Why The “One Day at a Time” Formula Has Saved Lives

By Cheyenne Burroughs
Jul 11th, 2015
1 Comment

Egg - symbol of hope and new life in human palm.

We all know the saying: One day at a time. For alcoholics and drug addicts this statement has become a religion while for others, they have yet to understand the deep implications of this phrase. Some may respond with “Whatever,” after all there are always people that refuse to believe in the power of words and the power of the mind. They are victims to circumstance and are constantly battling the fight they chose of “Me Against The World.” For alcoholics, drug addicts and people of varied addiction “One Day At A Time” has brought insight, freedom and hope and there’s a very good reason as to WHY.

Under times of stress it is too easy to focus on the big picture. Someone fighting addiction may live a life of paralysis. Social engagements seem scary, people become a bigger threat than they once were and every moment needs to be handled with care. Sober people can be difficult to come by and there are many forms of socially-accepted escape surrounding us. Addicts like to hide out; It’s safe and it’s almost always preferable. What harm can be done when we remain in our domain?

When we give into the fear we can easily picture ourselves falling into relapse and we can see our entire life crumble, after all, it’s happened before. We can play out the scenarios that we had lived in the past: A broken life with a job or career and money that has been wasted, significant others and loved ones that walked away because they could no longer bare to witness and accept that we chose our addiction over our well-being, emotions that suffocated us and the vision of hope that resembled a buried casket. Life is dark when you feel like you have nothing to live for.

When one reaches sobriety an individual can feel so many things. It usually starts with all the pain they’ve avoided and after that emotional purging process is worked through, one many feel physically and psychologically exhausted. However, with time, patience and self-love one comes to feel revived and hopeful about another chance at a reality that isn’t lived in pure disillusionment.

One thing we sometimes forget is that while we’re going through detox, we have yet to face our biggest challenge: Staying sober. Days vary and sometimes they stretchhhh. We try to keep track of our emotions, healthily manage our stress and steer clear of people that may come with problems or temptations. When the big picture becomes too much of a fixation, everyday life brings a tremendous amount of anxiety and pressure. We may ask ourselves how will we deal with this situation, this job, this person – How will we deal with this life! How will we finally face all that we’ve avoided? We may think “If I can’t indulge to manage all this, how will I do it?”

Temptation is normal and needs to be carefully examined every time it arises. “One day at a time” is not the only thing we must practice, we must keep in mind that we must process each moment as it occurs. Considering too much at once and allowing our minds to accumulate all of these questions and concerns will naturally cause anxiety. We are over-stimulating ourselves. Not only do addicts know this but everybody knows it. Business professionals know it and artists know it. You may have 20 tasks placed before you before you can leave work but it’s only through the completion of one task that you can then move onto the second.

Compartmentalization is a useful concept to consider here. Learning to think of our thoughts as files that we neatly package or organize can be helpful in times of this mental rush of questions and fears. When we train ourselves to slow down and learn to emotionally detach from our lives and try to consider our situations in a factual way, then we can adapt a more logical approach to these challenges.

Learning to break down your thoughts in little bite sized pieces makes reality a lot less daunting. Ask yourself, why am I feeling this way? What is triggering this emotion? Why do I feel anxiety regarding this situation? How can I stop feeling anxiety about this situation and come to a resolution so that I can move forward with my life?

“One day at a time” is based around the idea of learning to process each moment carefully and with deep consideration. It is a Buddhist philosophy packaged into what you’d call a cliché but what others call a life saver. You create your reality and what happens in your life is due to the choices you make, in every moment you are deciding. Embrace all these moments in your life, there is strength to be found and a lesson to be learned through each of them.

One Response to “Why The “One Day at a Time” Formula Has Saved Lives”

  1. Robert says:

    Great article!! Very insightful!!

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