When I was in the process of getting clean and sober I saw lots of therapists, watched many episodes of Oprah, read plenty of self-help books, attended retreats and went to a lot of AA/NA meetings to gain insight into what I was grappling with around my addiction and why I could not seem to let it go.
And, like a favored quote by Jacob Riis, all of these paths contributed to me getting ready to celebrate 23 years of living clean and sober this coming February.
THE HUNDRED AND FIRST BLOW
One of those blows of the hammer that was part of splitting my life in two-my life of addictions and my life after addictions-was a statement made by an older and a bit disheveled man at an AA meeting that has always stuck with me:
"I used to be attracted to negative excitement but now I move towards positive excitement instead."
Two different types of excitement? I had never really thought about that before.
I loved negative excitement for sure.
Partying all night.
Climbing small mountains at night without a flashlight.
Swimming across the Colorado River against even my own better judgement.
Going into places someone like me should not be.
Hanging with people that I didn't respect.
I took many uncalculated risks chasing the negative excitement.
It seemed like fun at the time... until it wasn't.
NO ONE WAS MORE SURPRISED THAN ME
If you had told me that positive excitement was going to be even more fun than the negative excitement I would not have believed you.
I could not picture my life without the negative excitement but I realized that the negative excitement was not working for me anymore.
Every time I would stop the negative, it would eventually creep back in. I wasn't sure how to make the switch stick. I decided to stop focusing on getting rid of the negative excitement and, instead, focus on filling up with more positive excitement.
Playing Uno with my family. Hiking in the forest. Reading a great book or watching a romantic comedy. Writing. Cooking. LMOA playing poker with my girlfriends. Taking walks in the woods. Meditating.
I WAS FILLING A VOID BEFORE IT OCCURED
I did not know it then but what I was doing was building A Nourishment Routine, something I help my coaching clients to build in both the Now™ Life online program and at the Now™ Retreat.
Instead of falling back into the negative excitement that might include overeating, overspending, overdrinking, overxxxing while knowing you are actually under nourished, you can choose a routine of positive excitement in thought and behavior that you can rely on to nourish you.
HOW DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE?
Positive excitement is peaceful.
Negative excitement is disturbing.
Positive excitement feels like a joy you want forever.
Negative excitement is not sustainable.
Positive excitement is something I am happy to share with my kids.
Negative excitement is often something I would keep hidden.
Positive excitement feels like a compliment.
Negative excitement feels like a punch in the stomach.
For the month of December, when family can make you crazy, overindulging and overspending is the norm, create a Nourishment Routine you can use when the negative excitement seems to be winning.
Step 1: Make a list of all things that you consider negative excitement.
Negative excitement for me looks like:
EX: Gossip about family members
Step 2: Now do the same for all things you consider to be positive excitement.
Positive excitement for me looks like:
EX: Taking a mid-afternoon nap.
Now, sign the Nourishment Routine Declaration (print off as many copies that you think you might need as a reminder and put them everywhere (bathroom mirror, car, refrigerator door, as a picture in your smart phone…).
Take a picture and post to Facebook.