So, you’ve had the “pink cloud” feelings where you are so excited to be in recovery and everything seems perfect no matter what happens just because you are sober, only to have those feelings pass like, well, a cloud as soon as something stressful happens. It may feel like your days are ruled by your emotions, and in early recovery, as your body and brain are in the throes of detox, this may very well be true.
Finding Happiness in Recovery
The good news is that, as you accrue time in recovery, your emotions will begin to even out on their own. In the meantime, there are things you can actively do to speed that process along and get to where you can enjoy your life no matter what comes your way.
If you are struggling with maintaining a positive view in life, here are five things that you need to get rid of right now:
In recovery, it is very common to feel guilty for the choices you made during active addiction and the consequences that those choices had on the people who love you most. You may be unable to forgive yourself for things you said and did, seeing how what happened then continues to affect people today and your relationship with them.
The thing is that though guilt is common, it is not helping you to stay sober or to be happy. Though it is not necessary (or often possible) to simply forget about it and move on, guilt should be in heavy focus in your personal therapy sessions as you process what happened with a professional and strategize on how to address it and move forward.
It is also exceptionally common for people in early recovery to blame their current situations in life on people in their past or people who are around them now. It may very well be true that you suffered trauma and abuse at the hands of family member or ex-partner and that contributed to your use of substances, which in turn helped to create your situation today. It may also be true that someone you care about introduced you to your drug of choice or that someone may be unhappy with you (or with themselves), treating you poorly, and making it harder for you to stay sober. It is also true that continuing to blame the people who have harmed you in the past or contributed to your self-harm will do nothing to improve your experience in sobriety.
That is, being right is not the same as being happy. No matter what has transpired in the past, it is important to seize this day and alter your situation in whatever way necessary to protect yourself and improve your life going forward.
Competition can be healthy in some contexts, but when you are obsessed with comparing your situation to those of others and feeling jealous or superior as a result, then you are harming your ability to be calm, peaceful, and present. There is nothing to be gained by being in competition with anyone when it comes to things like how long you have in sobriety, your commitment to recovery, your relationship status, your physical appearance, your progress at work, or any characteristic that is highly regarded in your circle. Rather, your focus only has to be on doing what you need to do in this moment to be well, sane, and sober; seek out how you can help others rather than sitting back and judging them in order to accomplish this goal.
We all have things we want to be doing differently in our lives – better, faster, stronger – and in many cases, we make excuses as to why they don’t get done. We may say that though it would be nice to save money, we just don’t know how to create a budget, much less how to stick to one. We may admit that it would be a good idea to lose or gain a few pounds and maintain a healthy weight, but it’s just too much work or too expensive to eat healthfully.
The fact is that not doing the things we really want to do only contributes to feeling bad about ourselves, and in recovery, this lack of self-confidence can be a huge trigger for relapse. By getting rid of the excuses and instead homing in on a plan to accomplish the things you want the most, you’ll feel better about yourself and your life in general.
Do you regret having said something hurtful to someone you care about? Do you regret choices that you made in active addiction, things you missed out on because you were focused on drinking or getting high, or things you have done – or not done – since you got sober? Now is the time to begin to address that regret.
To get rid of regret, make a list of all the things that are nagging at you and begin to address them one by one. Apologize when appropriate, make amends in other cases, and process through regrets over past choices with a therapist like you did with things that caused you to feel guilt. If something is bothering you because you haven’t yet done it, make a plan to get out there and do it.
What do you need to get rid of in order to be happier in your recovery?