Habits can be helpful or hurtful. Many of my daily habits help to promote recovery on autopilot. Everything from making my bed in the morning and feeding my dog and reading my daily devotions with my first cup of coffee. I used to think these were the signs of a boring life, but today I realize that my former highly impulsive behavior was just trying to protect it’s place in my life. My life can be highly fulfilling and exciting without the chaos of impulsive behavior.
No Boundaries (The Life of Active Addiction)
In active addiction, we often do whatever comes to our mind. If I wanted to have a glass of wine in the morning, why should I stop myself? Today’s American culture is primed for addiction. Just one look at Facebook and there are hundreds of memes and quotes about “day drinking” and “dealing with the woes of parenthood with a few glasses of wine .” It all seems lighthearted until we look beyond the surface to discover that 18-35 year old women are not only out-drinking previous generations of women, but they are passing men in alcohol consumption as well. And then there’s the 18 million women 26 or over who take prescription medications such as sedatives, muscle relaxants and opioid pain killers for unintended purposes.
In a world that doesn’t seem too worried about practicing boundaries, I have found a few simple, self awareness exercises that help me to promote recovery in my daily life.
To be self aware is to be conscious and intentional in your decisions.
This is key in addiction recovery:
Promote Recovery by Asking Yourself Three Questions
Before acting, stop and ask yourself three questions. Actually, it’s the same question, just three times. Ask yourself “Why?” Follow up your answer with another “Why?” And then one last time. If you have three good reasons to do something, you’ll have the clarity to be intentional and confident in your actions. That’s part of self awareness and a good foundation for addiction recovery.
Promote Recovery by Practicing Saying No
Instead of running on autopilot, practice mindful awareness of what you’re thinking and how you’re reacting. Practice saying “No” to the things that aren’t helpful or good for you. A good place to start is in your speech. Say no to entering into gossip. Say no to telling a lie. You’ll be surprised at how difficult it is to create these boundaries for yourself, but you’ll also be amazed at how empowered and free it will make you feel.
Addiction recovery is more than living drug or alcohol free. It is about choosing to lay aside all of the things that prevent us from becoming the best version of ourselves.
Promote Recovery by Asking For Constructive Feedback
We all have blind spots in the way we think and the behaviors we display. Asking a trusted accountability partner for regular feedback cuts through the veil of self deception we may be holding onto. Of course, only ask people who are living lives you want to model, people who you respect. Even then, be sure you make it clear that you are looking for the honest truth, not what you want to hear. Sometimes our friends don’t want to risk offending us, so they keep their insights to themselves.
Promote Recovery by Taking Ownership
One of the best habits I developed during my time in drug rehab was taking ownership of my own mistakes, flaws, and messes. I always had a side reason why I did the things I did before. It was because of the way I was raised, or because I had been abused, or because of a bad marriage…and on and on.
Being aware of our flaws, but failing to accept accountability, is leaving the job half-done. I realized that I was often critical of others, while dismissing my own shortcomings. Self-awareness helps us look at ourselves which prevents hypocritical behavior.
Practice saying, “Yes, I did that” and following that sentence with something you will change in your life to help prevent making the mistake again. Once you’ve said that, be quiet! I was famous for saying, “I’m sorry. I know I messed up. I will change XYZ so that it won’t happen again, but you know, it’s part of growing up the way I did.” I had to look at myself and say, “Just stop it already!” Now that I’m diligent to not make excuses for myself, I see a big difference in the things I can accomplish.
Living a life of recovery has so many components. They all fit together like puzzle pieces, helping us to become all that we were created to be. Sometimes we deceive ourselves by thinking we only need detox or to stop using for a few weeks, and then everything will get better. In reality, a person who does not have drugs or alcohol in their system is not a changed or regenerated individual. We need to learn new ways of thinking, new responses, and a whole new way of life, or we will be at high risk to return to our old ways. For me, two months in drug rehab provided just the right timeframe to receive the therapy I desperately needed and acquire the tools necessary to walk out my recovery.
If you need help breaking free from addiction, or if you feel like your life is still a day to day struggle not to pick up, we are here for you.
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