Melt Away Hopelessness

Melt Away Hopelessness

“…I was hopeless.” AA p.10

“… I bore down hard on the hopelessness..” Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions p.152

Hopelessness. I doubt there’s even one of us that has not experienced this feeling.

Sometimes it’s about work, money, bills, housing, a car, or even being able to buy Christmas gifts for family.

More often, for me at least, it’s about my inability to make relationships work the way I want. Not being able to get those I love and care about to love, care about, and treat me the way I want them to.

So ultimately it’s a control issue. When I can’t control people, situations and outcomes, when I can’t get them to align with my expectations (which I often feel are quite reasonable), I fall into the pit of despair. Woe is me. Have pity on me for I am a victim of circumstances. I’m stuck in the abyss of hopelessness with no way out.

But there is a way out. It’s through AWARENESS and ACTION.

At 58 years old I’ve become highly attuned to how I feel physically. If I’m hungry or tired, sore or sick, I’ve learned to take immediate action to resolve it. I don’t like being physically uncomfortable. I’ll take some vitamins, drink more water, take a nap, see the doctor, etc. I’ll do whatever is required to physically feel better. I’m good at taking care of myself in these ways, again, because I don’t like feeling bad.

The same applies to my mental health. I’ve become incredibly attuned to my emotional state of mind. I’m very aware when I feel happy, safe, grateful, comfortable, and at peace. Likewise I know when I’m feeling sad, uncomfortable, depressed, irritable, angry, scared, frustrated or confused.

This is AWARENESS – and it’s fundamental to get me out of my funk. But in order to get all the way out of hopelessness, I need to take ACTION. Luckily, I have an endless supply of concrete, solution-oriented actions that will quickly get me out of hopelessness. Some of the tools I use are:

  • Meditation
  • Connecting with Source

  • Getting our into Nature

  • Doing some Exercise

  • Reading from Inspirational Books

  • Sharing Excerpts with Others

  • Disco Dancing

  • Singing to Music

  • Getting to a Meeting

  • Playing Guitar

  • Doing Positive Affirmations Aloud

  • Skateboarding

  • Speaking Lovingly to Myself in the Mirror

  • Surfing

  • Journaling out Thoughts & Feelings

  • Buying myself something Small

  • Making & Sharing a Gratitude List

  • Doing some Yoga

  • Listening to Spiritual Podcasts

  • Getting Productive on my Tasks

  • Taking a Nap

  • Smiling & saying hi to others

  • Giving Love to a fog, cat or pet

  • Volunteering my time

  • Staying in bed for 8 hours Max

  • Yelling our “I LOVE MY LIFE” repeatedly

  • Being kind & loving to everyone possible

  • Refusing to Complain about my problems

  • Seeing my therapist to seek solution

  • Cleaning my house, car & office

  • Working my program & steps

  • Writing a 4th step on my hopelessness

  • Eating some sweets

  • Getting myself organized

  • Going to a movie

  • Call my sponsor to get into gratitude

  • Calling newcomers to check on them

  • Actively practice forgiveness in writing

  • Picking up trash I see on the sidewalk

  • Stopping to smell a flower

  • Understanding/Surrendering Expectations

  • Immersing myself in the ocean

  • Living in the Moment Exercises

  • Snorkeling and watching the fish

  • Working out of my step-work book

Many of these are tools that I use preemptively, to prevent me from falling into a funk to begin with.

But I also use them when I’m feeling hopeless, and provided I’m willing to do whatever it takes, and use every tool available if necessary, my hopelessness always melts away, and I’m guided back to that warm and wonderful place of gratitude where.. ILML!

— JamieQ

The Precious Gift

The Precious Gift

Some of us enter recovery with a working understanding of a Higher Power. For a lot of us, however, “God” is a troublesome word. We may doubt the existence of any sort of Power greater than ourselves. Or we may remember uncomfortable experiences with religion and shy away from “the God stuff.” — Just for Today

That was me, to a T.

The word God evoked ideas of paganism, ironically a word used by many religious folks who felt that their ideology, and their God, were superior to that of others’. When I heard them say things like “My God is better than yours,”or even “My God is the only true God,” or worse yet “If you don’t believe in my God you’ll surely go to hell,” I was pushed further and further away from the idea of believing in any God, repelled by their righteousness and spiritual arrogance.

Even after having been in recovery for a long time, I could not get the “God” thing, even though I really wanted what I saw in those who had a friendship with God. I just couldn’t believe in something that was not real. Sorry.

So it took a long while until I could embrace the idea that it was okay for me to imagine, and even create, a personal vision of God that worked in my life. Ironically, what got me into believing in God was an atheist on the radio who said “God is a make believe friend for grownups.”

Shortly after, while sitting at Penne Pasta, eating a Pizza Margherita and a James Salad, I began writing on a sheet of 8.5″ x 11″ paper. I answered the following questions:

If I were to have, understand and believe in a God, what would that God be like?

Would this God be male? Female? Genderless?

Would this God have a personality? Thoughts? Feelings?

Would this God have an attitude? Or the ability to care about me, others or anything?

Punishing or playful?

Serious or sense of humor?

My cheerleader or critical of me?

Understanding or demanding?

By answering these questions, along with some others, an idea of a higher power I would like to have in my life began to form.

It’s interesting that I could engage in an exercise like this during a time in my life when I still yet didn’t believe in God. In order to do so I was forced, momentarily, to suspend my disbelief long enough to have an open mind. I was reminded of a portions of that quote misattributed in Alcoholics Anonymous to Herbert Spencer, which mentions “…“contempt prior to investigation.”  I was finally practicing the opposite of that, in my quest to know a personal God of my understanding.

And after I was done writing, I’ll be damned if I didn’t feel differently. In fact, in that moment after I put down the pen, I would say that my feeling wasn’t too far off from that of Bill W.’s – although there was no “White Light.”  Though, it could be said my spiritual experience was of the “educational variety,” since in fact I had been in recovery for quite some time. Regardless, after putting pen to paper, I felt transformed in a weird kind of way. I actually felt lighter in spirit.

As corny as it sounds, just like the words in Alcoholics Anonymous, it appeared that, finally, “I walked far over the Bridge of reason to the desired shore the faith.”

That was a personal paradigm shift for me, and the moment I identified a concept of my Higher Power, which was in my 10th year of recovery, I began what has become a very satisfying life long friendship with the God of my understanding.

I’m so grateful that the program is patient, and left the door open for me as long as I needed, and until I was ready and willing to welcome the precious gift of spirituality into my life! ILML!

— JamieQ

A Small Price to Pay

A Small Price to Pay

By working this step, we keep the cobwebs out of (our life).” – Reaching for Personal Freedom

This morning, working on the 10th step in my work book, I came across that sentence. Cobwebs are fine when they’re catching pleasant memories. But when they catch ahold of fears, problems, self-pity, anger, frustration and hopelessness, those cobwebs have to be swept away or they will destroy me.

The only way I’ve discovered how to eliminate such cobwebs from my life is to approach them like a final exam in college that I really need to get an A in.

Having had a difficult time keeping my attention focused throughout my life, I had to work super hard in college to get good grades. While others, like my younger brother, could get A’s by just glancing at text books and attended some classes, I had to approach college differently.

I would read the text book. Then read it a second time with a highlighter in my hand, highlighting what I thought might be on a test. Then I’d write out, in a notebook, everything that I highlighted. Then I’d read it into a tape recorder. Then I’d listen to what I read over and over. Plus, I made sure to attended every class and took copious notes. I even sold my notes to others, they were so good. Ever the entrepreneur. I ended up scoring very high in college, but it was really, really hard work and very, very long hours.

I approach my program the same way. The prize isn’t A’s —it’s something even better: when I make working my program, growing spiritually, and carrying the message to others the priority in my life, and I commit at least a couple hours each day doing it, I get to be rocketed into the forth dimension and have a life beyond my wildest dreams. I also get to have great relationships with others and love the man I’m becoming. It’s so cool.

So each day, when I awaken, I resolve for that day to allocate the first couple of hours to working my program, which I call the Daily Deal. I think it’s a small price to pay in order to get an attitude of gratitude and be happy, joyous and free.

Because… I’ve learned that when I make recovery my priority… ILML!

— Jamie Q

When I Align I’m Fine

When I Align I’m Fine

“When things are the darkest, say thank you. Because God has put a rainbow in every cloud. And though you can’t see it yet, it’s coming.” – Oprah recounting advice from Maya Angelou

If you’re like me, and have actually chosen to believe the everything in life happens for a reason. If you have actually chosen to trust the your personal higher power has your back. If you have actually chosen that, no matter what happens, your feelings won’t be a hostage to it, but that instead you’ll insist on being grateful, then you’ve discovered one of the secrets to ALWAYS loving your life.

When I align my will with my higher powers, aka want exactly what’s happening right here and now… ILML!

One Interpretation of God

One Interpretation of God

“From low to high, the levels of consciousness are: shame, guilt, apathy, grief, fear, desire, anger, pride, courage, neutrality, willingness, acceptance, reason, love, joy, peace, enlightenment.” — Power vs. Force by David R. Hawkins

I was texting with a friend this morning about our concepts of a higher power. I said:

I love that we get to choose who or what our higher power is. Mine is love, gratitude, compassion, happiness, etc. It’s also my higher consciousness, as opposed to my lower consciousness.

His response was:

Yeah, I notice mine changes constantly, but I really dig the idea of higher vs lower consciousness.

Having been a guy with very low self esteem, angry at myself and the world around me, I used alcohol and drugs to deal with my thoughts and feelings. As a result of how I felt, my behavior was often self-centered, unkind, and destructive. I was operating from a place of shame, guilt, apathy, grief, fear, desire and anger. In other words, I was fully connected to, and acting out of, my lower consciousness.

After doing the daily readings, journaling, gratitude lists, meditations, fellowship, and service work for many years, I began to start practicing and experiencing a healthy sense of pride, I became more courageous, started becoming more willing to evolve, opening up to the idea of acceptance, and ultimately I began to experience more love, joy, peace and enlightenment. In other words, I started moving away from my lower consciousness and began connecting to my higher consciousness.

For many of us who are not comfortable with religion, the word God is so intrinsically tied to religion that it’s difficult for us to connect to, or even believe in, the idea of God.

Though these days I’m cool with the words God and Higher Power, I still interpret those words as “My Higher Consciousness.” It just makes sense to me. Others interpret them as they choose, so I believe I have a right to my beliefs. And I’ve discovered that the more diligent I am at consistently practicing rituals which keep me connected with my higher, rather than my lower, consciousness, the more ILML!

— JamieQ

A 16 Second Pause

A 16 Second Pause

“… we usually have at least a moment to breathe deeply and restore our serenity and peace.” – The Language of Letting Go

I have a friend of mine who seems to keep a calm composure far frequently than most. Though I’ve seen him get upset, it’s rare.

One day I noticed that he seems to take these long, big breaths often times when asked a question, and before answering. Once I actually timed it in my mind. Including the word “well…,” spoken slowly after the breath and before he spoke any other words, it was a 16 second pause!

So I finally got the nerve up and asked him,”What’s that all about?”

As I suspected, he told me that was his way of giving himself enough time to appropriately respond rather than react. Basically, he’s gracing the space between the impulse to say something he may regret, and instead speak while practicing equanimity.

More and more I’ve been practicing this little trick, and each time I do, I’m improving my chances that… ILML!

— JamesQ

A Heightened State of Awareness

A Heightened State of Awareness

“I am space, I am the sun, I am the directions, above and below, I am all things, I am the earth, I am the ocean, the world exists in me, I am the fragrance in flowers, I am the very essence in all things in the universe.” – Excerpts from a Deepak Chopra Meditation

I love the idea that we are totally connected with everything, not only on the planet, but throughout the multiverses. That we are inseparable from all that exists. When I tap into this feeling, allowing myself to feel connected to everything and everyone, a peace settles over me, bringing a gentle smile to my face.

When I hurt someone or something, I’m hurting myself. Whether it’s another person or a small spider. And when I’m aware that I am everything and everything is me, I can’t avoid feeling what I am doing to them or the world around me. It’s a law. The law of reciprocity.

When I love, I feel love. When I’m mean, I feel hurt. When I’m compassionate, I feel understood. When I am punishing, I feel shut off from the sunlight of the spirit. What I give, I receive. That’s why the gift of being of service in the program has been such a wonderful experience – as I connect and love others, I instantly feel connected and loved in return.

Today I’ll remember that everything came from, and ultimately goes back to, source. I am, at my very essence, source, as is the sun, moon, rain, trees, animals, and every person on this planet.

Through being loving, compassionate and helpful to others, I end up feeling loved, understood and valued in return. And when I live in that heightened state of awareness and understanding, whereby I am connected to all things, my ego mind slips away, I am liberated, and… ILML!

– JamieQ