December 8, 2011

Isn’t it time to reclaim your destiny? Here’s how.

Be the person you were meant to be 

By John Howard Prin

For more than a decade, I have helped hundreds of individuals recover from addiction and have observed many in early sobriety deny their spirituality. Sadly, that denial creates a barrier to the fresh thinking necessary for genuine recovery.
A large part of living spiritually is simply about knowing who you are and why you are alive—in short, reclaiming your destiny. The good news is that individuals in early sobriety do not have to begin the recovery journey as a believer. One of the innovations of Alcoholics Anonymous was to free spirituality from its explicitly religious roots. You are free to choose spiritual help theistically (belief in God) or non-theistically (inner strength, moral values).
Why Destiny Matters
The single biggest reason for reclaiming your destiny is that it will give you an ongoing, worthwhile goal to shift your focus from addiction to fulfilling your heart’s desire.
Sooner or later every adult faces a primal, deep-rooted quandary and asks, “Why am I alive? What is my purpose in life? What am I going to do about it?”
I encourage you to face these questions head on. Once you combine your purpose in life with Twelve Step principles, you open yourself to unleashing and radically embracing the most complete version of your authentic self—what I call your True You.
My favorite way to get people’s feet spiritually wet is to make a simple declaration: “You know you are living a spiritual life when your life has meaning. So let’s take a spiritual plunge!” Meaning is the elixir of life that we all seek and desire, the fulfillment of a life lived with passion and purpose, the source of satisfaction that many once sought through addictions.
I created The Meaning Tree model to help people find practical ways to bring this admittedly ethereal goal to life. The diagram provides an organic metaphor to help anyone in early in sobriety visualize the interconnections between the concepts of dream, purpose and meaning.

My Life Dream: What Nourishes Me

Below are sample statements from people in early recovery expressing unfulfilled life dreams:
  • My dream is to prevent any animal on the planet from being harmed.
  • My dream is to study law and stand up for the underdog.
  • My dream is to stay sober and study to become a counselor so I can help others discover their sobriety and find what I’ve found.
To strive for such dreams, individuals in early recovery need nourishment. The healthy soil represents the nutrients available to you once you have moved to sobriety from the unhealthy soil of addiction. Nutrients include attending Twelve Step meetings, replacing “stinkin’ thinkin’” with healthy self-talk, practicing surrender and acceptance, seeking psychotherapy and partnering with the Higher Power of your understanding.
The tree’s root system represents un- or under-developed capabilities. In recovery, these long-buried dreams are available for fresh attention and new development.
What’s special about these interests is that they originate from your deepest desire—commonly something vitally important that began to blossom in your youth and was sidetracked by addiction.
This passion, or core desire, is reawakened and has the chance to become your authentic destiny. I’ve witnessed numerous “Eureka!” and “A-ha!” moments as clients have reconnected with long-delayed destinies. The process of reconnecting with your unique dream leads to the rediscovery of the authentic person—the you that existed before you became addicted, the you that will be the basis for rebuilding your sober life.

Purpose: How My Dream Comes True

After similar exercises with the skills and talents in the tree’s root system, you have the opportunity to learn how purpose, represented by the tree’s trunk, grows from your revitalized roots. The distinctions between dream, purpose and meaning become clearer.
Dream: An ideal that nourishes my soul and motivates me to be my best.
Purpose: Arranging my life’s responsibilities, including staying sober, to nurture my dream.
Meaning: The rewards that come from acting freely and authentically.
Purpose becomes the reason to get up in the morning and move through the day. It energizes and focuses all of your choices, even in the face of obstacles and challenges.

Meaning: Why My Life Matters

Meaning, represented by the tree’s leaves, results from accomplishing goals that support your purpose, expressing your gift to the world and serving someone or something larger than yourself (a cause, a population, a life mission).
Consider the woman whose dream was to prevent any animal on the planet from being harmed. Defining that dream reawakened her spirit. Asked how she might rekindle that passion as a sober adult, she drew a blank. One group member suggested she could volunteer for a few hours at a local humane society. Another member offered to help create a website to promote her cause. As the practical aspects of her newly reclaimed dream dawned on her, the potential for reclaiming her destiny grew more real, and her self-esteem visibly improved.
Learn more about John Howard Prin at
When people focus on positive and authentic goals that matter deeply to them, their energy elevates and they become motivated. One person responded, “After I heard The Meaning Tree explained, the possibility of finding my way back from addiction became tangible. I felt a powerful surge of healing right then, even though I knew the healing process itself would take more time.”
When every day brings opportunities to make dreams come true, the time and impetus to fall back into addictive behaviors decrease.

Living My Destiny: The New Me

I encourage people to plunge into the wet part of recovery and discover that, beyond being a mom or dad and wife or husband and employee or boss, there is another me—an artist, inventor or explorer. This other you is your destiny.
Making your newly reclaimed destiny a reality requires reprioritizing time, energy and resources.
So take the plunge! Because to discover and express this authentic identity is to thrive in life’s finest moments. Use the tools of recovery and remain planted in healthy soil to experience the personal wholeness that comes from acting out your heart’s desire.

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