Five Things that You Hate, but Need in Your Recovery… Right Now

This was not a fun article to write for me.

I had to face my own tendency to take the safe route, to allow emotional triggers to ruin my day (and sometimes my week), and avoid the boring routines that add up to improved well-being. We all do it, I know. But that’s an easy go-to that can excuse a lack of accountability and immaturity.

You may not hate all five, but there are probably several on this list that you can’t stomach. I’m okay with that, because I hate two or three of them.

1. Consistency isn’t very sexy, but temptation is…

I hate this one, but you will never see other sides of who you are, and who you can be, if you are around the same old people/situations/environments.

You know the list – the things that add up to improved well-being: exercise, time outdoors, honest friendships, being conscious of too much TV, eating well, getting enough sleep… bla, bla, bla.

Consistency. It can change you, but it can be tedious and you will want to listen to your own excuses. Consistency won’t sell books or subscriptions. It’s probably the biggest factor in maintaining change, runner up to eyes-open-honesty and awareness.

If you smoke, you understand consistency.

Quitting smoking is more difficult than quitting cocaine… but the high from cocaine is way better. That’s because if you smoke a pack a day, will take 200-300 puffs, but if you use coke you may only use once or twice a day. I’m not lecturing you, because I can be inconsistent with keeping my desk clean, following through on projects, admitting when I am over my head and asking for help. We know it, but investing energy in the small things, the small actions will create the momentum that we need.

2. Letting go feels like the end, but it’s really the beginning.

The same experience is at the same time both an end and a beginning. It depends on your perspective… but you will have to move if you want to get it.

When you are on vacation, the sunsets are beautiful. But you have 365 of them. One each day. Just stopping will cause you to notice the sunset, any day that you choose to do it.

Grieving because you cannot eat the chips, drink or use drugs, hang out with your old friends, have all of that ‘free time,’ or zone out on TV? Give yourself permission to feel bad, grieve and be down. When you want to change how you feel, trying to stop feeling ‘bad’ will just make you feel ‘badder.’ Instead, accept that you feel bad and stop fighting it. Acceptance will give you the energy to notice your other (ignored) feelings and experiences, right in front of you.

3. The bad days feel HUGE, but admit it: your life is full of (slightly) better days

Bad days can quickly become big-bad-days.

If you have a busy day that is crazy, with numerous triggers or struggles, or even relapse… that will have a huge effect on your mood and memory. That one day will overshadow your (many) other good days, healthy decisions, and the times that you resisted temptation.

Your most recent days tend to dominate your mind and emotions. You will minimize the past three or four good weeks (or months) and over-focus on the bad day (or the bad mood) you are having because it is right now.

Help your mind and it will help you. It takes work, but making a practice of intentionally recalling three or four good things each day will change what you pay attention to, and how happy you feel.

4.What is familiar feels good, but it is exactly what you don’t need

“Normal” is another word for whatever confirms your opinion or judgments. I hate this one, but you will never see other sides of who you are, and who you can be, if you are around the same old people/situations/environments.

Bad days, failure, disappointment are uncomfortable and we all like to avoid them. It is true that you have more ‘good days’ than you admit. But you learn more from the unfamiliar, the failures and the disappointments. These experiences are painful, but they will show you another side of who you are.

5. You hate to argue, but you need it (really, you do… and so do I)

Admit it, sometimes you are inconsistent, you fail, you stumble. So do I. But as soon as someone who is supposed to love us (and be “nice” to us) points out our stuff, we argue rather than admit our own inconsistency.

No one likes conflict because it is emotionally draining… but that is not the only reason we avoid conflict.

We avoid conflict because someone is challenging our beliefs or behavior. As soon as we are challenged, we react. Admit it, sometimes you are inconsistent, you fail, you stumble. So do I. But as soon as someone who is supposed to love us (and be “nice” to us) points out our stuff, we argue rather than admit our own inconsistency. We dispute, disprove and drive home all of the gaps in their logic.

We get caught in the trap of “you are wrong, I am right” trap. We refuse to admit the truth: we all blow it sometimes. All of us.

You and I need at least one person who will disagree with us, but in a respectful way. If all of your friends/books & articles you read/conversations you have agree with you, that should scare you. Your best friend is the person who cares enough to disagree with you… and you can add to the list the books or articles that contradict your beliefs, and the experiences that push you out of your comfort zone.

Growth means you allow someone to disagree without having to defend and prove you are right. Admit it. Right now, tell someone you trust how you have been wrong.  Contradiction, disagreement and acceptance are powerful (but under utilized) allies. Allowing yourself to be wrong is the right thing to do.

• • •

So there you have it. You might not ‘hate’ all five, but some will get to you. That’s probably because like me, you need it.

Honest reflection, realistically seeing our weaknesses along with how it affects our families, and ourselves is very difficult. We all tend to avoid it because it is work, boring and can bring up painful or uncomfortable stuff.

But you, and your recovery, are worth it. “Where am I on autopilot? Where do I take the safe route rather than live the life that I want?
• • •

If you enjoyed this article, I invite you to read some of my other work:

Why Expecting Yourself to Always Be Better is Ruining Your Life

Tattoos Hurt, We Avoid Pain (at Least I do), but it can Make Us Feel More Alive

This is where I am supposed to write some serious stuff about myself. But in reality, I just hope that you enjoy what I write. I hope it makes you smile, makes you feel a little lighter and enjoy your life a little more. Nope, it’s not therapy, but I am sharing the good stuff… the stuff that helps me.

If you like it, sign up for my blog and share my work. And if you want to go the extra mile, click here to vote for my page on Psych Central’s list of mental health blogs.

Photo by Karl Baron

Keep it Real

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