“Wherever you go, spread the good news, and if necessary, use words” – Saint Francis
There are a lot of gifts to give this holiday season, but the greatest gift to give is your self. In our using we might have brought home little gifts to show our affection to loved ones, but the most important thing to give is your presence. For years we made the holidays about what we would get, and turned a loving gathering into a selfish event; we made it a time to take rather than give. This is wrong, and I urge each person in recovery to give more than a monetary gift this year, and give the gift of presence. Giving your presence is admittedly easier said than done. In order to do this successfully one must be focused on the people around them, and not on themselves.
The selfishness that underlies our using finds its way into our sobriety, and it happens often within our thoughts. The time we spend obsessing on ourselves around people we should be showing up for is inherently selfish, and ultimately robs others and ourselves. It robs us of an opportunity to contribute to the conversation, activity, or even the moment. I challenge you to be aware of how you spend your thought life this year, and I encourage you to make a commitment to the present moment and the other people around you. Instead of thinking about what you’re going to get, or the places you’d rather be, spend your time thinking about what more you can give and how grateful you are to be where you are. We must replace selfish thoughts with selfless thoughts in order to discourage our minds from the selfishness we’ve disposed it to.
Another way to give your presence this year is to go with the flow. In our using we were often so demanding about what we expected others to do, or not do, for us. In 2017 I encourage you go to go with the flow. This means that you do whatever it is that the people your with want to do. Essentially, this is simple; you make no demands, and have no judgment on their decisions. If they want to see a movie you don’t like, watch it. If they want to go somewhere you don’t, go anyways. And if they want to do something you don’t want to do, well, do it regardless. This year you can go with the flow by being an active participant, and make a commitment to do whatever it is that the people your with want to do, even if you’d rather go a different direction.
Your actions speak louder than words, year round. I used to say so many things that seemed like the right thing to say to my family and my friends, but I never backed them up with action until I got sober. So this year, I challenge you to speak through your actions more than you speak with your words. Take the initiative to clean up after dinner without being asked to when with family. Take action after action to help the environment you’re in, and don’t expect or demand praise for it. Take these actions because their the right thing to do, not because their praise worthy. Take the load off your family or your friends, and volunteer yourself to do the heavy lifting.
The gift of your presence is the best gift you can give those around you this year. Make a commitment to yourself that you’re going to give this year, rather than take. If this is done successfully I guarantee you that you will begin the year with a warm heart and quiet mind, because you would have spent the majority of your time thinking about others and being of service to them. The love you feel for these people must be exhibited through your actions, and these are just a few ways you can be sure to be present this year so you can give the gift you may have never given; your presence.