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  • Win Miller

Embracing Sobriety: Transforming Thinking and Behavior for Lasting Change

Do you want, really want, to be sober? If no, the following may not help. But if you really want to be sober, these suggestions may be helpful.


To be sober requires changes in both thinking and behavior. Changed thinking can lead to changed behavior, and changed behavior can lead to changed thinking. So try to change both your thinking and your behavior. We often have years of thought and behavior patterns to overcome. This takes both time and effort.


To change your thinking, observe your thoughts as if you are an observer, or witness, to your thinking. As you observe, ask yourself if you want to be thinking like this. If you do not like your thinking in the present moment, do something to change your thinking. Some suggestions: read the Big Book or other recovery literature, call someone, exercise, do the dishes, do yard work. Do something to change your thinking. Changed thinking will lead to changed behavior.


To change your behavior, make a plan each morning on how you want to behave. Set your intention to not use, to be kind and gentle with all those you interact with, to study the Big Book or preferred self-care literature. Read, pray and meditate, preferably in the morning, or whenever you can fit it in. Do not use bears repeating through out the day. Be gentle with your self too. Changed behavior will lead to changed thinking.


Reach out for, and ask, for help. This includes doctors, therapists, friends, family, other sober people, spiritual advisors, AA meetings, a treatment center, or others.Evaluate, with those you reach out to, whether you may need inpatient or outpatient therapy. Your own thinking on this topic may be screwy; we often believe we can handle things by ourselves. We cannot. We need personal and professional help. Take advantage of all that is offered.


Make a plan. First for the day ahead, but also for the month ahead, and eventually longer. We stay sober one day at a time, but planning out the future can help us correct the mess we have made. If you decide to go to inpatient treatment, plan on what needs to happen before you go. Sometimes the situation is so desperate that you just need to get in someplace right now, either

to detox or for treatment, with no advance planning. But if you are able to quit by yourself for some days, you probably have time to make a plan. Ask all the people you reach out to for advice on the plan. Leaving work for thirty days maybe difficult. Check your employee handbook for medical leave policies. Check with your partner and/or children on what will happen when you are gone.


Build a support group. Find people you can talk to honestly among those you have reached out to. Find a sponsor at an AA or NA meeting, or other self-help group. Practice calling, texting, and emailing people in your support group; visit them in person. This will increase your commitment, and it will make it easier to reach out when you have an urge or other unhealthy thought.


Before you go to sleep, evaluate your day: what went well? What not so well?Do you need to make amends? Thank your higher power for a sober day, and ask please may I have another.


Try to create new patterns of thought and behavior by practicing these suggestions. If you want to get better at something, you need to practice, practice, practice!

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