What Meaning Do I Choose?
My search for meaning is the source of success or failure. Understanding, perception, and past experience shape my decisions.
These decisions affect my attitudes which in turn determine what kinds of results I experience. Now, it is difficult to comprehend that circumstances outside of me do not determine the experience of my inner world. This sounds outrageous, but I hope to express what I mean.
Meaning is an interpretation of a perceived event, personal communication, or concept. When I can change the way I see things, the things I see change. An inside look at myself and interpreting an experience in a certain way is useful to my growth.
The more I know today, the less I understand. The things I thought I figured out long ago, I’m learning again. So, I must be flexible and adaptable in what concept I identify my world in.
When I was drinking, in the end, I had become a slave to alcohol. I believed that only with alcohol could I cope with my life. This was the meaning I felt in my soul. I never thought I could stop, because every time I set goals to stop, even for a day, I could not. This became to be a self fulfilling prophecy and further cemented by a belief that there was no hope.
What happened that allowed me to turn the corner and view my alcoholism in a new way? For me it was desperation. I had ran out of answers and excuses. I cried loudly internally, “I need help!”
I do not know your situation, but when you are about to lose your family, your health, and your self respect and dignity, a new meaning for your life is revealed.
Maybe it’s a nudge from the judge in the form of a drunk drinking citation or accident. Either way, action is required based on the meaning you give to the event, words, or self talk.
My attitudes are based on belief. Belief is a feeling of certainty about what something means. It is therefore important to choose a meaning that not only serves me and allows me to move forward, but does not interfere in the well being or life of another. I decided something needed to change; and that was me.
When I was drinking, I was living mostly in my mind and rarely had the interests of others. Self centeredness, self pity, poor self awareness were characteristics or defects of my character. Alcohol was hiding these traits from me or better still, I was running from them and using booze to mask them.
Do you see what I just did? I changed the meaning and my evaluation or interpretation of the experience instantly changed. All of us do this shifting in meaning consciously but more times than not, unconsciously.
The key is to watch my thoughts and change meaning consciously that better serves my attitudes. I am not disguising the experience with false beliefs, rather proactively finding a feeling that best expresses a meaning.
Attitude is always in flux, just like the weather. When I can find a purpose greater than my moods, true joy can be experienced. Happiness typically depends on outside forces or circumstances and joy is an inner experience. I can nurture joy.
My understandings must be viewed with an open mind and willingness to always know that my perceptions are always subject to change. What I believed yesterday is information that is subject to change today. This is what I like to refer to as “downstream thinking.”
When I am living in “flow” and not fighting life, I view life effortlessly. I can roll with the change and just hum along.
Admitting to myself and others I am alcoholic was strangely difficult. I frankly was anonymous of this denial to my psyche. Eventually, in the end, I was ashamed because I allowed it to erode my dignity. There are definitely certain stigmas or meanings attached to that term.
For several years I never considered Alcoholics Anonymous because of the stigma, reputation I had placed in the organization. I had to shift my meaning in order to behave differently. Many times this is not our decision, but the meaning is the catalyst.
Today, I understand that admitting to being an alcoholic is simply saying that I am living in the solution. I am now in the equation of solving the problem. This facet, is a part of my experience of life and I would not be the person I am today without recognizing my past.
Being recovered for many years, I still value the lethal realistic important fact that I will never be cured of the disease.
Admitting and accepting I am alcoholic, is the first step and signal towards recovery. Without revealing the problem, and making decisions to stay the course, I will never be in the solution, which is soundness of mind.