Counting Coup in Recovery

By Jerry Nelson
Counting Coup in Recovery

Counting Coup in RecoveryThe Indians in North America had a ritual that was bolder than the slaying of their enemies. Warriors gained prestige by being the first to touch the enemy dead or even touching the enemy’s defensive positions. A warrior could also show his bravery by stealing the enemy’s horses. The possibility of injury or death had to be present for the act to be included on the “coup stick” which was kept as a record of brave attempts.

While usually a “coup stick” was held as the enemy was touched, a warrior could also count coup by touching the enemy with his hand or even a bow.

Americans need to learn to count coup on the enemy as well. But for us, the enemy isn’t flesh and blood. It’s inertia, narcissism and extremism.

In recovery, as we count coup on these three, we do it so that a vitality and diversity in life can shine through us. Thoreau said it best when he said, “live deliberately.” Counting coup is a method for recovering the way our basic nature used to live before we got transformed by status and possessions. Counting coup is our act of transcending a false reality so that we are released to find new ways to be free from the padlock of possessions, egos and self-centered drive. We can find ways that un-stifle our creativity and allow us to live as free, healthy people in an otherwise egocentric world. The freedom we once sought through drugs, alcohol and relationships is finally ours as we count coup.

In 21st century America, the cord which links our human-nature to mother-nature has been severed. Many of us have become puppets who wear masks of humanity but are actually blind, flesh-and-blood robots with wads of money where our brains are and people who have replaced hearts with fists. Raised in a society that is intent on destroying the world, it’s not our fault that we were raised cut-off from mother-nature and surrounded by other robots each seeking to make it to the top of the pyramid by walking over the empty shells of others. But it is our fault if we remain so.

When we walk up to and touch — count coup — our ego, our narcissism and our trending towards extremism, then we can begin to live a life of recovery.

Little Things Swing Big Doors

By Jerry Nelson
Little Things Swing Big Doors

Little Things Swing Big Doors

“Little hinges swing big doors,” W. Clement Stone

I don’t remember where I first heard that saying, but life has taught me that it is true. Life turns and changes on the smallest and seemingly inconsequential events. Occasionally a major event will intrude in our lives to set us on a different course, but usually it’s just a small, change encounter. A brief passing of a stranger. Of “being in the right place, at the right time” that brings large changes into our ordered lives.

I don’t need to list the randomness of events that can alter life’s journey. You can look back in your own existence and — if you’re honest — identify dozens of times that a chance encounter, or a serendipitous event, sent your life down a path which was different from what you were expecting.

A few years back, there was a little book called “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” I understand the meaning and the meaning resonates with me. But in my life I’ve found there are no little events.

With all that said, what are a few of the “little things” that makes a big difference for us alcoholics? The list could be long, but here’s a couple that came to mind for you to think about.

Listening. When people listen, they are communicating. They are communicating more than what we want to hear, we’re communicating with each other that we care about the person.

Attitude. No one wants to be around a pessimist or a grouch. Everyone agrees that attitude is contagious. If we want to maintain a positive, healthy recovery, we need to remember that it starts with us. Recovery is an inside job, remember?

Consistency. We’ve been all over the map in our actions while we were drinking. Now that we’re in recovery, we need to show people that they can know what to expect from us. We need to demonstrate consistency in our values, our approach to life and much more. While sometimes, as people get used to the “recovering us,” they will be pushed and challenged some. But our family and friends do not need to be thrown back into the life of wondering what-he-will-do-next.

Trust. The more that we show we are trustworthy, the more people will trust us. The less “waffling” and the more engagement, the more — and better — communication we demonstrate, we can earn trust and become valuable to our family, our jobs and society.

The list could go on, but I hope this short list of “little things” gets you to thinking. There are big things we need to do in recovery of course, and yes we should work daily on our recovery.

But also pay attention to the little things.

Which Path

By Jerry Nelson
which path

I’m standing in the woods. In front of me are three paths. I’ve never seen the paths before, but I’ve been down all of them , in their turn, at one time in life or another. The fear of taking the wrong path keeps me from taking any path.

I’ve been standing here in this spot for a week, unable — or unwilling — to move, to make a choice, to decide on which path.

The path I’m on and the three that are in front of me aren’t real paths — they only exist in a writer’s imagination. The indecision and paralyzation is real though.

About a week ago, I got the go-ahead from Psych Central to start my own blog hosted on their website. My qualifications for this? I’m not sure there are any. Rather, I’m not sure I have any qualifications.

Continue reading… »

Welcome to One Sober Life

By John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Grappling with sobriety — and learning to live without alcohol in your life — is a one-day-at-a-time challenge for most. It’s not easy living every day, waking up, and making the decision not to drink.

What’s it like to go through that experience? How do you do it, day after day? What happens when you feel like you want to relapse? What kinds of things can help in those dark, desperate times?

That’s why I’m pleased to introduce One Sober Life with Jerry Nelson. A former addictions counselor, he’s led the sober life for over 30 years. So he might know a thing or two on the topic. You can learn more about Jerry here.

Please give Jerry a warm Psych Central welcome!


Subscribe to this Blog:

Or Get a Single, Daily Email (enter email address):

via FeedBurner

Most Popular Posts
Recent Comments
  • gary ledbetter: Living a life of recovery is what it’s all about. All throughout life we will be recovering...
  • Jeanne: Hi Jerry, thanks so much for starting this blog! I am a recovering alcoholic for almost 19 months and do know...
  • Violet: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I am a Mother of a recovering alcoholic….and...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code

Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!