Change is a word that evokes fear in the hearts of many individuals in recovery. Why? Change is an inevitable part of life. The world and everything on it is either growing or decaying … so why do we fear change so much?
One of the main issues we have had to deal with in recovery is facing our fears, especially during those times when false evidence appears real. Very rarely
do our worst fears actually manifest themselves in our lives and, when and if they do, it is almost always to serve a far greater purpose than we could have dreamed or imagined.
When we can learn to face fear and overcome it, we open our world to many adventures we might otherwise miss if we allow our fears to stop us in our tracks. In looking back over our lives, and our favorite adventures and discoveries, we often find that none of them would have taken place had we not learned and determined to overcome our fears.
Discovering new people, places and things requires energy, effort, perseverance and a willingness to make mistakes. A dogged determination to overcome the “what ifs” of life is necessary to push through the countless obstacles that will most assuredly present themselves.
Fear is something all human beings face. The only difference between success and failure is the willingness to try. Our efforts may not produce the end results we had hoped for, however, without our willingness to try we would accomplish nothing and would miss the opportunity to discover more about ourselves, our world, and the people in it.
What is success anyway? According to whom or what? We have found that whether we view an event or happening as a success or as a failure depends entirely on our perspective. Reframing
our experiences into positive thoughts rather than negative commentaries helps us build bridges to more successful outcomes.
Early retirement is an unexpected obstacle I had to face due to a back injury. I could have viewed this as a negative and one of life’s failures … or as an opportunity to visit a different part of the world where I would like to live. I chose the latter, and set out to retire on an island in the Caribbean, soaking up sun and sea on a daily basis. This “obstacle” in my life turned out to be a year of discovery and adventure.
Retiring on an island is not what it looks like. Outsiders imagine a life in a five-star hotel with beach and sand 24/7. The reality is that the island was in a third world country. When I arrived I announced to my newly acquired friends what I had planned to do for the day. I read from my “To Do List” starting at the top with: First, get my phone hooked up.
My friends howled with laughter as they tried to talk … to respond … to no avail … breathless they finally explained, erupting with intermittent laughter, “Getting a phone on the island can take years. You don’t just go get a phone.”
It seems I was in for quite an education about how things really work in an undeveloped country. Everything from getting a telephone, trash pick-up, electric bills and so forth. Living in a third world country is not the same as vacationing in a third world country, while luxuriating in a five star hotel. Nevertheless, what an adventure:
I met doctors from all over the world, made friends with people from many countries, and learned to order food at a restaurant and ask for the bill in French. Some of those dining experiences were at five-star restaurants on the top of a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea while viewing the city spread out below. I danced in the moonlight on a beach to reggae music with thousands of stars overhead.
I introduced visitors to the island as a tour guide on a sailing catamaran while sipping virgin Piña Coladas. “Shop ‘til you drop” became a real life experience while visiting the beautiful boutiques on the French side of the island. I even joined a parade held in my honor as a newcomer to the island, and attended “Carnival,” a festive celebration held every year before the liturgical season of Lent. Vacationers and islanders from all around join in the celebration.
Today, these moments in time become celebrated memories that could not and would not have happened if I had not determined to face my fears and do it anyway.
Recovery is so much more than a desire to stop using drugs or alcohol. Recovery is and should be a celebration of life for all of us. Never let your fears stop you from discovering other people, places, and things. You never know, the discovery of a lifetime might waiting for you just around the corner.
Rev. Carrol and Dr. Phyllis Davis, authors, speakers, and teachers, are founders of the JOURNEY. They do seminars and workshops on invitation as well as a private practice. Visit them at www.thejourneypathwaystohealing.org.