Monday, March 19, 2012
INSTANT GRATIFICATION vs. LIFE
The Ability to resist impulse can be developed through practice. When you’re faced with an immediate temptation, remind yourself of your long-term goals—whether they be losing weight or getting a medical degree. You’ll find it easier, then, to keep from settling for the single marshmallow. —Daniel Goleman
"One is too many and a thousand never enough."
If you have ever attended Twelve Step meetings of almost any kind, you've heard the above quotation. It makes no difference what your addiction or collection of addictions consist of, it's all the same: Abstain, and you can be making progress toward your long term goals; Use, and it's back on the treadmill of addiction.
"I'll never use again." We've heard that, as well. Often these are the ones who, if they ever do manage to make it back through the doors of recovery, begin by saying, "I had no intention of using." The whole point of Step One is that addiction is more powerful than you are and if you tangle with using again, you are going to lose.
"What's your poison?" the bartender used to ask. It's a good question, the answers to which are important to those who want to reach for better lives free from addiction. Gambling, alcohol, street drugs, prescription drugs, food, tobacco, nail biting, sex, controlling others, work, cutting ourselves, down to and including the darkest extremes of addiction as with compulsive rapists and serial murderers. In my own case, that first drink, that first prescription drug, that first puff of tobacco, that first bet, that first bite of food outside my food plan, and I'm back there once again, racing to keep up and going nowhere except deeper into addiction's hell.
Here is another quote, one of the Twelve Step program slogans: "Think." In some programs it's phrased, "Think First." In others it's phrased, "Think it through." They all mean the same thing: Engage brain before operating body. If you don't pick up the first, there is no need to go through the humiliation and punishment of the second, the hundredth, or the ten thousandth. If I don't pick up the first, I can still move toward accomplishing my long term goals.
"Oh, but what's the use? Why try?" We've heard that, too, and sometimes from ourselves. What do I do then?
Call my sponsor.
Write a gratitude list
Go to a meeting
Read the program literature
Write out my feelings
Do something nice for someone
Call someone else in the program
Get back on working the Steps
Once in recovery, I have the choice whether to pick up that first or leave it be. The choice is mine until I pick up. I need to keep my long term goals in mind and not pick up that first, because all the things I could now put on a gratitude list are what I might lose should I con myself into thinking, "One won't hurt."
I've experienced the slavery of addiction and the freedom of recovery; Freedom is better.
Think it through.