“I know I was committed to going to the gym…
“And I know I was really inspired by that book…
“But how would I break that down?”
And so I thought about it and thought about it and finally, I realized there were really just three steps that I took.
Step 1) Self-Observation
Step 2) Definition of Aim
Step 3) Detachment
And those three steps applied to everything that changed for me…
And by the time I sat down for lunch with Pat, I could see what my friend meant because he did seem really down.
“Hey, Pat, how are you doing,” I said.
“Well, I guess I’m doing pretty good considering I’m living in a halfway house with six recovering coke heads that are half my age…
“I’m in pain all the time, I have to take a bus back and forth to my rehab, I’ve got no job, my mother calls me every day just to see how I’m doing, and the halfway house is testing my urine every fucking day…
“The only reason I’m actually here is for my family. I don’t really belong at this halfway house where I’m staying.”
I didn’t respond for a minute, wondering what I should say. But finally, I told him the truth.
“Look, Pat. It doesn’t matter to me what got you here. And the fact is, I don’t give a fuck if you start drinking again or not….
That’s none of my business.”
He looked pretty surprised to hear me say this.
“But,” I went on, “I remember how hard it was for me when I first started getting sober. How isolated I felt, and how uncomfortable I was with the people in the sober living community. So I know what you’re going through.”
So I started telling him what happened to me and how I was able to come out of that…
And when he asked, “Well yeah, but how did you do that?”
I told him, “I’ll be glad to tell you how I went about doing this but, I have no idea if it’s going to make any difference. I’m not a therapist or sponsor in AA or anything, I just know this is what worked for me, and I can give you some suggestions of how you might do this.”
He thanked me, and then said, “I’m really not up for that.
“I just don’t have the discipline right now and I’ve tried to set goals for myself and change things before only to be more disappointed…
“Nothing really changes…
“Plus I don’t have the time with everything going on right now…”
I said, “I get it. I would have said the exact same thing not too long ago, too…
“You know, maybe it isn’t going to work out or you just don’t have time, but I guarantee you if you don’t do anything, nothing is going to change..”
I could see he was torn with what to do…
“I’ll tell you what, let me work with you for a month. If you don’t see any difference in a month then fine, I was wrong, and it wasn’t anything that would be of value…”
He thanked me again for taking the time to meet him for lunch and said,
“I’m good for now.”
Two weeks later, I got a call from him…
“I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve got no other choice.”
“That’s great! But there’s one rule for the month I want you to just follow my advice, even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense,”
He said okay…
STEP 1 – SELF AWARENESS
Remember those three steps?
We are going to start step one now.
So, I told him what he was supposed to do…
“The first thing that you’ve got to master is the ability to observe yourself so you can become more self-aware.
“Anytime you find yourself negatively reacting to daily life events jot it down.”
Later that week he called me up and said,
“I tried it for three days, and just threw the pen down and didn’t write anything. This is hopeless and a waste of time…”
I said, “Just go back and try again, and anytime something really bothers you write it down and this time ask yourself why you are reacting that way.”
This time he stayed with the exercise for an entire week, and he couldn’t believe what he discovered…
While scrolling through Facebook he saw post after post of people enjoying life with friends and family doing random things, this really irritated him making him feel terrible.
He started thinking about how unfair his life was, how everyone has it better than him, making him feel a lot of anger, resentment, and self-pity…
This set the emotional tone for his morning, spilling over into his entire day. He realized he had been doing this for years, and what’s worse, he didn’t even have relationships with the people in the posts…
Later that week he was at the grocery store, and someone asked if he needed help carrying his groceries and he just lost it and laid into them.
His reaction: “What do you think I’m a cripple?”
And they just crawled away.
The next time we spoke he told me, “When that happened, I realized how much I was consumed with thinking about problems; it’s like my thoughts and emotions are projecting out, creating my actions and circumstances.”
Self-awareness is our capacity to stand apart from ourselves and examine our thinking, our motives, our history, our scripts, our actions, and our habits and tendencies.
The first day I went to the group when I saw that girl looking at me and I felt like I didn’t belong there, I realized just how afraid I was and how humiliated I felt.
By observing those feelings, I felt like I had to do something, and that’s what got me to go to the gym.
Step 2: Define your Aim
Two weeks later Pat and I met for lunch, and he said, “I left feeling like you were just blowing smoke and I’d never see you again. And when I tried writing things down at first it just felt like I wasn’t doing it right.
“But then, I started noticing that I would have these little arguments in my head throughout most of my day.
“I realized shortly after one of those tantrums I would get into an argument with someone, usually my folks.”
“That’s great progress,” I told Pat.
“You are beginning to realize the direct link between your thoughts, feelings, and circumstances.
“Now, what do you want more than anything?”
He replied, “To be somewhere other than here!”
“Ok, but that’s not a goal, you can’t aim for not being somewhere. So where do you want to be?”
He said, “Well, Thailand I guess…”
I replied, “Why would you want to be in Thailand?”
He said, “Because I had a teaching job there and a fiancé.”
“Ok, let’s just stay with that; first thing in the morning, instead of getting on someone else’s agenda and reacting, channel your energy into something productive.
“Instead, when you wake up, ask yourself this one crucial question:
“What is the best ideal of myself that I can be today? Who do I need to become for my students and fiancé?
So think of how you can be your best self, what thoughts and feelings can you cultivate to step into that state.
“Then simply clearly define your aim, goal, or end result.
“Visualize, create a mental movie seeing yourself being back in Thailand with your fiancé or teaching again feeling happy and healthy. Picture it to yourself as clearly and vividly as possible then simply capture the feelings you would experience if this were already an established fact.”
So I left him to it…
He tried it for a couple of days, but it was difficult for him to find anything to feel successful about lately. He had a really hard time visualizing anything, so he just gave up.
So I recommended that he relive something from his past that made him feel confident, healthy, or successful…
To visualize a winning experience, a specific time of victory in his life, when he had a visceral feeling of success – that winning feeling…
To go back and revisit that memory as clearly as possible and embody those thoughts and feelings.
He remembered back when he was in college. It was one of the happiest times of his life. He was a coach for a kids’ soccer team for a season.
He got such joy out of helping those kids, being a mentor. They had an unbelievable winning season. He remembered the smiles on those kids’ faces, the ups, and downs of the journey that year.
How confident it made him feel to push himself, to be his best for those kids.
How much more fit he was.
He then saw himself with students back in Thailand, a man on a mission teaching again, then going home after a productive day and having dinner with his fiancé.
By doing this, he remembered what had inspired him to become a teacher and why he had moved to Thailand.
He realized that winning feeling as a soccer coach, and helping those kids grow and see their potential had pushed him to be his best, naturally aligning him with life-changing decisions…
He also started hitting the gym that week as well…
“Your nervous system reacts appropriately to what ‘you’ think or imagine to be true. You act, and feel, not according to what things are really like, but according to the image what your mind holds they are like.”Dr. Maxwell Maltz
I realized the second step that I took to start to change my circumstances was to improve the way I saw myself. I realized my goals were a side effect of who I had become.
I had a clear picture in my mind of gaining ten pounds of lean muscle, feeling more fit and confident, and making new friends. I visualized this daily, as clearly and vividly as possible, capturing the feeling I would experience if my goals were already an established fact.
Then my internal machinery was geared for success: guiding me into making the correct muscular motions and adjustments; supplying me with creative ideas, and to do whatever else is necessary in order to make the goal an accomplished fact.
Step 3: Detachment
I told Pat his next exercise…
“Think about your life as it is right now; what kind of self-talk are you using when you react to life, like when you look at Facebook or when you’re having a conversation with your folks?
“Write down some of the actual words your inner voice is saying. And when you listen to that voice, what does it sound like?”
It may surprise you because your mind tells you this stuff day in and day out. You’ll recognize how your habitual thoughts are creating your circumstances…
And when you continue to react, you go around and around recreating the same circumstances…
To break this thread, you need to focus on your goal.
“I know you’ve thought about going back to Thailand…”
He said, “Yeah, I think about that every day. I’d give anything for that.”
I said, “Ok, so when you start thinking about going back to Thailand, what are some of the thoughts you have when you picture that? What are the voices in your head telling you about that goal?”
He said, “I’ll probably never be able to go back. I’m sure my fiancé’s moved on with another guy.
“Nothing will change … I’m most likely stuck here.”
I said, “I thought you want to be back in Thailand? You just told me several reasons why you can’t…
“You now have to completely detach from those…”
I realized the third step that I took to change my circumstances was to become aware of my negative self and train my mind to focus on what I wanted to experience, rather than all the reasons why I couldn’t…
We need to separate ourselves from our negative moods and thoughts in the midst of all troubles and disasters of daily life.
No one can be different from what they are now unless they begin to separate from their present reactions and identify with their aim.
It is not that you stop imagining, thinking, and feeling what you desire, but rather detach from your present circumstances, negative moods, and reactions to it, and live in the feeling of your wish fulfilled.
The rest of that summer, Pat and I met for lunch weekly, he was moving in a more positive direction in alignment with his improved self-image.
He started applying for local jobs as a substitute teacher to save up money so he could find his way back to Thailand.
He was going to the gym daily.
He started doing daily Bible affirmations with his mother on the phone…
He was more self-aware and had become self-taught by observing his automatic mechanical reactions to daily life, focusing on what he wanted and who he wanted to be, detaching from his habitual negative states of self-pity, self-loathing, and self-doubt that had anchored him for twenty years.
He realized his circumstances were nothing more than growth obstacles in disguise, teaching him who he needed to become on his journey to reaching his goals.
The last time we met before Pat returned to Thailand, he told me what he appreciated more than anything is that through our meetings and conversations, he was able to see how I handled different circumstances and challenging situations.
I was able to remain sober, but still, be real about how tough it was.
He thanked me for our time together. “It’s still difficult,” he said. “But I believe that on the other side of all these things is character, hope, confidence, and the possibility of a better quality life.”
At the end of the summer, he finally left…
And from time to time, I wondered how he was doing but I hadn’t heard anything from him, and then I ran into Ryan at the gym…
So we went to have a cup of coffee…
And I asked Ryan, “I haven’t heard anything from Pat, is he still in Thailand?”
And he said, “Oh yeah he’s definitely in Thailand, you probably haven’t heard from him because he’s been so busy. They gave him back his teaching job.”
“Oh God, that’s great! I’m really glad to hear that!”
He said, “Well that’s not the best thing, the best thing is after he’d been back for a couple of weeks, he finally worked up the courage to look up his old girlfriend and not only did she want to get together, but he just told me last week he proposed to her and she said yes, so they’re going to be married in six months.
“I know you didn’t really want to do this, but you turned his life around…”
“Thanks,” I said. “You know, I didn’t know how it was going to go and I’m really glad it turned out well!”
Then he said, “You weren’t just lucky, whatever system you gave him, you need to share that with people.
“If you have something like this that could help people as much as it helped Pat, you owe it to people to make them aware of it.
“He’s not the only one out there with issues, stuck and not able to achieve whatever goal they want to achieve.”
I said, “I’ll think about that.”
And I knew he was right.
I can’t keep this to myself if it can help other people.
And when I decided to share this with others, I started developing and systematizing it even more…
- To create a system that can help you finaly transform your realtiohship with alcohol so you can change your life.
- Wake up every moring with a clear head, feeling fresh, buzzing with productivity, and a drive to make a positive imapact
- Unlock more energy in your life, enhance your productvity and improve your relationships with the ones you love.
- Become the most porductive, present, and healthiest versoin of yourself
- Get all the support you need to overcome the biggest obstacles and struggles most people face when giving up alcohol.