Teeny, tiny drops of water can fill a bucket. 

They can fill a swimming pool. 

Given enough time, they can— and will— carve whole riverbeds out of rocky monoliths. 

Indeed, given enough time, no mountain can withstand the assault of teeny, tiny drops of water. It may take awhile, but it WILL erode away.

Raindrops can move mountains. 

In fact, most of the mountains that have ever existed have been shaped— literally moved— by water in various forms, from raindrops to glaciers. 

Understand: there’s nothing special about water. 

Water is the most common element on the planet. We encounter it every day. We’re mostly water. It’s the most prosaic element out there. 

But it moves mountains and carves canyons. 

Indeed— water is the ONLY thing that, in the history of the planet, that has reliably moved mountains and carved canyons. (Water has been shaping geography since long before human beings were on this planet, let alone had the capacity to shape the landscape.) 

How is this relevant to your recovery? 

Because most of the things you’ll do in the course of your recovery amount to teeny, tiny raindrops. Drops in the bucket, if you will. 

Yes, you may have experiences whereby you gain more than a little ground, whereby you have a breakthrough, whereby you have an “ah ha!” moment that puts you ahead of the game. 

But most of your efforts are going to amount to drops in the bucket. 

A little here, a little there. 

You use a skill at a particular time that doesn’t seem like it makes all THAT much of a difference— it’s just a drop in the bucket. 

You use a tool that doesn’t seem like it makes your day all THAT much better— it’s just a drop in the bucket. 

You have a therapy session or attend a Twelve Step meeting that doesn’t seem like it really changed the equation all THAT much— it’s just a drop in the bucket. 

You stayed sober for one day— or even one hour— when you really wanted to use, but really, what is a day or an hour? 

That’s right: it’s just a drop in the bucket. 

This is why we need to stop and remember: teeny, tiny drops fill buckets. 

They fill swimming pools. They fill oceans. 

And your teeny, tiny behavioral “drops in the bucket” WILL get you through this. 

If you’re going to succeed, either in recovery or life development, you’re going to need to develop a healthy respect for drops in buckets. 

You’re going to have to get past the impulse to deride little decisions or victories as inconsequential because they’re not huge, profound tidal waves. 

Drops in the bucket MATTER. 

If you’re in pain, if you’re suffering from an addiction or a post traumatic disorder or a mood disorder or an anxiety disorder, if you’re struggling to figure your life out, chances are you didn’t arrive at this painful place overnight. 

How did you get behaviorally and emotionally “sick?” 

That’s right: drops in a bucket over time. Toxic drops, but drops all the same. 

It’s how most change happens in humans. Our behaviors and brains change a little, teeny, tiny bit at a time. Each drop in the bucket becomes what we psychologists call a micro-reinforcer, conditioning us toward a behavioral and emotional outcome. 

If you want to change in a positive way, a way you choose, a way that’s consistent with your goals and values, I strongly advise you to quit waiting for the firehose to come blast you in the face. 

Instead, refocus on filling your bucket. 

Drop, by drop, by drop. 


Do you derive value from my work? Then consider joining me and the rest of the Dr. Glenn Doyle Community in fighting human trafficking by donating– even one dollar!– to the Break the Cycle 200 mile relay race I’m running on June 27th. 

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