As the year draws close to an end I feel the need to reflect on the past two years of my sobriety and share some lessons learnt. These are not just lessons for alcoholics or addicts but for anyone wanting to take a step closer towards becoming a better human. My hope is that those who need these words are inspired enough to take them and put these lessons into practice.
I have been fortunate enough to achieve the majority of my goals this year and for that I am grateful. These accomplishments are not only the result of hard work and dedication but can equally be attributed to a focus on personal growth and becoming a better version of myself in every aspect of my life.
I can honestly stand tall at the end of 2016 and confidently announce that I actually respect who I am becoming. I write this because the first lesson I learnt on my journey into sobriety and becoming a man is that before you can even begin to evolve as a human you need to find that respect for yourself. I am not talking about loving yourself; a line I believe is well and truly over used and often a throw away to settle on mediocrity. I am talking about enough respect to be completely honest about who you are and who you want to become. This is where I will start my list as it was the first step I took towards becoming the person I am today and all other lessons fell out of this.
Lesson 1: Honesty and Respect
It makes sense to me that in order to live a life of honesty and respect for others you must first spend time practicing on yourself. I believe a huge part of my own personal growth over the last two years was due to practicing these virtues on a daily basis and finally starting to fully understand and appreciate them. Although honesty towards myself was found under a rock at the bottom of a breakdown I give thanks for its unveiling none the less. It was through the brutal honesty that I had become a shit human that I gained enough respect for myself to not let it define me. When you live a life of respect and honesty for both others and yourself you find other pieces of the puzzle present themselves.
In 2017 show yourself enough respect to be completely honest about who you are and who you need to become.
Lesson 2: You are a product of your environment
If you truly want to see into your future just take a step back and look at who and what you surround yourself with. I lived in bars, clubs and taxis of a weekend constantly surrounded by people and places aligned to the common goal of self-destruction not self-development. Whether your conscious to it or not the environment you choose to live, work or play in will aid in determining who you are becoming. You will adapt to its routines and influences and before long like me it will just be the norm and you will settle for it. I had to separate myself from all negative environments and people in an attempt to salvage my soul, this was extremely tough and very lonely, however it allowed for me to eventually take control of my own environment and assisted in determining who and what I let in. If a negative environment can have so much influence over who you are becoming imagine the possibilities of promoting only healthy and positive environments for yourself.
In 2017 control your environment don’t let it control you.
Lesson 3: You don’t have to be who you were 30 seconds ago
Once I had escaped my environment I was faced with the realization that I had to become myself. I have used reinvent myself in the past, however I don’t like that term as it reads that I am still not true to myself but does get the message across. Gradually over the years and in particular through my 20s I molded myself into the person I thought I wanted to be without ever taking the time to understand who I actually am; I became the result of ego and lived a life through everyone else’s perception and or expectations of who I was or should be. All I had become was a drunk.
Being social was extremely hard at first even talking to people as myself was brutal but over time it became easier. As I grew in respect for who I was becoming so did my confidence to be myself. Just because people think they know who you are is not a good enough excuse to remain that person, particularly if that person is not someone to be proud of.
In 2017 become the person you were destined to become
Lesson 4: Ego is the enemy
The greatest loss I have ever experienced was that of my ego, greatest as in the most welcomed. This loss has allowed me to make myself vulnerable in order to help others, allowed me to except who I am and be proud of it, treat every man as my master and learn from all, stay true to who I am and my beliefs but above all it has allowed me to not care what people think of me, only how they act as a result of me. After so many years of being outwitted by ego it is a lesson I aim to never repeat.
In 2017 lose the ego.
Lesson 5: Wake up
In a world suffocated by humiliation, gossip, social media, technology and all things material it is not hard to look past the obvious warning signs that we are facilitating our own extinction. If we remain naive to the continual death and destruction imposed on humans, nature and the planet than what hope do we have for the future or that of generations to come. I don’t go on here to force my own beliefs or opinions onto anyone, all I suggest is that if you want to experience the gift of selflessness and grow on another level then invest some time into the service of something bigger than yourself.
In 2017 make a difference.
This list is by far not exhausted and there are many other lessons learnt from the years passed, however this is a list that I believe can really make a difference in anyone’s life. I will continue to run Sober Strides in the years to come and watch in amazement as it continues to grow in unison with myself.