“Accept challenges, so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.” – Gregory S. Patton
What we know, without a doubt, is that we want to get on with our lives. The fact that we are now in recovery is something that we feel should not get in the way of our being able to do just that. Yet, how often is it that we feel otherwise, that we’re hampered not only by our past but also by our own seeming inability to get over feeling like we’re damaged.
This does take some work to overcome, but it isn’t anything that’s altogether out of the question for us. The question is, where do we begin? How do we go from dreading the day ahead to the point where we not only look forward to what the day may bring, but we eagerly accept challenges that present themselves?
Aha, isn’t that the million-dollar question?
Let’s demystify the whole situation and take it one step at a time.
First, we cannot expect to work miracles overnight. If we’ve just completed rehab and are only now entering recovery, we have to give ourselves some time to get acclimated to this new life of sobriety that we’ve chosen to live. We could, of course, reject sobriety, but that would mean going back to the life of active addiction that we’ve just managed to overcome. So, that’s neither a viable option nor one that we should even remotely consider.
For now, let’s just allow ourselves time to learn the ropes, so to speak, to get more familiar with what living in sobriety looks and feels like, what is required from us on a daily basis, how we know when we’ve made sufficient progress so that we can move on to the next challenge or issue or delve deeper into some goal or project that we’re actively pursuing.
Okay, the next question may well be, how long does all this take? The answer here is that it will vary by individual. This isn’t a cop-out. It’s a statement of fact. Each person heals in his or her own time and there is no set timetable for how long this will or even should take. Getting this off our minds should pave the way for us to start looking around us and getting active doing the basic things we need to do for our recovery.
What does this entail? When we’re new to recovery, one of the first things we’ll get involved with is setting up our daily schedules. You know, this means setting up times when we eat meals, go to work or school or take care of our other duties, when and where we go to 12-step meetings, work on the Twelve Steps, do our recovery reading and research, engage in physical exercise, take time for personal enjoyment (reading, painting, going to the movies, meeting with friends, and so on).
The big reason for setting up schedules is so that we have an idea at all times what we’re supposed to be doing next. There’s no guessing or idle time spent feeling sorry for ourselves or procrastinating because we didn’t write something down. Schedules also help keep us attuned to our to-do list – the goals we set for ourselves each day. Each goal we achieve is one more thing we can mark off our to-do list and it becomes an item in our success column.
Here’s a little secret that may help. The more successes we chalk up, the more our self-confidence increases. The more confident we feel about our abilities, the more eager we are to branch out and actively seek new challenges. From there, it’s likely we’ll move on to being excited and optimistic about accepting challenges that come our way. It may not be exactly that we’re thrilled about accepting challenges – that will come later – but we’re certainly taking steps in the right direction.
Secondly, we need to take it slow in order to maximize our learning potential. This doesn’t imply that we drag our heels and stretch out each task we work on. What it does mean is that we adopt a slow and steady pace, not trying to rush things just to get through them. There’s little learning accomplished via that route. Instead, just try to absorb what information we learn, process it, and move on to the next step.
Sure, we’re bound to become frustrated at times, bogged down by some snag or lack of information, running out of time to complete the task properly, or some other issue. Instead of panicking, try to take this in stride. The world will not end just because you didn’t finish today. There is always tomorrow to pick up on the task again, and after getting a good night’s rest, it may be a lot easier the next time.
There’s also the possibility that we may need help from someone else to resolve a problem or get past an issue before we’re able to obtain the maximum knowledge from our learning experience. Asking our sponsor for help or bringing it up during a discussion with fellow group members in the rooms of recovery may present potential solutions we may use.
The overall idea is for us to get to the point where we’re accumulating successes, accomplishing the goals we’ve set for ourselves and seeing opportunities that arrive often cloaked by challenges. When we’re feeling increased self-confidence, we’re less likely to be thrown off our momentum when we’re confronted with challenges.
It also helps to adopt a positive attitude and a forward-looking outlook. When we can inspire ourselves by looking at recovery as an ongoing process, when we have stretch goals and dreams that we want to achieve, we help ourselves advance to the point of recognizing that challenges are always going to be with us. The key to success in recovery – at least, one of the keys – is for us to accept challenges and work with and through them. It can be such a thrill to overcome the challenge, to work past it and come out on the other side smarter, victorious, and more willing to keep on going.
Victory is indeed sweet, as well as exhilarating. Marshaling our courage to take on the challenges and then mastering those shows us that we can accomplish great things with a sense of purpose and determination. It is a time-worn process that pays tremendous dividends to the self-aware and motivated individuals.