Early sobriety was not fun for me. That first year was mostly a blur of extreme fluctuating emotions, physical pain, and an unrelenting sense of impending doom. I hung on by my fingernails to the mantra, “if I go to bed sober, I wake up sober,” got some help from people that didn’t drink, found a supplement that balanced my emotions, and put my head down and worked.
Three years in, I had found some measure of peace in solid friendships and the life-saving grace of yoga. However, even though not waking up hungover, full of guilt and shame, felt amazing, and I knew I would never go back, I still felt confused about my feelings and life. I was still experiencing lots of physical injuries, weird stuff with food, and one old debt after another would pop up to haunt me.
Six years of digging deep into my patterns and behaviors brought some relief and resolution to the debt issue. Important puzzle pieces clicked into place like how I give up on myself when I don’t see immediate results. This led to a commitment to playing full out. I’d love to say that this commitment extends to all areas of my life, only I’ve learned that being a rock star in all places at once is darn near impossible and leads to discouragement and depression. I needed to learn to prioritize, let go of perfectionism, and bring in harmony.
It is my intention in this blog to share with you some of the best practices to extend oneself without the grind mentality. We can stretch and grow, without being stressed.
1. GO FOR HARMONY, NOT BALANCE –
Ivan Misner, the founder of Business Networking International states that balance is an illusion.
Like a really good Libra, this one was hard for me to process! I mean come on, I’m a master at trying to balance work, play, relationships, health and so on. I’m a willing student though, especially when life gets uncomfortable, so I was ready to explore this concept.
Dr. Misner says, “balance assumes that we spend an equal amount of time in all or most areas of our life. It is like the image of the scales where everything is completely in balance and equal. It assumes that we must spend a certain portion of each week devoted in some equal measure to every item important in our life.”
Ugh, just reading that, made me cringe at the impossibility of it all. No wonder I’m left feeling behind much of the time.
Misner goes on to relate, “it is a different way of looking at life. While life can’t be fully in balance, it is possible to create a life that is in harmony with your vision of who you are and what you want to do
This leads to a few of the next practices.
2. PRIORITIZE –
Now that you’ve let yourself out of the balance cage, prioritize the most important things for you in your life, right now. What is your vision of who you are and what you want to do? In order to create that vision, what are the highest priority areas of your life? Remember, It’s your current situation. You and circumstances will change, this is not forever.
For me, right now, the most important areas to heal and address are business, aka purpose work and finances, as well as, continued healing of distorted body image and distractions with food.
Remember folks, you have to be a seeker and willing to take soul-stirring action. You’ve got to disrupt the status quo to bring about real change. Here’s what I did.
Purpose work/finances – To break that pattern of quitting when I don’t see results, I put myself on a 90-day challenge of doing something every single day towards growing my business. I know that it’s going to take a lot longer than 90-days, however, it’s brought new energy, possibilities, and opportunity into the practice, as well as, a daily feeling of accomplishment!
Body image/food – While this area has been markedly better than ever before, it was still a distraction and source of distress. Seriously, with all of the self-work and release of self-loathing, how could I still be tied to cravings, and tempted to control my body shape and size?
With the help of a dear mentor, I defined what I wanted; to eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full, and crush cravings for sugar. I dove into my essential oil books, read up, gained knowledge, and took action, and it’s working! There are essential oils that disrupt the addiction and craving pathways, as well as assist in loving one’s body for what it does, not what it looks like (and of course, so much more)! These magical little gifts from nature, along with personal empowerment practices, have given me exactly what I asked for.
Let’s say that you’ve got your finances and relationships in order, yet, you’ve let your focus on your health slip a bit. You realize that if you don’t have your health, you don’t get to enjoy the fruits of your labor, so you cut back a few hours a week at work and begin to walk more or go to the gym. You spend time researching some supplements, get a check-up and give your physical body the attention it really deserves. You’ve prioritized and harmonized what’s most important right now, by putting health at the top of the list.
As you can see, prioritizing doesn’t mean leaving all the other parts of life out in the cold. It means giving more attention to what is most important to you, right now.
3. BE PRESENT –
Once you’ve decided to live in harmony, realized that balance is a myth, and prioritized what’s most important for this particular season, you’ll want to be fully present.
Continuing with my example, I determined that my relationships and spiritual connection pieces of the pie are cruising along pretty well. That does not mean that they are to be ignored or put on the back burner. No way! My faith and my people are part of the foundation of what’s turning out to be an inspirational life and they need to be nurtured along with finances and health.
The key to this harmony thing is being present in all that you do. This is going to mean quality, not quantity time.
When I’m with my beloved friends and family, that’s where I’ll be. Enjoying a walk, conversation, or even a movie and being fully there makes time together special. Put away that cell phone and listen. Hug deeply, and feel what people need. This presence practice will enhance all of your relationships.
Setting aside time for meditation and prayer is also so important! I know, you’ve heard it a million times because it’s true! Taking your troubles and gratitude to a power greater than yourself in prayer and listening for the answers in meditation is the cornerstone of a grounded, harmonious lifestyle. It’s also one of the top methods for learning to stay present, more consistently and more often. Since I’m feeling solid in this area, my daily practices are absolutely going to happen, just for shorter amounts of time.
If you’ve put your spiritual connection as a top priority for your life, then, by all means, you’re going to want to take some classes, read spiritually based books, meditate, pray, and yoga your heart out! I’ve been there, that season will roll around again, and I look forward to that.
4. DISCIPLINE –
Did I really just say that word? I know, discipline conjures up images of punishment. However, that’s not what we’re thinking of here.
Actor Will Smith relates that discipline is self-love. He states that discipline is loving yourself enough to make choices that will support your health and growth, not choices that will leave you feeling sick and ashamed. He says, that self-love is being willing to “forgo immediate pleasure for the exchange of long-term self-respect.”
Here, we can bring in a bit of the Language of Emotions. Guilt is a “stop sign.” If you are about to reach for that pizza or binge-watch a series when neither of these things is in alignment with your high priority vision you might feel guilty. Guilt asks you to take the time to pause and consider a different choice. Holding a high priority vision, along with the presence of mind to be aware of your thoughts and emotions, will support you in making choices that are in your greatest interest.
Every day, we are making choices that put out our fire of purpose.
If you choose to focus on harmonizing, not balancing, all areas of your life, you get to love yourself and become a rock star in one or two of the most important parts. Be present and build a solid foundation. Then, when the time comes, you have the freedom to re-prioritize. Life is full of moving pieces, and you are allowed to get creative.
If you’re reading this and newly sober (or releasing any pattern of addiction) you may be wondering, “do these tips even apply to me? I’m so new at this.” I would venture to say that it absolutely applies to you! I wish I had these tips and system when I first determined I needed to recover my life. Obviously, your priority is getting and staying sober! That initial period of time (of course, different for everyone) requires a theme of “one job only, the job of staying sober.”
Putting your recovery first, no matter what will greatly assist you in harmonizing your life. There is no way much of anything is in balance anyway, so you might as well get clear on what needs to come first.
If you’ve been traveling a path of recovery for a while, or are someone who doesn’t feel “addicted,” per se, yet you are noticing some areas of life that are causing you to question your behavior, the steps above are a great addition to any life story.
Obviously, releasing a substance or behavior will be uncomfortable; that’s why it’s called growing pains. A noticeable trait of every person that is committed to great growth and change is that they are willing to be uncomfortable. I suppose it just depends on how important your dreams and visions really are. If they are powerful enough, embrace the discomfort now, get used to it, and you’ll be better off than fighting it for years. If they are powerful enough, it’s time to leap into harmonizing, prioritizing, getting as present as possible, and applying self-love to your life.
I love to hear from you. I want to hear about your a-ha moments, things you grapple with, and what has helped you the most. Ask your questions and become a more involved part of the community. I’m easy to find on FB, FB messenger, and IG @laynesoulstory. Let’s chat!