There are two kinds of mindfulness: the kind that helps us recognize our strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities and the kind gives power to our worst fears and insecurities. Those of us who are in recovery know the difference. While it’s perfectly natural to overthink things, given the tumult and drama that consumed our lives when we were actively abusing alcohol or other drugs, we run the risk of creating more trouble than is necessary when we take the long way around easy problems. During the initial period following our treatment, each and every one of us has a level of uncertainty. Part of the recovery process is harnessing that uncertainty and developing the confidence to take on problems of all sizes. But how do we accomplish this?
When we’re sure of where we are going and what to do when we get there, that’s really half the battle. Whether it’s a daily itinerary or a more detailed behavioral template for life, routines and structure can provide the basis for confidence, emotional strength and increased self-worth. We can lean on our loved ones and therapists to help us develop these routines and make sure we stay on track. We can use the lessons and tools we gained in treatment to help establish and apply our daily and lifestyle rituals. Getting our arms around day-to-day life without having to cope with drugs and alcohol is really half the battle.
We can’t control everything. The sooner we learn that, the better off we will be. The fact is that life will continue to present challenges whether we’re in recovery or not. Overthinking things and telling ourselves that everything is our fault will increase our stress and send us spiraling toward relapse. We aren’t supposed to let every little thing get to us, whether it’s an off-handed comment about our recovery, a fight with a loved one or anything else. We can only fix what we can fix, and we shouldn’t be trying to take on the whole world’s problems. When we step back, put ourselves first and exercise perspective, things will work out. If they don’t, we can’t blame ourselves.
Staying calm in recovery can be difficult. For many of us, it can seem like there is always some challenge around the corner, some obligation to meet or something we have to fix. But when we stop and consider that we actually have the strength and independence to meet these challenges, it can be very empowering.