When you live the creative theory, your life starts to take on new meaning.
I did not believe this was possible when I first got sober. I was depressed and miserable and thought that my life would be meaningless if I were to actually stay sober. I thought sobriety would be a drag.
Of course it is normal for an addict to think this way, because for so long, it was the drugs (and the lifestyle that went along with the drugs) that gave our lives meaning.
Of course I learned differently: Living the creative theory of recovery gives meaning to your life. Let’s find out how:
Caring for yourself creates meaning
When we follow the creative theory of recovery, we use 3 basic strategies:
1) Caring for self
2) Networking with others
3) Personal growth
It makes sense to start with the first strategy and focus on simply taking better care of ourselves. This starts with the decision to stop putting drugs and alcohol into our bodies.
But caring for ourselves goes far beyond that. We start to rethink our decisions in terms of “is this really what’s best for me?” In that sense, we start putting our own health and well-being first.
This creates meaning in our life, even if we don’t initially see how taking care of ourselves can change how we feel about ourselves. There is also a spin-off effect from caring for self: we start to care more about others as well.
Many of us in active addiction get to a point where we no longer care about much of anything. In order to live the creative theory of recovery, we have to start caring again. The foundation for this is caring for self. If we don’t care for ourselves, we can’t really care about others or anything else in our life.
Rising self esteem creates meaning
When we start using the 3 strategies, our self esteem starts rising. This is important because healthy self esteem will create a healthy feedback loop: we start naturally using the 3 strategies even more. If we feel good about ourselves, then we will naturally care for ourselves. If we are making real progress and growing in different ways, then we will feel good about ourselves and place more value on our own life.
Generating self esteem therefore gives meaning to our life. When we see this and recognize this through our own growth, we will feel compelled to help others to find this same path. This in turn drives us to reach out and help others. The second strategy of networking with others then falls into place in our life (the 3 strategies work together).
Networking with others creates meaning
The second strategy of networking with others helps give meaning to our life. People are what’s important to us and when we reach out to others this creates meaning.
In active addiction our priority was in getting drunk and high and those were the things that were important to us. In recovery we start to see the value in relationships and our interactions with others become more important to us than external “things.”
In particular, helping each other to stay clean and sober can build meaningful relationships in early sobriety. This replaces the meaning and passion that we use to have for drugs and alcohol.
Changing values creates purpose
When we get clean and sober, our values start slowly changing. This takes time.
When we were actively using drugs and alcohol, we placed value on certain things in our life: getting high, scoring more drugs, getting cash or easy money for more drugs, and so on. These things were most important to us because we placed the highest value on them.
In recovery, our values shift. We start placing a higher importance on other things, such as our relationships or our careers, for example. Different people will value different things. But the point here is that what you value will change as you progress in your recovery, and these values give meaning to your life.
What we hold to be valuable is what makes our life important. Our values drive a lot of our actions and give meaning and purpose to our life.
The creative theory is not about just abstaining from chemicals. It is about living a life with real purpose and meaning.