life, but if those words are empty, your world can come crumbling down. Many in the recovery community rely on mantras to guide them from substance abuse to sobriety, which prompts the pressing question: what do these sayings mean?
The Saying: Easy Does It
Let’s face it – there is nothing “easy” about transforming your entire existence and striving to be your absolute best self. So, why do so many people repeat this phrase as if sobriety is a breeze? Perhaps the answer is that it works for some individuals. Many in our community are incredibly driven, and they may have the urge to skip ahead in the 12-step process, trying to cover them all at once. But recovery is not a “one size fits all” endeavor.
The Action: Pace Yourself
Instead of pretending that sobriety is like a beach party, we should interpret the saying “easy does it” in the following manner: take each step seriously and complete every recovery stage before attempting to rush ahead. This action leads us organically to our next mantra.
The Saying: One Day at a Time
Perhaps the most misinterpreted and misconstrued phrase among recovering persons is “one day at a time.” It sounds so helpless and dismissive. It is the opposite of how strong and purposeful you are. By shrugging and implying that you can only handle 24 hours’ worth of planning is incredibly reductive. Your sobriety is a lifelong initiative, so “one day” won’t cut it when you are laying the groundwork for decades of happiness.
The Action: Savor the Present Tense
Sober living is an intricate tapestry that weaves the missteps of our past with our future aspirations. Our consciousness expands at such a tremendous rate to reconcile the vast divide between our respective addictions in the rearview mirror and the lucidity that sprawls on the path ahead. This dichotomy can become overwhelming, so it is essential to remind ourselves to acknowledge the present tense whenever possible.
We cannot change the past, and we cannot predict the future, so taking charge of the here and now is a strong call to action. Studies indicate that anxiety often springs from obsessing over factors from the past and future over which we have no control. By refocusing our efforts on the present tense, we may be able to subdue a pervasive sense of panic surrounding our recovery. Anxiety mitigation is essential in tackling the complications of overcoming addiction.
In other words, rather than merely saying “one day at a time,” perhaps we should realize that today is a harness connecting yesterday and tomorrow. While we cannot manipulate the past or the future, we can make the present as vibrant and productive as possible. The more successful we are at conquering our current consciousness, the easier it will align our history and ensuing recovery.
The Saying: Let Go and Let God
Your spirituality is as individualistic as your fingerprints. No matter what religion (or non-religion) you adopt, you may have encountered the famous mantra “let go and let god” at some point during your recovery. The mere mention of a deity in this saying turns many people away. If you are an atheist, you may ignore “LGaLG” altogether. This phrase’s primary issue is how it implies helplessness as if God will swoop down from the heavens to do the heavy lifting for you. But nothing could be further from the truth.
The Action: Recovery Is Bigger Than Yourself
Instead of focusing on the “God” part of this saying, let’s reposition our thinking. “Fate” is a more inclusive concept, and we have some semblance of control over it. By working towards sobriety, you are shaping your destiny. But your actions have a ripple effect on your loved ones and your community at large.
The lengthier version of this sentiment is “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Fate may have brought you to this point in your life, but every microsecond is a crossroads. You are repeatedly choosing which path to pursue. Thus you are constantly evolving as a person. Instead of “letting go,” you are confronting the elements of recovery that are out of your hands. Then you can truly focus on the factors that you influence.
The Saying: Keep It Simple, Stupid
First of all, please don’t call yourself stupid. You are pondering the more significant life meanings when you choose to control your sobriety and put addiction in your past. That is the epitome of smartness. “Keep it simple, stupid” is meant to alleviate your tendency to overthink matters because, hey, we have all been there. This popular mnemonic spells out K-I-S-S, but let us reveal what the phrase means.
The Action: Embrace Simplicity
Modern existence is needlessly complicated. Every thought and deed is amplified on social media until an avalanche of opinions and reactions smothers us. Sober living can help you disconnect from our digital echo chamber’s confusion and grasp a more tangible reality. Go for a hike, call a friend, and immerse yourself in all of the memorable experiences that your new life offers.
The Saying: “I Am an Alcoholic”
Though many AA meetings begin with this ubiquitous mantra, it does not define you completely. You are a mother, a father, a son, or a daughter among many other things. The emotions and ideas swirling through your mind can change the universe. By merely boiling your essence down to “I am an alcoholic,” you are selling yourself short.
The Action: Own Your Identity
It is crucial to acknowledge your shortcomings, but this should be a springboard to pursuing your dreams. “I am an alcoholic” must be followed by all of the transformative actions you are taking to seize control of your sobriety.
Contact Ethos and allow us to hear your story – not just a saying or a phrase, but your actual journey. Together, we can pave the next corner in your road to recovery.
Author – Chris Howard
Chris Howard is the Founder and Director of Ethos Recovery. He has a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and has served as a community advocate/mentor for men and women in recovery since 2010.