We all know the old “sticks and stones” mantra isn’t true. Why? Because words are powerful. The right ones can provide a boost when you’re in need of a power-up in recovery (which is often).
The following are common sobriety sayings and great tools to tuck in your kit. Pull them out as needed and watch them make a huge impact on your mindset.
#1 One day at a time.
We’ve all heard this one, but have you ever stopped to really think about what it means? Way too often we live in the past, regretting our mistakes and playing the “what if” game. And when we aren’t doing that, we spend our time worrying about the future. Will I make those mistakes again? What’s on the road ahead?
We can drive ourselves insane with all the rewinding and fast-forwarding. How much are we truly living in the present? The past is done. Tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own. Just deal with today. One. Day. At. A. Time.
#2 Wherever you go, there you are.
This one sometimes elicits laughter. It comes off as redundant, but its power is in the redundancy. You can’t run from yourself. Many of us hope to make changes in ourselves by changing what’s around us. We move. We change jobs. We make new friends. We wish we could escape to a dot in the middle of the ocean where the toughest decision is whether to spend our day at the beautiful beach or under the enchanting waterfall. But guess what? If we made it to that paradise, we’d still be there with – you guessed it – ourselves.
No matter where we end up, we bring our baggage with us. Our imperfections. Our regrets. Our addictions. To see change, we have to lose the luggage. If we want our destination to ultimately be different, the change has to be in us.
As we work our recovery, we have to keep going back to this truth. We have to ask ourselves if we’re trying to escape. We have to remind ourselves that we can’t escape ourselves. But we can change the people we are today. The changes we make shape us into individuals we don’t mind having with us wherever we go.
#3 Nothing changes if nothing changes.
This one goes hand in hand with the previous one. However, this applies both to our internal state and external circumstances (especially since the one affects the other.) If we continue the same patterns of behavior and thinking, how can anything change?
You’ve probably heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? It’s the same principle. We won’t see change unless we change something. This might mean changing our mindsets, hanging out in new places or finding a new support group. It might involve altering our diets or exercise habits. We have to remind ourselves that, if we want to see something change, we have to change something.
#4 Progress, not perfection.
What a relief we would all feel if we could truly live this out! How often have we given up on something because we didn’t get it “just right?” How much time have we wasted beating ourselves up because of a mistake we made (big or small)?
Accept this now: You will fail. It’s a human condition. We aren’t perfect. But we can make progress. This is what we must aim for. Celebrate the little victories, no matter how small. Focus on this progress rather than the inevitable slip-ups.
#5 You don’t always get what you wish for, but you always get what you work for.
It’s so easy to want something for nothing. Too often, we succumb to our need for instant gratification and miss out on greater things. The draw to always do what’s easiest won’t get us what we really need. If we want to achieve goals, we have to work at them.
This means going to that meeting, making that phone call, doing that work-out or filling out that application. It means stopping the wishing and starting the doing. Coming back to this saying reminds us that rewards require determination. It helps us keep our eyes on the prize. We achieve sobriety through work, not wishes.
Additional Reading: 6 Lessons I Learned in Early Recovery
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