Successful Addiction Recovery Begins Before You Feel Ready

3 Reasons why you are ready for the next stage of your recovery… even if you don’t feel like it!

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Do you remember the day when you passed your drives exam received your license? How did you feel? Excited and probably a little nervous. Finally you can drive on your own. You (finally) have it: freedom!

But then it rains. Or it freezes. Or it snows. Now, how ready do you feel?

The lesson you learn is that it’s good to be prepared: ask questions, learn from an experienced driver, drive with someone else in a variety of road conditions, study and be prepared, be cautious at first. One of the most important lessons that you learn is that if you wait until you feel ready for every situation, you will never drive the car.

Sometimes, waiting until you feel ready will keep you back.

No matter where you begin, you will never feel completely ready. And if you do feel completely ready, you are probably headed for a relapse because overconfidence is the enemy of successful change.

Think about a few other examples: You graduate from University, ready to face the world, but inside you are terrified because there are so many things you don’t know. You begin a new job and there is so much that you don’t know and you wonder if you ever will figure out how to do it all. You are a parent, of a teenager.

These are just a few examples how in many areas of your life, you begin before you feel ready.

A principle of recovery is that no matter where you begin, you will never feel completely ready. And if you do feel completely ready, you are probably headed for a relapse because overconfidence is the enemy of successful change.

• • •

3 Reasons why are ready for the next stage of your recovery, even if you don’t feel like it!

1.You are planning too much.

Some planning and research is good. But too much planning can set you up to feel that your next step is HUGE (too HUGE to begin…). Most change consists of a thousand small decisions strung together. How do you know if you are planning too much? You are thinking, “All I need is (fill in the blank) before I begin.” And then (fill in the blank) happens, but then you find yourself adding one more blank. And another. And another.

Just get started: Begin small, take baby steps, do the easy thing first, or do the hardest thing first… doesn’t matter, just start today.

Good writing does not begin with excellence or eloquence. Most writing is done poorly. Just get it onto the paper, even if you hate what comes out.

“… Shitty first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts… The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page.” Ann Lamot

Your mind will tell you that if you begin badly, before you are completely ready, you won’t make it. That’s just one way that you mind tries to hold you back, keep you in the safe zone… the non-living-zone, the-waiting-to-experienced-life-zone. It is possible that you will not achieve everything you want the first time, but that is exactly how you will learn. Begin and begin again. But don’t stop.

“If you want to summarize the habits of successful people into one phrase, it’s this: successful people start before they feel ready.” James Clear

2.You are probably delaying your start, or your next stage of growth, because there is so much riding on it.

Recovery is important and there is a lot riding on being successful. You want to change, to improve. You want to move forward, reclaim your life, improve your health, and your relationships.

You want to get it right.

But the desire to ‘get it right’ has a flip side: Your desire to do it right will set you up. The more you believe that you need to get it right, you will fall to the temptation to wait and procrastinate.

Some moments, you will know that you are finished with substance use for good. Other moments, you won’t be so sure. This is normal, and it is a sign that you are right where you need to be: you are changing.

Recovery will probably NEVER feel ‘right’ enough. Many times, going to work/parenting/being a couple/saving for the future/pushing yourself to sweat, stretch, and exercise hard/or getting an education doesn’t feel ‘right.’ Most things won’t feel ‘right’ all of the time.

Some moments, you will know that you are finished with substance use for good. Other moments, you won’t be so sure. This is normal, and it is a sign that you are right where you need to be: you are changing. You will feel right sometimes and other times you will feel confusion because of a mix of anxiety, cravings and a desire to take the easier way.

Feeling ‘right’ is elusive and it is unpredictable. It will come and go.

“If you’re working on something important, then you’ll never feel ready. A side effect of doing challenging work is that you’re pulled by excitement and pushed by confusion at the same time.” James Clear

You may not know how to manage cravings or how to respond to triggers. You can find an article about a tool that can help you to respond to cravings, triggers and emotions or memories that pull at you to return to your substance use or addiction to food/gambling/porn, etc.

3.You already know enough and you have what you need.

Life won’t send you a survival kit with everything that you may need (“just in case”). You have to be a little uncomfortable first, and then you will find the motivation, the help that you want, or the next step in your healing. If you need something along the way, you will find it or learn it. Life has a way of sending what you need when you need it – but here’s the kicker: Life will only send what you need when you are in motion.

One of the greatest lessons is that investing effort creates energy, effort creates motivation. If you wait until it ‘feels’ right, until you know enough, until you have enough, you won’t do it.

“What you have right now is enough. You can plan, delay, and revise all you want, but trust me, what you have now is enough to start. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to start a business, lose weight, write a book, or achieve any number of goals… who you are, what you have, and what you know right now is good enough to get going.” James Clear

Your anxiety, your fear will protest. You will want to stop. But just because you are anxious, or feel that you don’t  have together, that does not mean that you are not ready.

You have to be a little uncomfortable first, and then you will find the motivation, the help that you want, or the next step in your healing. Life has a way of sending what you need when you need it – but here’s the kicker: Life will only send what you need when you are in motion.

Waiting until you feel ready is a way that your mind will try to prevent you from stepping out. You may be planning too much, wanting to get it ‘right,’ or waiting until you know/have more. In the immortal words of GK Chesterton, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”

Recovery is more important than anything else in your life. Even driving a car does not compare to the importance of being healthy, available, open and present to yourself, your relationships and your life. If beginning to drive does not depend on being ‘ready,’ why are you waiting?

I hope that you will begin today. Go ahead, begin badly, but begin.

• • •

Celebrate Your Baggage, it’s What Makes You Thrive!

When Your Mind is a War-Zone, You Become the Casualty

When You Step Out of Your Comfort Zone, You Will Feel Anxious. But Do it Anyway.

I write articles that talk about the kind of changes I am trying to make in my own life. I hope that my writing also helps you. My topics include addiction and mental health recovery, relationships, and personal growth. I work as an Addiction Therapist, an Editor for the Good Men Project and freelance writer, and Adjunct Professor at City University, Edmonton. But what is most important is that I have a family and I am in recovery from depression and anxiety. My mental health experiences are part of my personal University degree, but they do not define me.

I hope to inspire you, to inform you and on occasion to entertain you. But most of all, I want to connect with you. Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing. If you like what I have to say, please share my work with your friends.

Lastly, if you like my writing, you can click here to vote for my page on Psych Central’s list of mental health blogs.

Keep it Real

Photo by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann


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