Informed Wisdom from Alcoholics Anonymous – Valid for Everyone
April 15, 2020
Uncertainty. Change. Fear. Isolation. Confusion.
Just recently, I am experiencing these emotions in an ongoing parade.
Sometimes they visit one by one, sometimes they pair up, sometimes they jump at me and sometimes just slide up quietly.
Many of us here are experiencing something we have never seen the likes of before. The unpredictability of each day, each hour, each moment can throw me off.
I like routine, I am not a fan of change. I want to be able to do things correctly – and right now I am learning over and over that there is no right way. It is all a new way. And we are all in this together.
As a recovering alcoholic, I have an advantage because I have experience with these emotions when I was drinking, and in the last six years, I have learned a number of tools that I can rely on to bring balance back.
One phrase used a lot is ‘one day at a time.’
This phrase can bring the huge, unknown, confusing, frightening future into focus in a way that can seem doable. I only need to think about this day, this hour, this moment right now and do the next right thing. I only have this time right now.
There is no benefit to trying to plot and plan a future that is completely unpredictable. The only thing we know is that we cannot possibly know what is ahead of us. Our best chance of peacefulness is staying in tune with right now. Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh explains it like this, “When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”
Which brings me to another tool, one that comes from The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) – a teaching on acceptance. I have learned that when I am disturbed, it is because I am unable to accept the current situation for what it is – out of my control. The only thing I have control over is how I react to life’s challenges and life’s joys. I do not need to like the facts or understand the facts, but I do need to live with the facts.
The first step of the 12 steps of AA can be useful – “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (or coronavirus, or whatever) – that our lives had become unmanageable.” Here is the crux of the matter – we have no power, so we are afraid, confused, isolated, uncertain. Our solution is to remember that everything passes. All is temporary. Stay in the present moment. Accept that I am powerless and keep hope for tomorrow.
Hope is a critical component these days.
One way to nurture hope is maintaining a solid foundation, meaning to practice self care. For me, this can be walking outside and observing nature and my neighbors (from a distance). It can be a warm shower, yoga stretches, a wonderful meal prepared with my partner. It is feeding the place of hope, so that I have the inner resources to remind myself to stay in the present moment when those unbalancing emotions present themselves.
As we continue through these confusing times, let us remember to stay in the present moment and act with love.
By Cathy Diers
Minnesota Personalized Medicine