Without Getting Stuck

Without Getting Stuck

“They are living in the moment. There are not ashamed of the past; they are not worried about the future. Little children express what they feel, and they are not afraid to love.” – The Mastery of Love

Several years back, when Richie and I took the Iyanla Vanzandt challenge, writing ourselves love letters for 40 days, I decided to write them from James to my inner child. At that time I began to develop a relationship with my inner child, and I started to become more aware of how happy little children are, and how easily they transition in and out of feelings and emotions, without getting stuck.

These young ones seem always intrigued with life and truly living only in each moment. Crying when upset or hurt, then laughing when happy, just moments later, as if they had never been hurt or unhappy to begin with. How cool is that?

This is how I aspire to live today. In awe of being alive, not attached to the past, and not focused on the future. Just enjoying the gift of the present. I get to experience that feeling when I’m connected to my Higher Power, whatever that may be.

About this Higher Power thing: What I love about the 12 step program is that we all get to have our own concept of God, our own relationship with the creative source that guides us. In our program, no one person’s concept of God is better, truer, or more accurate than another’s. There’s no room for spiritual righteousness in AA or AlAnon. Each of our beliefs is perfectly designed for us, and where we are at right now. And as an added bonus, for most of us, our concept of, and relationship with, our personal higher power is always evolving.

It’s when I’m plugged in that wonderful, loving energy that I get to live like a small child does, filled with the wonderment of each and every moment. By letting go of the past and future, but unplugging from regrets and fears, my words, thoughts, actions and feelings are guided only by pure gratitude and love. And when I’m in that magical place, abundance flows in and all around me, and… ILML!

— JamieQ

(click on the image below to see what I’m talking about)

The Illuminating Source

The Illuminating Source

“Internalize the positive and keep the negative at bay.” — Oprah… “Positive input nourishes me at every level.” — Deepak

Our program tells us that lack of power is our dilemma. We didn’t cause it, we can’t cure it, we can’t control it. So how then can we help to make sure that no negativity—or more specifically—no negative outcomes, occur in our life?

This is where the idea of detaching with love comes in. It’s easy to focus our attention on something that’s wonderful, something that feels good, or something that satiates a desire which we have had. But for many of us, it’s equally as easy to focus on something that is negative, something which causes hurt or fear, makeing us feel bad inside.

By mastering an awareness of the moment in which we feel uncomfortable, we empower ourselves with the ability to move away from those thoughts, feelings, actions, and words which cause us to feel unhappy, whether they’re coming from the outside, or from in ourselves.

In the beginning of this process, because we’re new at it, detaching can be awkward. I remember one of my sponsors saying to me, “If you can’t detach with love James, just detach with an axe. But for God’s sake, when things become toxic, get out of the situation or away from the person right away.”

Eventually, by doing the Daily Deal over and over again, infusing my mind, body and soul with positive affirmations and inspirational information, and then practicing those tools, I have learned how to quickly detach with love from most situations that I find cause me discomfort.

By gracing the space, even if just for a moment, I allow the illuminating source of light to enter me, giving me clarity of heart and mind, and preventing me from creating—or participating in—what easily could have been a catastrophe. And when that happens, instead of being unhappy… ILML!

— JamieQ

Learning to Love Ourselves

Learning to Love Ourselves

“It may seem too simple to think that all we need to do is to decide to love ourselves. But that’s our task…” – In God’s Care

One of my sponsors who is no longer with us, Chuck, used to ask me if I believe that God loves me. By this time I had a solid concept of my higher power, and had a good relationship going with him. My answer was “yes.” Then he suggested that I love myself the way God loves me. I told him I wasn’t sure how.

That’s when I got the standard suggestion that every morning I look into the mirror, specifically into my eyes and say, “I love you James. I really love you.” Being the willing guy that I am, I took his suggestion. It only took me about three years of doing this almost every day to start believing it. But there’s another reason it started actually working.

I discovered it’s hard to really love myself when I’m an asshole. When I behave in ways that are really unbecoming, there’s not too much to love staring back at me in the mirror. So to love myself, I had to start changing. Reading the book Drop the Rock, was really the beginning of that awakening. The book You Can’t Make Me Angry helped me continue along my journey into letting go of those defects. I then created (and used) character defect worksheets to discover and discard those things that were getting in the way of me becoming a great man. I began to change into someone worth loving.

Now, because I do the Daily Deal to be the best person I can be, it really is as simple as deciding to love myself. But I’ve noticed a clear correlation between my consistency in doing the Daily Deal, and the degree of love I have for myself. As is with most things, the more I put in, the more I get out. And as long as I invest in the program, making it my top priority every day, I get to love myself and… ILML!

– JamieQ

 

Past & Future Slip Away

Past & Future Slip Away

“Any kind of heaviness, be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, is caused by one burden, the heaviness of the past: old pain, traumas, and toxic memories.” – Deepak Chopra, 21 Day Meditation

When I reflect upon my dark past, those painful memories of things that happened in my life which I wish had never occurred, I am actively choosing to suffer. I know that sounds judgmental and mean, but it’s true. If I can stop it, it’s no longer something that is out of my control. It’s not unpreventable.

It’s true that in a past situations, I was a victim. I have made some really bad mistakes. I have hurt others, and I’ve been terribly hurt. But the past has passed. I am not being forced against my will to reflect upon or live in the past. Though it may feel as if I have no choice, I am not obligated to remember those painful experiences.

Likewise, anxiety exists only when I am reflecting on a potentially terrible future. In fact, by focusing continually upon painful past experiences, I can create anxiety by projecting those worst case scenarios into my future. Some people, including myself, believe that this behavior can actually manifest our worst fears.

The good news is that, with daily practice, we can train ourselves to stay out of both those painful thoughts of the past and the fearful ones of the future. By reading and practicing the simple suggestions in books like The Power of Now and The Miracle of Mindfulness, and by Googling “how to live in the moment,” and then choosing the tips and tools that resonate with us, we can eliminate most of our depression and fear. Sound too good to be true? It’s not.

There’s only one caveat: this process only gives us a reprieve for one day only. If we want freedom from depression and fear every day, we have to read, study and use the tools for staying in the present every day. I have found that missing even one day of my daily routine results in increased feelings of discomfort… almost instantly!

But when I invest time into the practice of living in the moment, the discomfort of my past and the fear of my future slip away, making room for me to enjoy the abundance of today, while simultaneously manifesting more of it for tomorrow. And when that happens, you can bet your bottom dollar that ILML!

— JamieQ

Minding my Business

Minding my Business

“… when my thoughts begin with “He should” or “She shouldn’t” I am probably in trouble.” – Courage to Change

The compulsion to focus on other people is at least as powerful of an obsession as an alcoholic’s desire to drink, an addict’s need to use, or a smoker’s urge to light up another cigarette. But while the alcoholic, addict and smoker are often aware of their addiction, the destruction caused by one’s inability to mind their own business is often not so apparent.

And, in this regard, the suggestion my program offers, to be of maximum useful service to my fellows, can potentially both encourage and justify my intervention. So why is this behavior so harmful?

Because nobody likes being controlled, told what to do or having unsolicited opinions given to them. I can tell you that’s especially true for me. So, why then do some of us continue to try to manage, direct and control the opinions, actions and words of others, knowing we ourselves don’t like it?

One reason for me is that I’m also addicted to being the hero. As a child I got reprimanded for doing something wrong and rewarded for helping out. Those accolades and pats on my back continued into my adult life, reinforcing my desire to help, fix or save someone from themselves or others. So what should I do? Help or not help?

I’ve learned that the best practice is to help others when asked, provided they are unable to help themselves, and that I’m truly able to positively contribute to the situation.

The easiest way to do this is to simply ask “Would you like my opinion (help, advice, etc)?” before giving or doing it. An example is when I’m a passenger in a car. If I know the driver is going the wrong way, I can ask “Would you like some help on how to get there?” If they say no, I say “Ok”, and let the process unfold. Simple, but not so easy.

However, by allowing others to make their own mistakes and find their way gives them both the respect and dignity to overcome their own obstacles and achieve success for themselves, without my intervention. They get to be their own hero,

You’d think that knowing and understanding all of this would keep me from offering unsolicited advice, right? Wrong. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t think “He should” or “She shouldn’t.” And I still occasionally find myself going beyond thinking and actually opening my mouth.

The good news is I’m doing it less often these days. Doing the Daily Deal makes me aware of how I want to behave in my interactions with others and encourages me to be the best man I can be. When I practice these principles in all my affairs, I play much better with others and… ILML!

— JamieQ

The Great Man Move

“…practice these principles in all our affairs.” – Alcoholics Anonymous aka The Big Book, Step 12

We can remain sober and/or in recovery, have a sponsor, sponsor others, go to meetings, pray, meditate, and hold service commitments while not practicing the principles in all our affairs. Will we be loving life? Likely not. In fact, I’ve known many who did all this and were absolutely miserable.

So let’s get into solution and put this another way. If we are sober and/or in recovery, have a sponsor, sponsoring others, going to meetings, praying, meditating, and/or holding service commitments but still not loving life, chances are that the solution is to start actively practicing these principles in all our affairs.

So what exactly are these principles? Well, Bill W. actually considered each step to be a spiritual principle in and of itself. But to simplify them, we can quote the following list posted by others on the web:

Honesty, hope, faith, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, love, discipline, perseverance, spirituality and service.

Not a bad bunch of traits to have associated with you, when you think about it.

Imagine a person asking what kind of person you’re like, and the other person say that your honest, have great integrity, are very loving, hard working, always willing to lend a hand, courageous, have tremendous faith and optimism that things will always work out for the best, very disciplined in your commitments, always hope for the best, have a deep spiritual connection in life, and seem to always persevere and come out on top.

Personally, I’d love it if people described me that way. In fact, it’s one of my goals.

To the men I sponsor I say that practicing the principles in all your affairs can also be called “making the great man move” or being a “great man”. By living in this way, we become wonderful, dependable, kind, contributing humans who utilize the abundance of tools the program gives us to positively alter our thinking, words and actions. And it’s not only others who benefit from this new way of living, which seems to always require that I pause before reacting, it’s me too.

Can we do it every time without fail? Of course not, we’re human. But we can continually up our game, become more aware of when we’re not doing it (hint:we feel bad afterward), and then make amends, learn from the experience, and continue to improve.

As an example, I’m don’t always make the “great man” move, but I do it more than I ever have at any time in my life. And I think that’s a great goal to shoot for.

Today, one thing is for sure. When I do actively practice, in all my affairs, the principles that I’ve described above… ILML!

— JamieQ

A Spiritual Time-Out

“It is not what I have gained that is important but rather what I have diminished, namely, greed, hatred, and delusion.” — World Buddhism

The 11th Step suggests we seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God. But what about those of us who really struggle at being still? Or those of us who have tried meditation and we really don’t enjoy it?

I am one of those who is so busy that I can’t seem to justify the idea of spending 15 or 30 minutes each day meditating, yet over and over again, I hear of it’s benefits from our members. So what did I do?

I ended up getting an app called Simply Being. I choose the voice and music I like, and then it takes me on a guided meditation for as little as 5 minutes or as long as 30. Essentially, I take a spiritual time-out from life for just a few moments, getting a break from my head and the world around me.

I usually choose 5 minutes because I have a very full life (30 would likely make my life easier though). One day I may get there.

But in the meantime, by incorporating meditation, prayer, reading inspirational books, journaling, writing gratitude lists, being of service to others, and attending meetings, greed, hatred and delusion no longer play a prominent role in my days, but instead, ILML!

— JamieQ