As children we often imitated those we looked up to. I can remember when I was at the free throw line as a kid, I imitated Jeff Hornacek from the Utah Jazz. He would get up to the free throw line, bounce the ball, wipe the side of his face 2 or 3 times and then sink the shot. This was his free throw ritual. Almost all competitive basketball players have one. Why? What is the purpose?
The purpose is remembering; in their case muscle memory. They use their rituals every time they shoot a free throw… even in practice. This establishes a routine which is part of cuing the body, particularly the muscles used for shooting, into remembering how to make a free throw. This ritual helps their body know what to do even when the pressure is on. It helps their body remember.
There are many endeavors in our lives we need help remembering. Rituals can help us remember. I would like to take the next three weeks to talk about three specific ways that rituals may be helpful in your life: fighting addiction, strengthening relationships, and achieving goals.
Notice the heading isn’t “dealing with addiction” or “living with addiction” but it is fighting addiction. Being able to conquer addiction requires some intensity, it requires some willpower, it requires declaring war on addiction and fighting with your whole being. Winning doesn’t come easily nor does it come without a cost. As you battle, you will find that it is important to have some solid reasons for fighting the addiction; reasons that stoke the fire of intensity, will power, and motivation.
It is not a great stretch to say that when a relapse occurs, it can often be traced back to failing to remember… failing to remember why it is important for us to conquer this… our reasons for fighting.
If you are fighting addiction, I would challenge you to find those reasons to fight. What is it that motivates you? What is it that is worth conquering this for? Who or what is worth protecting from the negative effects of the addiction? Is it a partner? A child? A relationship? Is it protecting others from further harm? What lights your fire??
I fight for my family; I am married to the girl of my dreams! An Idaho girl! I have five beautiful daughters. The thought of my choices injuring them in any way lights my fire and makes me ready for battle. I fight for manhood. I believe as men we can do better, we can be better, we can master our demons so they don’t destroy those we love. We can redefine manhood. I fight to be that man. Why do you fight?
When you have your reasons for fighting, establish a daily or even hourly ritual to help you remember why you fight. I work with teenage boys dealing with sexual addiction; many have found this to be effective in their battles. Some of their rituals include writing the number of days they have been clean on their arm each morning; seeing it throughout the day helps them remember. Sharing their reason for fighting with an accountability partner each day helps them remember. Giving their mother a hug when they leave the house (not a habit for many teen boys) connects them to a reason for fighting. Connecting with their higher power at the beginning and end of the day helps many remember.
My rituals include kissing my wife every day when I leave, calling her during the day, and holding her close and expressing love when I return home. I take the time to greet my kids in the morning and to tuck them in at night after they are asleep. This ritual helps me remember why I fight so that when opportunities for addictive behaviors are not far off neither are my reasons for fighting.
Find a ritual. It should help you remember why fighting this addiction is important to you! Establish it at the time or in the place you tend to relapse. Practice it at least daily (ideally 2 to 3 times per day) for 28 days in a row. It will make a difference in your ability to find and live in recovery.
Look for next week’s post on using rituals in nurturing relationships.
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