The Merriam-Webster dictionary provides us with this definition of the word “proactive”. Acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes. This is the definition provided for the antonym of proactive, which is “reactive.” Occurring as a result of stress or emotional upset. In habit one, Covey encourages us to be proactive rather than reactive. Reactive people react to things that happen to them. Proactive people plan for and are more ready for things when they happen. Proactive people choose how they are going to respond to a situation, rather than automatically reacting to situations as they occur.
Covey also explains that in order to be proactive, we need to focus on the things in our circle of influence rather than our circle of concern. Put more simply, we should focus on the things we can control rather than the things we cannot. As we are proactive and focus on things, we can control, our circle of influence expands, and we tend to exert positivity. Being reactive, however, causes our circle of influence to shrink as we exert negative energy by focusing on and blaming external factors for the things we ultimately cannot control.
We can all incorporate pro-activity into our recovery. By doing this, we will be more able to handle adverse situations when they arise and increase our chances of remaining sober. I have been proactive in my recovery in several ways. I have been proactive by avoiding people and places that involve drinking. If I have to go somewhere I know there will be alcohol, I create a plan I can fall back on if I begin to feel uncomfortable or feel triggered.
I know I am not going to change other people’s habits of drinking or using other drugs. By focusing on them, I would become irritated and probably irritate them. I have no control over them. So, I try to focus on the things I have control over, which include myself and my ability to say no and remove myself from situations in which I feel uncomfortable. Today you can be proactive. Today you can be successful. Today you can remain sober!
(Photo by Denise Jans)