FiveTools For Dealing With Irritation

Life has a way of letting us know that we are not in charge. From minor irritations to major bugaboos, from one direction or another, stuff happens. I’m speaking mainly of the more or less minor things that irritate us, sometimes even ruining our day, the times when we’re apt to be told, or tell ourselves, “Get over it already,” “Just let it go,” or similar advice. Fine, but how can we do that? Here are five tools I’ve found work for me.

Understanding. We are all human, therefore we are all imperfect. If someone says or does something that irritates you, don’t take it personally, just take a moment to put yourself in their place. Everyone you meet has their own backstory of troubles, stressors and ills. Try to treat them as you would like to be treated if you were in their place.

Compassion. With practice at understanding others, genuine compassion develops. With compassion, you can actually set yourself up to be of service to those others. A kind word or just a smile to the harried sales clerks that can frustrate us so easily this time of year, for example.

Gratitude. It’s amazing how much better my life is when I cultivate and practice gratitude. Daily or weekly, take time to stop and reflect on the things that have happened for which you are truly grateful. Write them down in a daily or weekly Gratitude Journal.

The Serenity Prayer. For those situations where, as Forrest Gump said, “There just aren’t enough rocks,” this prayer works wonders. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” There may be a few exceptions, but nearly always I am the only thing I can change in a given situation. Like my recent situation with an ISP that hasn’t lived up to my expectations, together with a computer virus that has rendered my old laptop unsalvageable. Saying the prayer reminds me that there are some things I just have to accept and work with.

A Support System. “No man is an island,” and you need not try to be. Grow and nurture a support system of friends and family who will rally to your side with understanding, compassion and love when things start to become overwhelming.

These five tools go a long way toward keeping me centered and moving forward. I also have a few other tools I use which are specific to my spirituality. If you are a spiritual person, use the tools available in your religion or philosophy. Life is big and rough and unpredictable; grab all the tools you can, and remember to throw away those that don’t work.

How about you? What coping tools do you use to get over life’s speed bumps without banging your bottom on the pavement? Leave a comment and tell us about them.

  1. This post offers a great outline of tools that everyone, alcoholic/addict or otherwise, can use. It has taken a long time for me to learn humility, and self-reflection, to accept and to realize and show massive amounts of gratitude. For some, myself included, these can be traits and tools that are hard learned but are worth the price of the education.


Absence Makes the Work Pile-up

Well, hell.

At some point toward the end of last May or early June my computer was hijacked by a very nasty virus. Hopefully, I’ll be back in operation by the end of this month. Until then, I’m on a temporary system trying to catch up on comments and new subscriber acknowledgements; updating a few things around the blog; and hoping I can post a new article or two.

Until then, may you find blessings and peace, sooner rather than later, and in abundance.

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    • Hi! Welcome and thank you for the comment. I’ve been having computer problems, but I think they’re ironed out now. I should be posting again this week. Please stay tuned!

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    • Hi, Lavonne, welcome to SoR! I’ve had a few technical problems in the recent past that I think have been solved. I should be posting much more frequently in 2014. Thank you for your interest!

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David Sheff’s Addiction Manifesto | The Fix

David Sheff’s Addiction Manifesto | The Fix.

A must-read for anyone concerned with addiction treatment.

  1. I agree, he makes some great comments about the need for addiction to have a more public face. I think there is a big difference between anonymity and secrecy. Too many people are choosing to be secret about their battles with addiction.

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    • Yes. I believe anonymity is a personal choice; no one should be guilted/shamed into choosing to ‘come out’ or remain anonymous. But as more and more of us do go public with our problem, the social stigma will slowly disappear. Thanks for the comment!

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      • G-d damn, please take an ounce of responsiblity! It’s tough, I know, but the mirror is the best judge. Stop pushing the blame … love u guys and what I’ve read

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      • Hello, and welcome. You have me at a disadvantage here. I haven’t a clue as to what you are referring. Could you explain, please? Thanks!

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  2. It is tough for most people to accept that addiction is a disease, as David Sheff points out in the article. Whether or not an addict has “no choice” when it comes his addiction is debatable. I think that addiction is a disease but free will and choice are always present. An addict must make the choice to choose treatment and stay clean.No one can make that choice for him. Even with the disease of addiction, the addict must become responsible and stop blaming others if he or she wants to recover. Thanks for sharing this interesting article that brings up alot of important issues in addiction treatment.

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  3. I do agree with David Sheff and Veronica above. Anonymity should be a choice and not something that people fighting addiction are forced to adopt. Thanks for sharing this, Ron.

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  4. I am saddened that the author suggests that hospital-type treatments are preferred. The fact is that outpatient treatment may be more appropriate and more effective in some cases. I think he was unclear about appropriate levels of care, much like the new DSM V is.


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  5. Just found this blog! Very happy I shall be returning. I agree what was mentioned above regarding secrecy. Slowly things are changing and more people are coming out and admitting to addiction. Still so much stigma attached though.

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Self worth and Sobriety require that we know what our values are, and that we live in keeping with them.

When I began my journey to recovery, I pretty much considered myself down there with the worms and whale shit, an outcast who wasn’t even good enough to make ‘pariah’ status. Such was the state of my self-worth in the beginning.

I’d go into a meeting, listen to the others share their stories, and it all sounded well and good, but I wasn’t one of them. I could come up with all kinds of reasons why I wasn’t like them: that one drinks more than I do, that one less; he drinks tequila, I only drink vodka; that one is homeless, I still have a home, car, and family. The list was endless. And the more I focused on the differences, the more I became convinced that I was not at all like ‘those people’ and therefore nothing they had to say to me would help.

Then someone on an internet forum wrote to me, “Why are you focused on why you’re different from the other guys in the room? You should be looking for the similarities.” And so it seems. Now, with the clarity of 20/20 hindsight, I can see that what I was really doing was looking for reasons I couldn’t get sober, and that, of course, allowed me to continue drinking. For sure, it was all on a subconscious level. It was much the same as that little voice we all know that keeps telling us “You can have just one” and “Go ahead, no one’s gonna know,” only it was quieter and far more subtle.

After I took the advice to look for the similarities, to “compare myself in” instead of comparing myself out, I discovered there was essentially no difference between other alkies and myself. There may be thousands upon thousands of surface differences, like those I mentioned earlier, and some of these seem like they should be important, but the fact is they are not. What is important is to understand that we are all humans, with common problems and common reactions, that we are more alike than we are different.

The Connection

So what’s the connection of all this to self-worth? Now that I was hearing the similarities instead of the differences, I discovered that just about everyone in the rooms had felt the same way I was feeling about myself. It seems high self-esteem and active alcoholism don’t often run in the same circles. And many had found a solution!

Self-worth comes from within, and I’ve heard it said: “To gain self-esteem, do esteemable acts.” I’d suggest a two-fold approach: (1) Clean up the baggage from the past while also (2) doing something that gets you out of yourself and into esteemable actions. There are countless ways we can go about cleaning up our past; I found, like many others, that AA’s 12 Steps (specifically 4 thru 9) are an elegantly simple way to get it done, and in the process I discovered just who the hell I am. Thousands of others have discovered themselves the same way, and not one of us was anywhere near as bad as we thought ourselves to be! As for esteemable acts, what worked (and works) for me was/is volunteer work, 12th Step work, AA service work when I’m in a group, random acts of kindness like a smile and kind word to the cashier, or an appreciative word (with smile) to the waitress. Those are just a few examples; the list is as long as one’s imagination.

I should note that while high self-worth and active alcoholism are rarely seen together, there doesn’t appear to be much direct correlation between self-worth and sobriety, either. If you look around the rooms of AA (not to pick on AA, it’s just that the rooms are a good place to find a lot of alkies in one place) you’ll find many who are staying sober without much self-worth. Generally, they’re the miserable ones, but they’re staying sober. And we all know there’s a bunch of folks running around out there with good self-worth who drink regularly; sometimes they’re referred to as the “normies.” (You won’t hear that from me. I personally think that we’re the ‘normal’ ones, those of us who know we’ve got problems and are doing something about them.)

Finally, know that you don’t have to be a particularly strong person to gain all the self-worth you could ask for. All you really need is the strength to step out of your comfort zone long enough to start doing the Steps, discover who you are, and do some esteemable acts.

  1. A great topic! For years I ran on a high as a “functional” alcoholic, full of ego. I didn’t know I was lacking a sense of self-worth, because myself and alcohol were all I cared about. Indeed, the 12 steps led me to “the connection” you describe so well. Contemplation of self-worth, and how to achieve it and keep it, is worthy of our time, whatever our age. Somehow it becomes more important to me as I grow in sobriety. My ego is still strong, LMAO, and I want to set a good example!


    • Hi, Daryl, thanks for commenting! Our ego is a huge bugaboo, isn’t it? Can’t live with it, and can’t live without it. The trick is to have not too much, or too little, but just the right amount. (Think Goldilocks and the Three Bears!)
      That, and to remember that we’re all works in progress. Thanks again! Ron


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I’ve Been Recognized!

Back in February, I received notice that had listed this blog in their list of 30 Top Alcoholic Anonymous blogs.   I am honored.

An Excerpt:

Top 30 Alcoholics Anonymous Blogs

alcoholism.jpgOne’s relationship with alcohol can be one of the most contentious aspects of life. There are safe and healthy pleasures that come with the sauce, but it can lead to abuse and self-harm. To get on the right track and sober up, many consecrate their lives to being safer and stronger with AA. Fortunately, writing about the experience can often help with recovery, and many AA members are blogging. Here’s our selection of the best of the Web’s AA-themed blogs.

Top Five

  1. The AA Blog: Anyone who suspects that they or a loved one may be falling into the grip of alcoholism may be wise to give this blog a visit. It’s a frequently updated and devoted page chock full of the latest information on recovery and support for this widespread disorder. It also provides a lot of insight and honest confessions about what participating in an Alcoholics Anonymous program is really like. This blog shows while it’s no cakewalk, it is absolutely worthwhile.
    • Why We Love It: Understand more about the ins and outs of AA meetings, and also dealing with your own alcoholism, with this site’s counsel.
    • Favorite Post: Taking Risks
  2. I’m Just F.I.N.E.: Blogger Syd maintains a level of blatant and piercing honesty in her blog page. Her bio tells how she was raised as a child by an alcoholic, and is now wed to someone struggling with alcohol. Valiantly, she carries on with her spouse through this journey away from the shackles of her pain and into freedom and peace. This blog is particularly noteworthy for its candor. Anticipate no song-and-dance routines here, only the searing truth.
    • Why We Love It: Understand the highs, the lows, and the spots in between on the path of redemption from alcoholism here.
    • Favorite Post: Holy City Blues
  3. Alcoholic Outsider Artist: What’s a man to do with the frustration, anger, and new growth that accompanies a struggle with alcoholism in AA? Make great artwork, of course. Blogger Parker paints enviably beautiful pictures in direct response to his experiences with Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He describes his painting as distracted, to-the-point, and devoid of direction. None of that hampers the power of the paintings you’ll see here.
    • Why We Love It: A great blog that exhibits a healthy response to the immense internal struggles that alcoholism recovery can prompt.
    • Favorite Post: Favorite AA Pictures
  4. Don in London: The British have always entertained a boisterous and hearty interaction with alcohol. This blog makes an excellent case for many of the country’s denizens to evaluate their interactions with beer and wine and to make sure that they’re not abusing them. Blogger Don has commenced his blog page by providing a comprehensive walk through each of Alcoholics Anonymous’ twelve steps. A great AA site for readers on both sides of the pond.
    • Why We Love It: This British blogger provides sharp insights into the process of alcoholism recovery, step by step.
    • Favorite Post: AA Step Two
  5. The Spirit of Recovery: A fiftysomething recovering alcoholic writes with spirit and with hope on the topic of relieve from the disorder. Blogger Ron has put in a lot of work in terms of personally conversing with other AA members and immersing himself in the available literature. This blog makes it clear that recovery is not the end of the road. Rather, it’s merely a coveted step in a veritable journey of relief that continues as long as one keeps living.
    • Why We Love It: This blog helps those interested in AA to understand what recovery actually means, and how to deal with it once it’s achieved.
    • Favorite Post: Recovered

See the entire list here:

To clarify, though, this blog has no affiliation with the Alcoholics Anonymous organization, other than I talk about that organization quite a bit.

And if anyone is wondering why I haven’t gotten this up until now, well, it took me that long to figure out how to put the little award thingy over there on right of the page!

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