Give It All You’ve Got

"I've got a theory that if you give 100 percent all the time, somehow things will work in the end." - Larry Bird, retired American NBA basketball player, considered as one of the best players of all time, played for the Boston Celtics (born 1956) In recovery, as in life in general, half-way measures lead to less-than-hoped-for results. We don't get the benefit of the full results if we only put in half-hearted efforts. Where many of us get into trouble is in only going so far with our recovery work, figuring that we can either coast along or take some shortcuts along the way.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Let's look at some examples of listless and half-hearted recovery work and compare them to giving it everything we've got. The first example is going to meetings. If we feel like we're too good for sitting in the 12-step rooms or that there's nothing there that can benefit us, this is a foolhardy self-deception that will only bring us predictable results. If we don't go to meetings, despite recommendations from our treatment professionals, we've only got ourselves left to provide support and encouragement for our continued sobriety. And we know already that we're certainly not our own best counsel. Look where that's gotten us in the past.

So, going to meetings should be a ritual that we engage in regularly. It should become part of our routine, at first daily (or more often, as needed), and then regularly. We can expect it to feel strange at first, sitting in a room with others that we don't know, and may not feel like we have anything in common with as well. What we will find, if we instill in our minds that we absolutely need the support and encouragement of others who, like us, are embracing their sobriety, is that we will feel more at ease over time.

We may even find that we look forward to these meetings, for they offer us the opportunity to get outside ourselves and our daily stresses and challenges and see and hear how others have tackled some of the same types of situations and issues and come out ahead. Who knows, we may even learn something that we can adapt to our own circumstance. That's why it's called a support group, a fellowship of others who have similar goals: to maintain their sobriety and to help others do the same.

Suppose we start going to meetings and things seem okay for a while, but before long we start finding reasons to skip meetings. First, we may ditch one or two meetings a week, or we may not go for a week or more. We may tell ourselves that things are crazy at work, or we don't feel well, or we don't want to run into a certain individual that's been coming to a particular meeting. These are all excuses. They aren't worth the effort it takes to say them aloud. Once we start lying to ourselves about how we don't need a meeting or we're too busy to go, we're engaging in self-sabotage. It's just a short journey from this kind of refusal to work our recovery to actually succumbing to the temptation to use again. No, it doesn't always work out that way, but if we aren't actively engaged in working our recovery, we're not moving forward, either.

The second example of half-hearted recovery work is only going so far with step-work and then stopping. If we find that we're up against a big challenge with this step or that and stop, we're just going to stalemate our recovery. We won't be necessarily moving backward, but we won't be moving forward either. Long-timers in recovery, and our 12-step sponsor, will tell us that the key is to keep doing step work, even if it means skipping a step temporarily. Surely there are things that we can be doing relative to other steps, even if we've already done them. Recovery work doesn't always go in orderly fashion, and while there are 12 steps, they don't have to be done all in the same order.

The biggest secret is to give it all we've got. Step work, living in sobriety, crafting a new life for ourselves in recovery all demand that we go fully into it with everything we've got.

Posted on November 15th, 2011
Posted in Articles

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