[su_quote]We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.[/su_quote]
– Aristotle, Greek philosopher and scientist
[su_quote]This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.[/su_quote]
– Douglas Adams, British author and humorist
The other day, I took my girl to our favorite restaurant. Since we had last been there, it had changed ownership and menu (both, apparently, for the worse), a visit during the evening from a waiter was actually rarer than the chicken dish we ordered, and, just to make sure the evening would forever stay in our collective memories, my girl tore one of her favorite dresses on the corner of one of their new rustic-looking tables.
“Breathe,” I kept repeating to myself.
[su_quote]Just breathe… This must be a Thursday.[/su_quote]
Let’s be honest. A disastrous meal out was not going to induce a state of panic, an anxiety attack, or severe stress levels in someone who had once walked, hopeless and forlorn, through a drug addiction center’s front door, and came out the same door six months later, equipped with the vast majority of tools and support I needed to begin my life again.
Don’t get me wrong. I could have done without this restaurant experience. I certainly could have done without actually having to apologise to the new owner for what my normally placid and sweet girl said to him. Language can be so inventive and succinct, when you want it to be. Uncontrollable anger, however, can be just plain dangerous.
The experience got me thinking about how volatile I was when I was in the midst of my drug addiction. And how, now, nine years sober, I’ve come a long way. I thought, maybe I should actually write down some of the stuff that helps me manage my life now, the real stresses, anxieties and frustrations, and share it around a little. So, that’s what this is – me sharing. And recovering addicts like to share.
Keeping your focus when everything seems against you is one of the hardest lessons I learned in the days after leaving the rehab center that pretty much saved my life. My main focus is simple – stay clean and sober.
What has helped me enormously is the belief that everything that happens around me will still be happening whether I am present or not. When you accept that, keeping your focus even in the midst of chaos gets quite easy to do.
Yes, the temptation is to think, “Why is this happening to me?” But, is the event in question directed at you or is just part of the way of things? I was taught that it is an attitude such as this that keeps people living in the past. When all said and done, it solves nothing. My advice? Take a deep breath and ask this, “What do I need to do in order to achieve my goal?”
Refrain from asking yourself questions that won’t help you achieve your goals, such as, “Why is this happening to me?” an attitude like this will only keep you stay stuck in the past and will not offer any solutions to the problem. Take a deep breath, sit down and ask instead, “What do I need to do to achieve this goal of mine?”
I admit that this can be tough. It doesn’t matter if you are drug addict, alcoholic or just plain overworked and tired. As both an alcoholic and drug addict I would turn to substances in order to deal with my emotions, stress, anger, etc. Once I was sober I had to learn out how to handle situations positively and constructively.
Trying to remain positive when surrounded with seemingly endless negativity can be a constant uphill battle – but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re focused on what you want, what you’re doing and how you’re going to even just make it through the day, it becomes easier.
By remembering that you can’t control most of what is happening around you, be they positive or negative events, takes the pressure off your desire to achieve the best result in normal circumstances. Work with what you’ve got and what you’re able to do – you will then be able to achieve the best result in any given situation.
And remember, you’ve had rough patches before and come through them. You will again.
Accept Your Reality
We live in the face we’re born with, and the mind that has developed along with it. This is your reality. Accept it. The same can be said for the reason we may feel anxious or stressed. If we have done all that is possible in any given situation, and those feelings still remain, then that is the reality of the situation. There is no other course of action left than to accept it for what it is, deal with it as you must and live with it.
If you can then learn to actually just let it go, as rehab taught me, you will be pleasantly surprised by the sense of relief that you feel. Accept and let go – one of the best lessons I learned in my 6 months there.
Radiators or Drains?
Here’s a favorite rehab expression I also learned:
[su_quote]There are only two types of people in the world. Radiator and drains. Those who give out and those who take away. Which one do you want to be?[/su_quote]
I simply love that. And the same can be said for those who surround us. Are they radiators, who give good things like positivity and true friendship naturally, or are they drains, who actually take and draw away those qualities from us?
Surround yourself with people who radiate, and lose those who take away. Believe me, it certainly makes for a far better life.
Lights, Camera, and… Action!
Many times, I have simply said to myself, “Enough is enough. Let’s get to doing.” Do you know what? It’s always turns out to be the best advice I’ve given myself that particular day. We procrastinate and it gets us nowhere really. Sometimes you just need to get on with it, whatever “it” may be. Time for action.
Trust & Confide
My last piece of personal wisdom that I learned from my rehab days – nobody ever gets there alone. At the beginning of this article, I wrote that addicts like to share. That can be said for people generally. Just look at Facebook and Instagram. I also believe that being alone is pretty much a choice. We don’t have to be.
Having someone in your life who you can share with, who you can trust, and who you can even confide in is really what life is all about. Being that person for somebody else too is one of life’s gifts.
The Person Standing Next To Us
These 6 life hacks of focus, positivity, reality, radiators and drains, action and confiding have reduced any level of frustration, stress and anxiety I have had since rehab to the bare minimum, and I sincerely hope they do the same for you.
Our mental health is as important as our physical one. It needs to stay in shape like our bodies. If you suffer from high levels of stress and anxiety, what life hacks do you use to try and curtail their effect? Please let us know by dropping a comment below.
Thank you for reading.
Bio: Hi, I am Andy! I was born in Bogota, Colombia, but raised in Los Angeles, California. I am 8 years clean now, and I’m focused on helping others beat their addiction. My recovery angel? Evergreen Drug Rehab