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How do we change, from the inside out or from the outside in?

“From the inside out,” was the answer of a young man I’m currently working with.

‘How does that work”, I asked.

His explanation was that he must find a way to change his thinking, if he doesn’t do that first then there will be no change in his behavior and actions, he will just go back to using.

I told him it is exactly the opposite of what he described.

How we change is through the right actions we take even when our thinking is wrong. Right actions start to change our behavior which starts to change our thinking which builds character we can be proud of.

When I sponsor an addict the first thing I tell him (not suggest) is to pick up a minimum of 10 pieces of litter a day. That amount increases to 20 pieces a day after he gets a 30 day chip. When he asks me what does picking up litter have to do with him staying clean & sober? I tell him, “There are very few actions an addict in early recovery can take that are as selfless as picking up other people’s litter.” What better way than to fight against our selfish disease of addiction.

There is only one thing that will determine the quality of my life and that is the actions I take on a daily basis. My intentions, thoughts, feelings and intellectual understanding will change nothing.

We don’t have to think right in order to act right. We hear it said all the time, “Act as if”. When our priority becomes our actions instead of our thoughts and feelings’, we are on our way towards recovery.

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