A wise man once said being humble in recovery is just as important as food and water is to the body. A humble spirit is one of the most important characteristics I look for in a person serious about change. And that takes living a life of honesty.
I believe there are three rules of long term recovery: Honesty, Hard Work and Action.
The first rule is: Honesty. You need to get honest with everyone in your life especially yourself and the people trying to support you. You have to take a serious look at what you’ve been doing and take personal responsibility for your behavior. This takes honesty and if done right it will bring you to your knees. And this is the humble beginnings of change.
The second rule is: Hard Work. It takes hard work to focus on your recovery plan each day. I’ve found the harder you work on your recovery the easier it gets. But let me be quick to point out; at the beginning it’s not easy – it’s simple, but not easy. It takes hard [honest] work. You’ve got to want it for you. Not for your family, your job or anything else. You’ve got to want it for yourself.
This is difficult for some people to understand. Your personal recovery has to come first. You cannot take care of your family if you’re not clean and sober. It will take hard work [personal sacrifice] to work all day at your job, follow your recovery plan and then spend quality time with your family.
The third rule is: Action. This is the real power of change. It’ll help you move along the humble road of recovery. We’ve all heard knowledge is power but I believe applied knowledge is real power. The word power means the ability to take action or get something done. So, in order for any of this to be real in your life you have to apply the recovery principles. You have to take action.
Action really does separate the successful people in recovery from the people who struggle. Fear hinders most people from taking the appropriate action at the beginning stage of recovery.
You can start changing today by allowing your higher power to help you overcome Dishonesty, Laziness and Fear with the principles of: Courage, Integrity and Honor.
Some of you have courage, integrity and honor. Most of you have demonstrated lots of courage just to survive the last several years. Many of you were taught by a family member, friend or coach what integrity really means. And some of you lived an honorable life with respect for yourself, your neighbor and family. However, most of you lost your courage, integrity and honor traveling down the road of addiction.
Courage: The ability to take positive action in the face of fear, death, pain and difficulty.
Integrity: The ability to act in accordance to your own values, morals and ethical principles.
Honor: The ability to act respectful toward and be honest with yourself, others and society.
It’s going to take courage to tell your old friends you don’t live that way anymore. For some of you, in order to let go of emotional scars from your past you’ll have to face those bad memories. It takes courage to show your emotions in front of others. Some of you will have to find the courage to face your fears and deal with the issues that may be holding you back. Any coward can run and hide in a bottle or drug.
It takes courage to admit you can’t do this alone and ask for help. Some of you are going to find this hard to do. Cowards don’t ask for help. They think it’s a sign of weakness. Actually it’s the opposite. Strength is always in numbers. Three strings are stronger than one. One stick can be easily broken but five sticks are hard to break. Reach down in the core of your being and find the heart of a champion; the ability to be men and women that will not give up when times get tough.
Integrity Almost everyone struggling with addiction threw their integrity out the window. Some of you had plenty of integrity but lost it to addiction which has a way of making you do things you normally wouldn’t do. I always ask this question to my new clients. Has your behavior and choices over the last few years conflicted with your own morals and values? They all answer yes. When your behavior is inconsistent with your own values you’ll have internal conflict. I call this spiritual cancer.
When you lack integrity your mouth will say one thing and your actions will say another. I encourage you to become men and women of integrity. Do what you say you’re going to do. It’s important to stick to your word. Don’t make excuses and don’t go back-in-forth like an irresponsible person. A wise man once said a double-minded person is unstable in all their ways.
Some of you need to start honoring authority. To be dishonorable is to disrespect the authority in your life. You need to humble yourself before your authorities. If you can do this then you can honor yourself and the important people in your life. Here is a spiritual truth: If you don’t love yourself it’ll be hard to love others. Honor is all about love. If you don’t love yourself you won’t respect yourself and you won’t respect the ones who care about you. Learn how to love yourself.
When I was in the US Marine Corps we were taught to honor God, Country and The Marine Corps. If we submitted ourselves to God (The King) and honored him and served him then we would have a deep love for our country and our fellow Marines. That kind of honor breads servanthood. Every US Marine understands how deep that honor runs.
You need to start honoring your sponsor, pastor, counselor, parents, probation officer and any authority in your life. Submit yourself to them and serve them with humility. Be honest and respectful with your spouse and your children and serve them with all your heart.
I wish above all things that you decide today to live your life with courage, integrity and honor through hard work, honesty and action.
Dallas entered the addiction field in 1994 and has worked in outpatient, medical detox, inpatient rehab, a psychiatric hospital and a residential drug treatment center. He has also served in the positions of; program director, clinical supervisor and addiction counselor. He currently works at Penfield Christian Homes, a licensed residential drug treatment program and ministry of the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Dallas has a Master’s degree in counseling and is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. He is also the author of two books: Midbrain and The Beast and The Addiction Recovery Workbook: A Simple Guide to Long Term Sobriety. He can be contacted at: www.dallasbennett.com