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The Power of Sobriety

Chapter 1: Flirting with Responsibility

There are a plethora of meanings to the word sober or sobriety, the majority of which are to be free of influence from a substance and in particular alcohol. Whilst substance sobriety is clearly understood the understanding that the influencing domino of sobriety is to be consistently of a “sober mind” is not discussed often enough.

Those of sober mind do not allow themselves to be captivated by any type of influence that would lead them away from sound judgment.

Being able to understand the negative influence of toxicity in all of its formats allows those of sober mind to not only withdraw from substance or behavioural dependency but also from people or circumstance that are equally as toxic.  

The power of sobriety however, is the establishment of trust, the greatest personal asset required for a successful life, and a substance dependent that stays in remission epitomises all the great characteristics as they stand as living examples of dealing with the difficulties of sensitive or hard choices.

Initiating the power of being of sober mind requires the acceptance of responsibility.

The Inclusion and Exclusion Zones

Why am I not included, I feel left out in the rain and I don’t know why.

All inclusion or exclusion from a task or event is neither accidental nor emotional, but a deliberate decision derived from the assessment of character of an individual, a group or community by another individual, group or community.

Inclusion is a value add perception, determined by what the new entrant brings to the forum or friendship. Exclusion evolves from a cautionary tactic to a deliberate decision, fuelled by mistrust and loss of respect through the consistency of poor behaviour by an individual or collective entity.

When inclusion is denied, the loss may be meaningful, adding significantly to the lowering of self-esteem with no emotional upside to balance or manage the scenario that unfolds. “Exclusion loneliness” is a difficult terrain to navigate, reinforces inhibited and negative behaviour and once entrenched it takes enormous courage to recognise and varying time requirements to correct.

This is the world of those afflicted with wellbeing afflictions, whether it be substance or behavioural dependency, to those who may have a combination of afflictions, from dependency to managing high anxiety levels or suffering from any of the many forms of depression. It is a world where getting sober is merely the beginning, the foundation stone that allows one to begin repairing all of the relationships that are necessary for a meaningful life.

And it all starts with repairing the scariest relationship of all, the one I have with me.

My relationship with me begins with my relationship with responsibility. It includes how I hold myself accountable for the outcomes or consequences of my life. Do I take responsibility or do I flirt with it. Honestly, most of us, especially in the formative years have a flirtatious relationship with responsibility, wiping away poor choice as the sowing of oats in the green salad years. We regard this as fun, or a necessity in the seeking of peer approval or establishing status, without a care or concern for the consequences.

If being accepted into university is the privilege of the brightest brains, why do so many people fail? University is the first real step of understanding responsibility to oneself. It deliberately allows students to analyse their relationship with self-responsibility and then deliberately isolates those who choose to not meet the minimum academic performance standards. It is brutal and necessary.

If a person, and there is no age or gender discrimination here, consistently flirts negatively with self-responsibility the impact will ultimately be his/her or their exclusion from a group, team, taskforce, and their place of work. The hardest place to establish exclusion is one’s family which is why fixing family relationships is particularly difficult.

The diagram above illustrates the move from positive to negative interaction with responsibility. In the corporate world those with mental wellbeing afflictions are regarded as the weak or those of poor character. The often subliminal side lining of talent by business creates enormous individual self-doubt that generates negative instead of corrective behaviour, and as self-confidence falls the tendency of individuals to make poor decisions, rises.

There is the story of an alcoholic who had been through a 90 day inpatient therapy, maintained a substance free lifestyle for a further 100 days and then arrived late for work one morning because his dog had to be taken to the vet and subsequently died. His colleagues saw red eyes, the dogs passing was traumatic, and within ten minutes the grapevine gossip was that the inevitable “falling off the wagon” day had arrived. The dog story was perceived as yet another of the tall tales that had been told before the inpatient phase. An important project was being assigned personnel and the alcoholic in remission was hoping to be included. Unfortunately, the bad news arrived that it would be better for him to continue to focus on recovery rather than bear the stress of the project.

So how do you rebuild trust?

Trust requires an investment. Remission is a measurable process that can be tracked through pathology tests. The first “trust” investment is with the Mentor whereby it becomes agreed that for the first year, the monthly test results will be shared. As substances can be detected and with an all clear reading, the next test result would confirm either way the substance presence.  This allows the Mentor to intervene, uphold the integrity of process and in all likelihood the need for constant “proof” would diminish before the year is up. The investment, trusting the Mentor. The method, transparency. The reward, the Mentors confidence. The test, monthly accountability. All of this rebuilds trust.

The recognition that I will be better than my current assessment is a positive statement. It illustrates someone prepared to learn, someone with the courage to face unpleasant truths, a growth potential investment, a diamond in the rough.

It is a remarkable fact that when we choose to hold ourselves accountable for our relationship with responsibility we bring happiness to both ourselves and to each and every one of our life partners.

A Dozen Words to Make a Difference

Transition periods are difficult. The trick is to establish where I am and what do I need to do. A checklist of twelve words which if used to describe any individual would never be used to describe a substance dependent.

Start with being an inpatient and the torrid experience of having to write down your own life story, to face the real truths of how you have hurt people and probably the most sensitive, unlocking the box of shame and coming to terms with the nightmares of one’s life. This takes courage and it is a warrior’s courage. The moment one enters a program of change, courage is present. This is the courage of the strong that should not be belittled or sneered at. The great majority of people who do not have to face the trauma of rehabilitation would not find the courage to properly see the program through. So begin with courage, you have it in dollops and build from there.

Then focus on making a decision. The decision to enter treatment is a decision. Possibly one of the most important life decisions to be made. Far too many sit undecided, but you did not, you are in and you are committed to finding a new life path. Consistency requires time, effort and more time. Consistency is not measured in days or weeks or years. It is a life time measure, measured every day, one day at a time and for every day a sober mind is maintained, another day of consistency is banked. Your self-help is banking each day and not forgetting to bank it.

Chart your success. When these words describe you to you, find some new words that you want to be. Take a time out every month and see how many boxes you can tick. When you can tick all the boxes you are a person of sober mind, and a person of sober mind lives and breathes sobriety.

It also grants you power. The sober minded person is one that can be trusted. The Project will not only include you but you may well lead it. Doors will open because you have earned respect.

As a person rebuilds, family, friends, peers, colleagues and new acquaintances, recognise the change and move the person back into the inclusion zone. As confidence grows, the memories of why a person was ever excluded, fade and ultimately become replaced with positive memories.

Every individual is a mixture of unique characteristics. This is what makes humans fascinating and wonderful. Reviewing the relationship of twelve opposing characteristics is a manageable beginning that may be added to or subtracted on, will resonate with some but not incisive enough for others, may be too simple or overly complex, may be skeletal or fully formed, but they are not there as a panoptic view, but as a beginning.

As a person rebuilds, family, friends, peers, colleagues and new acquaintances, recognise the change and move the person back into the inclusion zone. As confidence grows, the memories of why a person was ever excluded, fade, become replaced with positive memories and the old me banished to way back when a lifetime time ago.

This is the power of sobriety.