In early recovery, we are introduced to many new modes of living that we never knew before. It’s easy to see how things involving our general health and wellness went by the wayside when we were living in active alcoholism and addiction. Now, in recovery, we have the time, energy, and opportunity to pay attention to any areas of our life that went neglected in our disease. Now, in recovery, we can finally take our wellness seriously.
This is not only a new opportunity for us, but it is also a responsibility. A glass can only spill what it contains. If we do not take care of ourselves, we will be unable to properly help anyone else — and helping others is not only one of the main purposes of recovery, it’s also the most surefire way to protect and maintain our recovery. Being of service to others is not an option in recovery, it is a must. And that means we have a responsibility to tend to our own wellness, so we may better attend to the needs of others.
Let’s look at some ways that we can begin to happily take on the responsibility of our wellness, thereby taking better care of others. Let’s get serious about getting well!
Put Your Own Oxygen Mask On First
We’ve all heard this plane crash cliche from pop psychology, “You have to put your own oxygen mask on before you help others.” This simply means that you have to take care of yourself first so you’re in a good position to take care of others. And it’s completely true, no matter how cliche it sounds. If our tank is empty and we’re run down, we aren’t going to be any good for anybody — plain and simple. One thing to pay attention to here is that many people misconstrue this old adage and take it to mean that “recovery is a selfish thing, and we have to take care of ourselves first.” This is dangerously wrong. There is nothing selfish about recovery. The whole reason we take care of ourselves is so that we can take care of others. The truth is that we can’t pour from an empty glass, so we do need to take care of ourselves first, but only so we can give to others at our absolute best capacity. We don’t take care of ourselves to show off or brag. We do it so we have more and better to give. Selfishness can kill alcoholics and addicts, so be wary about twisting this little metaphor. Altruism is how we stay alive in recovery.
Mind, Body, and Spirit
Now that we’ve gotten that cleared up, let’s look at the task before us. Recovery is all about serving others, right? But we’ve got to be in good shape to do that. The better we feel, the better we act and the better we can give. Having a good job just means that we now have better means to help others. If we make good money, we can buy newcomers a cup of coffee or put extra in the meeting basket. If we have happy and healthy relationships in recovery, that means newcomers will see the love and joy that are possible in recovery. If we look good, feel good, and do good, everyone will be able to see the miracles that are possible in recovery. Living in recovery really is about living the best life possible, but only so we can help many more people do that much better. Do you see it yet?
How do we take our wellness seriously so that we can render better service? We would be well served by keeping the Twelve Steps and the 12-Step recovery program front and center. If we make these our foundation, we can hardly go wrong. Unity, Service, Recovery: nothing makes a better basis for getting well. This holistic spiritual action approach can teach us a lot about getting well across the board. Let’s focus on the words “holistic” and “action.” Holistic means all-encompassing — everything is considered because everything is tied together. So our wellness must include our mind, our body, and our spirit.
The Twelve Steps will take care of our spirit as long as we stay actively engaged with them. We are also free and encouraged to pursue our spirituality in whatever direction it takes us. The most important thing is not the details, but that we take action perfecting and enlarging our spiritual life. If the 12-Step program is all we need, great! If we feel compelled to go beyond and dig deeper into our spirituality, that’s just as great! But we must take action. Perfecting and enlarging our spiritual life must be an active pursuit or else we are missing a major component of our wellness.
We must not forget about our minds and bodies as well. Things like diet, nutrition, and physical activity become important aspects of life in recovery when we consider how much damage we do to ourselves when we neglect these things. If our physical or mental health is poor, it’s unlikely that we will be in a position to do anyone much good. We must give at least some attention to whatever actions we need to take to achieve and maintain good physical and mental health. Meditation and light exercise are great places to start, as they both do wonders for the mind and body.
At Jaywalker Lodge, we believe that recovery is not a punishment for our lives spent in active alcoholism and addiction. In fact, recovery is just the opposite. Recovery is all about living your best possible life — a life that’s full of meaning, joy, abundance, and love. Living a life of recovery begins with working the 12-Step program. This course of spiritual action is designed to produce the necessary psychic change and vital spiritual experience that can help bring about freedom and recovery from alcoholism and addiction. Once we have begun this process, we begin healing and getting well. In recovery, there is no limit to how well we can become. We are free to pursue health, happiness, and wholeness of mind, body, and spirit once we enter recovery. We believe that anyone can get well! If you are ready to begin your journey, call Jaywalker Lodge now at (866) 529-9255.