The Master Juggler

By, C.W. Stratton

“Life is a juggling act that sometimes  that you drop everything.” ~Linda Poindexter                               

Life is full of transformative experiences. Many of us may not realize this, but even at this very moment, as you read this, the beginning of a transformative experience is occurring. The reason this is pointed out is because we have experiences in our lives where we are not fully present or totally involved. Living in our modern society where everything is rushed and many of us need to be Master Jugglers. Meaning, we must have an abundance of things we are responsible for in order to feel a part of this world, or feel a sense of accomplishment. 

Unfortunately, we end up trapping ourselves when we only judge our worth by our responsibilities. 

In recovery, we must take a healthy risk by stepping away from these things, for a moment, to see what we are actually doing. Others can see us juggling and they may applaud us, or even go as far as throwing something additional to our way to see if we can continue juggling. We become so excited by the applause and cheers, about how good of a job we’re doing, many of us are incapable of saying “enough” or “it’s too much.”

In many instances we don’t verbalize being overwhelmed because we are fearful of letting others down or we may feel if we were to stop juggling, everything would “fall” apart or we are doomed to return to the destructive behaviors we have worked so hard to discontinue. Remember that in recovery, the promise is “freedom”. 

In this sense, we define freedom as the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. Typically, we equate being imprisoned or enslaved to active addiction. Now that we’ve made a conscious decision to be a part of the recovery process, our continued efforts should also reveal other ways in which we imprison ourselves. 

Going back to the analogy of the “juggler”, he/she is poised and focused on the task at hand, even as spectators throw additional objects for them to continue juggling; the persons locked-in. This individual experiences what is called “myopia”.  

This is a term usually referenced medically; relating to the eye. In this this case, it’s the lack of foresight or imagination. Meaning, we don’t see anything beyond what’s in front of us. Just as the juggler.

Dangers can arise if we continue this process in our lives, using it as a way to protect us from returning to old behaviors. You know the thinking, “If I stay busy, I’m good” or “I don’t have time to think about using or not.” 

These are the messages we convey to us that can inevitably have a negative impact on our recovery. 

Staying busy doesn’t equal recovery, just like treading water doesn’t mean you’re swimming. 

We feel we are in a safe zone when we have many responsibilities that we hope will distract us from the real fears that exist within us. Things that we attempt to be the Master Juggler of, are:

1. Job (s); some of us work multiple jobs.

2. School

3. Relationships

4. Being a wife or husband

5.  Parenting

6.  Peacemaker

7.  The voice of reason for friends who are struggling

8.   Going to meetings

9.  Personal recovery

These are just a few. In many cases, we are juggling the aforementioned all at once. This seems like a heavy load to carry, but we feel this is essential to our continued efforts to remain clean/sober. We may be able to juggle these things for a period of time, but we will have those moments when we are alone and realize we have a lot on our hands. 

However, we wouldn’t dare verbalize this to anyone because we have become so attached to the responsibilities that it begins to define us and our recovery. We have moved further away from the freedom that we seek.

Stepping away for a moment is essential to obtaining a better perspective on our lives and on our recovery. Acknowledging the need for reflection in our lives can bring about a transformative experience. Speaking to individuals who have multiple jobs has always been interesting. They are asked if the need to do the extra work is for financial reasons. Many have relayed they just enjoy the work. 

Is it actually a joy to work 12-16 hours a day and not leave time for self-care? 

Eventually, they go back to the statement, “I like to stay busy”. This isn’t to say that every individual who works multiple jobs in addition to other responsibilities will fall short in their recovery, this is about awareness and being honest with ourselves about who the Master Juggler really is.

“Letting Go” has been a statement used in the recovery process. 

This statement is relayed when we are faced with difficult or emotional situations that hinder our process. The statement is true when it comes to “juggling”. Sometimes we have to let something fall in order to gain something greater. That something may be a significant tool to build upon our recovery. 

The transformation occurs when we obtain the courage to “let go” of the thing that has burdened us and not allow us to grow in the recovery process. We may not know exactly what that thing is, but we must, once again, step away to observe our circumstances clearly in an effort to fully embrace the transformative experience. 

The experience is enlightening and it even takes a huge weight from upon us. It’s like the “Ah ha” moment. This isn’t something to fear, it’s something to embrace. When we do this, we will truly begin the path to Freedom.

Most jugglers begin with a couple of things to see if they can handle it, or to obtain a rhythm to keep going. Over time, additional objects are handled, after they feel they have mastered the initial things at hand. As recovering people, we tend to take the opposite approach by beginning with the most difficult. As a result, a number of things occur;

1. Things are taken away from us (not by choice).

2. We lose certain responsibilities due to neglecting them.

3. We burn out and just give up.

4. We become too overwhelmed and drop everything.

5. We verbalize that things are too difficult, so we stop pushing forward.

6. We say “what’s the use” and return to the destructive behaviors.

You can be a Master Juggler of things in your life, but we must realize what we can actually endure. 

Just because the other juggler has eight items in the air, doesn’t mean that it will work for you. 

It’s like the old saying; what got me clean, may get you high. An important aspect of the transformative experience is to acknowledge what you can handle and embrace it. This is not a competition or a race, our goal is to live life to the fullest and experience with every fiber of our being. 

One Day At A Time. For us Master Jugglers, One Object At A Time.

DON’T USE, NO MATTER WHAT!

Motivation and Discipline

By C. W. Stratton

Motivation is the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.  Acknowledging this definition of motivation is simple.  However, acquiring and maintaining motivation can be challenging for many.  The acts we perform on a daily basis is for the purpose of obtaining a particular outcome.  Given it be our employment, exercise, reading, writing, meditating or some other activity you may engage in, you are seeking results or a particular outcome.  Each individual has different levels of motivation.  Some motivation may be impacted due to a mental disorder of some other form of disability.  However, there are a number of people who do not know the starting point of obtaining motivation.  Yes, we start many projects in our lives and we’ve left behind many unfinished ones as well.  Initially, we are excited and eager but soon the abyss creeps up on us.  We are no longer have positive self-talk about our project and we quickly talk ourselves out of following through.  This may not be due to our idea being lame or stupid, this may just be the manifestation of the lack of motivation.   The thought of a finished project is always at the forefront but we must re-evaluate our thought process and realize the steps that are required in competing a given task.  This may seem overwhelming but taking small steps and addressing a particular area at a time is critical to our motivation.  Many years ago, a question was asked of me that seemed ridiculous at the time: How do you eat an elephant?  ONE BITE AT A TIME.  This is true in completing certain tasks and projects; one step at a time.  When we break things down in steps we have a more likelihood of completing the task.  Utilizing time management and even dedicating a particular time of day to work on the steps you’ve identified is quite helpful as well.  This is where discipline is incorporated.  There will be those days where you just want to lay down, watch television, or play on your phone or computer.  We must make the sincere effort in maintaining the schedule and task you have developed.  We waist countless minutes and hours in a day doing meaningless things, whereas we can dedicate that time in doing the one thing we say we enjoy or would like to accomplish.  Continuing with the steps you have laid for yourself will increase motivation and discipline will surface during that time as well.

Conflict Within

This is where it begins

By C. W. Stratton

Our lives, right from the beginning, have been shaped and formed with great assistance from outside stimuli. This stimuli may be parents, family members, friends, school or the neighborhood in which you grew up.. As a result, a number of beliefs and behaviors were developed. These beliefs and behaviors we adopted dictated the direction our lives would take. Along the journey, we may have encountered struggles and a number of setbacks in the process. Despite this, we continued to push along. However, as we continued to do so, we ran into additional struggles and setbacks. These were similar to the previous ones. At the time we didn’t acknowledge or make any kind of identification with it at all. We tend to process the event, or events, one at a time and neglect to reflect on the possible correlation of the events or struggles. The correlation I’m speaking of isn’t about each struggle or setback being connected to each other. The correlation or common factor is “YOU”. When faced with certain situations in life the only points of reference we have to deal with these situations are the messages we’ve received from the outside stimuli that has influenced us so much.

As we move through our journey and become exposed to additional stimuli we become conflicted internally because we now hear new messages. However, we maintain the commitment to abide by the old messages because they are familiar. The new stimuli or individuals are relaying other options in handling struggles or setbacks, but we have such a difficult time letting go of the bond we’ve formed over the years that we have from the old stimuli and messages. Plus, we don’t want those association that helped form the beliefs and behaviors to view us any other way. If I were perceived as the reactive or tough guy, I need to maintain that identity. As least that’s what we maintain in our minds. This brings more life to the ego or internal conflict we have been battling along the way. The conflict is associated with the learned behaviors which eventually formed our personalities. We used the old stimuli as a protective of defense mechanism. As a result it formed the personality we display outwardly; this is what everyone sees. The personality is not who we are, it what we choose to show others The inner-self is the very thing that we protected all these years. The personality and the inner-self is what’s actually in conflict.

Once we can come to this realization and begin utilizing courage to be ourselves, the conflict subsides and there’s a great chances peace will be found in the process. Living up to the expectations of others at the expense of our own selves is very self-defeating. Letting go of the personality that was formed by others and beginning the process of exposing our true-selves is critical to the process of growth, development and transformation. We must first rescue ourselves from the “whirlpool of deception” that we’ve created for ourselves. Just because our associates like certain things, engage in certain behaviors or speak a certain way doesn’t mean we have to follow. Personally, I prefer to walk alone than with the crowd going in the wrong direction. Freedom from certain beliefs that have hindered the growth process in imperative to experiencing life as it should experiences. Without self-inflicted limits.

SLXLM