The question I am often asked is; “How do I deal with these feelings Randy?” The answer is actually simple on one hand, yet difficult on the other because most of us have always drowned our sorrows or celebrated our victories with one of the maladaptive coping mechanisms listed above. We simply just learn to sit with our feelings, feel them, work through them and talk to someone about them. Simple right?
So, how do we live life on life’s terms and what is some of the work we must do to get to a point where we can to that? Here are what I feel are the first six of the many simple steps we must take:
- Accept yourself
- Acknowledge your reality
- Practice rigorous honesty
- Identify your part
- Admit your mistakes
- Own your outcomes
Accept yourself – So often I hear people say; “I just can’t forgive myself for some of the things I’ve done in my past.” What if I told you good, it’s not up to you to forgive yourself? If you truly believe in God and believe he has forgiven you, then you are forgiven. To say you are not really forgiven until you can forgive yourself is saying that you know more than God. That you are better than God. So, the real question is; “what are you holding on to so tightly from the past and why can’t you let go of it? It all stems around acceptance.
Acceptance is the ability to unconditionally accept and value all parts of you. The good and the bad. The light and the dark. The Ying and the Yang. We can’t have one without the other. I want you to know that you have done everything perfectly in your life thus far. You are here reading this blog. You are seeking help for yourself. You could have done one thing differently and you might not be here today. Always remember that what happened to you in life is not who you are. The mistakes and harm you have caused others is not who are. It is either what has happened to you or what you have done, not who you are. Acceptance, rather of people, places, things, or ourselves, does not mean approval.
Acknowledge your reality – It’s time to accept yourself and face the realities of your life. No more living in denial, as it no longer serves you. Facing our reality can be very difficult at best. When I finally made the decision to look at myself in the mirror and face the truth about the harm, I had caused in others’ lives, as hard as it was, the picture was painted very clearly for me. I had to quit blaming others for my problems. I had to quit making others pay for the abuse I suffered as a kid. My reality had been filled with a few things. First, a lot delusions and false truths about life and myself. Second, I had become very successful in life, yet that success never filled the hole in my soul. Lastly, other than being abused as a child, I played the biggest role in my life of what I had blamed others for doing to me. Acknowledging, understanding, accepting and working with my reality is what helped me to choose and work towards my dreams wisely. This helped me to live life on life’s terms, not Randy’s.
Practice rigorous honesty –This is pretty much self-explanatory. In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous it talks about being rigorously honest and how most people are “naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.” Where and with whom does that rigorous honesty start? Deep within ourself. We must quit lying to ourselves. We must learn to speak our truth no matter how painful it might be to us or others to admit. It is only when we start being truly and rigorously honest with ourselves that our deepest wounds can be exposed and healed. There is nothing more painful on one hand, yet so freeing on the other hand as finally becoming rigorously honest with ourselves about our true feelings and hurts.
Identify your part & Admit your mistakes – This is where a fearless and moral inventory comes into play. For those that have a hard time accepting life on life’s terms, they are likely also the ones who have a hard time accepting themselves and their faults. They are likely the ones that also blame everything on everyone else. Nothing is ever their fault. This is where becoming rigorously honest by doing a fearless and moral inventory will open our eyes and heart. Remember that we are not what happened to us or what we did to other people. Until we can identify our part in all things and admit our mistakes, we will continue to live in the river of denial and our life will continue to flow like a raging river at every turn. Identifying our part and writing it down is only the first step. To complete this step, we must not only admit it to ourselves, we must admit it to another person and God. Then and only then will we be able to start living life on life’s terms and know a freedom and happiness unlike one we have never known.
Work toward owning every part of your reality--not just the things that need work but also your strengths and successes. Owning all your outcomes can help teach you to do better next time, to see failure as a learning opportunity. Remember everything that happens to us is a lesson ad every person we encounter is a teacher. Open your eyes, heart, and mind to what the world and people have to offer you and Living Life on Life’s Terms will become a much easier concept to live by.
 Alcoholics Anonymous, The Big Book, 4th ed., pg. 58. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous Worldwide Services, 2001