#92 – Episode 92 – 20 Things in 20 Years


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Veronica is celebrating twenty years of sobriety on May 2nd. In this special episode, Chip and Veronica discuss the twenty things she has learned during that time. She is also hosting a party (online) to celebrate (and you are invited).

What This Episode Is About

It’s not every day I get to celebrate 20 years being sober… 20 years!

“My anniversary is a very, very clear reminder that the life I have today is no accident. It’s purposeful.” – Veronica Valli

I celebrate my sober anniversary every year because it’s a reminder that I drew the line in the sand. I decided that the life I’ll have from now on is no accident.

When we cross that line into sobriety, we really become totally different people. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It is so much fun – of course, there are low moments, all humans have them – but on a whole, as I look back over everything, it’s been much more fun.

“I have no control over the pandemic, I’m only responsible for how I experience this and my response to it.” – Veronica Valli

Chip and I talk about how we’re doing 5 weeks into quarantine for me, 3 weeks for him, and how we and the people we know are managing the isolation.

“Change is always there. Just when you think things are settled, something will come along.” – Chip Somers

We also talk about the 20 things I’ve learned in the 20 years I’ve been sober. We cover everything from how to set boundaries, to not letting the shine on your recovery rub off. Listen in to hear all the lessons.

Key Takeaways

  • Just when you think you’ve nailed it. I’ve been sober 20 years, but I’m still falling flat on my face. I’m still making mistakes and still learning. I’m not repeating the same mistakes – sometimes I do – but I’m uncovering new areas and learning more about myself. It’s interesting to know that you’re never really “all grown up”, we’re in a constant state of evolution or “becoming”.
  • We teach other people how to treat us. I used to be stuck in a story that I was a victim and people were doing things to me. But when I learned about boundaries, I saw that I would compromise myself, or people please instead of standing my ground, and then turn around and blame the person. I was making myself a victim and teaching them that their behavior was okay. Nowadays I say what I mean, mean what I say, without being mean to the person I’m seeing boundaries with.
  • I have to take responsibility for the experience I want to have. You’ll eventually have to put your blame story down. Things have happened to you up to this point, some were your fault, a lot of it wasn’t. But you’ll need to put that down to climb to the next level in life, or that story will hold you back. If you don’t take responsibility for your life from this point forward and become aware that the quality of your life is how you respond to things that happen to you, you’ll never be free. And you’ll always find someone to blame for your current circumstances.
  • If you don’t do the work, the shine will go off your recovery. Chip says the number one reason for relapse is complacency. Go back to number 1, don’t take it for granted that you have your recovery sorted. Focus on your mental health.
  • Exercise. I wouldn’t say I’m an athlete, but I enjoy exercise and how it makes me feel. Just a quick 30-minute walk is heaven for me. The benefits exercising has on your emotional well-being outweigh anything else you can possibly do.
  • Practice listening. I was really shocked to see that even as a professional listener, I really don’t listen enough. But when you get really good at it, your connection with the person speaking deepens, but also they get more precise with their words because they’re speaking with someone who is truly listening to them. Win-Win.
  • It was never about you. Don’t take everything personally. When you walk into a room, not everyone is looking at you or thinking about what you’re doing. Mostly, the total opposite is true. Everyone is focused on themselves, and whatever they bring to you in an argument or disagreement, is about how they feel about themselves. 
  • Ask for help. The longer I’ve been in this profession, the harder it has been to ask for help. It’s about ego and pride to think you know everything so asking for help is a sign of weakness. But it’s a strength to have people you can rely on, and we’re creatures of community. Self-made is hardly ever the reality. So don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
  • Don’t give your power away. How do you feel when you spend hours scrolling through social media at all the people on vacation or living a life you’re not currently living? For me, it feels awful. It feels like my power is being drained away as I sit there comparing myself to people who aren’t truly living the lives they depict. Most people don’t post low moments. But it’s in our low moments that we scroll aimlessly and feel worse.
  • What will matter more in 10 years? The time you spend with the people you care about will matter. They probably won’t remember what you did together, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. The busywork, the spinning your wheels about the things that don’t matter, won’t make a difference in your life even tomorrow much less 10 years from now. Learn to prioritize and strip away the things that don’t matter.

Resources Mentioned

Want to uplevel your recovery? Join the Soberful Life Program now. We’re opening enrolment for a limited time in honor of Veronica’s 20th Sober Birthday so don’t wait to grab your seat!

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