Full Recovery: Creating a Personal Action Plan for Life Beyond Sobrietyby Brian McAlister
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You’ve been able to stay alcohol and drug free for a period of time, but something’s still missing. Addiction is a physical, spiritual, and emotional disease. Detox deals with the physical aspect, and a 12-step or some other type of spiritually based program teaches you how to remain abstinent. But what about the emotional or mental challenges that must be overcome? Are you ready to move beyond financial scarcity? Are you floundering in an unfulfilling career or personal relationship? These real-world challenges often lead to an uninspired, mediocre recovery and can be major contributors to relapse. It’s time to move forward, discover your life’s purpose, and reach your full potential. This book is designed to help you design an action plan, create momentum, and achieve results. The universal truths presented here have taken me from being a low-bottom alcoholic/addict to a successful entrepreneur and author with twenty years of continuous sobriety. The suggestions and exercises I present have worked for me and countless others. They will work for you if you choose to let them. So you’re sober; what’s next? No doubt you achieved sobriety with guidance from someone who knew how to get and stay sober. I speak your language; let me do the same for you on the next step to full recovery. Let me be your life coach on your journey to abundance. Everyone loves a great comeback story. Achieving full recovery is the greatest comeback story you’ll ever tell because it will be your own.
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The Recovering Person's Guide to Unleashing Your Inner Power
By Brian McAlister
MacSimum Publishing CompanyCopyright © 2015 Brian McAlister
All rights reserved.
Open Your Mind
The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking. — ALBERT EINSTEIN
ALL OF US ARE AWARE of people who started with the most humble, unremarkable, or average beginnings, yet still managed to soar to great heights. People who were able to move beyond the economic or societal labels that were thrust upon them and instead decided to follow their dreams. Eric Clapton is an example of such a person.
Eric Clapton entered this world as the son of an unwed teenage mother. His father was a soldier who abandoned them and returned to his home in Canada after his tour of duty. Eric was raised by his grandmother and her second husband, whom he was led to believe were his parents. He was given a guitar at age thirteen and struggled to learn how to play it. He found it so difficult he often considered quitting, but his deeply rooted love of music helped him develop the perseverance needed to continue trying.
Clapton went to college but failed out after one year. He then became a manual laborer, but his love of the blues kept drawing him back to music. In the early 1960s, he started playing for free at London clubs in between the set breaks of the headlining bands. He decided to make a commitment to music and eventually was discovered.
What did he do next? What everyone with an addictive personality usually does: he started to self-sabotage. He began drinking and drugging to excess. He became a heroin addict. He fought with other band members. He had volatile relationships with women. When it all became too much, he withdrew from the world and stayed isolated for years in a drug-induced state of depression. Although Clapton had enjoyed professional success, his demons kept him from truly benefiting from that success. Finally, after decades of depression and addiction, he hit bottom and did what he needed to do to get sober.
In 1993, he started discussing the possibility of opening a world-class center for the treatment of addiction, and by 1998 he had turned it into reality.
I once heard an interview with Clapton during which someone suggested that it was easier for him to stay sober because of all the money and success he had achieved. Clapton responded that, to the contrary, he was the perfect example that money and fame don't equal happiness. He went on to say he had every material thing a person could want, yet considered suicide daily until he got sober. He considers the years he has spent in sobriety the happiest and most productive of his life. He is a survivor and a great example of turning adversity into opportunity. He has used his personal challenges to inspire others through both his music and his treatment center.
As alcoholics and addicts, we sometimes feel we have been dealt a bad hand that gives us an excuse to wallow in self-pity. "If you had my life, you'd drink too" is an all too familiar comment made by active alcoholics. All people experience adversity whether they are addicts or not. It's how you react to adversity that will determine the measure of fullness in your recovery.
Did you know that Thomas Edison was thrown out of school at an early age because the teacher believed he wasn't capable of learning? Albert Einstein didn't speak until he was three years old and his family nicknamed him "the slow one." As a young man, Abraham Lincoln failed at every career he attempted: as a businessman he was simply inadequate; as an engineer he performed so poorly he had to declare bankruptcy and the sheriff was forced to sell his surveying equipment to make restitution to his creditors.
Lincoln, like many people, also suffered from depression and even fought suicidal tendencies throughout his life. Upon reflecting on this painful issue, he came up with one of his most famous quotes: "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." Lincoln chose to focus on being happy rather than depressed. He is an excellent example of the power to be found in controlling your focus. His perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds has placed him in the company of some of the greatest political leaders and statesmen of all time. Abraham Lincoln's courage in the face of adversity not only abolished slavery but also preserved the United States as we know it.
I am not suggesting that you are the next Clapton, Edison, Einstein, or Lincoln — although you might be. Nor am I suggesting that there will be no detours, speed bumps, or stop signs along the road to full recovery. What I am saying is that every adversity is just another opportunity. Adversity is what propels human development. When faced with a challenge, you can choose where you want to direct your focus and how to respond to the situation.
Your Mind Is Your Personal Supercomputer
Your mind, therefore, is one of your most powerful recovery tools. Physically, human beings are weak. Our strength lies in our ability to think. It is our superior mind rather than our physical prowess that has allowed us to become the dominant life force on the planet. At one time, Neanderthals coexisted with the ancestors of modern humans. Neanderthals were physically much stronger but mentally much weaker than our ancestors. That is why Neanderthals have disappeared from the earth, but we Homo sapiens survive and thrive.
When challenged with the overwhelming severity of winter, the need for warmth pushed primitive mankind to develop the ability to control fire, make clothing, and build housing. In search of food, trade, and a better life, humankind needed to travel, which led to the creation of ships, automobiles, and planes. Out of fear of our own barbarism and selfishness evolved the human desire to live in harmony with one another. This led to the creation of governments and educational systems.
Adversity and frustration foster creative thinking — if you let them. Why is it that we fear adversity when we have so much evidence as to its long-term benefits for human development? The short answer is the ego, or in spiritual terms, the "false self."
From an early age, we are conditioned to associate adversity with pain. Your ego, or the false self, develops the habit of conforming rather than seeking radical solutions or exploring new ideas because what if they don't succeed? It becomes easier and less painful to the ego to not take action rather than to take action and face the possibility of failing.
Your perceived problems are actually enormous opportunities for growth in disguise. In reality, failure and success are nothing more than a matter of perception.
When faced with adversity, search out creative solutions that could help you advance or even open new doors you may have never discovered otherwise. Don't get too hung up or worried about the perceived problems in your life. As soon as you solve one problem, you'll start looking around for a new one to solve. That's how we humans behave. It's a characteristic of our species.
If you are fully committed to reaching your potential, then setbacks are just the training you need for getting there. Welcome adversity because it encourages you to use your mind to overcome the problem. Your mind is a powerful supercomputer that has the ability to solve practically any problem. You simply need to ask it the right question. As the saying goes, "garbage in, garbage out." This is why it is so important to learn to master this powerful tool. Every time you use your mind, you learn to do more with that tool. Mind-altering chemicals short-circuit your computer. It's like introducing a virus into your software.
Substitute Faith for Hope
The next principle you need to understand is the importance of substituting faith for hope. Most people hope that their lives will get better, but most people aren't achieving the results they hope for. Hope is merely a beginning. Hope is waiting for something to happen in the future. Faith is the realization that things are already happening right now. You need to move from hope to faith.
Faith is strong.
Faith is emotional.
Faith is inspirational.
Faith creates a sense of certainty so powerful that it allows us to believe — beyond any rational argument — in someone, in something, or in a particular outcome.
Faith is the belief in an unseen force that creates results that are manifested in the material world.
The Bible says that faith can move mountains ... but it doesn't tell you to bring a shovel and lunch. You will need to take your faith and combine it with action; both are required in order to turn your dreams into reality.
The truths I have presented in this book are worthy of your faith. They have worked for me and countless others. They will work for you if take action and implement them in your life.
You Are the Mirror of What You Do
Another truth deserving of your faith is the principle that we are all mirror reflections of what we show the world. This principle has been recognized by all civilizations since ancient times. In the West, it is referred to as the law of reciprocity. In the East, it is referred to as karma. Jesus summed it up when he told us, "As you sow, so shall you reap." Nineteenth-century American Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson stated it this way in his essay "The Law of Compensation": "Every act rewards itself ..." Sixteenth-century English physicist and mathematician Isaac Newton observed in nature that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. His third law of motion shows that this principle affects everything in the universe, not just human beings.
If you give fear, hate, or anger to another, it will encourage them to respond in kind. If you gossip or speak ill of another, you will attract the same qualities to yourself. Even if someone does not speak ill of you, your guilty conscience will convince you that people are gossiping about you. If you are instinctively mean to others, people will treat you with meanness. If you want to be a leader and decide to lead through intimidation and fear, you may succeed temporarily, but eventually people will revolt. If you're strong enough to crush the revolt, then people will run from you. The ones who don't run will be weak and not worthy of associating with anyway.
It is these types of undisciplined behaviors that inspire the same behavior in others.
If you hold your hand over a flame, it will burn you every time, not just some of the time. The same holds true for the principle that you are a mirror of all things you give. Whatever you show the world will always reflect back to you. Why don't you just accept this as true?
We see the fruitlessness of trying to cheat this law play out everywhere we look, from the classroom to the boardroom to the world stage. Thousands of years of turmoil and war in the Middle East are a perfect example of the results you get when you try to cheat the law. For centuries the region has been a mirror image of religious, ego-driven, fear-based conduct carried out on a national level. The national ego says we are right so you are wrong. Our God is right and yours is wrong. All sides claim the distinction of being directed by God and divinely inspired. Each side attacks and counterattacks. It solves nothing and depletes everyone. Each side receives what they give.
Now, I'm not saying that you should accept mistreatment from anyone. I am also assuming that sometimes people have not always treated you well and that life has not always been fair to you. What I am suggesting is that you have a choice regarding how you act and react.
Life Is Not Fair; Be Grateful
We may act justly toward one person yet watch as that person acts unjustly toward us and appears to benefit by his actions. Looks can be deceiving. This example leads to the next truth I want to discuss: Life is not fair. I have learned to have gratitude every day that life is not fair. Is it fair that people are born with disabilities and diseases and I was not? Is it fair that in the past I smoked cigarettes, yet I don't have cancer and others do? Is it fair that I was born in America, the world's wealthiest nation, and someone else was born in Somalia and is starving? Is it fair that many died drinking and drugging, and I did not? I thank God daily that life is not fair.
All of us can make our own list if we think about it. An example might be, how many times did you break the law by purchasing illegal drugs or driving under the influence versus how many times were you caught? The idea is to start focusing on the gifts you have been given. Be grateful that you have been granted another day of life. If any of us received the fullness of karmic justice, we'd be dead or in jail. We have received the gift of grace, which has saved us from the full weight of our actions. Recognize this fact and stop making excuses.
Fair has nothing to do with anything. We all must play the hand we're dealt.
Ann's Journey to Full Recovery
How would you like to have been dealt this hand? Ann is from a small fishing island located in the North Atlantic off the coast of Canada. Ann's birth was the result of her teenage mother being raped by a Chinese seaman. The island has a notorious reputation for untreated alcoholism and poverty.
Soon after she was born, Ann was removed from her mother by a Christian organization and placed in an orphanage. One of her siblings was already living there, along with many other children the religious organization had deemed at risk. One day a couple from the United States arrived at the orphanage and adopted Ann's sibling. Ann was left behind. Over the next few years, children kept being adopted, but no one seemed to want Ann.
Several years after they adopted Ann's brother, the American couple returned for Ann. But when they arrived at the border, she was denied entry into the United States because the laws had changed. Ann was sent back to the orphanage. Following still more years of legal battles, Ann's adoptive parents were finally able to bring her to their home in New Jersey, and Ann was reunited with her brother.
I think you'll agree that Ann's childhood was filled with more adversity and unfairness than most of us have had to endure. But rather than a happy ending, things only got tougher. Ann found it difficult to relate to her new surroundings. She had no point of reference as to how to socialize with children in her metropolitan community, given her sheltered upbringing on an island. She looked different and felt different.
She was placed in a parochial school where her differences became more pronounced. Although Ann was very intelligent and the education provided by the school was exceptional, it was not a good fit for either. Ann was a creative and imaginative child, and these qualities were considered undesirable in the rigid educational structure in which she found herself. This only added to her low self-esteem issues. She felt as though she didn't fit in. Next Ann experienced a trauma of epic proportions. A family member of her adoptive parents raped her.
The unending and unfair saga that was Ann's life finally became too much for her, and she sought escape through self-medicating. She just didn't want to feel anymore. Ann became an alcoholic and drug addict. This form of escape worked only temporarily, of course, because now she had all the new problems that develop from a life of addiction.
I met Ann sixteen years ago when I was experiencing an extremely low point in my own recovery. I had spent years climbing the corporate ladder and was used to compounding my successes one on top of the other. My ego was in overdrive and my future looked bright. Then, as it sometimes does, life had another idea about which direction I should be heading.
My situation was this: the company I worked for was in transition. I was a top producer in my company, and I assumed that because of this my job was secure. It turned out my thought process was flawed. The new leadership had other ideas about where I should be working. I found myself caught in the midst of a Machiavellian power struggle.
I was overextended in my finances. I had just built the house of my dreams and had enrolled my son in an expensive private college.
The pressure kept building. My physical and mental health worsened, yet I would not slow down. The drive to achieve, what at the time I considered success, became paramount over everything else in life and I lost all perspective. Then the bottom fell out. Years earlier, before I got sober, I was involved in one particularly nasty motorcycle accident where I suffered a broken back. Because of several broken vertebrae that never healed properly and the pressure being placed on my spinal cord, I developed a debilitating paralysis in my leg and could not walk. I underwent spinal surgery that kept me bedridden for months. My family life was also strained as my wife and I went through the grieving that accompanied her father's slip into darkness as he experienced the final phases of Alzheimer's disease.
Excerpted from Full Recovery by Brian McAlister. Copyright © 2015 Brian McAlister. Excerpted by permission of MacSimum Publishing Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Since leaving his life of addiction, Brian McAlister has served in many high level corporate positions and has led several successful entrepreneurial businesses. Brian currently serves on the board of directors for a nationally recognized drug and alcohol rehabilitation center and has an active role in the community as a sought after motivational speaker on the subject.
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