Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Day at a Time

One of the most brilliant things about the 12 step programs is the concept of "one day at a time."

As a recovering addict I have this magical magnifying mind that makes a big deal out of most everything. If I venture far into the future or try to predict what is going to happen, I return with anxiety. If I journey into the past and start dredging through some of the messy things I've done, I might return with a load of depression.

But the present 24 hours is a chunk of life I can deal with. After all, I can make it through today without picking up a drug or drink or getting overly-excited about anything. But if I try to gaze over the horizon and control or predict what's going to happen - I can create a mini tornado of chaos in my mind.

The founders of the 12 step programs had the wisdom to realize how our alcoholic minds work. They knew our disease wants us to focus on anything but the present. After all, if we're focusing on the present moment we might find a solution. And even if we don't find a solution, before we know it the day has passed and we haven't picked up a drink or a drug.

So does living one day at a time mean I do no planning for the future? Of course not. We always plan for the future. We just don't pack our bags and move there, neglecting the present moment.

The only thing I can deal with is now. I make the general outlines of where I might want to be in the future. But I do what I can today to get there.