"There is no better time than now to look at all the troubled areas in our life."

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Episode 129 -- July 8, 2021

Drop the Rock: Decluttering and Detoxing

Many of us in early recovery are familiar with Drop the Rock: Removing Character Defects by Bill P., Todd W., and Sara S. Our sponsors hand it to us, or copies of it get passed around at meetings. It's an important book to have when approaching Steps Six and Seven—where we become ready and then ask our Higher Power to remove our defects of character and our shortcomings. We know we all come into recovery carrying "rocks"—negative, self-defeating behaviors—that weigh us down. Some of us love our rocks. We are comfortable with our rocks. But we will sink if we hang on to them.

In this excerpt, we're told how we can clean house and detox in other areas of our lives in preparation to have our defects of character removed. This process should include examining our addictions to things besides alcohol and drugs—things like work, sex, or exercise. We also learn that we need to cleanse our bodies, minds, and environments, which includes letting go of things that are useless to us. If we don't, our recovery will be harder than it needs to be.

This excerpt has been edited for brevity.

If we are to engage in a new course of action and become "entirely ready" to get rid of our defects, it makes sense that we start from a clean slate. Of course, common sense is a very rare thing in or out of the Program, so it is not surprising that it is rarely discussed in meetings that we might need to make an effort to get to a clean place.

Let's take a look at a few areas that we may want to examine and clean up as we prepare to become entirely ready.

How is our language used? Are we gaining maturity? Do we swear a lot and make crude remarks about the opposite sex and use biased and prejudiced language? Do we gossip? Are we sarcastic? Do we tell dirty or risqué jokes? Do we use violent language? We take a look at our language and see how it fits in with a spiritual approach to living and to becoming entirely ready.

When we first start attending meetings, many of us are amazed at the amount of swearing that occurs. Smoking, swearing, and making fun of those less fortunate seem to be accepted things. We need to examine this closely. How does a person who has taken a Third Step and is practicing and preparing for Steps Six and Seven talk? Try giving up swearing. Try giving up violent language. Try giving up bias. Try giving up sexism. Try giving up gossip. We become willing to give them up and act "as if" until God removes them.

Another area to look at closely is all other addictive practices. Language patterns can be addictive. Do we still smoke, binge on sugar, excessively drink coffee, recklessly gamble, abuse credit cards, act out sexually, drive over the speed limit, and so on? How do these activities affect our movement toward God and spirituality? Does practicing one addiction mean that we still have an addictive lifestyle? Remember what it says in the Big Book about alcohol (drugs, food, sex, gambling, and so on) being a symptom. It is just the tip of the iceberg. We need to closely examine our whole lives for addictive and abusive patterns. If we are to give up our defects of character, we need to become willing to see them all!

We examine our sexual life and how we relate to people we find attractive. Do we still treat others as sex objects? Do we use sex to alter our mood? Are we abusive? Are we able to be intimate? Can we reveal our true feelings in an open and trusting manner? Can we relate well with those we are sexually attracted to without becoming sexual? What is the pattern in our relationships?

Are we addicted to caffeine? Or gum? Or any substance? It is very interesting when we start to judge those things we deem to be less threatening to our sobriety and therefore okay to keep. We really start to rationalize and explain. The fact is that these substances are addictive. Period. We can't afford to kid ourselves about that any more than we can about smoking, drinking, gambling, sexing, or any other addictions. All addictions mask feelings and change the way we deal with ourselves and others. We need to deal with them all.

How about our work patterns? Are we a workaholic? Do we avoid our family and other issues by working tremendously long hours? Do we rationalize the time spent away from home with the explanation that we need to work this hard to keep our job? Economically, times are hard, so do we need to put in the extra effort in order to remain secure? Do we gain the major satisfaction and meaning from life through our work? Are we willing to look at how we work? Are we completely identified by the results of our work? Work is an area that many of us are afraid to examine. We might find that we use work to alter our mood. We might find that we use work to avoid things. We might find that work is much more than a job. Our work life is worth examining.

How about exercise? Do we use exercise to alter our mood? Do we become addicted to exercise and the results of exercise? Do we avoid things through exercise? Like work, this is a tough one to examine. We all need to exercise, so how much is too much? That is why we are taking a close look now. With prayer and meditation, we hope to find a balance point that is in line with our spiritual intent and our ability to share.

Let's look at cleansing to move toward becoming ready.

The first cleansing action is to examine what we eat and drink. Pick a day. Use the day to examine eating habits and drinking habits. We look at how we eat food and at our eating rituals.

The second cleansing action suggested is to make a special retreat, maybe for a weekend, at least for a day, to practice our examinations and cleansing rituals and to look at becoming entirely ready.

Maybe we can go to the mountains or the beach. Maybe a friend has a cabin or summer home we can borrow. It should be a place away from our normal routine where we can be quiet and contemplative. Use the retreat to become as open as possible to all the actions necessary to becoming entirely ready.

Another cleansing action many find helpful is to make a day of silence. Don't speak for twenty-four hours. Don't listen to the radio or stereo. Don't watch TV. Don't read or clean house. Don't distract yourself with any diversions. Just be quiet and open. Let the world enter you quietly. Contemplate this quote by Publilius: "I have often regretted my speech, never my silence."

The next cleansing action suggested is a period of celibacy. We take some time—a week or more—to examine our sexual patterns and relationship patterns. We learn to become open to relating in a nonsexual manner. We take a close look at our own sexuality and how comfortable we are with it. Be open to our intuition and our spirituality in our sexual life.

The last cleansing action suggested is to release the clutter in our life. We take a look in our storage areas and garage. We get rid of the stuff we've been packing around for years every time we move. We give it to a charitable organization. We take a look in our closets. Possibly, if we haven't worn it in a year or a year and a half, we give it away. The point is, we quit holding on to things that are useless to us. They may be very important to someone else who will use or wear them. We clean up our house or apartment. Those things we don't use but have been holding on to "just in case" are let go. Release them. This way we make room in our life for new and exciting things. This is more than just a physical act. It is symbolic of opening our life, mentally, emotionally, spiritually for new things. It is very hard to reach for new adventures and growth in our lives when our hands are full, holding on to the baggage and excesses of our past. We are grateful for what we have in our life. Taking nothing for granted. Releasing what we can. Getting ready to become more, and less, and better.

If we think of any other areas in our life that we'd like to be able to have a clearer understanding of, we can design a cleansing exercise to gain a new perspective. There is no better time than now to look at all the troubled areas in our life. We get ready to make over all those areas so that we become willing to examine them.

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