Why Do I Feel Like Giving Up?

addiction recovery

My name is Robin Bright…I am a recovered alcoholic and addict. I am in early recovery.

I have 128 days clean and sober.

Today is Sunday. It’s a day like any other day. Today is a choice. The minute I woke up my brain started working like a secretary flipping through a filing cabinet. Almost without any ounce of participation on my part, the movie screen in my mind started rolling.

It’s calculating and attempting to set my mindset for the day. My thoughts, still somewhat blurry from sleep, start the negative spin:

You woke up alone…You’re alone.
There’s no one to drive you to church…You’re alone.
You feel a little depressed about that, right? Maybe you should cry. Or go back to sleep.
You don’t even have a good idea for the article you’re supposed to write for that doctor client of yours.
You’ll probably lose him.
You’ll probably lose your business.
You may even end up homeless.

Wait…What?

I wish I could fire this imaginary secretary who seems to want to pull up every negative possibility in my life and play each scenario out into some terrible failure. But I can’t. These negative thoughts will always dangle there, like bait for me to latch onto. They will always be an option.

Change the Channel

If I were sitting in a movie theater watching these same scenes, I’d walk out. If I were watching TV and these stories were playing out, I’d change the channel. I have come to realize, through my contact with my Creator, and through trial and terrible error, that I can change the channel in my mind at any time I choose. It’s just a decision. There’s a simple truth here:

What you feed, grows. What you starve, dies.

I’ve learned this with almost every one of my plants (poor guys) so I am completely positive of the end result.

Instead of wallowing for another ten minutes in my bed, I get up. I take the dog out. I feed her. I feed my fish. I make my bed. Still feeling a little off, I jump on my bike and go for a morning ride. Sometimes I feel like I can outrun my own thoughts (or outride them)…and today I did. While I rode my bike, I could hear my heart, I could feel the wind and the sun on my skin. After a while I felt my leg muscles straining and I realized something huge:

I am 100% in charge of what goes on in my head.

If there is a movie playing and I don’t like it, I can purposely turn my attention toward something else. For me, I try to live in constant contact with God. It’s like a continual state of awareness of His presence in my life. Yes, sometimes even God feels far away to me, but I have found that feelings are temporary. They will pass. I can’t gauge the truth by a momentary feeling.

The truth is that God is always with me. —Psalm 16:8
He will never leave me or forsake me. —Deuteronomy 31:6
He has only good things planned for me. —Jeremiah 29:11

The Bible tells us that God will do a lot of things for us. He will protect us. He will bless us, prosper us, guide us, strengthen us, and more…But when the Bible talks about our thought life, He actually puts US in charge. The Word tells US to take every thought captive. I love that terminology. I picture a big field with just a bunch of banchees running around wild. These are our thoughts. God says, “No. Don’t leave it like that. You kick those negative thoughts out! Take them captive!” How do we do that? By refusing to think them. Thinking is the same as meditating. If I sit and think, think, think a thought….that is exactly the food that gives it strength. I’m feeding it with more thoughts and soon, guess what? My thoughts will produce words. My words will produce actions. My actions will set the course of my life.

King Solomon (a Bible guy) said, “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” This means your thought life controls the rest of your life.

If you tell me what you think, I’ll tell you who you are and the life you live. What you think is what you are. You can’t get around that. The thought life controls you. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” —Proverbs 23:7

And it all starts with that first movie you allow to play in your head.

But how do you actually DO THIS? How do you regulate your thoughts, exactly. Well, that depends on the nature of the thought. Here are a couple of examples:

The basic negative doom: “You’re all alone. You’re going to die. You’re probably sick right now…bla, bla, bla”
This thought can be fought off just by ignoring it and thanking God for your blessings, your health, etc. They are outright lies or ‘feel sorry for myself’ kind of thoughts. Just shoo them away with gratitude. You’re alive. You have a beautiful future and a purpose.

They’re against me: “These people don’t like you. She looked at you sideways. He’s out to get you.”
Sooooo annoying, right? These thoughts can play out into full feature films if we’re not careful. In a span of ten minutes we can imagine we’ve lost our job, we’re out in the street and people are wiping their feet on us on their way to bigger and better things. To fight this, I always reel myself in by reminding myself two things. Number one, it’s none of my business what other people think about me. And number two, as long as my heart is right between me and God and I know I’m doing my very best, I push it away. After all, ultimately I report to God. He is my provider. So, even if I did lose my job or all my friends, He’d give me new ones. He’s cool like that.

Lost in the chaos: “There’s so much fighting and chaos where I am right now, I feel overwhelmed.”
While I’m sitting here dealing with my temporary isolation, I realize I should be grateful. Here I sit on my back porch just typing away drinking my coffee, thinking about God and watching my dog sniff the screen, and the floor, and the wind. It’s not really isolation. It’s peace. There were plenty of times when I felt the weight of chaos around me. If you’re in the middle of negative people right now, just get away. Walk away. Find yourself a place of solace. I like the shower. I talk to God there and I always hear Him very clearly. Breath in His peace and ask Him for strength for your day.

Fill Your Tank

Lastly, I gotta say, most of the time we are our own worst enemy. We run around with empty tanks and we wonder why the slightest thing can throw us into a frenzy. It’s because you’re empty. E-M-P-T-Y.

If you are NOT going to think about the negative thoughts, you’re going to have to replace them with something. I mean, you can’t just turn off your brain. Remember, we tried to do this in active addiction. It turned out badly.

Master Your Thought Life

“Be not conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” —Romans 12:22

Don’t be conformed. This means, don’t go with the negative flow of the world. Free yourself from that. Free your mind from the status-quo of how everyone else thinks. Instead, be transformed. I like that. Transformed means changed. How do we change? By renewing our mind. How do we renew our mind? By feeding it good things like, the Word, prayer, time just talking to God, etc. My bike ride today renewed my mind. I was alone, out in creation. I talked to God. Talking to God always makes me hungry for more of God. I came home, I looked up Scriptures. I put more Word in my brain. I also wrote this article.

So, back to the title.

Why do I feel like giving up? Because my tank is empty. And I will ALWAYS feel like giving up when my tank is empty.
This is a simple problem with a simple solution.

Fill up on the Word. Fill up by talking to God. Fill up by listening to encouraging teachings you can find online (Youtube has a ton of them). Even if you don’t know what you’re doing at first, that’s okay. Just know that as you feed your mind and spirit with good, positive food, your mental state will start to transform.

Oh sure, you still may wake up like I did this morning and have to fight it off for ten minutes or so, but so what? Ultimately, you win. Ten minutes of resisting negative thoughts is much better than ten days or ten years. Some people live their whole lives in negativity and they can’t even see it. They’re asleep. Be thankful for being spiritually awake today!

I know I am!

Happy Sunday. xo

 

Editorial Note: If you’re looking for positive Bible teaching online, you may want to try Francis Chan, Andrew Wommack, or Joseph Prince.

 

 

 

About Robin Bright

Hi. My name is Robin Bright. I'm a mom, author, part of The John Maxwell Team and a recovery advocate who struggled with the torment of addiction for over a decade. I still remember what it was like. I know the desperation and hollowness of addiction. The stories here are about our journey to the light. They are raw, authentic, vulnerable. We talk about getting free, staying free, and loving ourselves through the process. I used to believe I had become the worst version of myself. And then God introduced me to me —as only He can. It is my hope that you will use the resources found here to uncover your own true identity...the vision God had when He formed you. xo

10 Comments

  1. Steven Marquez

    Great read Robin! I believe “ALL” that happens to me is a blessing, for it has allowed me to become the man I am today!

  2. Teri Ziegler

    Just awesome Robin! Congratulations on overcoming! This blog entry is such important info. I teach people this concept all the time in counseling. You write interestingly and powerfully. A good idea to go with 2 cor. 10:5 is Phil 4:8. There are 8 words (I like NIV), and if you memorize the 8 words they make a good “thought filter”, to run your thoughts through. If the thought doesn’t line up with these 8 things God tells us to dwell in, it needs to be replaced, like you said.
    Looking forward to more of your writing and having others read your blog. So glad you’re free!

    1. Robin Bright Post author

      Thank you, Teri! I really appreciate your beautiful words of encouragement! It’s good to be here at this place. I have much more growing to do, but I can honestly say it was worth all of my journey to arrive here. I am grateful for my life and to have a clear mind to write.

      I’ve posted Phil 4:8 below for any friends who might read your comment and be interested:

      “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

      I like that! Very good filter indeed!

      xo

  3. Laurel

    Hi Robin-
    Recovery speaks to me in my dream life quite loudly these days. I’ve been clean and sober for 127 days and my subconsciousness is making itself heard through relapse and recovery dreams. I realize these are common, but at least for me, they speak volumes!
    While I don’t-yet-feel like giving up, I now realize that my addiction is still alive and well in my dream state. It’s almost like a caged animal just waiting, patiently, for me to forget to lock the gate. What a battle this is, and those who have found the option of recovery are some of the most blessed and fortunate people I have ever known.
    I am proud to be in recovery and don’t care who knows it!
    I needed to read this wonderful post, thank you for writing from your heart,
    Laurel

    1. Robin Bright Post author

      Laurel,

      As I am looking for my next topic to write on, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk about relapse dreams. It is a common theme that I hear all the time. One that I don’t know if I’m qualified to write about, but I definitely feel qualified to write about locking that gate. There is a place we can find in recovery that actually feels safe. I have found it through a spiritual awakening. I don’t try to do recovery by myself. I know I am powerless, constantly, even on my best days. This disease is cunning and baffling, and like you said, it just waits for a more opportune moment. It has all the patience in the world, our whole lives…to sit and wait. Thank you again for your honesty. I’m proud to stand in recovery with you.
      Much love.
      xo

      1. Laurel

        Hi Robin!
        I’m watching my four year old grandson for a few more days before he returns to his mom and pre-school in San Diego, and I accidentally deleted my first reply to you. The wonders of distraction work wonders on this ‘Nonna’. I am cherishing each and every moment of this visit, though it doesn’t lend itself to much concentration!
        Anyway, since I see we’ve both achieved around 125-130 days, I’m guessing you’ve not yet had a sobriety/relapse/recovery dream. “Yet” is an intentional qualifier, at least for me. I imagine you will also have your share of these tricky dreams in your sobriety. My first was last Friday, the second came to me yesterday morning. What a wake-up call they were, and sorely needed.
        I also want you to know that I ‘accidentally’ stumbled on to your site while trying to navigate LinkedIn. When ‘God-shots’ occur, they are quite amazing…so here I am.
        I want to write much more, but the little love of my life wants to play, pleeeeze!
        I’ll be back,
        Take loving care, Robin-
        Laurel

  4. Debbie Hannon-Allegue

    Hi Robin, my name is Debbie (Karla’s mother in law) (X)
    First congratulations on 150 something days by now. That is awesome and truly a blessing!
    Your article is amazing. You have a great message and I hope you continue to share it. Early in my recovery (this time) on my way into a meeting at a church, the marque read “You can’t move forward in a positive direction while talking negative” So I added to that “or Thinking negative” I was in the right place at the right time and was able to receive and retain that message that God put right in front of me that night. It’s been a few years and I love my life today. I have emotional sobriety and peace in my heart today and for that I’m truly grateful. You have a gift and it’s beautiful that you can share it to help others in recovery. Thank you, Debbie

    1. Robin Bright Post author

      150 days (5 months) today! What a beautiful life this is! Congratulations to you, Debbie and thank you for your encouraging words. Like many of us, I still struggle at times with questions like, “Am I actually helping anyone?” and “Is this really my calling?” I think doubt naturally tries to creep in and confuse us. It’s when I see comments like yours that I am assured, once again, that my calling is sure and I’m on the right path. “Emotional Sobriety.” Wow, that’s a phrase to make a person stop and take notice. I have so many thoughts rushing through my mind just reading that phrase. Looks like another post is on the way. I am grateful for the ability to take thoughts captive today and to truly understand the process of surrender and recovery. We are sisters in sobriety! xo

      1. Debbie Hannon-Allegue

        5 months today! There are no coincidences that I guesstimated that, and read this today. God is good. Congrats to you 🙂 You have an amazing journey ahead of you. Keep this up. It helped me. It was a great reminder of what my thoughts were like and can easily fall back into. As long as we send a positive message out there we are helping others. When we are helping others we are getting out of ourselves 🙂 which in turn is keeping us sober. If it’s his will our paths will cross one day my sober sister. If you ever need to talk I’ll always be here for you xoxox
        Looking forward to your future posts.

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