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 28, 2017

Taking it Personally

“Ships don’t sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.” ~Unknown

Many times we get in trouble emotionally because we take things personally. And it seems like that when we take things personally, everything matters. Everything assumes great importance. Even the smallest things.

I once read some wise advice from Marilyn vos Savant, a newspaper columnist who reputedly had the highest IQ of anyone in the world – 220 plus. One time, when answering a query from one of her readers, she gave him some pointed advice.

In his question to her, he pointed out that we get stronger physically by exercising, stronger academically by going to school and so forth. But his question was how do we become stronger emotionally?

And her answer to him was quite simple. She said that we get stronger emotionally by not taking things personally. She said that if your girlfriend doesn't like your tie, either get a new tie or a new girlfriend. If your boss doesn't like the job you're doing, either do a better job or get a different job. You get the picture. But her main point was that we shouldn't take things personally because it's not good for us emotionally.

And I bring this up today because I know that we addicts and alcoholics are extremely sensitive and feeling people. Everything bothers us. Anything can set us off. Especially when we're in new recovery and don't have a lot of sober experience in life.

When we first get into recovery most of us addicts have poor self-esteem. And why shouldn't we? After all, all we did was take from others. We used our family and friends. We abused our bodies. We lost our jobs, and in many cases, we even lost our freedom because we committed crimes to get drugs or alcohol.

So no wonder we feel bad about ourselves and are overly sensitive to what others say or do. But we will get stronger emotionally if only we realize that most of the things that other people say or do isn't about us.

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