8 Ways To Get Your Sh*t Together When You're Completely Freaking Out

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Advice from a former addict, for normals and addicts alike.
There's a lot of crap addicts have to go through in order to "get right" with the world and ourselves. And because of the work we have to put in, we have the opportunity to become pretty damn good at dealing with stress and all those other uncomfortable feelings.

Because of that, I want to share with everyone — addicts and non-addicts alike — how I've learned to deal with being overwhelmed, panicked or just totally freaked out. 

Hopefully it'll help you like it helps me. 

I remember the countless times when I’d get a little clean time under my belt and start feeling pretty good about myself. 

I’d go through some 30-day treatment program or have a couple months of 12 step meetings behind me and the fog would begin to lift. All I could see was butterflies, unicorns, and rainbows in front of me.

In recovery, we called it “Pink Cloud Syndrome.”

Then as things got a little clearer and the pretty colored animals danced merrily off into the sunset, I’d find myself face to face with that big ugly beast once again.

F*CK!.......…Mayday! Mayday!

I’ve got these warrants hanging over my head, I have to get my kids back from “the system”, I need a car, a license to drive the car, a place to sleep, a job to pay for the place to sleep, a phone, I have to fix things with my girl, I have to fix my credit, I need to see a dentist about this toothache, maybe I should also get a physical while I’m at it since I’ve been riding this body pretty hard.

Etc, etc, etc, etc …….. until, "AAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!"

That was usually the time I’d pull up Flaco on my speed dial and make this feeling go away … I’d be off and running until my ass was on fire again and it was time to rinse and repeat the process of getting clean for the umpteenth time.

This was my life for over 20 years of trying to get clean (some are sicker than others, as they say) until enough trial and error led me to develop a system that worked for me.

Developing that system was the hot sex that conceived my action journal, and found a few things that work for me.

Here are 8 of those things. Will they work for you? I don’t know. But it’s a lot cheaper and painless than going back out again or completely losing yourself to stress and panic ...  so maybe you’ll find it’s worth a shot.

1. Take a breath, identify the feeling, and embrace it.

 I use this little technique I learned from a cool cat named Kyle Cease. He taught me to name the feeling and then say, “and I love it.”

For example: I’m up to my ass in this feeling of panic…and I love it. This felt a little weird at first but after faking it until making it a few times I began to see that I really did love it.

I loved it because it gave me the ability to feel my emotions, something I never could do on dope.

2. Change the thought behind the feeling.

Every feeling has a thought behind it that you created, and since it’s your creation you can change it whenever you want.

For example: If the thought was, “This mountain of shit is way too big to overcome”, I could create a different thought that said, “If I just do one of these things today, I’ll feel a little better tomorrow.”

3. Do a brain dump.

Something magical happens when you unload things out of your head onto a piece of paper.

Sit down with a pen and paper (or a computer for you geeks) and just start writing everything you have to get done before you can get your head above water and start thinking about those dreams you had of being a rock star. Keep writing until there’s nothing left. You’ll know when that is because a sense of calm will come over you. (At least until you go back and read it).

4. Prioritize.

Go back and review that massive dump you just took and pick out the biggest one that jumps out at you. You may have 2 or 3 that seem equally important. If that's the case then you'll need to do this secondary technique.

Look at all of them and ask, "If I can only do one of these which one would I choose?" Pick the first one that comes up before your brain has a chance to filter it. Another cool cat I know is Gary Keller. He has this book called The One Thing.

You can get the book if you want to, or you can just ask the one question that the book is all about…

What’s the one thing I can do today that, by doing it, will make everything else easier or unnecessary?

Oh yeah….THEN DO IT!

Multi-tasking is a crock! The human brain can only focus on one thing at a time. If you’re doing more than one thing, you’re not focusing on something and it may be the very thing you need to be, so stop trying to be superhuman, and just be awesome.

5. Celebrate.

This is so, so important and most often ignored. When you’re breaking things down to small chunks it’s so you can recognize progress. When you recognize it you need to give yourself props, man. This creates gratitude and momentum.

Gratitude is the juicy juice that makes everything sweet. This might feel foreign to you (I know it did for me) because you spent so long beating yourself up for shit, but it’s time to start realizing how amazing you are and these little celebrations along the way will accumulate into the self-confidence you’ll need as you start rockin' your world.

6. Just say NO!

I’m old enough to remember when the former first lady, Nancy Reagan came up with this slogan as her contribution to the war on drugs in the 80’s. Although I’m sure her heart was in the right place, I don’t think it put much of a dent in the war she was fighting.

It does, however, work great when other people are trying to knock you off your spot by asking you to serve their agendas. It’s time to start being a little selfish, bro. It’s the old oxygen mask on the airplane analogy. You can’t be awesome for anyone else until you’re breathing on your own.

If you don’t take control of your life, someone else gladly will.

7. Plan at night, act during the day.

This always works better for me. At night when you’re chillin' and your mind is more relaxed, it’s easier to think clearly and focus on the next “one thing” for tomorrow. Turn off the TV, facebook, and whatever else is distracting you and make your plan. This also creates excitement and gets you pumped to wake up the next morning. (caution: sometimes it makes it hard to fall asleep but whatever, you’re about to crush this thing)

8. Practice loving yourself.  

This is the most important one. Now, for you freaks out there, I’m not talking about that kind of self-love (but you can do that too). I’m talking about developing some daily habits of being kind and compassionate to yourself.

Imagine you’re relating to your child or someone you love and treat yourself the same way. Again, this might be another “fake it til you make it” practice but do it anyway. It won’t take long before it becomes a habit!

You are exactly where you’re supposed to be on your personal journey so smile and enjoy the ride. What lies ahead just might blow your mind. I know it did, mine and continues to do so.

If you want to make it easier on yourself, order Greg Boudle's journal90 days to unf@#king yourself. It’s a nice big fat work book that spells it out for with this stuff and a bunch more. The best part is, it’s cheaper than a bag of dope.

This article was originally published at Life Beyond Clean. Reprinted with permission from the author.