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10 simple lessons from recovery

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Recovery is available

A friend of mine recently celebrated his 10 years of recovery and wrote a post about the lessons he’d learnt in his life through his recovery, and I was so moved by his words that I thought I’d write my own version.
I hope you find it useful, but I also want your feedback. What have I missed out or where could you offer more thoughts? It’s good to collaborate.

So, here’s the 10 simple lessons about life that I’ve learned so far.

1) Recovery – No.1 Priority
To have a life beyond your wildest dreams you’re going to need to have your recovery in order first.
So make Recovery your first priority and let your life harmonise around it.
When someone is new to their recovery, it’s really important that they understand the importance of prioritizing their recovery – putting it first before other distractions.
Our observation is that those people who consistently put other activities before their recovery, then find that they’ve become too fragile to be able to maintain a healthy recovery and before too long, when faced with an opportunity to drink / use or act out, fail to have the recovery capital to overcome their urges and relapse or revert back to their previous behaviours.
These previous behaviours will feel safe because you’re very familiar with them. They’ll be perceived as comfortable, but in fact these are the pathways directly back to the primary addiction.
So always configure your life in such a way that your recovery is given the space to imprint itself into your psyche until it’s in autopilot.
By dedicating a sufficient amount of time and energy towards your healthy future right at the beginning of your recovery journey, including attending 12 step fellowship meetings, actively communicating  with your sponsor, working the 12 Step program (all of the 12 Steps, not just the first one or two), and find ways of being of service, you’ll create a strong foundation for the rest of your life.
Those who fail to make room each day for their recovery, will lose it and in time revert back to where they were before, and in most cases worse. Much worse.

2) The Secret to Living is Giving.
If addiction is Selfishness, then recovery needs to be Selflessness. Be considerate of others and understand that their feelings do matter. The world doesn’t revolve around you.
Move away from the “I want” status towards “we can”.
Remember, Recovery is very much about “We” not “me”.
There’s little fun in being alone and in Recovery (unless you truly do appreciate solitude, which, of course some people do prefer).
Make friends. Be sociable. But also, be kind, generous and considerate. Think of the welfare of others.  See what you can do to be a positive energy in the lives of others – whether you know them or whether you just meet them on the street. The way you treat strangers is just as relevant as the way you treat your best friend.  So. remember, we keep what we have by giving it away.

3) Life’s in session and we’re turning up!
Life is not happening to you.
Life is not happening for you; or even at you.
But it is happening with you, whether you like it or not, and therefore it’s suggested that you get active and play full out.
Be an active participant in your own destiny. Don’t rest on your laurels or simply wait for the magic to come around. Make it happen. Remember how frustrated you once were if you ever needed to wait for your drug or drink or opportunity to engage in your addiction? Remember waiting whilst they moved at their own pace? Use that impatience as a tool to bring about great things in your own life.
Don’t be a passive receiver in the opportunity that life is going to be throwing at you now you’re in recovery. Embrace it and enjoy it and never forget that you’re fully responsible for making it better, and for screwing it up.
Remember that you’re always only one decision away from a totally different life, if you want that.
What we’ve noticed though is that almost everyone in healthy 12 step recovery simply loves the life it’s given them and therefore these decisions we make inevitably lead us to even happier and healthy places.

4) Feel the fear and do it anyways.
The emotions that you feel at any given moment are projections from your mind and from your body.
For example, if someone is shouting at you then your mind may give you feelings of fear and anxiety. Or if you cut yourself on some glass, your body will give you the sensations of pain.
So, learn to listen to your feelings and appreciate them. When we were in our addictions, we were constantly escaping our emotions – doing whatever we could to run away from feeling negative. But it’s OK to have negative emotions from time to time. It’s part of the experience of life. Go with it and don’t be concerned or feel the need to change them. Listen to them and begin to better understand just what they may mean.

5) Wax on / Wax off.
Life is going to through you some curve balls. Even though you’re in recovery, working the steps, helping others, sponsoring people, being of service, communicating with your Higher Power / Higher Purpose,  doesn’t excuse you from the fact that time and space continue to evolve through their tapestry of affairs, most of which will have no impact on you or your life at all. But a tiny small minority will do. No one is immune from the challenges that life throws us all at some point or another during our lives.
But when your life gets tough, it does then require your full attention, and never your absence.
See it, Show up and Sort it out.
Don’t hide away or you may begin to expose those older character defects of self-loathing, judgement, hatred, resentment and ultimately fear!
Don’t run away and expect or simply hope that someone else will sort them out. Take positive affirmative action yourself and be the stand-up person you were born capable of being.
Step up!
So, show up and do what needs to be done.
Then turn the results over to God or your Higher Purpose.
Find the freedom of doing your best even when you believe or fear that you may fail.

6) Do they owe us a living?
You are owed nothing. Get over it. In fact, not only are you owed nothing, but you actually owe a debt to society to be a better person and to make your amends. Remember, making amends isn’t simply about being sorry. It’s about learning from your past errors and not repeating them again through positively changed behaviour.
It is also about being willing to accept the justice for your past harms to people, places and things.
So, you’re going to need to earn peoples’ trust and respect through your current actions and not just your words.
From this point, the living you may feel entitled to may come into your life. Though, it may not do. Remember to keep your expectations in check. One of the biggest reasons we get upset in life is when the reality of a situation doesn’t match our expectations. This almost always happens because other people are involved, and they bring their own energy and agenda to a situation. So, try to let go of or at least lower your expectations and allow yourself to be consistently pleasantly surprised, rather than angry that it hasn’t met your high forecasted standards.

7) Tradition 7.  There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
The result of our recovery is that we get a chance to reset our lives and to restart our journey. Many recovering addicts return to some form of education or schooling, Others begin a new trade or return to their previous ones. But the lesson here is that we will need to evolve into a new phase of our lives and that begins by becoming fully self-supporting of ourselves and our families, and no longer waiting for a hand out or from someone else to bail us out of our problems (financially and in life generally).
Life comes with the understanding that we must play our own part and pay our own way.  There are exceptions, but to come from a place initially of believing that you are the exception, is to set yourself up for possible misery and failure.
So be a stand-up person and become accountable to yourself, your family and your friends.
Be generous in your time and spirit and feel the benefits of being able to take care of yourself and others.
There will inevitably be challenges and unrest, even pain sometimes, but overall, you’ll be setting yourself up for a fabulous journey through a life of your own making.

8) There’s no failure. Just feedback.
A mistake in life should be your teacher and not your aggressor.
A mistake is a lesson and not a loss.
It is a temporary detour from your path and not a dead end.
Keep the faith and maintain the hope.
Two very common thoughts and emotions that come up for people as they begin their journey into recovery are feelings of inadequacy (not feeling good enough) and feeling like a fraud (that you don’t belong or shouldn’t deserve this).
The reality is that pretty much everyone on the planet has these thoughts and feelings. No one has this thing called life completely figured out and sorted. But people do learn to contain and compartmentalise these experiences, and to not give themselves a hard time when it happens.
What is true though is that these overwhelming and sometimes overpowering emotions do subside and become far less extreme. We do recover and you will learn to master your emotions over time.
We’re all on a journey of personal and global discovery.
Nobody has it all figured out yet. No one is completely sure of themselves. Everyone has doubt. Some people have simply been on the journey slightly longer and therefore many of their personal emotional struggles will have been conquered over time.
The trick is to continue having experiences and learning from them.
So, take the challenges and turn them into learning curves.

9) Practice not being right.
Being right comes naturally to some people, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that being right is always right. Sometimes is actually more important for you to not be right at all and to let someone else be right, even if they’re wrong!
What’s the worst that could happen should someone else be right for a change? Just look at the smile on their face because they’ve got it right and consider whether that alone makes it worth it.
You’d like a child be right, so why not let an adult too.
So be a good loser and let others be right more often, even if they’re not right.
This is especially useful in relationships. Let your partner be right more often and permit yourself to let go of having the best answer or insisting on your result. It’s incredibly healing when you’re not so attached to being right, quite so much, and the process is extraordinarily loving.
And sometimes, allowing others to be right, even when they’re wrong can lead you down some beautiful paths you’d never have been exposed to otherwise. Your precautions could be blocking you from the possibilities.
So, take a risk and let others be right, even if they’re wrong.
Disclaimer, sometimes people are just stupid. Choose your episodes of not being right with a little caution. Don’t give this permission for you to behave too recklessly or let it harm other people.
Pick your battles.

10) Rule 62.
Try not to take yourself, your career, your ambitions or your life quite so seriously.
Everything feels better when it’s operating from a smile rather than a place of force or determination. Energy flows where focus goes, but enjoy the journey and don’t get lost trying to reach a destination. It just feels better this way. And ultimately, things rarely go to our design, so learn to enjoy the flow.
It’s our own expectations that seem to let us down so often.
I think Eric Idle and the Monty Pythons summarised it in their song “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life”.

So, which of these resonates the loudest for you?
And are there anymore that you’d like to add to this list?
Please connect with ian@PhuketARC.com and help me build an even more comprehensive list of lessons about life, learnt through 12 Step addiction recovery.  After all, none of us ever stop learning, so long as we remain honest, open minded & willing.

The PARC is a 12 Step (non-Religious) residential treatment centre for people struggling with addictions.


We use the 12 Step Program of Recovery because it has already been proven to work.

Our minimum stay is 28 days, though most of our Residents extend for 2 months. Some people commit to our full 12 week program, which we believe is the optimal amount of time to spend in rehab, if you have the luxury of spending that much time and money on yourself. 



We’ve kept the costs down to a minimum, without compromising on our great standards of care and comfort, in our efforts to serve as many families as possible. We hope that we’re able to work with you and your budget. Please speak to us to discuss your situation and we’ll do our best to accommodate your specific requirements.

 
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