I tend to cringe a little when I hear people use the word ‘spirituality.’ That’s not at all a knock against the practice, I believe I am a very spiritual person, but I found in early recovery it was a term used so much for way too many things. I include myself in that statement. I used it too much.
When I got out of treatment and would be around a group of others in their first 6 or 8 months of recovery, it felt like a contest of who is ‘most spiritual,’ which is the antithesis of what I have found spirituality to be years later. Again, I was in that contest as well, trying to win! I was no exception.
We were all trying to be spiritual gurus on social media, especially.
As a result, my attitude towards spirituality started to mean I felt I had to be a perfect saint and treat everyone with tremendous love. It resulted in me being hard on myself and being afraid to admit to a sponsor or someone close to me that I did something dishonest, wrong, or of course, ‘not spiritual’ (that term makes me cringe).
My point is I would say I did not get align with a spiritual lifestyle until life threw me some heavy curve balls that I survived, kept my morals and principles intact, and stayed sober. That too!
Anyways, let’s look at what I believe are some core values/practices to stay spiritually well.
Honestly, it’s the first principle of the first step, and for a good reason. If there is not complete honesty in your life, then I’m sorry, but you are wasting your time on this recovery journey. Who do you need to be most honest with? Yourself.
As much as it’s vital to avoid being dishonest with others, being dishonest with yourself is the biggest roadblock to spiritual living. Some ways to work on being honest with yourself would be:
- Practicing Humility – I can define humility with two words: being teachable. Acknowledging to yourself that you don’t have the answers for everything and reaching out to others for guidance is humility. Listening to constructive criticism without immediately going into defense mode is Humility. Admitting you are or may be wrong is humility.
- Transparency – Having someone you trust that you can tell anything to is massively helpful in life. Before that, you need to be transparent with yourself. Are you doing something for the wrong reason or have selfish intentions? Were you wrong or dishonest in a conflict? Are character deflects coming up? You can’t be transparent with someone until you are transparent with yourself. Own your issues, good and bad.
- Challenge Your Thinking – Challenge your belief systems and thinking. Maybe you are wrong. Perhaps you can’t do this yourself. Maybe you should follow through with that suggestion. The sooner you realize how spiritually healthy it is to do this, the better.
Once you make the connection that owning your faults and flaws makes you grow stronger in the big picture, it can be a game changer.
Every Man Has A Code
Buying into and understanding true honesty really opens up a gate to a lot of beneficial things. Once I started challenging myself and surviving hardships (big or small), I started developing core principles and values in my life.
Living by principles and morals you believe in starts to develop something powerful and what I find to be a top priority in my life: Integrity.
Integrity means handling life, the good and the bad, similarly based on what you believe to be right. Integrity is synonymous with spirituality.
Of course, to enter that realm, you need to know what your code is. Maybe you do already; if so, then write it down. Spend time with the idea and reflect on what you think are the essential principles in living a good honest life.
Those belief systems mean nothing until they are practiced when things don’t go our way. That is the true test. To me, there is nothing more fulfilling than getting through a difficult circumstance or situation and keeping my integrity intact. We are talking real-deal growth right there.
Wouldn’t it be nice to read something enlightening or motivational and be able to apply it from that day on out? It doesn’t work like that. Our minds, especially for the addict and alcoholic, are so powerful that we need that daily reminder to keep us from going down that negative path for the day.
The most truthful statement in recovery is, ‘One Day At A Time.’ They are words to live by more than any other.
Living one day at a time, I am well aware that I need to plug into my source of spirituality every morning. That source, of course, is my higher power. It is essential for us in recovery to plug into our spirituality.
I wake up with a lot of negativity and mess that I need to clear out of my mind. No matter how much of a selfless, spiritual buddha I was the day before, I still wake up with garbage in my head. I found practices that help me clear my head and get on the right track that day. I have a routine.
Get a routine. It can be entirely unique for you; only you know best what works to get you in that right spiritual mindset.
I like to do morning meditations, usually guided, that feed me with positive affirmations and ‘I am’ statements. I can tangibly feel myself plugging into my source of spiritual wellness and getting on the right track for the day. The difference it makes in my days compared to when I don’t do it is palpable.
Here is a great guide to creating a spiritual morning routine.
Living What You Believe In
If you have honed in on what you believe in, you need to apply it to life and live that way. We all know talk is cheap; actions are where the real magic starts to happen. Going through the journey of life in recovery, with its ups and downs while maintaining integrity, will make your beliefs on life much clearer.
After nearly seven years on my journey, I have found my spirituality based on several critical things. One is to stay out of my way and continue to do the next right thing, no matter what. If I am being mistreated at a job or by an individual, I continue to wake up, do the right things, and work hard every day.
I do it because I trust the path God has put me on; he hasn’t let me down in 7 years. Going through hardship and sticking with doing the right thing is big-league stuff. Any significant obstacles I’ve trudged through always had a lesson and underlying reason. Always.
The other spiritual value that’s important to me is being of service to others when the time calls and keeping it to myself. Helping others without expecting anything in return and not needing to advertise to the world all the great things I do for others keeps my heart full and spirit high.
Feeding the homeless for 3 hours on Thanksgiving is an incredible thing to do. Posting about it on social media for the world to see is where the intentions get blurry.
I don’t want to come off like I’m standing on a spiritual soapbox so let me make it clear, I am still terribly flawed. I have many shortcomings and weaknesses that need major work. The ability to admit that is where I can move on and grow spiritually.
Spirituality is a lifestyle that takes many missteps and hard lessons to truly learn about. Keep your intentions clear and honest, allow others into your heart, and constantly challenge your thinking. Do that, and you will know freedom; I guarantee it.