Don’t poke the bear is my mantra for my addiction. It’s not about AA or any other program, it’s an Angela Pugh special; a framework about how addiction makes sense to me and if you have a deep understanding of this concept, you can apply it in all areas of your life to make yourself stronger, understand barriers, and really create the life you want.

I visualize my addiction as this huge drunken bear. Bears are vicious, ferocious, and super powerful. Remember the movie The Revenant? How that huge bear was tossing Leonardo DiCaprio around like a rag doll? That’s the kind of power addiction has in my life. If I want to talk shit to it, it will slap me down instantly with one enormous paw and I will be back on the ground, wounded, starting over.

It is imperative for my well-being that the bear goes into hibernation.

As I go through life, on a daily basis, I focus on not poking the bear. There are a million behaviors in my life that poke that bear. A white lie, being late to work, a lie by omission, calling in sick, not answering phone calls, dodging bills or bill collectors, being short-tempered, being a gossip, not standing up for yourself, being in an unhealthy relationship, being unhealthy yourself, not being the best parent or spouse- there are millions of ways we poke the bear every day.

Any action I take that goes against who I want to be, pokes the bear. Honesty is very important to me- I can’t stay sober if I am a liar, that’s old alcoholic behavior. If I want to stay sober I have to adopt new recovery behavior, and that means being honest. And since honesty is important to me, if I catch myself telling the smallest lie, or lie by omission which is where I just leave details out of the story, then I will not feel good about myself. And that is exactly what addiction thrives on. The moment you do or say something that you don’t feel good about, or that gives you guilt or shame, or you feel like you definitely could have handled a situation better- that’s a chink in the armor that addiction is looking for. You are poking the bear.

If you are putting something off, missing a deadline, not calling your mom back, isolating and blowing off your friends, not going to meetings or calling your sponsor, not getting a job when you need one, not following through on things you said you would do- all of these actions are poking the bear. And if you poke him enough, for a long enough time, he will wake up.

The key is to learn how to move around that guy without poking him.

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