A word or an action by someone or something entered your perception. This word or action triggered emotions inside you. Anger, hurt, jealousy, sadness or any number of other potentially painful feelings. These emotions then caused thoughts to enter your head. These thoughts swelled and flew around in your mind like the erratic flight of moths. They won't go away. No matter what you are doing, these thoughts dominate and consume your life. You are miserable and feel like you are going crazy. And some would say you are.
These thought patterns are typically a sign that there is something or someone that you need to let go of. Until you let go, they are taking up free rent in your head and robbing you of a serene life. Letting go is not easy; particularly for us addicts. But it can and needs to be done if we want to stay clean and sober and be mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy. If you have no desire to be healthy, then keep holding on and your misery will continue on the downward spiral.
The following suggestions are not guarantees for everyone. I just know from experience, that when I practice them, I am able to let go of whatever is driving me crazy and reclaim my serenity.
- Pray, pray, pray. This cannot be overemphasized. Praying keeps you in touch with whatever power you believe loves and guides you. Pray can be formal or informal. Prayer can be conversational. Prayer can be silent. Prayer can be something as simple as pausing during obsessive thinking and saying, "Help me, please." Prayer keeps you in touch with the inner essence of yourself that wants and needs serenity.
- Forgive someone. This does not mean that what the person did to you is ok. It means that you love yourself enough to move on. If you hold on to the idea that certain things are unforgivable, you will never find peace. Forgiveness is about you. Not the other person. Forgive someone sincerely and notice how magically different you feel inside.
- Help someone. There are a myriad of way to help others. They can range from simply being a good listener to regularly scheduled volunteer commitments. It's amazing how quickly the moths in your head get quiet when you turn your thoughts to someone else.
- Use a physical analogy. Think of an entity in life that repulses you. In my case, it is cockroaches. Then imagine yourself with a handful of them. Are you going to hang on to them or let them go? I would be letting go of the filthy things so fast I wouldn't even need to think about it. This suggestion has worked particularly well with quick, every day triggers, such as rudeness. When a person speaks or behaves in a rude manner, I immediately picture the roaches and let go. No negative thoughts and my serenity remains intact.
- Don't take anything personally. This can be tough as it is a challenge to our egos. Try to remember that everything human beings say and do is a reflection of what is going on inside. If someone speaks rudely to me, something inside that person causes this behavior and has nothing to do with me.
Yes, letting go can be difficult. It is perhaps one of the deepest challenges we face in recovery. Sometimes we let go and then later take it back again. Then we just repeat the process. This can be a lot of work. But when we value our recovery, the rewards of serenity are immeasurable.