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Accepting that I cannot change others

Why the emphasis on acceptance?

  • Acceptance heals.

  • Acceptance leads to forgiveness.

  • Acceptance allows us to move forward.

As we accept ourselves, it can become easier to accept others.

As I shared with you last week, my sobriety journey has included reviewing and accepting my past actions, especially the ones I regretted. Instead of continuing to berate myself with “if onlys” and “I should haves,” I learned to put down the self-flagellation whip and move forward, applying the lessons and insights from my past to my life today.

When I finally accepted that I am someone who cannot and will never be able to drink safely (or happily), I recognized just how delusional I had been to think otherwise. I’d brushed aside countless red flags, consequences, and loved one’s concerns. Maybe if I’d truly listened, I would have or could have sobered up sooner, but that is not how it went, and I accept that everything that happened leading up to that final drink had to happen for me to hit my rock bottom and become willing to change.

My self-acceptance prepared me to work and be friends with other people struggling to get sober. Indeed, it expands to everyone in my life, to the extent I’m willing to practice accepting them.

Working directly with other women on their own recovery journeys is one of the greatest gifts in my life. I often find myself loving these women more than they love themselves, and it is heartbreaking to see them struggle with accepting their own journeys and inability to safely drink.

Over the past five years, I have worked with women who now have several years of continuous sobriety. (In fact, tonight, I have the great honor to present one of them with her three-year chip!) However, these ladies are the exception - not the rule.

I’ve met and begun working with countless women who, for whatever reason, stopped working on themselves or decided to go back out and test the deadly drinking waters. Most of them had substantial knowledge about themselves and the disease of alcoholism, yet they returned to the familiar despair and misery of drinking over the short-term discomfort of sobering up.

One of the hardest lessons to learn and to employ is the lesson that I cannot control or change others or the paths they must walk. In my capacity as coach or sponsor, I can be supportive, available, and willing to help, but I cannot make another person change.

This same level of acceptance also applies to everyone else in my life, including my “normal” (or non-alcoholic) friends and non-recovery relationships. And it can apply to all of your relationships, too.

Practical application: Accepting others

Consider and respond to one or more of the below prompts/questions (pen to paper is best!).

  • Who is someone I struggle to accept? (You can use someone from your present or past.)

  • What is one specific quality or action/event I have resisted accepting about or related to him/her?

  • How will beginning to accept this person improve my life?

  • If I do not begin to accept this person, what will happen?

  • How would I like to feel about this person instead?

Let me know how it goes!

Questions, requests, or comments? I welcome them all! Contact me directly or schedule your complimentary Clarity Call!

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