In order to find peace and serenity in recovery you need to dedicate your life to personal growth.
If you spend a lot of time in addiction recovery circles such as AA and NA, you will begin to notice that not everyone is necessarily living this way. Many people in recovery simply want to stop drinking and taking drugs, and they do not really seem interested in the idea of improving themselves or their lives.
Such people have poor chances at long term recovery.
The reason for this is simple: Complacency kills.
In other words, if you are going to make it in long term recovery and avoid relapse for years and decades on end, you are going to have to stay actively engaged in the process of personal growth.
That’s right, you cannot just prop your feet up and relax in addiction recovery. It doesn’t work so well. Letting off of the “personal growth accelerator” almost always leads to relapse.
Why, you ask?
Every addict and alcoholic is most comfortable when they are using their drug of choice. Self medicating with chemicals is their main solution in life, and they have been doing it for years or decades. It is what feels comfortable to them. It is natural for them.
Let me emphasize that idea: It is natural for the alcoholic to drink. It is natural for the addict to use drugs. That is normal.
So even in recovery, even after years or decades of sobriety, it is still very normal for an addict or alcohol to self medicate. That old solution that you used to serve them so well is still in the background, lurking in the shadows, waiting to be accessed.
Relapse is a solution. It may not be the healthy solution, and it may not be what we want to see happen, but it is still a solution. And it works for nearly any situation you may be facing.
The threat of relapse is always going to be there, lurking just around the next corner. This is one thing that is going to be a constant in every person’s sobriety. Relapse is always a threat.
Now if you are living in addiction recovery, how would you ever get to the point where you might relapse? How does it happen?
There are a million and one different ways to screw up, of course. But the important thing to note here is this: People who relapse stop doing the things that they need to do for recovery.
If you go to AA meetings you can hear this when people share. Someone will eventually tell the story of their last relapse, and how they are back now, and what they learned from it. And they always talk about how they had stopped going working the steps, how they stopped talking to their sponsor, how they stopped going to meetings, how they stopped going to counseling or therapy, how they stopped all of these various things that they normally do for their recovery.
The stopped these things before they relapsed.
Then they relapsed.
This is the story that you hear over and over again. People quit doing the things that they normally do for their recovery, and before long, they had slid into a relapse.
So how do you live your life in recovery in such a way that this does not happen to you? How do you avoid “recovery burnout” and keep moving in a positive direction? How do you avoid complacency?
The key is in personal growth. Deliberate personal growth.
So we are not talking about accidentally learning a life lesson here. We are not talking about when random events happen in your life and force you to go through a personal growth experience. That is not going to keep you clean and sober in the long run.
No, in the long run your life must be self directed. In the long run, you have to be responsible to make recovery happen for yourself. You must be the driver of positive changes.
Now there are a number of different ways to achieve this. One way is by simply assessing your life on a continuous basis and looking for areas to improve on. Then you can go ask for help from sponsors, therapists, or counselors and learn about how you can improve yourself in various ways.
Ask for help and advice, then act on the suggestions. It can be that simple, if you have the willingness to follow through and act on advice. Most of us do not normally have that level of humility.
If you want to find peace and serenity then you have to work hard for it. The alternative is to ignore the idea of personal growth and let your life slowly unravel back into chaos and misery.
You have to actively shape your life and your life experience if you want to experience peace and serenity. And you have to become skilled at using the tools of a recovery program as well.
Why? Because life is random and there will eventually be chaotic events that happen to potentially disrupt your peace and serenity. So if you have not developed any skills or tools to deal with these disruptions then your serenity will be shattered.
And guess what? The only way to get good at dealing with chaos and disruptions is to go through with it, to experience it, and figure out how to cope and adapt.
So for an example, meditation is one way to create peace within yourself when there may be chaos and misery swirling all around you. And we each have to find a way to meditate, to relax, to “go to our happy place” in recovery. That process is different for various people though. It doesn’t always look like the typical seated meditation, sitting cross legged on a mat at the top of some mountain. That may be what you picture as your solution initially, but you may find yourself getting the benefits of meditation when you go for a jog each day instead. Or you may find that doing a daily reading out of meditation book helps to center you.
So it is up to each of us to find the tools that work for us in recovery. If you go to an AA meeting and ask the question to the group: “How do you find peace and serenity?” you are going to hear a number of different suggestions. This is because the same thing does not necessarily work for everyone. Your path in recovery is individual, and therefore it is your responsibility to figure out what that path is.
One of the fundamental concepts, however, is the need for deliberate personal growth. You cannot just drift aimlessly through your recovery without making any dedicated effort and expect to stay clean and sober forever. Figure out what needs to be fixed in your life and then set out to work on fixing it. Do not delay the work of continuous self improvement. It is the key to overcoming complacency and keeping you sober in the long run.