By: Marilyn L. Davis
Use the Answers!
My mentor wanted to know if I’d wasted enough time in my addiction. I took offense. However, I knew he was right when I realized how much time, energy, and effort I put into my use. I also asked questions about how best to get high and used the information given to me.
In our recovery, there are a lot of knowledgeable people. They have time in the program and have overcome many obstacles to get that time. We should be asking them questions as quickly as we asked our dope dealer.
When they tell us what worked for them, be grateful.
What Do You Do With Good Advice?
“I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.”― Oscar Wilde
In early recovery, it’s hard to know who to trust when we are genuinely seeking guidance. We’ve lived in a world where drugs and alcohol made people untrustworthy. Now we’re in recovery. We may attend recovery support meetings and hear different directions or suggestions and be more confused.
When we’re confused, most of us are sometimes embarrassed that we don’t understand. Because we’re embarrassed, we’re afraid to ask for clarification or can’t decide which directions to follow.
The good news is that the majority of people in recovery support meetings are only sharing what’s worked for them in their recovery.
Stop Judging the Suggestions
__Rather than wasting these resources and continuing with self-defeating behaviors, use the information given to you. Evaluate the suggestions and directions given you by peers, your support people, sponsor/accountability partner, facilitator, or counselor to decide if the instructions, recommendations, or actions recommended have merit.
And don’t necessarily spend a lot of time judging the messenger by whether you like them or dislike them, but listen to the message.
Listen to the Experiences and Advice
Recovery suggestions and directions have been around for more than 70 years. There’s a history of these suggestions working, so use them.
Why would someone give suggestions or directions that they didn’t think would work if you think about it? They wouldn’t because they don’t want to appear stupid. So, there’s safety in following the suggestions of the old-timers. Following other people’s recommendations and advice is how they got to be old-timers, too. For many of them, they adhered to the message from The Basic Text:
“Our message of recovery is based on our experience. Before coming to the Fellowship, we exhausted ourselves by trying to use successfully, and wondering what was wrong with us. After coming to N.A., we found ourselves among a very special group of people who have suffered like us and found recovery. In their experiences, freely shared, we found hope for ourselves. If the program worked for them, it would work for us.”
When You Can’t Follow Through on the Answers
I know that some suggestions in my early recovery didn’t make sense to me, or I knew I couldn’t do them. Deciding that I would try to get as close to the suggestion’s intent as possible worked out better for me.
I had asked at a meeting how people gained some serenity. I was feeling overwhelmed with all of my obligations, and, most days, I couldn’t find mental peace.
One old-timer that I respected told me to sit on the lake in a boat for a couple of hours and contemplate gratitude, serenity, and mental peace. He assured me that it worked every time for him. As he was talking, several of the other men started shaking their heads in agreement. I thanked him for the suggestion but knew I didn’t have a boat.
But, I could go after work, sit on the bank, watch the sunset, listen to the birds and the breeze in the trees, contemplate gratitude, serenity, and find some mental peace.
When You Are Giving Advice – And They Don’t Listen
There will be times that people will outright reject your good advice. It may be association – you remind them of their mother/father/ex-lover, and they can’t get past the association. Sometimes, they aren’t aware of why they are rejecting your advice.
When this happens, and it happens to all of us, remember what the Big Book says:
“Do not be discouraged if your prospect does not respond at once. Search out another alcoholic and try again. You are sure to find someone desperate enough to accept with eagerness what you offer. We find it a waste of time to keep chasing a man who cannot or will not work with you. If you leave such a person alone, he may soon become convinced that he cannot recover by himself. To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy.”
How Sharing Your Experiences Helps You
Another benefit from passing on good recovery advice is that you free up space in your brain to learn the lessons you need at this time.
You can feel helpful and caring when you share your experience, strength, and hope. And helpful and caring are not common feelings in addiction, but they can be in recovery.
What Are Your Opportunities to Pass on Answers?
Today, there are more ways than when I got into recovery 33 years ago to pass on good answers, directions, and suggestions. Where can you pass those suggestions on:
- Are there opportunities for you to share your story?
- Do you sponsor people?
- Are you a member of a recovery group on social media?
Look for opportunities to share and care. And one way is to write a guest post for From Addict 2 Advocate. Why? Because how you pass on answers will be worded differently than my words. That means that more people will be touched and helped. Here are the guidelines.
Writing and recovery heal the heart
Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at From Addict 2 Advocate and Two Drops of Ink. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook, available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, Indie Books, and Books A Million.