How To Resist Negativity And Embrace Simple Joys In Addiction Recovery
We’ve come through the early months or years of recovery and lived to tell the tale. We’ve made it through the 12 steps, done our inventories and amends, and we’re continuing to develop relationships in our 12-step fellowship. We’re growing in awareness of our character defects and beginning to learn what it means to be of service. Our relationships are improving. We’ve even started to find some joy and contentment. Things are looking up.
Not Letting Negativity Threaten Your Sobriety And Joy
But for many of us who are accustomed to a “faster” life, we can’t help looking at our lives in addiction recovery and wondering: Is this all there is?
We might even be hesitant to express those thoughts out loud. Here we’ve been saved from the wreckage of our former days of addiction. We’ve been given the chance to live again. We’ve been freed from bondage. Who are we to complain that this is all just a little bit boring?
We may not want to say it outright, but we also know, as addicts, that the secrets and dissatisfactions we harbor have the potential to become slips and other serious threats to our sobriety. If we want to avoid a relapse, we have no choice but to be as honest as we can be. We can’t let our feelings fester.
Getting Over Believing That Your “Highs” Were Actual Highlights In Your Life
So let’s start there. Look at your day-to-day life now. You probably have calls to your sponsor, coffee dates with fellow 12-step members, your schedule of meetings, going to work, taking care of responsibilities around the house, spending time with family, paying bills, running errands, etc. You may recognize that all of these are good things and they are safe and respectable. But they lack a lot of the thrill and appeal and adventure of the former days when you often didn’t know where you would wake up on any given morning, following any and all manner of escapades the night before.
As addicts, we craved excitement in our lives and we sought it in the practice of our addiction. Through trying to keep up with the fast life, in getting high and by involving ourselves in a lot of drama, we worked to convince ourselves that our lives were pretty interesting and adventuresome. Every day could be a holiday if we could get high.
And now that we are recovering, we acknowledge that we still crave a little adrenaline. This is not a bad thing; it is a normal human thing. What we must do is not simply accept that our lives in sobriety are consigned to the dull day-to-day grind into eternity, but that we are humans who like excitement.
The answer is not to accept boredom but to begin expanding how we think about excitement. As addicts, quite honestly, we were a little lazy. Naturally, getting high provided a thrill, but it was a cheap one.
Seeking New Adventures And Positivity In Sobriety
Seek new adventure. There is nothing wrong with being a thrill-seeker, and once you’ve cleaned up the messes of the many “thrills” you experienced as an addict, you may find yourself getting a little antsy. Adventure and thrill is a good thing — it only becomes a bad thing when we seek it in the wrong places. Start seeking it in the right places. Travel, climb mountains, try new sports, meet new people—plan your own adventure. The world is full of rushes and thrills beyond what we could ever find in a bar or a bottle. Looking for real adventures and genuine thrills? Go out and find them!
Be grateful. Much of our mood and how we feel about our lot in life are products of our attitudes and perceptions. Yes, we understand that things just aren’t as fun as in the former days. But is there anything you might be forgetting? What about the fear? The hopelessness? The depression and the drama that have so magically disappeared from your life? Gratitude that we are no longer running from the law, fighting to hold a job, losing relationships and feeling our sanity slip away can help us to reframe the way we see our current situation. Yes, we may have had fun drinking ourselves into oblivion, but can we acknowledge that it wasn’t all excitement and adventure and that there are some very real benefits that come from the sober life?
Embrace real life. We must also come to simply accept that every day can’t be a holiday. That was our addict misperception. Our expectation was that everything should be fun, exciting, comfortable and exhilarating—we weren’t interested in anything that didn’t give up that thrill. Here’s the reality: life isn’t always fun and we all have to do tedious, boring things. Pain, discomfort and getting up and going to work every day are just the simple facts of life. As addicts we couldn’t deal with that. In recovery we must start to accept it, and even embrace the simple joys and contentment that the sober life brings.
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