Series Three: Blog Seven
Most substance use disorders (SUDS) begin during the young years of life. Some say between ages 13 and 23. It is estimated that only 10% of those who suffer SUDS find help to stop their destructive behavior. Even in communities where addicts do find sobriety, fewer find serenity. Serenity requires centered living. Recovery encourages centered living but few in recovery practice it. Stopping the train going down the track of out-of-control addictive behavior is a major challenge. It requires a community to do so. Many seek the support from a 12-step group. Others rely upon other alternative groups, treatment centers, religious support, personal friendships, family etc. All experience varying degrees of successful recovery. Some are better than others. No resource boasts perfect results.
At the core of long-term sobriety is the life-practice of centered living. Addiction recovery is about cultivating the skills of emotionally growing up. It sounds sophomoric to declare that you are working to grow yourself up. Yet, it is true. Rather than rely upon a drug of choice, you work to choose to face conflict, emotional distress and tension with healthy skills of self-parenting and practice. It seems simple but is difficult for all, whether addict or not.
Essentially growing yourself up emotionally entails developing skillsets to bring yourself back to center. Who has not made brash comments about social concerns, acted immaturely, or engaged in conversations that you wished you had not? Knowing how to back down from rash declarations or back away from immature behavior is about maturing as an adult. It requires the simple capacity to admit that you were wrong, too brash, or out of line. This act of humility is difficult for all to embrace and practice. Yet, it is crucial to the development of healthy emotional maturity. It brings you back to your center and anchors your convictions and values. Addicts really struggle with this skillset. Shame and negative cognitions fuel bewilderment and accelerate behaviors that keep them wallowing in the mud of their failed relapse behavior. This only prolongs agony and defeat. It produces more of the same destructive actions that stimulate the addiction.
Bringing yourself back to center is a sacred skillset that must be practiced by all. It is absolutely necessary for addicts in recovery to maintain long-term recovery and to cultivate coveted serenity in life.
Accept that you are human and will backslide from your values. When you experience the light of insight, naturally you are motivated and wonder how you could live any other way. There is clarity, release of tension, and resolve to live out your newfound wisdom. The difficulty in plain living is that life is so daily. Every day brings its own challenges and before long, what seemed so clear can quickly become muddied with human interaction and emotional response. You find yourself regressing to old behaviors and away from being centered in your heart. There isn’t anyone I know in recovery or not who does not stray from their center of values. It is human. Striving for perfection only distorts your human condition. Acceptance of your humanity does not suggest surrendering to a pell mell lifestyle that leads to giving up living your values. It simply means that before you can return to center you must accept that being human means you will backslide from the convictions and values that matter to you.
Establish a strong foundation about your belief in self and your destiny. I have referred to this skillset many times during my past blogs. It cannot be overemphasized. Carving out well thought out positive beliefs is crucial to the development of skills that bring you back to center when you have strayed. I suggest that you review inspirational insights that come to you in moments of listening to your heart, or to others who share, or things you read. When you find something that inspires you, write that down and store it in your bank of positive affirmations that you resource yourself regularly. You will need to practice and train yourself to live these insights in your daily living. This is an often overlooked training that when practiced becomes magic to bringing yourself back to center.
Stalk the shame triggered by your relapse. Your relapse might be in addictive behavior. It could be actions that might lead to addiction relapse. It might be in areas other than addiction. When you deviate from your center, it triggers guilt and shame. You ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Or “I know better than to do that. Now I have really screwed up” with cascading feelings of remorse, regret, and shame. Stalking the shame is about placing the shame on the behavior, the wrong choice of action and not on your sense of self. You might say, easier said or written than done. This is true. This requires ongoing training. As you train, you will experience less wallowing in shame and more restoring yourself back to center.
Act as if. This is an old maxim often utilized to motivate people toward achievement. It is invaluable for an addict. When you have relapsed, you think you don’t deserve the benefits that come from working your program. You tend to wallow in the mud of your addictive behavior, which only accelerates more of the same unwanted behavior. You feel like a shit! So you do more destructive behavior that supports the way you feel. Bluntly, you may do shitty actions, but that does not make you a shit! It only means that you feel like one.
The key is to act in the way your inspired affirmations have trained you to behave regardless of the way you feel. This requires the discipline of practice. Regardless of how you feel, treat yourself as the unrepeatable miracle of the universe that you are. Mastering this skillset is the magic of long-term sobriety that leads to the joy of recovery serenity.
Ultimately, incorporating this skillset leads you to the reality that bringing yourself back to center is more vital than not having left center in the first place.
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