In recovery, there is a lot to focus on. Though you always start with the idea that all you have to do is stay sober, you soon figure out that staying sober means making 100 little choices every day that keep your stress levels low and your physical and mental wellness quotient high.
Too often, however, even with the best intentions, progress in recovery is inhibited by a lack of self-confidence perpetuated by the excuses that people use to avoid addressing their fear of failure or their fear of success.
Here are some of the most common excuses that are heard among people in recovery and how best to dis-empower them if they are stopping you from living an amazing life in recovery.
Too often, guilt and shame over the years spent in addiction can overshadow the possibilities and opportunities that are available in recovery. The fact is that you absolutely deserve to have a good life, and if you feel like you have some work to do in terms of repairing some of the karmic harm that may have occurred at your hand during active addiction, then it is arguable that you have a responsibility to yourself and the people who care about you to make some positive changes in your life. Giving back to the community and supporting your family starts by taking care of yourself and prioritizing your health and wellness; they deserve it and so do you.
So what? Even if that were true – and it is impossible that you have NEVER done anything right in your life – the past does not need to have any bearing on the present beyond any responsibility you have to make amends for your choices in addiction (e.g., maintaining legal requirements, paying back debt, etc.). You can choose right now to completely depart from everything you have ever done in the past, or simply choose to change one thing that is not working for you or not helping you to stay sober. You are a strong and powerful person, and you can determine how to define your life.
You will have days in recovery where you do not feel well, either due to physical illness, depression, or mental health issues. It’s normal, but it is not insurmountable. If you feel like you are just not up to taking on huge goals right away because you are not feeling well, then do the work of getting better. Sound impossible? It is, again, the culmination of a lot of little choices. You can do things like:
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep at night – restorative sleep in a restful location.
- Eat healthy foods and make sure you are getting enough nutrient-dense calories to function at your best.
- Spend time with positive people. Laughing can make you feel better.
- Work with a therapist to address underlying mental health issues.
- Work with a medical professional if you are dealing with chronic pain or another ongoing medical ailment.
Do you feel like you are missing just one thing, and that one thing is stopping you from moving forward on achieving your goals? If you investigate how you are feeling and what it is that you think you need to accomplish a certain task, you will likely find that you are fearful of taking on the new accomplishment or scared that you will not succeed – or maybe that you will succeed and you are unsure what that would really look like in terms of day-to-day life.
Consider whether or not you really want the accomplishment that you believe is blocked by your lack of one specific thing. If you do really want it, then make plans to go ahead and get what you need to make it happen.
Just like the one thing that you don’t have, the one thing you “need” to do may also be a non-issue. It may very well be that you are fixating on the challenge rather than just beginning the process of making changes in your life that will help you stay sober.
Make It Happen
Ultimately, as long as you are feeling safe and secure in your recovery, and you have the protections in place that you need to continue to stay that way, it is important that you begin the process of working toward goals that are important to you. Both in recovery specifically and in your personal life, your identification of what you want and need in your life will play a critical role in your ability to move forward and leave your addiction disorder in the past. Rather than allowing excuses to get in the way, you can:
- Stop the negative self-talk and actively replace it with positive affirmations.
- Write out all the characteristics of your ideal life, then pick one and create a written plan to make it happen.
- Discuss your goals with your therapist. Just like it is a good idea to discuss it with your doctor before you start working out, it is also a good idea to discuss it with a substance abuse treatment professional before you take on a big new goal that has the potential to create waves in your life.
- Work with a life coach if you are having issues figuring out how best to achieve your goals or if you are unsure of what direction you should choose.
What excuses are stopping you from going forward? What changes will you make to start building a new life for yourself?