Here are 10 things you must give up if you’re going to progress in recovery:
#1 Letting the opinions of others control your life
It’s not what others think, it’s what you think about yourself that counts. You have to do exactly what’s best for you and your life, not what’s best for everyone else. Everybody has opinions, and many people are not shy about sharing them! But that’s all they are: opinions. These other people don’t know you and your life the way you do, and they have their own blind spots, issues, and dysfunctions. Not only that, but they have their own agendas in sharing their opinions with you, which might not match yours.
#2 The shame of past failures
Your past does not equal your future. All that matters is what you do right now. What’s done is done. You can be forgiven, and make amends if you need to (and if it is safe to do so). But too often, people simply stay stuck in guilt and shame without doing anything about it. It’s time to forgive yourself, let go of shame, and move on.
#3 Being indecisive about what you want
You will never leave where you are until you decide where you would rather be. Make a decision now to figure out what you want, and then pursue it passionately. If you are getting stuck because your dream seems too big and unrealistic, take it back a step or two and think about an intermediate goal or desire. Most people get in indecision, because they focus on things they want to do or have. If that’s happening to you, focus instead on the kind of person you want to be, and move in that direction.
#4 Procrastinating on the goals that matter to you
There are two options in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or to accept the responsibility for changing them. Recovery means taking responsibility not simply for your sobriety, but for your life. When we don’t engage with life (which is what procrastination ultimately involves) we drift and put our recovery at risk. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now. If you are procrastinating, chances are you are thinking too far ahead or are dealing with perfectionism. Just take things one step at a time.
#5 Choosing to do nothing
You don’t get to choose how you were going to die, or when. You can only decide how you are going to live, right now. Every day is a new chance to choose. At best, choosing to do nothing will mean that things don’t get any better. But it’s more likely that they may get worse! If you leave a white fence alone, it doesn’t stay white … time and the elements cause it to fade, crack, and chip. If you want it to stay white, you must at least repaint it periodically. If you want to make it better, you’ve got to take steps to improve it. So it is with your life. Doing nothing means not only that nothing changes, it usually means that things get worse.
#6 Your need to be right
Aim for success, and never give up your right to be wrong. If you do, you will also lose your ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. The way we learn is by making mistakes. We learn to walk, ride bike, play sports, live in relationships, and pretty much anything else by trying, doing it wrong, learning, and adjusting. If you are wrong, admit it, and learn … and be thankful for the chance to grow.
#7 Running from problems that should be fixed
Stop running! Face the issues, fix the problems, communicate, appreciate, forgive and love the people in your life who deserve it. Once you let go of your need to be right, it’s much easier to learn and change … and then to fix the things in your life that aren’t working. People sometimes run instead of fixing relational problems because they don’t want the pain of conflict with other people. But there is no intimacy without conflict. The only people you don’t have conflicts with are people you don’t know very well.
#8 Making excuses rather than decisions
Most long-term failures are the outcome of people who make excuses instead of decisions. People struggle with decisions because they are afraid of making the wrong decision. But refusing to decide is a decision in itself — a decision to maintain the status quo. If you wait for everything to be perfect before you make a move, you will never do anything. And then you will cite these imperfect conditions as the “reasons” — ie. excuses — for your inaction. No more excuses.
#9 Overlooking the positive points in your life
What you see depends on what you’re looking for. You see what you focus on, everything else drifts by unnoticed. There will always be problems and frustrations in your life, and there will always be joys and blessings. At any given time, you decide what to focus on, and thereby you build a life characterized either by joy and serenity or sadness and pain. You will have a hard time ever being happy if you aren’t looking for — and being thankful for — the good things in your life right now.
#10 Not appreciating the present moment
Too often people try to accomplish something big without realizing that the greatest part of life is made up of the little things. Many people spend too much time and energy focusing on the past (what should have been or might have been). Or they spend too much time focused on the future — either in worry or in fantasy about what might happen. Instead, focus on the present moment, living one day at a time, taking one step at a time. Addiction is not created in a day, and recovery doesn’t happen in a day. It happens one day at a time, over a long time. Enjoy the journey.
* Note that this list is not original with me. I came across the list in paper form, with no source listed. Let me know if you know where the list originated.