Helping Alcoholics to “Live Life on Life’s Terms” in Recovery

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There is a cliche in traditional recovery circles about dealing with “life on life’s terms.”

The phrase is essentially pointing out that stuff happens, and we have to deal with it. The alternative is to not deal with it, which for most of us means escaping reality through relapse or self medicating. So, there is a real need for us to rise to the challenge and “face life on life’s terms” without seeking to avoid reality in any way.

So the question becomes, how can we successfully do this in our recovery? How can we best accept personal responsibility for everything that happens in our life?

Traditional recovery programs tend to create a reactive approach

The advantage of the creative theory of recovery over traditional recovery programs is in the dynamics between our actions and our reactions. Many of us get lost in traditional recovery programs in that we are still just letting life “happen to us” and then reacting to it as best we can. Some of us are still “victims” of our own life circumstances and the best we have learned how to do is to try to cope and deal with whatever life throws at us.

While this doesn’t happen to everyone in recovery, I think sometimes this “coping strategy” is basically a learned behavior from group therapy or traditional meetings. Instead of using a proactive approach to problem solving and dealing with life, some people in recovery simply continue to stumble through life and then use meetings as a way to vent their frustrations.

This is not optimal recovery. Surprisingly, it can actually keep you clean and sober, from what I’ve seen. But I believe there is a better, healthier, and more fulfilling way to live your life.

The creative theory of recovery

Instead of merely reacting to life and complaining about your life situation, the idea here is to create the life you want for yourself.

This requires action. Most people won’t do it because it is so much easier to simply show up to meetings every day and vent your frustrations and keep on stumbling through life without any lofty goals or real purpose.

Actively and purposefully creating a new life for yourself takes work. It requires effort. It is a step beyond traditional recovery treatments in that it challenges you to grow holistically and to achieve goals that normally fall outside of traditional 12 step programs.

You want to deal with life on life’s terms? Then start creating the life you really want and making some real growth outside the boundaries of traditional recovery.

Living the creative life is like a preemptive strike against “life on life’s terms.” You start living in such a way that when bad things happen to you, they become challenges instead of setbacks. Your whole attitude shifts because you are now growth oriented and ready to meet new challenges.

No longer does stuff “happen to you” and then you have to “deal with it.” That is victim-thinking. With the creative theory, you can actively create solutions for yourself before problems ever occur.

The creative theory is a proactive life of passion and purpose that rises above the petty problems that people share about in traditional recovery circles. “Life on life’s terms” becomes “purposeful action instead of reacting.”

Why settle for complaining your way through sobriety? Get creative and discover a better life for yourself.


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  • Pete

    living life on GOD’s terms and face reality. Is better than facing reality on my terms(will).

  • Derrick

    True. Be proactive, not just reactive. Make something happen. Don’t just sit back and try to cope with what life throws at you, make the most of every opportunity (Colossians 4:5). Some people are merely existing, plodding through life, waiting to see what will happen next when they could be looking for ways to be productive and fulfilled. This new attitude of being a go-getter could allow us to be more positive about dealing with life on life’s terms when “life happens”.