Very early on in my recovery, I identified the principles that would keep me on the straight and narrow. S.N.A.G.M. is the acronym for those principles. It stands for:
Spirituality Living in the Now Acceptance Gratitude Mindfulness
Spirituality for me comes in many forms. I have read the Bible. I have dabbled in New Age Thought. I believe in many of the tenants of Buddhism. Whenever I have had difficulty during my recovery, I have turned to spirituality for faith and hope.
Tapping into my Higher Power has allowed me to step outside myself, to see the bigger picture. So often, in addiction, we are self-centered and only able to see the microcosm of a life generally fraught with chaos and misery.
Early on in my recovery I discovered the concept of living in the Now. The premise is that, rather than dwelling on the past or on the future, we are empowered to act only in the present. By focusing on the now, we harness the power of our actions on the moment before us.Living in the now has been very effective in my recovery. Rather than live with regrets and resentments from the past, and fretting over an uncertain future, I focus my intentions on the moment I actually possess, the now.
I spent a good portion of my life caught up in whining and complaining about things that happened “to” me. I lived a life of discontent, always looking to blame something or someone, for the perceived slights of injustice and bad luck that constantly befell me.I also spent a good amount of time not being able to let go of perceived injustices, as well as living a life fully expectant that the world should be coming around to me.
Once I began practicing acceptance, I immediately lived a life much more full of serenity.No longer caught up in the whys and ways of circumstances in my life, I have learned to accept life on life’s terms. I have also come to accept people and how they are. I no longer get caught up in the minutia of justifying everything in terms of blame. Acceptance puts the responsibility for happiness in my life, squarely on my shoulders.
I spent most of my life discontent, with a huge black hole that seemed endlessly empty. I filled it with what I thought I needed: too much wine, women, and song. I center of my discontent centered around not being able to be thankful for what I already had.When I find myself beginning to have “stinkin’ thinkin,” it’s usually because I am not practicing gratitude. I usually find myself winding up the pity party, reveling in my woe. However, when I realign myself with the principle of gratitude, I can usually recenter my balance and live once again thankful for who, what, how I am in any given moment.
I have often found myself devolving very quickly, without quite knowing why. I let the environment lead my emotions, and thus my behaviors, easily and often. When I find myself unraveling around some hidden emotions, mindfulness practice quickly allows me to center my focus and get hold of the situation.Being mindful allows me to stay living in the now, all the while tuning into what is going on inside me. This then allows me to identify the culprit causing the problem, and then I am much more grounded to deal with it.
These 5 principles work synergistically to create balance in my life; something that was woefully missing during my 35+years of alcohol abuse, mental health instability, and legal issues. S.N.A.G.M. has given me control of, and responsibility for, my life. I have remained clean and sober for just over 52 months, primarily due to the incredible power of an acronym that I have consistently applied to my way of life.