What is the secret to finding peace and serenity in addiction recovery? One of the things that you need to learn about recovery is that it involves lots of work in terms of personal growth.
Now here is the counter-intuitive part about all of this:
Getting honest with yourself and then doing the hard work in terms of personal growth is generally fairly stressful.
When you are going through true personal growth experiences it usually does not feel peaceful and serene. Far from it. Normally when you are going through some serious personal growth you are going to feel stressed out. You may feel as if you are flailing, as if nothing is working right for you, as if nothing is coming together in spite of your best efforts.
But then a few months later you can look back at those struggles and realize that, in fact, that is when all of the magic really happened. Those struggles were a necessary part of the growth that you experienced.
So I want you to keep in mind this basic fact about peace and serenity: It is not without struggle. You have to earn your serenity by doing the hard work of recovery.
And what exactly does this hard work entail, you may be wondering? What exactly do I have to do in order to experience real peace and serenity?
There are several different examples, and if you work through the 12 step program of AA very thoroughly with a skilled sponsor, you will be able to uncover some (or all) of the things that are currently robbing you of peace and serenity.
You could also work with a therapist or a counselor to help you to identify your sources of stress, anger, fear, resentment, guilt, self pity, and a thousand other negative emotions.
Keep in mind that peace and serenity is really an emotional state. Your physical surroundings and your relationships could all be in a state of massive chaos and unrest, but there are zen masters in the world who could stay calm and serene through all of that chaos.
In other words, your peace and serenity is not dependent on what is actually happening in the outside world. You don’t necessarily have to manipulate reality or change your environment in order to find serenity.
What you need to worry about are your reactions to the world.
Random events are always going to pop up in life. Even for the zen master who has already mastered the art of being serene, he still experiences chaos and random negative events that pop up from time to time. His life is not perfect, and negative things still occur for him.
What he has mastered, however, is his reaction to the negative stuff. And it is this reaction that will determine your level of serenity and peace.
So when something negative happens, you must train yourself to pause and say “But why is this actually a blessing in disguise? Where is the silver lining in this seemingly negative situation?”
Every reaction from you is one of two possible things: Either you are running away from a problem and hiding, or you are facing the problem head and seeking solutions.
Recovery is all about seeking solutions. In order to succeed in recover you must seek out solutions every time you encounter a difficulty or trauma in your life.
We can no longer afford to avoid our problems or to choose distractions. If we are to live a healthy and empowered life then we need to face our problems head on and find real solutions to them.
This requires struggle. We are not going to perfect at this, especially not right away in early recovery. There will likely be a tendency for you to try to create new distractions for yourself during the ups and downs of early recovery.
Your old distraction was your drug of choice and you used to medicate your emotions with it. In recovery, you have removed your ability to self medicate with chemical substances, as you have sworn off the drugs and the alcohol.
Keep in mind, however, that now your brain and your behavior are going to seek out new ways to distract yourself. So you may find yourself addicted to food, or sex, or social media, or a new romantic involvement, or a million and one other things that people use to distract themselves.
The solution is to face your problems and come up with real solutions. If you don’t have a clue as to how to figure out a solution to something then you just need to ask for help. Ask someone that you trust in sobriety, someone like a therapist or a sponsor or a counselor. Ask them for advice about how to overcome a specific problem. Such people will advise you on what to do and how to react to your current problems.
My suggestion is that you take their advice and ignore your own ideas.
Why? Because your ideas, especially in early recovery, will tend to be distractions. If you use your own ideas in early recovery then you will likely just find new things to get addicted to. Everything becomes a distraction when you are facing a problem that you would rather hide from.
The solution is to face the problem. Face everything, and recover. Face your problems head on and ask for help so that you can move forward and improve yourself and your life.
When you choose to distract yourself and avoid your problems then no personal growth is made. You have learned nothing and you gain no real benefit from distracting yourself other than buying time.
Your problems did not just shrink or vanish on their own, they are still there. Just like when you were self medicating with drugs or alcohol, your problems are still there when you come off of the high or the buzz. In recovery, it’s the same thing when you choose to avoid your problems and distract yourself instead–the problems remain. They are not going anywhere. You still have to deal with them eventually.
If you want to find peace and serenity then you need to realize that life is going to continuously throw new problems at you even when you are working an amazingly good program of recovery. Problems are going to keep appearing to bother you. Your reaction to new problems is all that matters. You must always rise to the challenge and seek solutions rather than to run away and hide with distractions.
If you do this consistently for several months then your life will get incredibly better, seemingly overnight. Within a short year or two your life can be completely amazing, but only if you have the courage to seek solutions in every single situation, rather than constantly running and hiding and distracting yourself again.
Are you ready to face everything and recover? This is the path to the better life that you are seeking.