Being a SpongeBob fan of sorts I am humorously reminded that technique can make or break my success.
In the Bubble Stand episode, SpongeBob is blowing intricately shaped bubbles but only after a long and seemingly unnecessary set of motions (aka technique dance). Squidward, irritated with SpongeBob’s shenanigans, can’t blow even a small bubble until he follows this technique. SpongeBob is yelling, “technique, technique,” all while demonstrating the technique.
Why the silly story? It reminds me that how I do the task can make the difference. For me this task was journaling. I was at a point in my sobriety where straight journaling (writing to exhaustion) was no longer yielding the results it had in early sobriety. Newly sober I was encouraged to write—ALL of it. It didn’t matter who I spoke of, what expletives were used, or how it was punctuated. The purpose: To release from my head all the stories I was holding onto. I was allowed to keep the ones that served me. I was to work on releasing the ones that did not.
For me this writing involved 12-step work, therapy assignments, and coaching assignments. My mentors encouraged me to write it out. I was to get it out of my head onto something, anything. Typed, cursive, or scribbled, the goal was the same —write and release.
This worked brilliantly for a long time, but eventually my one way dialogue lacked sustenance. I had achieved what I set out to do—release the imploding anger/resentment/judgment.
There had to be more to sobriety than releasing feelings. There was—there is. I learned that my writing was fine. It was simply time to move onto a newer technique—a technique that served my evolving mind. I was introduced to A/B journaling from author Tim Kelley and his book True Purpose.
What is A/B journaling? “A” is the voice of the antagonist, alpha, irritant. “B” is the voice of beauty, love, being. What I learned was that A always had something ego driven to say and B was sweetly waiting in the wings to be invited into the conversation. B was to be my salvation. B was the bringer of peace of mind. I knew voice A quite well—too well. A never quit talking actually. And when it did I felt uneasy. The silence was deafening. I learned later this is called serenity.
I realized during this time of my sobriety that I had worked diligently on releasing old anger, but wasn’t now sure what new thoughts to have. I had my life built around the fact that I had to drink to deal with all of you and all the trouble you caused me. If A was quiet or quieter (FYI A never goes away permanently, at least not for me) then what was I to do with my free thinking time?
Not think seemed the obvious answer because my thinking had me drinking. And that’s when it happened. B was there lovingly waiting to show me a new creation; a world that was filled with possibility, probability, choices, cooperation, perseverance, and freedom. My job was to ask the questions and then listen (and journal) the answers. Once clear on the answer my next step was to act, in accordance, with my discovery.
I had a voice within that loved me and wanted the best for me. No longer was A allowed to come in a smash me to pieces. I had an ally. Not only did I have a friend, but one that was with me—always. All I ever needed to do … invite B into the conversation. How I had managed without this sweet voice is beyond me.
Wait! I guess I hadn’t managed.
Somehow I had never managed to learn of this kindness toward myself.
The moral of the post: If you are new(er) to sobriety and looking for some relief see if the A/B journaling technique can give you some respite. It doesn’t matter how many A voices you have in your head, you only need to hear one loving B voice to begin the journey. A new, “technique, technique” might awaken a new life.
Note: A/B journaling is not a onetime panacea. It takes practice and discipline like anything else worth achieving. I am many years sober and I continue to journal because my life (aka sobriety) depends upon this simple task. If you struggle come find me and I will coach you through it via email.