Find Your Passion Through Healthy Distractions

One of the greatest gifts I have received as a result of doing the 12 Steps is the gift of a clear mind.  This has enabled me to finally be able to just “be,” at least most of the times.  There are still moments when I have that feeling that I am “supposed” to be doing something “more productive” than relaxing or doing creative or spiritual activities, but I am getting better at recognizing when this happens and telling myself that I don’t have to be “doing” anything in order to be a “good” person – – that I am a “human being,” not a “human doing.”  I am not saying that I give myself permission to ignore responsibilities, but there are many times in my day (especially with the way my life is set-up at this particular time), where I have an opportunity to enjoy something peaceful, but some part of me still tries to make me feel guilty about it.  However, the more I pursue this path of relaxation, the closer I get to that stress-free life we are all looking for that is totally separate from what is going on around us.

I never really understood this before, but a large part of my problem with stress came from the way I had wrapped my entire sense of well-being and self-worth into my career.  And this I did unconsciously.  I didn’t even know this was a problem until I left my job.  Only then was I forced to come face-to-face with the grim fact that I had no life – – no friends, interests, hobbies, or passions outside of what I did at my 60-hour-per week job.  Not only that, but I then had to take responsibility for all the damage being a workaholic for the past 6 years had done to my marriage and my relationships with family members.  To top it all off, I had “coincidentally” left OA just as this latest bout of workaholism was taking hold.  So naturally, rather than deal with any of this, I started eating even more (just when I thought that wasn’t even possible!), my hair started falling out, and since I had no income, I spent most of my suddenly wide-open schedule imagining all the gory details of what I thought was the fast-approaching day when I would lose my house.  Good times!

So how does all this relate to “healthy distractions?”  Because I was suddenly forced to find some, and fast!  By the grace of God (and out of sheer desperation), I finally found my way back to OA.  So my first new “hobby” was getting re-involved with 12-Step metings and people.  Soon afterwards, my business fell into place, as did my doing the 12-Step work that lead to even more clarity.  It was soon after I completed my 4th step that a sense of calm slowly started to filter back into my life.  I could finally really listen to music the way I used to when I was a teenager.  Then my love of nature started to come back, closely followed by the desire to create works of art.  Ironically, the more I recovered, the further back in time I went to the “true” me.  As a child in elementary school, I was always the artist of the class and I had even won some awards in that area.  But as I got older and my food addiction progressed, all of my growing feelings of self-hatred and self-doubt had me convinced that being an artist was nothing more than a pathetic joke.

Now that I have done all this step work (which, by the way, I will have to do again and again on different aspects of myself – you never graduate!), I find that having a wide range of interests, friends, and activities in my life helps to keep me abstinent, as well as helps to give me a sense of comfort.  For example, I am no longer devastated when something goes wrong at work because, invariably, something has gone “right” in some other area of my life.  I also have a better sense that if my business ever fails, I will be able to move-on to something else.  In addition to making sure that I always have a variety of positive influences at my disposal, I try to be sure that helping others, whether they are in program or not, is a part of my daily life.  Not only does this keep my mind off of eating and help me to rebuild my shattered self-esteeem, but it also distracts me from what used to be my favorite hobby of all, “morbid self reflection.”

So start looking for what really interests you – or what really interested you as a child – and fill-in some of that newly-acquired mental real estate with these positive thoughts and ambitions.  Before you know it, you’ll be walking the path that will lead you straight to your passion.

March 2, 2012 This post was written by Categories: Tricks (& Tools) That Work For Me Tagged with:
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