Recovery means ‘a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.’ This is the typical definition we usually read. Recovery also means ‘the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.’ But do you know how recovery isn’t defined? It isn’t defined as a mandatory abstinence from all mind or mood altering substances.
In fact, no part of defining recovery includes 100% abstinence. There is no right or wrong way to heal. If you aren’t following rules, it doesn’t mean you are failing. Holding ourselves to outside expectations will keep us from growing. Denying ourselves growth, keeps us from healing.
If you are suffering from a mental health disorder, maintain your current medication as prescribed. Medication isn’t a crutch if it’s necessary, so don’t let others tell you it is. If you need medically assisted treatment, use it. MAT is a route that keeps you alive, so cheers to living! If you can cut back on your drug of choice then do it. Harm reduction is still succeeding. And if you can quit using all together – then quit.
Choosing to live a better life is just that: Choosing to live a better life. It doesn’t require a program to follow in order to succeed. It doesn’t mean that there are rigid rules to obey. Even in recovery from major surgery, all a doctor can do is offer recommendations for easier healing. Healing happens for all of us with time, not with rules to follow. And maybe following instructions is just an illusion – maybe change occurs in the time we spend on those new things and routines by keeping our minds occupied and away from what we want to avoid. Or maybe we just need to focus on where where we are going and stop looking at where we’ve been.
What many of us are doing, no matter how we do it, is letting go of our old behaviors. By doing so, we aren’t holding onto the past and making it ever present in today. We are simply overcoming and moving on; we are simply living life.
Need motivation to create changes in your life? Try some of these:
Focus your energy on new things.
There are no set of rules to follow in recovery. When we spend our time on new things, we find we don’t miss our old behaviors. Instead of believing you have to do it all one way, from start to finish, just start believing in yourself. Ruminating on old behaviors and the past does nothing but prevent us in moving forward. If we believe we can’t, we won’t. If we know we can, we will.
Support means something different to all of us. Some of us have a few people we know we can confide in and depend on. Some of us utilize a group of people with commonalities – they have been there so they understand. Some of us read affirmations, some read self-help books. The point is, there is no right or wrong way to have the support you need. Whatever works for you, do it. Whatever doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean you are failing. You are surviving. So keep on surviving.
Learn to be accountable for yourself.
It’s easy to pass blame. None of us want to mess up. But here’s a secret – all of us do because we are human. Perfection is nonexistent and understanding this is key. None of us do it right all of the time. But all of us can try harder to admit when we are wrong. Admitting fault isn’t easy but is isn’t impossible either. When you mess up, admit it, and keep going.
Change doesn’t happen all at once. Some things take time. Make a plan. Work towards it. If you mess up, start again. Do not fall into the disillusion that unless you have it now you will never have it. Remember that not everyone is where you are in life. We all move forward at a different pace. Use others as inspiration, not a comparison. Use time as a motivator, not a souvenir.
Let go of outside expectations and stay true to who you are and the person you are becoming. Understand that when you are setting goals, some will be long term and some will be short term. It’s important to know the difference. Don’t let anyone else tell you whether or not you are succeeding. If you fail to meet a goal, start again. When you reach a goal, set a new one. Strive to better yourself. Don’t settle for people and situations not meant for you.
Personal boundaries are necessary for all of us. We deserve to be treated with respect. We are allowed to say no. We also do not have to do anything the same way as someone else. Know what you can tolerate from others and what you cannot. In doing so, know that there are some people that are no good for us to be around. Just because we change, does not mean other people change with us – let those people go who refuse to grow. Know what you will tolerate and know what you won’t. Establishing boundaries helps us maintain the life we create.
Change is key.
We are creatures of habit. We like to do it how we have always done it. But just because we have always done it one way does not mean that way is suitable forever. When you are struggling, find the common denominator and change it. The work we put in to accommodating this change benefits the new equation. Stop being afraid of change! Recognize what needs to change and do what’s necessary to make the change. Otherwise, you will be stuck on repeat and complacent.
Change or stay the same – that’s your option.
Do it yourself.
Stop expecting everyone around you to meet your needs and give in to your whims. Stop expecting other people to give you money when you need it. Do not expect others to help you more than you help yourself. Opportunity has to be found; it doesn’t just show up. If you are not doing anything to improve your own situation then don’t expect someone else to do it for you.
The harder you work at becoming successful, the sooner you will realize it’s a possibility! It’s important to understand that as we work on becoming a different person, it won’t happen all at once. Changing is a process that takes time. No one has ever gotten anything done by doing everything at once.
Grow and move on.
Stop living your entire life believing you are sick and stuck! At some point, your growth will surpass the mindset you have at the beginning. The beginning is where you learn how to keep going without the old behaviors and routines. The beginning is where you are still healing. It is during this time you are re-learning who you are. You are feeling emotions you haven’t allowed yourself to feel and you are facing life in a new way.
It’s okay to reach a point where you find yourself just living life! Recovery from anything isn’t meant to last a lifetime. Recovery is a period of time that allows you to move through life at a slower pace. But eventually, that slower pace isn’t needed anymore. If you aren’t missing any part of the old you, if your thought processes have changed, it’s okay to say goodbye to who you were. Let go and keep going and just live your life!
And here is the great thing about improving your life in your own way – you do it at your own pace!
Stop letting other people have so much control over you! If your life is out of control, then work to bring the control back. You are in charge of you. You are not powerless. You are not helpless. Nothing is stopping you but yourself.