Taking a personal inventory is good common sense and most people would agree it’s a habit worth cultivating. Many have found a daily journal or diary equally rewarding as life unfolds. It can be a way of avoiding the mistakes of our past. The 12-Step programs for Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous suggest “we make a searching and fearless moral inventory” as we begin our recovery program. Then later an “inventory” is encouraged as new challenges and accomplishments unfold.
Writing our thoughts and feelings down, particularly how they relate to gratitude, is an invaluable way of reaffirming things that have come through conscious contact with a higher power and a program that’s truly working. If and when we may be experiencing mild depression or anxiety, feelings of boredom, or frustration we purposefully write out things we’ve done for our own betterment and some of the ills we’ve managed to overcome by personal effort.
If we find it difficult to begin we can start with the alphabet. We can feel good about animal pets, air that’s clean and fresh or even a bright apple on the kitchen table. As we move on to b we find our attention diverted from uncomfortable or negative matters to more positive prospects and accomplishments. Developing the “attitude of gratitude” has long been a staple of AA/NA groups and often a topic for discussion at meetings.
A gratitude list is best done on a nightly basis and its value is underscored by ways the events of the day have worked toward recovery. An added benefit of a nightly listing is how it identifies things of value to us and how those items are forming a solid pattern in our route to recovery. The Good and the Bad leap out to be marked and remembered.
In this respect some alcoholics and addicts have found daily journals most helpful. In this way we can describe troubling feelings or incidents that have arisen.
When reviewed over time solutions to problems can be applied in many ways and the maxim of “Think” will soon be incorporated in daily living. On paper events and responses take form and we see situations from a new perspective. We can, perhaps, better discern actions to be taken in the future. Writing can help us identify the assets and liabilities that help or hurt our recovery. Writing a Journal can prove a valuable means of identifying and expressing our feelings in a safe and healthy way. They might be a first step to sharing those feelings with a therapist, sponsor or friend. Writing things down helps untangle thoughts and counters self-defeating ideas with alternatives that have proven themselves in prior application.
The often repeated saying “those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them” is a rather basic truth. It can apply to individuals, their choice of friends, their conduct together and their levels of maturity. In most instances alcoholism and addiction are self-acquired illnesses. They started with simple exposure and through a process of frequency blossomed into habit and dependency. In that process, however most built a social environment that was part of the dependency. Drinking “buddies” merged with local bars or clubs and a series of “history lessons” began to unfold. When treatment begins a review of those lessons takes place in a different context but very soon we detect how Good and Bad come into play with alcoholism and addiction.
As treatment leads to recovery then to sober living, systems abound to remind us of routes to follow. Aftercare planning can call for residency in a sober-house, might also include periods in outpatient groups and most often, 12-Step meetings are made a part of the process. It is all geared to change keyed to new environments aimed at immediate adjustments in social behavior. The bottom line is: Dependency on mood altering substances has made a shambles of past history and some very strong lessons have been given. Don’t forget those lessons learned they are your history both good and bad the often repeated saying that those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them has a lot of truth in it!