When I first got sober, I relied on a set of tools to guide me through the early days of recovery. These tools included regular attendance at AA meetings, service work, daily readings, and going through the steps with my sponsor. Over the years, I have added more recovery tools to my toolbox. Other tools I have taken on include making gratitude lists, prayer and meditation, writing, book studies, retreats, expressing my gratitude to others, participating in my faith community. The list goes on. Some recovery programs have their own prescribed sets of tools. For example the nine tools of Overeaters Anonymous include a plan of eating, sponsorship, meetings, telephone calls, writing, literature, an action plan, anonymity, and service.
Based on my experience, I have come to believe that if whatever tool I am using is not working today, then it is time to put it back in the toolbox and try another tool. Until recently, I had a set of tools that I used to start each day for the past couple of years: journaling, writing a thank you note to someone, a gratitude list, and a reading. When I began my first round of chemotherapy, that two-year old practice became too much of a rote routine.
I went back to my toolbox and pulled out some unused tools. A friend had sent me a couple of books with short daily readings that allowed a new reflection on life and recovery. I began posting my gratitude list to an AA Facebook page and participate in the life of that page. I have taken on more in service in several aspects of my life. I have a deeper involvement in my faith community. These tools are working today.
I found this approach very effective in not just sobriety, but my total life today. If I think over my three decades of sobriety, much has changed over the years including family, career, retirement, and more recently being diagnosed with a stage 4 cancer. It makes complete sense to me that different tools fit different life circumstances. The new tools always bring new understanding and growth toward true self.
I look forward to the new tools that will guide me in the future.