Wise Words Can Help Recovery

Slogans and quotes can help counteract a negative mindset.

Posted Apr 04, 2019

Source: Pookie/Flickr

In twelve-step recovery groups slogans steer members toward serenity. “Just for Today” and “One Step at a Time” remind us to stay present. (Easier said than done, especially in the middle of a crisis.) Initially I found the slogans to be simplistic and even trite; however, during many years in the program they’ve helped pulled me through many challenging situations. They’ve also taught me to look for recovery ideas in many places. I’ve found several quotes and sayings that have served as anchors when I sink into despair, doubt my decisions, panic during a crisis, wallow in self-pity, question my motivation, and beat myself up. Here are a few that speak to me.  

I believe that recovery begins with a willingness to change and an awareness of our attitudes and behaviors. According to the Dalai Lama, To be aware of a single shortcoming within yourself is more useful than to be aware of a thousand in somebody else.

Another spiritual teacher, Pima Chodron, also focuses on self-awareness. Nothing ever goes away until it teachers us what we need to know.  Those of us whose loved ones abuse substances need to know a whole lot. Certainly, nothing in my life prepared me for the effects on family resulting from addiction. First and foremost, we need to learn how to keep our spoon in our own bowls and get out of our own way.

We also need to know that we aren’t perfect, and we make mistakes. A whole lot of them. The twelve-step slogan: Progress not perfection addresses this.  And author, Maya Angelou notes that defeat is a fact of life. You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.           

Even though we may experience many defeats, we need not feel defeated. One way to counteract defeat is to begin to trust yourself. In an amusing article on body image, Alice Suiffert writes: You have to constantly feed yourself supportive comments and thoughts  to combat the inevitable internal destructive comments that will surface. Don’t feed a cycle of self-doubt.  The wisdom and support of a recovery community can help counter that vicious cycle. The poet, Khali Gibran reminds us of this. Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother. So don’t go it alone. Reach out to others. Keep the faith. It points toward serenity.