DISCIPLINE MONTH: DAY 29: “Self-discipline is the ability to organize your behavior over time in the service of specific goals.”― Nathaniel Branden
If the goal is to remain sober, really sober, for life, then the behavior we “organize” is to live within spiritual principles for that time. Not a year, or 5 years, or 10 years, but to live in the service of THAT specific goal for a lifetime.
This means we work Step 10 daily, as it is given us to do in the BB. I love that, simple. Not so simple is how that applies to us on a day-to-day, year in and year out basis.
This takes tremendous dedication to spiritual principles. How do I know? Hahaha! I have the ability to listen to my Ego (Screaming Purple Monkeys-SPM) at any time, on any day, over all these 33+ years. I have had some of the MOST hairbrained, insane thinking at 10, 18, 25, 28, 30 years of sobriety…from seeming nowhere! All I have to do is rest on my laurels for 5 minutes!
Ugh! So, the discipline is to continue to read pages 86, 87 and 88 every day and answer the questions (out loud-as my MEAN sponsor taught me!) and clean up the messes I make. And they can be made at the drop of a hat.
Why is that? Because, part of my history, along with the drugs and alcohol, is that I have a LONG time of abuse and trauma in my life. That is always a factor in my behavior. Although I have done years and years of counseling and recovery, the settings of those times are default settings. No amount of AA or step work or counseling will be present when the shit hits the fan. My behavior is organized in the service of specific goals, as is stated here in this quote. However, I am subject to all the old conditioning when things jump off.
So, I have to discipline myself to keep my mouth shut and walk away from uncomfortable shit that feels like that old stuff feels. This has gotten way better than it once was. But, I do know that it will be there for this lifetime.
AA gives me new tools, but I automatically go for that old gun every time, if I am not completely present to myself and the situation. Automatic response. Most of the time, I am good, but once in a while, there is hell to pay. Yikes! I don’t ever say “progress, not perfection,” because that is no excuse. But I do understand the way the human brain triggers work. So, I am grateful to be a therapist and for having the numbers of years I do with the work I do and the people with whom I have done it. We will NEVER erase completely the early years of our development, but we CAN learn to override it most of the time. The rest is up to working this step each day and doing what I have been taught by the lovely people who do this work, along with those who don’t. Most of us may never drink, but I don’t want to ever be that kind of DRY.