By: Marilyn L. Davis
“Neither situations nor people can be altered by the interference of an outsider. If they are to be altered, that alteration must come from within.” ~Phyllis Bottome
My mother was an excellent seamstress and liked the process of alterations, making the finished dress, pants, or coat, custom-made. Taking a garment that was slightly too big and then custom fitting it to the new shape pleased her as much as creating something from scratch.
Altering Means We Present Differently on the Outside
It’s like that for us; some of those pieces of our old lives just don’t fit us anymore. We need to get rid of the people, places, and things from our addiction that might harm us today. We don’t have to include them in our new life in recovery.
Those character defects we used with complete abandon in our addiction, well, we can cut them out or at least not use them anymore. Those admirable qualities that we didn’t use much in our addiction, now command more attention, so we use them.
Altering Just One Aspect Makes a Difference
This ability to choose allows us to change our old behaviors, attitudes, and actions and begin the process of personal recovery. When I think about all the character defects and negative aspects I operated from in my addiction, I’m surprised that anyone had anything to do with me. Self-centered in the extreme, arrogant in that I would not listen to the caring advice of family and friends, I justified all of my actions.
Then if I didn’t get the outcomes I wanted from manipulation, I blamed others for my lot in life and felt sorry for myself.
When I entered treatment in 1988, I was not sure that I could give up drugs and alcohol and be successful in my recovery.
A caring counselor said to me, “Can you just make some effort today and change one aspect of yourself?”
One Simple Alteration Each Day
I decided that I could make and honor that small commitment. We discussed what one negative aspect I would work on that day. She asked me if I could focus on other people for a change. Were there people in my groups that could use some help? If I could help others, then I wouldn’t be less self-centered that day.
I knew there were people in my group that were struggling with their written assignments, so I volunteered to read with them and help by writing their answers to some questions. It was a small gesture on my part, but for those who had difficulty reading and writing, I could tell that they were appreciative.
When we had a large group that first night, two people cried when they talked about me helping them. One spoke of the fact that I had not belittled them because they couldn’t read and write well. I realized by assisting them, I was genuinely helping me get out of myself. In showing some compassion, I was less self-centered, so I’d accomplished my small goal that day — one successful alteration.
One Change Each Day = Altered Results
Granted, not everyone has a counselor that can direct them early in their recovery. Still, the idea of examining our self-serving and self-centered actions is something that anyone can and should do in their early recovery.
Over the years, I’ve tried to continue using that simple concept from early treatment.
Each person reading this can look at those aspects of themselves that are problematic and make an effort to change that attitude or action for the next 24 hours. I guarantee that this small change will result in different outcomes. And in the end, it is those alterations that we will make that gain us the most significant rewards in our recovery.
Challenge: What Will You Alter Today?
Writing, and recovery heals the heart.
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