“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” – Epictetus, Greek sage and Stoic philosopher, born a slave (55-135 C.E.)
When we’re feeling down or disappointed that we’ve been unable to meet our goals or we don’t get as far as we’d hoped on our daily to-do list, it always helps to have someone to turn to and talk with that puts us in a more positive frame of mind.
Having upbeat friends can do that. While they’re not going to solve all our problems for us, indeed, we’re not asking them to, just being around them is often enough to help lift our spirits and take the stress out of the equation – at least for a little while, and often that’s all we need to get back on track with our momentum.
Suppose we’re new to recovery and don’t yet have a supportive group of friends we can rely on? What do we do then? Remember what we were advised to do during the relapse prevention phase of treatment? Part of our recovery journey involves the careful and determined effort to develop a strong support system. This includes our loved ones and family members, of course, but it also includes the people in the 12-Step rooms, our 12-Step sponsor, our counselor or therapist, and other close friends who encourage our recovery efforts.
Somewhere in this varied mix of people are ones who have an air about them that is inspiring. Listening to them speak and relate their stories in the rooms of recovery, we’re likely to hear something that resonates with us. It may be just a brief comment or a description of a technique that they tried to cope with cravings and urges, or how they went about getting a job or returning to work or dealing with well-meaning but ill-informed friends or co-workers who prodded them with questions about treatment, addiction and what it’s like to come back.
The truth is that those who aren’t on the path of recovery don’t know what it’s like. They can learn about addiction, treatment and recovery and for family members this is strongly encouraged. But it’s our journey. We have more in common with our fellow group members in the 12-Step rooms when it comes to knowing what addiction feels like.
It’s here, then, that we can begin to build our support network of like-minded individuals. Think about it. Each one of them is here because they value sobriety and want to help others who share the same commitment to recovery.
Another reason to make it a point to be around upbeat friends is that they tend to bring out the best in us. Instead of looking at all our faults and endlessly picking apart our decisions and getting down on ourselves for our perceived failures, when we’re around positive people we start to see things in a more positive light. The challenges we face don’t appear so hopeless. We tend to be able to see that we have choices we can make, decisions on which approach to take and we can look back on past successes as indicators that we’re making good progress toward our recovery goals.
This is all the more reason to have a stable of upbeat friends. They’re people we can share our successes – as well as our troubles – with and always have a supportive and encouraging audience.
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