It should go without saying that if your current path in recovery is not working out so great for you, then you should change it.
But how many of us have stayed stuck in our ways, thinking that somehow our luck will eventually change, or that things will start clicking for us?
This idea gets thrown around a lot in recovery circles. “If you keep doing what you always did, then you’ll keep getting what you always got.” This is usually said with the idea of transitioning from a life of drugs and alcohol to one of sobriety and recovery. If you want things to change then you’ve got to do something different, right?
But what about a life in recovery that has become hollow and meaningless? This too demands action, and change.
There are lot of people who get involved in recovery that sort of stay at “surface level” sobriety….they don’t dig into recovery and really put in 100 percent effort, so their results are substandard. In some cases, this is enough to stay clean and sober, but not enough to really grow in any meaningful way, outside of simply maintaining sobriety.
Obviously, we don’t want to do that.
Who would want to scrape by in recovery by the skin of their teeth, only doing the bare minimum necessary to stay sober from one day to the next, without becoming passionate about life or living with any real purpose? The key to long term sobriety is to shift our focus from mere abstinence to an emphasis on personal growth and development.
I had a close friend in recovery who had the basics down pretty good. He had accumulated about 4 or 5 years of clean time, and was pretty active in working with other addicts and alcoholics. But this friend of mine became overwhelmed with health problems, and needed to change his lifestyle in a hurry: lose weight, quit smoking, start exercising, and so on.
Well, it didn’t happen. That friend is gone now, and I’m convinced that a more holistic approach could have saved his life, had he been more open to the idea that those kinds of changes were relevant to his sobriety.
When you treat addiction, it doesn’t make sense to simply treat the physical side of the problem (detox + abstinence), or just the spiritual side of it (12 step programs, faith-based recovery, etc.). Addiction is such a complicated and multi-faceted disease that it requires a holistic approach. You have to change everything! They say this in meetings all the time, but how many people really grasp it and start exploring all these different aspects of their life?
Physical fitness. Emotional balance. Mental health. Education. Spirituality. And so on. Now I’m not saying those are necessarily the keys to recovery….what I’m saying is that those are the keys to a long and happy life. Being clean and sober is a prerequisite to even attempt to work on that stuff. But once you’ve got a foundation under your belt in recovery, you better get moving. It’s all connected and it’s all relevant to your long term sobriety and well-being.
If you don’t like how your life is going, then change yourself
Another close friend of mine in recovery that I’ve always looked up to loves to say to people who are complaining about their life: “Well how’s that working out for you?” He always says it with this big grin and it’s sort of like a smack in the forehead. What the question does is it makes a person look at their part in what’s happening to them. It makes us take ownership of our problems.
If you don’t like what you’ve been getting in life, if you don’t like your current situation, then change it! Change yourself. This is what motivates me to keep exploring new areas for growth. This is what drives us to pursue a creative life in recovery.
What are you going to change next in your life? How are you going to grow?