I remember in my early Al-Anon meetings, when I was married to a suddenly-active alcoholic, seeing a sign on the wall that said:
“You are about as happy as you make up your mind to be.”
It made me so ANGRY!
I mean I had already been depressed and now I was beside myself with worry and outrage and etc. – I mean how could anyone in my circumstance be HAPPY??
Al-Anon exists to help people recover from SOMEONE ELSE’s drinking.
Without going into the gory details, my sponsors took me in hand and patiently tried to help me to begin to focus on myself. They informed me that indeed my happiness did not need to depend on anyone else’s behavior, specifically that of my crazy alcoholic husband. I was in charge of my own happiness, I was unwilling to concede that for a very long time. Sigh. I was such a “victim.” What I wanted to know was how to KEEP HIM FROM DRINKING. They didn’t imagine I would get very far with that idea and they were right. Eventually we divorced because I couldn’t just stand by and watch someone I loved destroy himself, and especially I couldn’t let my children (not his) watch. But before that happened, I had learned a lot about how to deal with that sense of victimhood and take back my personal power.
I share the story to tell you that when my sponsor sat me down with a piece of paper one night and told me to write down just ONE thing I was grateful for, I was stumped. Not one single thing, not even that I was still breathing (remember, I was depressed). Gradually, day by day, I was able to come up with a pretty impressive list and it made such a difference in my life, that I believe that GRATITUDE is a foundation of my eventual recovery.
What I finally accepted about myself was that when I was resisting focusing on my blessings, stubbornly wanting instead to focus all my energy on my “problems,” (which I thought were all caused by someone else), I was MAKING UP MY MIND to stay unhappy.
Once I learned that basic lesson, nursing GRATITUDE instead of nursing a GRUDGE became a foundational tool for my happiness – and even gave me tools later to deal with my long-time depression that had nothing to do with my then-husband. I still slip back from time to time, but then, now I know WHAT TO DO to get back on track.
And so, I recommend this to you as well – GROUND YOURSELF IN GRATITUDE if you are ready to take back your power and be happy and at peace within yourself regardless of outside circumstances.