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Putting a HALT to HALT

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When I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of my Higher Power, I received an insight into how I could remain willing to live in surrender.

In recovery, I’ve often been reminded to recognize when I’m hungry, angry, lonely, or tired—the HALT of the program. Even one of these four can set me up for food thoughts and mental obsession. But I’ve found a second HALT that counteracts the first one—honest, accepting, loving, and thankful. When I embrace these four qualities, I remain teachable, open to recovery, and willing to live my life in accordance with my Higher Power’s will.

Hungry/Honest. When I get hungry, it reminds me to be faithful in planning my food, take accountability for what and how I eat, and pay attention to my bodily needs. If I’m honest with myself, I plan my food each day with the help of my Higher Power and others. It’s vital that I give an accounting of my physical program and accept guidance from others in recovery. With a sponsor’s guidance, I learn how to practice gut-level honesty about my feelings, account for any mental obsession, and seek my Higher Power’s solution to my gnawing spiritual hunger. Honesty becomes humility as I ask my Higher Power to guide and direct my life, my will, and my recovery.

Angry/Accepting. Being angry is a luxury I can’t afford because it leads to mental obsession, resentment, and fear. When I feel angry, it usually means I’m not accepting some situation as okay. Acceptance grows as I work the Steps and become open to correction and guidance. I grow in acceptance by humbly seeking my sponsor’s guidance, by asking my Higher Power to remove my defects, and by understanding my place in the human race. To accept my powerlessness over food is to surrender my food addiction. To accept my powerlessness over people, places, and things is to walk in harmony with others and know inner peace. To accept my total dependence on my Higher Power is to walk with faith and trust wherever I’m led. Acceptance opens doors that anger and resentment have closed.

Lonely/Loving. When I feel lonely, I’ve found that reaching out in loving service to others dissipates my loneliness. I have a disease of isolation characterized by self-centeredness, selfishness, self-absorption, and self-seeking. To love others is to walk with my Higher Power and surrender. To love is to serve at meetings and at broader levels of OA. To love is to willingly give others my listening presence and to graciously accept others’ service. To love is to call an OA friend and share how I’ve been blessed by his or her message of recovery. To love is to die to self with its craving for instant gratification and all its egotism and greed and to live in oneness with life and say yes to my Higher Power’s road of unknown destiny. Love overcomes isolation and loneliness.

Tired/Thankful. When I feel tired, my body is telling me to relax. In a relaxed state, I can see all that I have to be grateful for. Just knowing I’m tired and need rest is a blessing. I’m grateful to know how to take care of my body as a living amends for my years of self-destructive eating. I’m grateful knowing the awesome truth of just being—rather than finding self-worth only in doing. I’m grateful for slogans like “Easy does it” and “One day at a time.” What a blessing is rest, for it replenishes my strength so that I may be of use to my Higher Power. I value sponsors who validate my need to love myself enough to rest when I’m tired. Gratitude lifts me into the loving presence of my Higher Power, where I find freedom, gentleness, and love. Gratitude reminds me of the beauty of the present moment and the power of positive thinking. When I feel grateful, I learn to relax in the silence of prayer and contemplation.

Hungry, angry, lonely, or tired: these remain red flags I heed in my ongoing recovery. My remedy, being honest, accepting, loving, and thankful, keeps me close to my Higher Power, accountable to my sponsor, and gentle with myself.

— K.W., Wisconsin USA

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