Perhaps understanding how addiction hijacks your mind has given you clarity on why willpower will never be enough to get you sober for good. But perhaps it also made you feel a bit hopeless.
I invite you to feel hopeful. Why? Because now you know what the problem is, and this problem has a solution. Also, now you know there is nothing “wrong with you”. Your willpower is not broken. You are not a failure.
I’ve written on the importance of having a program of recovery — it’s vital to re-programming your mind. Whether it’s the 12 steps, or SMART Recovery, any other of the programs out there, I encourage you to pick a program and make it the framework of your immediate journey.
In addition to having a program of recovery remember it’s important to gather a toolkit of recovery, as well as a community to support you. Do not forget you are the only one with the power to create your journey of recovery.
If you want more detail about each of these things, don’t forget to check out my Coaching Courses, for a deep dive.
When we begin our journey of recovery, we think it’s all about staying sober; about the “not drinking” or “not using”.
If that’s your focus - and you visualize sobriety as a journey of taking something away, you may be feeling overwhelmed. That’s how I thought of things at first: Imagining a life without EVER drinking again felt like a punishment. How was I ever going to be a part of social life? Enjoy a party? Have fun conversations? Attend work events? Family events? Feel human?
Words like “addiction”, “recovery”, “sobriety”, “program”, “for good and all” (aka forever) were te-rri-fy-ing. The panic they caused was almost unbearable.
If this is how you feel, listen up.
Sobriety is not about “not drinking” - it’s about creating space. Yes, you take out the alcohol or drugs or toxic habits out of your life. Yes, it’s definitely a process of abstinence. But it’s so much more.
In this space you create, you get to develop new ideas. You get to heal old wounds. You get to re-connect with yourself. You get to mend relationships. You get to “upgrade” as many parts of your life as you want to: on a physical, mental and spiritual level.
Sobriety opens the door to a place where you can create, discover and re-invent who you are. Where you get to access things like serenity and peace and trust (with yourself and the world). Where you wake up with a sense of hope and purpose. Sobriety gives you access to that world. That space, which is called Recovery.
So when you get overwhelmed and bummed out, take a breath. The most powerful thing you can remember is this: You have a choice on how you view this process.
You can choose a mindset of focusing on what you can’t do, where all you feel is punished, terrified, cursed, faulty, victim-y, angry, hopeless and the future has no oxygen
You can choose a mindset of abundance, where your focus is on the space you’re creating, and the possibilities ahead.
Sobriety is not a curse, it’s a blessing. And yes, my life is amazing today - not in spite of my alcohol addiction - but because of it.
I love you. Keep your head up. One foot in front of the other. Forehead high, tits up.