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Five Principles of Recovery - Attitude
Five Principles of Recovery
Accountability . Submission . Surrender . Compromise . Attitude
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
In a series of articles, we have explored Principles of Recovery, which if maintained, can offer freedom from the bondage of addiction. These include Accountability; Submission; Surrender and Zero Compromise. Our last principle is Personal Attitude.
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist who lived during the 20th Century. He is most known as a Holocaust Survivor though later also received high accolade for his bestseller ‘Man’s Search for Meaning.’
At the age of 37, Frankl embarked on a harrowing personal journey that would play out across the four concentration camps Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Kaufering III and Türkheim. He lost his father in the Terezín Ghetto, his brother and mother at Auschwitz, and his young, pregnant wife Tilly in Bergen-Belsen. His sister, Stella, escaped to Australia.
By the time Viktor, also known as Prisoner 119104, returned to Vienna, there was nothing left of the life he had once known. All people he had once loved were gone. He could claim no external sense of identity and no relational sense of belonging could root him. Instead, the files of his mind now contained reflections of horrors he had encountered. Conflicting impressions about the nature of humankind were etched into his heart.
During his concentration camp years, Frankl and his fellow prisoners had everything stripped from them: families, friends, jobs, health, possessions. Even their names and the hair on their bodies were ripped away. No single day offered dignity.
But in it all, Frankl identified that there was one thing that remained truly their own – the ability to choose how to react to any given thought, emotion or set of circumstances that they were exposed to.
“Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis, it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner-decision and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally then, any man can, under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him – mentally and spiritually. No matter what life experiences we confront, we always have the inner freedom to decide our attitude, and to remain true to our character and duty.”
Radical Idea? Maybe.
Or your passage to personal freedom?
As a man thinks so he is.
This Proverbs 23:7 Biblical truth teaches that it is what we believe that drives our attitudes and behaviours, many of which are either learned in early childhood or shaped by traumatic life experiences.
Does this suggest that we are forever destined to play on repeat?
Romans 12:2 assures us that a man may be transformed by the renewal of his mind; or by changing the way he thinks.
Unless we start thinking about what we think about we will remain enslaved to the ideas we’ve attached to the experiences we encounter.
On the other hand, if we are prepared to hold our beliefs up to the light; if we are willing to measure them against enduring truths and align them with life-enhancing values; if we will have them challenged, we may discover that our mindset is inherited; that the beliefs steering our lives are not ours at all. Or, they don’t have to be.
The truth you come to understand and accept about yourself, and your life will set you free.
Freedom begins when we start to take responsibility for every part of who we are – our beliefs, the thoughts that flow from these, emotions provoked by them, perceptions that protect us, our responses, and reactions.
Freedom comes when we begin gain awareness of our attitudes or the position we take in life – about every small and big thing.
Then, no matter your circumstances, you can learn to become content with where you are currently positioned right now.
Perhaps even envision good purpose.
All you must do is decide that your future will be different.
Determine that your past will not define you.
The New Living Translation Bible offers this excellent commentary:
“Our values determine our evaluations. If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us. If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to consider trouble an opportunity for great joy. If we live only for the present and forget the future, then trials will make us bitter not better.
If we respond well however; testing works for us. Through testing God wants to produce in us patience, endurance, and the ability to keep going when things get tough. Endurance is not a passive acceptance of our circumstances. It is a courageous perseverance in the face of suffering and difficulty.”
We must not place suffering on a pedestal.
It is an intrinsic part of life that carries intentional purpose. Suffering sandblasts our self-centredness; makes us useful to God, empathetic to others.
Our outlook will always determine the eventual outcome.
From a Recovery point of view, attitude is everything!
Because attitude always provokes emotion.
When we choose a course of action based on what our transient emotional state is telling us, we so often end up off course; find ourselves caught in an emotional undertow that results in undesirable ripple effects.
Cause and effect. Or, what we sow, so we shall reap.
Attitude is everything because it is the underlying foundation for all of the Recovery Principles we have discussed to date.
The attitude we choose to embrace and empower will determine how effectively we uphold and maintain our life-long need for accountability, submission, and surrender.
It will increase or decrease our ability to resist compromise.
A realistic attitude will ensure we remain rooted in the right-here, right-now.
With an awakened conscience and a keen sense of reality, we can count the cost before we make the choice.
Did you know that the subjective perspective you empower shapes your experience of Reality?
So, what will your life look like?
When we ensure our attitude aligns with who we are choosing to become, rather than what happened to us, we become intentional; play an active role as the architect of our own future.
We take responsibility.
With God at our side, we define new dreams, set new goals.
This does not mean we operate in our own strength and strive. No. Instead, we surrender to what each day asks of us. We listen; we learn; we re-frame.
If we continuously examine how we are interpreting our experiences, we will become adept at spotting a skewed perception before it settles.
Recognition then offers the opportunity to begin a personal enquiry. We ask ourselves: what past data has re-activated and how is it mis-informing my present reality?
Once we have a handle on what’s at work in our minds, we can refuse any filter that reflects failure; say no to that which aims to keep us small.
The fact is, as you actively participate in your personal Recovery new options become infinite.
This participation requires holistic self-care; calls for personal development in every facet of who you are.
It asks that you adopt a realistic and life-enhancing point of view.
Weaving new attitudes into the fabric of your heart will always require humility; or a willingness to be open-minded; to accept where you are and who you are – in the least in the context of a Sovereign God.
A humble heart posture will stand guard against defiance and denial; and keep you teachable; assist you to resist your own ideas.
Remember, long before it asserts its cause, rebellion begins a quiet war within.
Before you know it, defiance has enlisted denial.
A good attitude does not ask that we forego authenticity. The bad days will come; as will challenges, disappointments, losses. These are all a part of life.
Offering our heart true emotional expression is essential, at least for a while. But setting up camp in a disgruntled state is a very bad idea.
It crosses the fine line that exists between personal expression and self-indulgence.
We become victim to our circumstances.
In Recovery, we cannot afford to entertain self-pity. It is a sentimental swamp that will drop us below the waterline of wisdom.
We must remain rational.
So, in bad times, we draw on resilience. We kick off our moods and adjust our attitudes. And, if we are in a rut, we serve others; or, when self-centredness threatens, we practice gratitude.
And we pray.
Viewed through a negative filter Recovery can appear to be a prison sentence.
If you measure your reality against what you imagine every person out there is escaping or gaining, you will become bitter, not get better.
Comparison will steal the joy that’s designed to strengthen you.
Asking “why me?” will become the catalyst of confusion; cause Reality to blur.
We simply do not have all answers. It’s by Faith that we live the questions.
We accept the part we played and own our consequences.
In time, we let the past go.
As we face our future, we stand tall. Choose a good attitude.
After six years of navigating the precarious paths of my personal Recovery Process, I have this to say:
It is with immense gratitude that I can embrace the options available to me now.
It is with immense humility that I trust that I am set free, no longer slave to self-destructive behaviours.
In each new day, I actively decide that addiction is no longer the boss of me. I stand firm with God as my authority.
I live intentionally and on purpose.
I position my attitude and relate authentically. When I don’t, I own it.
I choose life.
Accountability, Surrender, Submission and Zero Compromise keep me rooted in wisdom.
May you become empowered to stand against anything that aims to keep you small.
Keep living your questions.
And when you get to where you are going, turn around and help someone else. For there was a time when that person was you.
Your extended hand will activate the Highest Law of Love.
By David Lacey
Human Assets Manager
David has been in Recovery for six years. He plays a key role in both the Management and Multi-Disciplinary Teams of Healing Wings. He stands testament to the fact that when we bravely face personal truths, new opportunities open up. He is a man who stands firm in faith. He does not bend or blend. Compromising the integrity, he has worked so hard to regain is just not an option.