AA Rule 62 – “Don’t take yourself too seriously.”

This is another focus I’ve concentrated on during this sobriety. In the past I had a tendency to put high expectations on people and myself only to wallow in frustration, anger, sometimes resentment when my expectations weren’t met. Today I’m aware just how much I’ve changed.

My first sponsor hit the nail on the head every time, “Mike, you’re to damn seriously.” I just couldn’t see it no matter how many times he said it to me. He also reminded me, though I didn’t really practice it, “If you don’t put out high expectations, you can’t be disappointed.” Like other sayings, this still rings in my head when I get in one of my moods.

For example, last night at work a co-worker and I had a discussion about how the job could be easier for us, if this or that person did this or that. Old me would have put 200% of my thoughts in the whole conversation getting frustrated and angry why it couldn’t be this way. I caught myself right there. I simply nodded and said, “Okay”. When at work in the past old me would have looked at the day expecting to get everything done exceeding what was expected of me. At the end of the day when I didn’t get what I want accomplished, I would get down on myself sinking myself into a pit of despair.

I don’t think I’ve ever been this relaxed at work. I literally go in with no expectations at all. As with many jobs, we have production goals per day. There are a set amount of hours expected to do certain jobs. I’m certainly not lazy, I do my job. Though I may be new to this whole experience, I still push towards those expected goals. Last night, I actually got all pallets and carts stocked, cardboard and pallets off the floor two hours earlier than the previous day. At one point I didn’t think I would get things done because I noticed I put a few things in the wrong places and had to switch things around. I was actually proud of myself for getting all that done. But again, I’m not going to expect myself to do this night after night. I have to be comfortable doing a job to the best of my ability and not worrying what others think, especially myself. I’m to get the job done, not be a show off. If the employer doesn’t feel I meet their expectations in the future, I have to be comfortable that perhaps it’s just not the right job for me. But such a though doesn’t mean its okay to slack off. I still have to push myself.

I’ve also noticed when I get home I actually relax. Instead of jumping on the computer to get this and that done, I watch some early morning news – even though I’m really not paying attention. The old me use to get immediately on the computer to do this and that, then get so overwhelmed when I didn’t get what I wanted done. “Rome didn’t get build it a day”. “Does it have to be done right now? Does it have to be done by me? Does it have to be done at all?” No, no and no. In my head, I still think, “Oh my God, this, this, this, this and this, I can’t get it all done right now. NOT – failed each and every time. Usually I’ll fix my dinner after watching some boring news cycle, then take a shower and head to bed. Unwinding from the day is something I don’t think I really did in my past.

The program of Alcoholics Anonymous has given me so many tools to use to change my life, if I’m willing to use them. I can be stubborn sometimes. I screw up and fall back to old ways. I now have a better awareness of my destructive behaviors. I’m learning how to change them. That is progress not perfection.

Practicing Principles in Life

I’m not one to celebrate minor milestones like the eleven months of sobriety I have today. When I turn to quiet introspection of “what it use to be like, what happened and what is like now” for myself, it always happens to be on a monthly anniversary. The world around me has changed drastically in the last month. Most importantly, I have changed. Isn’t that the whole point of sobriety?

The hardest lesson for me during the last eleven months of sobriety is watching ego and pride. Isn’t that what go me here in the first place? I became so selfish and self-centered. Nothing else mattered; I wanted what I wanted, when I wanted it, I wanted it two weeks ago and I would do anything to get it. There was a feeling of entitlement; I deserved it for all the hard work I put in or the pain I went through. Complete and utter BULLSHIT!

After going through the Fourth (4th) Step I began to understand again where I had done. All that guilt, shame, fear, insecurity, etc. was brought to the forefront – again. There were “defects” I didn’t address the last time I was sober. I knew they existed but did nothing about them. This time I have made a point of working on them. Thus I have seen a definite change, a needed change.

As I continue to do what I need for my sobriety, I see others shy away from me. Recently, both roommates have just gotten very distant. Today, I’m actually okay with the whole change of scenery. I’m no longer wanting companionship, approval, friendship from those people who are not allowing me to move forward. They have their own problems. They are walking down their own paths to recovery or relapse. I would offer my help but both are unwilling, close minded and just reverting back to their selfish self-centered behaviors. I don’t want to use the cliche, “Been there, done that” but its true. It lead me to path I never (and don’t have to) ever travel down again.

Today I’m more aware of myself and those around me. It’s important for me to USE to “spiritual tools laid at my feet”. If I don’t, I just have to look at my past. Instead, as instructed, I look at myself and the part I played daily. Had I been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking or afraid? If not, I move on. If so, I know what I need to do immediately. Do I get hurt my others? Yes. However, today I’m not angry or resentful. It is what it is.

I have a sense of peace and serenity in my life. I’m happy to be where I am today. I’m grateful to be alive, sober and “practicing these principles in all my affairs”.