There is a balance between these 2 concepts in recovery that many will struggle with.
On the one hand, we want to have that zen-like state of being where we have acceptance and all of the peace and serenity that comes along with that acceptance. We want to stop struggling to change every little thing in our lives and just be content with the way things are. Isn’t this the point of recovery, some might ask?
On the other hand, we want to push ourselves to change and to grow in recovery, and many will motivate themselves to change based on dissatisfaction with a part of their life. We might push ourselves to exercise if we are not satisfied with our health or our bodies. Or we might push ourselves to go back to school if we feel our current career path is lacking. In most cases, our desire for change is motivated by a certain level of discontent.
Our lack of acceptance seems to be the very thing that pushes us to change and to grow. And yet, aren’t we usually striving for acceptance in our recovery? Isn’t self-acceptance one of the traditional foundations of recovery?
Finding a healthy balance
Obviously, balance is the key. It’s not healthy to swing too far in either direction, as is true in so many cases.
For example, if you have lapsed into laziness, and are basically using self-acceptance as an excuse so that you don’t have to work on yourself or strive to meet any goals, then this is a clear case of being out of balance. The trick is that it usually will not be this obvious, and we can fool even ourselves. When fear is what is holding us back from making a change, we might use self-acceptance as a defense against having to look at ourselves too closely and force a change in our lives.
The only way to overcome a situation like this is with increased awareness and honesty with self. We all know how easy denial can be for a recovering addict, so you have to be on guard against something like this.
Ask yourself: am I hiding behind the fear of change? Can my life improve if I get honest about my situation and take action?
Pushing ourselves to grow
The other end of the spectrum is if you are so fanatical about personal growth that you never gain enough acceptance of self to really enjoy any of your efforts. If you never accept your life and your situation as being “good enough,” then you will forever be dissatisfied.
Part of the answer to this is striving for that healthy balance between growth and acceptance. The other part of it is to realize that, with the holistic approach to recovery, there is always something to be working on.
In other words, realize that you are always going to be growing; always working on some part of your life or your recovery. This is not necessarily bad or good. It’s just part of the holistic approach. There are so many different areas of your life and different aspects of growth to work on that you will never really be finished. So accept this as part of the process of recovery and strive to find that healthy balance.
One way to do this is to always be working on at least one goal, without having the need to be working on everything all at once. But you should have one or two goals at any given time. If you’re not working on anything at all in your life, then you risk stagnating in your growth and this can lead to complacency and eventually relapse. You don’t have to try to fix everything all at once, just have a simple goal or two in mind at all times. Examples of this might include:
1) Take the steps to get back into school this month.
2) Work on Fitness and Nutrition.
3) Find a way to reach out and help others in recovery.
And so on. You can have a few goals for yourself at all times without feeling overwhelmed with the need to grow and change. This is the kind of balance we are striving for in recovery. Don’t be overly fanatical about changing everything all at once, but don’t get too lazy either. Pay attention to how you feel about your life and get a feel for how much you have to push yourself in order to keep steadily growing.