Selective and purposeful personal associations can help recovery.
As part of recovery I have learned the importance of really listening. Each day as part of my connection time I ask for the power, patience, and ability to listen fully to information and stories that come my way.
I chose to make fully listening a priority during my recovery because I had spent so much of my past either listening only to what supported my ideas about the world and myself or turning to alcohol as a way to hear nothing for a brief time. I knew that part of a successful recovery for me would be to do things that I had begun to avoid or actively worked to dull down. If I didn’t begin to feel, hear, and see things as they were every day I knew for me there would always be anxiety that would take me back toward the need to numb with alcohol.
Recently, fully listening brought an interesting story into my head. On the radio I heard about a recently released study on obesity and weight management that found people’s weight and fitness level would become the average of their group of friends. If you associated with a heavier set of friends or one who exercised less than you did you would eventually adjust your own weight and activity level to the overall group’s average. If your group of friends were more active than you it would compel you to be more active. So the study suggested that you become aware of your group of friends’ weight and fitness mindset and add people to your group to help you meet your healthy average.
This study stuck in my head, but not for weight rather for the process of changing personal stories. I started wondering how one’s group of friends could affect their stories. In recovery programs people are encouraged to change friends, surroundings, and situations that put them back in the path of their former addictions. Some might think this is an avoidance of habit, but I think it is also a way to change the story you have about yourself and the world.
In the context of averaging to your group of friends it is easy to see that if you are with a group of people who have stories where they are the victim, the world has wronged them, and they were owed more, it is easy to see how your own story could begin to reflect this paradigm. For me this negative, victim-based view is a dangerous one, so I use it as my example, but know that you can have other damaging styles of stories that are ones of power or entitlement that on the surface can seem positive, but may have a corrosive effect on your story and therefore your life.
After hearing the report I began to listen to the different people in my world – friends, acquaintances, school contacts, people I meet during the day, and so on. I started to see a pattern. The people I met or connected with in a way that inspired, motivated, and left me feeling happy were people who generally had positive things to say about themselves and their worlds; no one is positive all the time, so in my non-scientific approach I would say 90% of their dialogue was positive. They said affirming things about the choices they made, the body they had, their partner, their kids, and the world in general. They were realistic and balanced statements, not pie in the sky or better than the next person-type statements.
Then I noticed that there were people and situations where I would feel anxious, like I had to worry about what I said, like I was gossiping, and other difficult things for me to feel. When I listened to the conversations they tended to be gossipy, sarcastic, entitled, judgmental, or negative in ways with which my psyche becomes uncomfortable.
I realized that part of reworking my personal story and owning my truth involves careful selection of people I associate with, as well as developing a filter that keeps stories that don’t make my average better outside of my mind.
We are the writer of our own story; be sure that the other authors around you are writing in the genre that fits you best and helps you with your recovery now and in the long-term.
Susan Aplin Pogue
began her career in personal development after many years focused on self-development and improvement work. Her experiences led her to discover tools and practices that she was inspired to share with other people through her blog work. Additionally, she has created and facilitated leadership trainings for executive teams in corporate and small businesses. Susan is a public speaker, and has addressed audiences on topics ranging from leadership to time management. Her mission is to share practical and powerful self-management techniques to those in recovery from any aspect of their life that has begun to negatively impact their well-being and quality of life. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Colorado, Boulder, a Certification in Emergenetics ® , and a Certification in DDI Management Skills ®. Her work draws upon her background in corporate training and human resource departments, as well as her life experiences. Susan’s blog work is published by The Neurosculpting ® Institute. Transform, Inspire, Thrive.