Feeling alone and discouraged? Are your recovery efforts not going as well as you’d like? Do you feel as if you could really use some kind and supportive words for encouragement and motivation? If so, you’re not alone. Every person in recovery could use a few encouraging words from time to time – some, more so than others, and some, more often than others.
What are we talking about here, anyway? Is it a Web site or a book, a place of worship, a nature sanctuary, a confidant or close friend, someone you trust at work, your loved ones or family members, your 12-step sponsor or fellow group members, someplace inside of you?
The answer is all of these. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
While your 12-step sponsor may not be first on your list of sources for encouraging words, maybe he or she should be. Why is that? Consider that whatever disappointments or setbacks you may have recently experienced, it is highly likely that your sponsor has had some experience in these or similar areas. A person doesn’t become a sponsor without having gone through a good number of ups and downs already and, usually with the help of his or her own sponsor, has been able to find an effective solution to whatever was concerning at the time.
Sponsors come in all kinds of personalities, it’s true. Perhaps you don’t yet feel all that comfortable approaching your sponsor and pouring out your tale of woe, your everyday concerns and issues, the difficulties you face at work or home, problems with finances, your health, other relationships, even your general mood. It takes time to establish the bond that must be there in order for you to feel the freedom and security to talk about such things with your sponsor. But the truth is that your sponsor is always there for you. While your sponsor may not have all the answers – no one does – he or she will offer you nonstop encouragement and support in your efforts to find the right solutions for your situation.
Should you develop a strong rapport with your sponsor, you’ll likely find that he or she is your go-to source for encouraging words – and not just in a time of sorrow or disappointment. Your sponsor can applaud your successes and achievements, offer advice and suggestions on how to take things up a notch, to strive for goals that you’ve not thought you could ever achieve, and to branch out and broaden your horizons as you get stronger in recovery.
Fellow Self-Help Group Members
By the same token, since you probably spend some time each week going to 12-step meetings, there is ample opportunity to strike up a friendship or an acquaintance with others in the rooms of recovery. Any one of them can offer a welcome handshake, some words of calm and comfort, suggestions and camaraderie, all of which can come in handy when you’re in need of kind words.
Remember that there are many 12-step group meetings you can attend. You are not limited to just your home group, if you’ve already selected one location as your preferred group. Mix it up a little. Go to different meetings. Get to meet new people and share their perspectives.
What’s likely to happen is that you’ll hear something useful and helpful in the rooms of recovery. It could be that someone shares a story about overcoming a particularly thorny problem or learned how best to deal with a recurring issue that you, too, have experienced. Some of their strategies just might work for you.
Group discussions on particular topics, as well as step work, is also where you may find your fellow group members have some encouraging things to say. At this point in recovery, look to take advantage of all the support you can get. And your 12-step group members are always one of the best places to hear some encouraging words in recovery.
Loved Ones and Family Members
Of course, the closest to home is where you’d ideally like to hear the most encouragement. Your loved ones and family members, you’d like to think, are always going to be in your corner, ready with support no matter how tough current situation is.
This doesn’t always happen, at least, not right away. Keep in mind that addiction affects the entire family, not just the person in recovery. If your home environment is still tense and not conducive to the healing process, you need to give it time. Be prepared to hear some harsh words before the encouragement comes into play. But do keep up hope, since your loved ones ultimately will want the best for you and the rest of the family. It may be a little rough-going for a while, but over time, things should smooth out.
In the best scenario, you can always talk over what’s bothering you with your spouse, your parents, your adult children, other family members. They will offer you their support and will cheer your efforts to achieve the goals you set for yourself in recovery. Naturally, when you are healing, they will also be on the path to healing. The entire family benefits when this happens.
Just remember that encouragement and support is a give-and-take effort. You want your loved ones to be supportive and encouraging to you, but you also need to take their feelings, wants and needs into account. When you first enter recovery, you’re probably too preoccupied with all the things you have to do to maintain your sobriety to be able to pay much attention to your loved ones. If they’ve gone through family therapy or counseling, they will know to expect this healing process will take time.
In the end, though, your loved ones and family form one of the two most critical parts of your recovery network, the other being your 12-step sponsor and group.
The last people expected to offer encouragement might be co-workers. But, think about it. Who stands to gain when you return to work newly clean and sober and ready to pick up where you left off? Besides your own need to earn a living, there’s also the good feeling you get by being part of the workforce again. Your colleagues want you to succeed in your sobriety efforts and will more than likely be ready and willing to say something kind and supportive to you.
Of course, there are also the other kinds of co-workers, those that are jealous and say mean-spirited things – not just to or about you, but to people in general. It’s best to steer clear of such individuals and, if this isn’t possible, develop a thick skin so that their unkind words don’t hurt you.
Something about co-workers and sharing too much information about what you’ve been doing while you were away at treatment needs to be said here. Don’t pour out a litany of all that you’ve been involved in. It’s sufficient to thank them for their concern and welcome their support and say that you’re glad to be back and you’re working hard on your sobriety.
Remember, as long as you tend to your responsibilities at work and aren’t seen as shirking or getting away with anything, your co-workers will soon stop being so curious about your whereabouts and everyone can get along normally.
Everyone needs friends in their lives, even more so following rehab. While it is often difficult to explain to friends what’s been going on with you in terms that they can understand and without being too informative, they are probably wondering if you’re OK and what, if anything, they can do to help you.
For really close friends, perhaps going into a bit more depth is fine. But keep the old adage “less is more” in mind. No one, not even your closest friends, needs to know everything.
When you need someone to hang out with that you know will respect your new and hard-earned sobriety, definitely take some time to be with your friends. There’s nothing better than a good friend to make your mood a little lighter and life a little easier to manage.
With all that nature has to offer, why not take advantage of the special kind of encouragement that comes wordlessly from being part of the great outdoors? Take a long walk in the woods and listen to the quiet, to the gentle rustling of wind through the trees. Watch how the flowers strain toward the sun, drinking it up and becoming stronger and more beautiful. Take in the scents and fragrances that nature provides.
All of this will help solidify the knowledge that life is an incredible gift. We are all a part of the world, even though we sometimes feel all alone in it. Take solace in nature and listen to how it makes you feel: at peace, comforted, able to continue.
Houses of Worship
Many in recovery, especially early recovery, find that the words they hear from their minister or priest or rabbi are exactly what they need to soothe their troubled mind, to help erase the pain, to provide forgiveness, and to offer hope where hope is desperately needed.
It isn’t even necessary to belong to any particular religion to be inspired and comforted by religion or religious teachings or writings. Drop into a church or other house of worship and be part of the assembled congregation, even if for just a while. There is an incredible and palpable sense of peace and serenity here that will provide a balm for your soul when you may need it most.
If you have a particular member of the clergy that you feel you can talk with, by all means have a conversation and ask for prayers and guidance in your recovery journey.
Whatever your focus in recovery, there are numerous books devoted to the subject. All that’s necessary is to search for them. A good way to spend some constructive time is to visit a bookstore and browse the self-help section. Not only will you find several titles that might be informative and helpful, it is also a proactive move that you take to help further your recovery.
Ask for recommendations for books on recovery from your 12-step sponsor or fellow group members. Someone may mention a helpful book during a meeting or when everyone is gathered around the coffee pot and settling in for the meeting itself. There could be notices on a bulletin board or on the recovery books and resources section of the 12-step group online.
Consider that this is necessary and relatively painless recovery-oriented action that you take. The more you learn, the more you grow. The more you grow, the stronger your recovery foundation becomes. The good news is that there are thousands of books on every aspect of recovery, so you’ll always have something you can put your hands on and read.
Words of Encouragement Online
The Internet is an excellent source for words of encouragement. Maybe you’ve had a tough day at work and need a little change of pace. Do a quick search on Google or Bing or some other search engine for “inspirational quotes on alcohol addiction,” “recovery quotes of the day,” “quotes on hope,” or something similar.
There are sites where you can sign up to receive daily inspirational quotes on recovery through email. Some treatment center websites offer daily quotes that are sent via text.
Some sites allow you to sign up for inspirational quotes. It is also interesting to note how many people have made profound observations on hope, forgiveness, starting over, coming back from failure, taking risks, learning how to love yourself again, and more. Aren’t these some of the very areas most newcomers to recovery find so troubling?
The point is that the Internet makes it possible to gain much insight and a few encouraging words whenever and wherever they’re needed. Just go online and search them out.
Sometimes the most encouraging words you’ll hear are those that you tell yourself. That’s right. Self-talk is what motivates us to get going on a tough and challenging project, to face a thorny issue, to get up the courage to tackle something that has thus far been met with setbacks.
Granted, it is necessary to have the information and knowledge available to proceed with action that you tell yourself you’re capable of doing. Just talking yourself into something without having the necessary skills or resources is like diving into a pool without checking first to see if there’s water in it – it could lead to disaster.
Know that each day in recovery you become stronger and wiser. Each small success helps you strengthen your foundation in recovery. Every new person you meet that shares your values and respects you for whom you are also helps you firm up your self-confidence and boost your self-esteem. It is all part of the ongoing recovery process.
There is no shortage of opportunities to find some encouraging words in recovery. All that’s really necessary is to be on the lookout for them, to search them out and really let them sink in.
Talk with your 12-step sponsor and fellow group members. Share your hopes and dreams and fears and accomplishments with your loved ones and family members. Be grateful and accept the friendship and support from co-workers and close friends. Feel and absorb the bounty of nature and how good that it makes you feel. Also, check out recovery books, search out words of recovery online and listen to your own internal words of encouragement and support.
Remember that recovery is something you live each day. Make it the best day possible by finding one positive and uplifting thought that means something to you and that spurs you to taking proactive action for your recovery.