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Dr. Bob Weathers on Recovery from Addiction: On Dealing with Distractions

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February 27, 2013 by Dr. Bob Weathers

Ever noticed how, even with the firmest of resolve, that it’s so easy to be sidetracked? Specifically, have you ever made a resolution — for instance, to build quiet time into your daily schedule — only to have it railroaded by “the ten thousand things”? Let’s talk today about what to do…

In an earlier blog post (look up Dr. Bob Weathers on “creative block”), we discussed the phenomenon of resistance which arises so often when we set our minds to a creative task. Open up time for creativity and play, and in comes the insatiable competition of vacuuming floors, washing dishes, etc. Anything but sticking to our guns, and opening ourselves to creativity.

Well…there is likely a similarity between that experience, which we all know, of creative block, and what we’ve introduced here; namely, coping with distractions to carrying through on resolutions to better take care of ourselves. All too often, it seems, no sooner do we commit ourselves to a positive course of action than in come the “underminers,” who would sabotage our best-laid plans.

Particularly for those in recovery from addiction, commitment to personal improvement requires daily dedication: whether going to meetings, reading relevant, inspirational literature, or privately working the 12 Steps. Yet here, maybe especially so, distraction does arise.

Practical suggestions? For starters, it may make best sense to set aside the beginning of one’s day for such taking-care-of-oneself work. That is, before the pressures and distractions of the workaday world impinge, why not set aside, on a regular basis, time for no one but yourself? To quote one, similarly inclined commentator (here reversing a quite familiar admonition): “Don’t just do something, sit there!”

It’s true, isn’t it? It can seem as if our spending time, for example first thing in our day, just for our own interior development and self-reflection, is the epitome of selfishness. Let’s challenge this critical view, however. Might it not be the case that such “selfishness” is not only necessary, but that it helps to root out the kind of self-absorption and mindlessness that otherwise can take over our day, indeed our entire lives?

For those in recovery, whether from alcohol and drugs, or perhaps other, so-called “process” addictions (and here we might include compulsive, if nearly always unconscious, thinking): we need first to acknowledge the huge power of habits which would distract us from non-task-oriented quiet time, prayer, devotional reading, meditation, and other forms of self-care. Once having acknowledged that, yes, opening the computer, checking the voicemails, making lists for the day and the week; all these and more can suck away our free time for creative replenishment; yet even then we have responsibility to those whom we love, and to ourselves, to forge ahead and…do nothing instead of something!

The Danish philosopher and theologian from the 19th century, Soren Kierkegaard, once said: “It is often easier to do something rather than nothing.” Yet in his view, and ours here today, the “nothing” you stick to, which requires incredible attentiveness and perseverance amidst distractions of the day, this “nothing” may very well be the biggest “something” you could give yourself and those whom you love most.

Try setting your alarm clock 15 or 20 minutes earlier, for one idea, and stake a claim to the time you’ve just opened up. Let no one and no-thing interfere. Be ruthless with your commitment to deepening and healing your own self and soul. And let me know how it goes…

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