Great philosophers throughout the ages have said that perception is reality and to a certain extent this is true. Our ability to perceive reality is contingent on the information that we have and the perspective that we are currently taking. This means that at any given time my perspective on a situation or on life itself can be skewed and not necessarily grounded in truth.
Before I got sober I didn’t understand this. I believed that whatever I thought or felt was gospel and that to not agree with my version of reality was tantamount to insanity. Whenever anyone disagreed with me or felt some way differently than me I would draw a blank and be unable to see where they were coming from or the validity of the argument they made. On top of that I struggled with people pleasing and at time had a hard time putting myself first in recovery. I felt that it was selfish and for a long time had to logical convince myself that without my recovery I had no foundation to build my life on.
Today, this is not the case and my life and serenity are very often dependent on my ability to change my perspective or see events or problems from another angle. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times this has helped me overcome obstacles and face difficulties and I owe a lot of this to the support group that surrounds me.
I’ll give you a simple example of how being able to step back and have a different perspective on a situation has helped my life. I am a fairly sensitive person and being so, sometimes I take criticism or any type or reproach as a complete affront against me as a person. This has happened in the past with bosses of mine and there have been certain times when I either screwed up a project, or could have done a better job and was told about it and reacted pretty negatively.
My mind instantly would start to tell me that I was worthless and interesting enough I would also have righteous indignation towards my boss. I would go back and forth between feeling worthless and thinking, don’t they know who I am, don’t they know how hard I work and how lucky they are to have me as an employee? Before getting sober I would just stew in these thoughts and perspective and allow them to ruin weeks or months of my live, but since getting sober and being able to change my perspective I no longer have to do this. When I receive criticism of any kind my initial reaction is still pretty negative, but usually after talking to friends or meditating on the situation I come to the realization that the feedback was probably true and that it did not mean that I was worthless, but rather that I could do better.
As confusing a segue as this may seem and as limited as my ability was to see others perspectives in the past, I was also very wishy-washy with my beliefs. I was a chameleon of sorts and would fuse with other people in order to have them like them. I never really stood for anything outwardly and would just go along with whatever other people said.
This dichotomy of the alcoholic to be both immovable in terms of perspective and yet completely fluid in beliefs is somewhat baffling if you haven’t experienced it, but to me it makes sense. I was always able to hold firm to what I felt when it suited me and change my beliefs when that suited me as well. I therefore never really had substance because I was an amalgamation of broken perceptions and other people’s truths.
Once I got sober I began to discover more about myself and in doing so I arrived at some undeniable truths about myself and this meant that I no longer felt the need to fuse into others’ ideas in order to be accepted. This is very uncomfortable at first because I was used to not rocking the boat and just people pleasing, but I found that it was integral for my sobriety and my peace of mind to finally stand by my convictions and voice them when necessary.
The way that this looks in my life today is that I try to no longer make excuses for myself when I make a decision or feel some way that I know may not be popular among certain people. This allows me to make choices that best suit me, as long as I am not intentionally hurting anyone by doing so. I am able to speak my truths and not hide them for fear of reprisal and doing so has freed me to be able to truly be myself and accept who am I more wholly.
I am more open today to the fact that I may be wrong in certain situations and because of this I am open to hearing the feedback of others as a counterweight to my own thoughts. This has allowed me to shift my perspective when necessary and many times has saved me from hurting others or myself.
Yet I am also able to trust myself in certain regards and follow the dictates of my conscience. I attempt to stand on my own two feet and stick by my perspective when I feel it is necessary and I no longer just go with the crowd because I am afraid of not being liked. Shedding the mentality to just follow the crowd is one of the reasons I believe I am still sober, because when people are doing things that I disagree with morally I no longer have to participate but can separate myself and stand in my own convictions.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.
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