My former chosen method of numbing pain included self-medicating with pills and toxic relationships. It’s taken years, open sharing and honest conversations, lots of therapy, and a few rock-bottom moments to set myself on a path of growth and healing.
For many people who struggle with addiction, recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) have ignited a new way of life, and a newfound sense of identity and purpose. Yet, AA practices aren’t just life-changing for its members alone—anyone can benefit from the organization’s principles, steps, and slogans.
Here are five slogans from AA that you can incorporate into your daily life:
1. One Day at a Time
To take it one day at a time means precisely that. As time-oriented beings, some of us find it difficult to stay present in the moment; instead, our headspace shifts between memories of the past or ahead to potential future outcomes. While neither headspace is wrong, dwelling on the past or the future can stunt personal growth and deplete energy and stamina, and potentially cause us to miss out on present joys. The truth is, we can’t change the past, and we don’t know what the future holds. However, we can control our thoughts, words, and actions right here, right now. Current problems and weighty circumstances can be sifted through in bite-sized portions when viewed through a “one day at a time” lens.
Whether you’re in a recovery group, grieving the loss of a loved one, overwhelmed with work or family issues, in the throes of dirty diapers and sleep deprivation, or stepping into a new season, taking life “one day at a time” will help keep you focused and grounded in the present. Allow yourself the freedom to move forward one day, one hour, or one minute at a time.
2. Progress, Not Perfection
Like the theme above, “progress not perfection” requires an intentional focus on the present. We’re all on a journey that is unique to us, and we handle and respond to our failures, successes, hardship, and the mundane in our individualized ways. When our efforts are directed toward the journey itself and the progress we alone are making rather than perfect execution, we can keep the momentum moving forward, which leads to further progress.
Perfectionism, on the other hand, stifles growth and keeps us locked in a mindset that is focused on mistakes, failures, and internal defects that block continual growth, learning, and ultimately progress.
Allow for imperfections and find a way to reframe failures, perhaps seeing them as great opportunities to learn and to grow. Listen for that voice of the inner bully and replace its mocking words with words of affirmation. You may take steps backward or stumble at times, but it is in the small, often overlooked steps that true progress and transformation are born.
Here are five slogans from AA that anyone can incorporate into their daily life.
3. HALT = Don’t Get Too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired
“HALT” is a self-explanatory cue to attune yourself to your needs. Your outlook, relationships, and entire day can quickly be derailed when any of these four trigger points start rearing their heads. Many of us are tired from living in a fast-paced culture and rarely take time to slow down. Loneliness, too, is on the rise and is a trigger point for many that sometimes leads to self-destructive, numbing behavior. Add hunger and/or anger to these two emotions and you have a cocktail that makes Mommie Dearest look angelic by comparison.
Next time you feel yourself losing your cool, stop—HALT—and take inventory of what’s taking place inwardly. If hunger is the culprit, fuel yourself with nourishing foods. If you’re feeling angry or lonely, talk with a trusted person, meditate, pray, journal your thoughts, or take the brave step toward therapy or a support group. If you’re tired, an Epsom salt bath, nap, or a good book may do just the trick. The point is to love and respect yourself and take actionable steps toward alleviating these triggers.
4. Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
Yes, gratitude makes the list. Why? Because what we think about has the potential to alter the trajectory of our journeys. Circumstances may not change, but our attitudes toward them improve as we incorporate thanks for the silver lining moments that are shrouded in hardship.
You can start making gratitude a part of your daily ritual by creating a mental or actual list of people, moments, and items you are thankful for. Train yourself to mentally appreciate the beauty around you and the people in your life and let them know. Go one step further and write a note to people who’ve impacted your life. Gratitude is a mindset shift, changes us for the better, makes us healthier, and better able to focus on the journey.
5. Growing Old Is Mandatory; Growing Up Is Optional
This slogan serves as a blatant reminder that maturity and progress won’t just transpire through happenstance or by an increase in years. Instead, it happens when we keep moving forward, when we reframe mistakes and learn from them, when we take things one day at a time, and when we become the active agents in our lives. We have a choice: will we stagnate, or will we take steps toward growth?
A few practical ways to “grow up” are to enroll in a class and learn something new; sift through emotional baggage from the past; become aware of unhealthy behaviors and relationships and resolve to move forward; purge items that no longer serve you and take them to the dump; create more white space in your environment; try new hobbies; learn about fixed mindsets vs growth mindsets; schedule a personal retreat; visit a country that intimidates you; and be around people different from yourself.
We have a choice: will we stagnate, or will we take steps toward growth?
Whether we’re in a recovery program or not, we can all take brave strides toward growth, a positive outlook, and a renewed sense of joy by integrating these five slogans into our lives.
*Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international organization for people who have struggled with drinking at some point in their lives. The program is aimed to lead individuals through sobriety and recovery from their addiction in a supportive environment where participants strengthen each another through open and honest conversations. If you or a loved one suffer from addiction, check out local AA, Al-Anon, CoDA, SA, and NA groups.
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