The 3 Giant Lessons I learned over 8 years of Sobriety

becoming the promise

I dont have to worry about what its going to take to never drink again. The truth is I could have a drink tomorrow. But today, I choose not to drink. Today I celebrate 8 years of sobriety, and I did it one day at a time. If you want to talk more about this Lets Talk.

The lessons I learned during my first year of sobriety were huge and I remember wondering if the lessons would stop after a while. But they havent and I want to share the 3 big ones that hit me this year.

  • Transforming Shame into Value
  • Attraction over Promotion
  • Fulfillment through Service

Shame into Value

I have done a ton of things that I am ashamed of, things that bring shame to my family and the people that care about me. I never really thought about them until I was sitting in the back of a cop car wearing handcuffs, then all the wicked memories would rush back into my mind. I worried what people would say because Ive been arrested again, or if someone would post my mug shot on the socials. I was only worried about myself.

You may have heard me talk about getting the reps in, and I definitely got me some reps or shame in. I piled it up year after year and trying to hide it or ignore it has proven to be unhealthy.

But I can make my shame useful for others. Its usually in a 1 on 1 situation, someone confides in me. They share something that they have hidden from the world and half expect me to judge them, but I cant cuz I have similar stories. I too have done some dirt. The shame I used to hide is now the foundation for me to help someone else understand that they are not alone. 

Telling people about the selfish short sighted decisions Ive made and living in sobriety helps people see that they too can get out of the self destructive behavior.

Attraction over Promotion

In my early sobriety I used to run around diagnosing people. Id point out the signs to them and put in way too much energy trying to convince them that they needed find sobriety the way I did. Fast Forward to now I know it is not my place to diagnose anyone and I know that I absolutely cannot convince anyone that they need to live a sober life.

And strangely enough, people in my life have taken steps towards minimizing their alcohol consumption and or managing self destructive behaviors.

These courageous people reach out and ask questions. They wonder if they have a problem, they want to know how to start, they want to know if theyre doing it wrong. 

This is like the ultimate for me cuz again its a way for me to use my shame and embarrassment for good. 

I think the reason they reach out is because they see me showing up content, energetic, and open minded. Something about the peace that I have signals to them that I can help them. Of course a big part is the fact that I dont keep my addictions and run ins with the law a secret.

But I dont have to go hunting people down, all I have to do is stay on the path and be available to serve. And when people are ready they will reach out

Fulfillment through Service

One of the things I was chasing through substance abuse was fulfillment, I was also running away from my memories and my feelings. It was a muddy messy race and serving others was the only way I could break the cycle. 

"Serving others" feels like this big romantic thing but it can be super simple. The first way I was instructed to serve others was cleaning out ash trays at the 12 step meetings. That assignment wasnt fulfilling but it humbled me, cleaning out cigarette butts that other people left behind required me to disconnect from my judgement of others and own the hundreds of times that I left a mess for other people to clean up.

Little by little I built a practice of doing things that werent solely for my benefit. Eventually I figured out how I best serve and have been working hard to figure out how to spend all my time doing that. 

Some people think Im just a really nice guy that likes helping people. But the truth is I am a Selfish Servant. Helping people brings me fulfillment, using the lessons my mistakes taught me to help someone suffer less brings me joy. 

Seeing people get on the path to Becoming the Promise They are Intended to Be makes me feel useful. Which gives me more energy to serve which gives me fulfillment which goes on and on. Its like a limitless pool of Joy as long as I am serving others.

And as I continue down the path I discover more ways to serve others. Staying sober gives me enormous amounts of times to learn new skills and better understand myself. And these new skills and deeper understandings always lead to new ways for me to serve.

I want to be clear that you dont have to get arrested a bunch of times or have an addiction to experience fulfillment. All of us have shame that we can use to serve others, all of us can lead a life that attracts others, and all of us can share our gifts and talents with others.

If you or someone you know is stuck in self destructive behaviors check out Becoming the Promise You are Intended to Be the stories in there are living proof that you dont have to suffer alone.

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