Twenty-six years ago I told the truth and it saved my life. I turned to a group of total strangers and shared my deepest darkest secret. I’m sure no one was really surprised when I said, “My name is Paul and I’m an alcoholic.”
Those are easily the most powerful words I’ve ever spoken. They were delivered unvarnished, born of the realization that my addiction was killing me and I desperately needed help.
It’s been said that we can’t save our ass and our face at the same time. My ass needed saving. I admitted I was powerless over alcohol and cocaine, clueless about how to get through a day without both and was willing to do whatever it took to get clean.
It is a holy moment, when our cry for help is met. The always available hand of the recovering community is humanity at its finest. The gift of life delivered with the elegance of kindness.
The principles and process that facilitate this remarkable journey have led me to a life I couldn’t have imagined and a connection to the world around me I’ve never known before.
An advocate for recovery, I’ve shared the good news that there
is “hope for the hopeless” with anyone who would listen. Through the years, again and again, I’ve been asked, “Why isn’t there something like what you have for the rest of us? The non-addict.”
One night, speaking after a screening of my documentary, “Paul Williams, Still Alive” I said that “my choo choo runs on the twin rails of gratitude and trust.” My closest friend, screenwriter and author Tracey Jackson approached me with a suggestion. “There’s a book there. Gratitude and trust. Recovery is not just for Addicts”.
Bad habits, poor choices, life-limiting behavioral patterns- we all have them, have made them and/or continue to make them.
They range from the life threatening; like drug and alcohol addiction, obesity or even smoking, to the life limiting like the perpetual procrastinator, the hoarder, serial philanderer, the compulsive shopper, gambler and now the number one obsession, smart phone addiction.
Are you a self-sabotager? Are you forever making the wrong choices when you so desperately want to make the right ones? When you get to the fork in the road, do you take the knife?
If you gathered together twenty five random people and made them all be totally honest, everyone would admit to a bad love choice, a sabotaged opportunity, hurt someone while defending their own position, or worried about their weight, their temper, and their lust for the boy or girl next door.
Without question everyone at some point said, “This is the last time I______”
While all these things may not be life ending, they are often life defining. And we are held hostages by our fear of letting go of long held beliefs, patterns and fears.
So to move forward and live our lives in harmony, peace and productivity, we need to relinquish those worn out maladaptive behaviors and replace them with new healthy ones.
SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE AND IT’S PROBABLY ME.
Nothing’s going to change in your world until you take the first step and own that the person that needs changing is you. Standing up and declaring this, is the most potent first step in altering your life and turning it around.
I loved her idea. Create a guide to a better life for those suffering from life limiting habits as opposed to the life-threatening disease of alcoholism.
What followed was truly a labor of love. The publication of “Gratitude and Trust, Six Affirmations That Will Change Your Life” has been one of the most meaningful events of my life.
Tracey and I are thrilled by the response to the book, especially excited to find it on the shelves of Caron, Hazelden and Betty Ford and even in the hands of men and women with long-term recovery. It’s truly all a gift.
Here’s Tracey’s description of the six affirmations, a beautiful syllabus of the concept, reasoning and benefits of living by the principles of recovery.
Blessings and thanks, Paul Williams
I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THIS BUT SOMETHING INSIDE ME DOES
It’s handing it over. It can be God. It can be your breath. It can be whatever you want it to be. It’s as simple as sitting in silence and listening to the still small voice within. But its power comes from letting go. It allows you to believe that you are not alone, but that something somewhere has your back and all you have to do is trust it.
I WILL LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES AND NOT DEFEND THEM
Our impulse is to run from failure. We pretend it didn’t happen. We blame it on an outside force when in fact our mistakes are our best teachers. So don’t blame that error away. Look at it. Don’t say, “I didn’t make it.” Say, “What can I learn from it so I don’t do it next time?” There is great information in the things we do wrong. Mistakes are the universe’s classroom. So, show up for class and don’t forget your notebook.
I WILL MAKE RIGHT MY WRONGS WHEREVER POSSIBLE
The power of “I’m sorry”– the freedom in owning when and how we might have hurt others, caused damage or acted inappropriately. Unless we are sociopaths, we know when we have done wrong. If you don’t clean it up in the moment or sweep it out of the corners of your past, you will carry around so much excess baggage, that you will turn yourself into an emotional Sherpa.
I WILL EXAMINE MY LIFE ON A DAILY BASIS
It’s the daily dusting off of our souls. It’s quietly looking back on the day before sleep and seeing where you have made progress, and were you the best you could be. It’s being totally honest with yourself and acknowledging where you might have slipped. It’s not beating yourself up, but taking note and reminding yourself that life is lived in the moment, a day at a time. And tomorrow you wake up and get to start all over again.
I WILL LIVE IN LOVE, SERVICE, GRATITUDE AND TRUST
Fear cannot live alongside love. So go with love. Understand that it is better to love than to be right. Give back. Nothing shines the heart like doing for others.Be grateful instead of keeping score of what isn’t, and start taking daily and hourly inventory of what is. It works. It just does. And trust. Trust yourself. Trust the universe. Trust that even if you can’t see it or define it, something out there has your back.
Singer, songwriter, actor, recovery advocate, and presently President and Chairman of the Board of ASCAP, Paul Williams has been a fixture on the American cultural scene since the seventies. He is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, has been nominated for six Oscars with one win for EVERGREEN. Paul has been nominated for eight Grammys and won three, six Golden Globe nominations and two wins, and two Emmy nominations. He has released twenty-four albums, and scored endless films. His most famous song is perhaps Rainbow Connection, though his hits are too many to list. He was the star of a brave and heartwarming documentary Paul Williams Still Alive, which followed his rise, fall and ultimately newfound celebrity as a recovery advocate and legendary songwriter.
Tracey Jackson is a prolific playwright, screenwriter, and author. She wrote such films as The Guru, The Other End of the Line, and adapted the best-selling Confessions of a Shopaholic for film, as well as multiple films for which she did not take credit. She has written over twelve TV pilots, including the series BABES for Fox TV. She has the distinction of writing and selling what SCRIPT Magazine sites as “One of the top unproduced screenplays of the nineties”. Tracey also wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the controversial documentary Lucky Ducks. Her first book Between a Rock and a Hot Place ~ Why Fifty is Not the New Thirty took the lid off the concept that we are actually getting younger.
Together these two best friends have written The New York Times Bestselling book Gratitude and Trust – Six Affirmations That Will Change Your Life. They’ve appeared on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah who called them “spiritual leaders and cultural icons.” They’ve been on The Today Show and Tavis Smiley, amongst many other national TV and radio shows.
They presently do a weekly podcast together called The Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson Podcast on Podcast one, where they continue their mission of spreading Gratitude and Trust and having some fun along the way.