Lately I’ve been working with this concept – A life of addiction or A life of recovery. It rings true for most of my clients, but not at first.
Addiction seems to “just happen” and recovery seems to be hard and something we have to work at. Addiction seems “natural” and “easy.” I’ve heard things like, “It’s just the way I am.” and “I don’t know any other way to be.”
Here’s the reality that most addicts understand only after a significant period of sobriety – Recovery is no harder than addiction and it has far fewer negative consequences. It is different, and it does take practice – just like addiction took practice to grow into full-blown addiction.
One exercise I like to ask my clients to do is this:
1) Think about your addictive behaviors – the things you do when you’re acting out. These need to become “off limits.”
2) Now think about the things that lead to your “off limits” behaviors – going online to Craig’s List, the thinking patterns of “s/he’s flirting with me,” alone time at home so I can watch/surf porn, etc. These need to become “off limits” behaviors, too. Even the things you tell yourself aren’t dangerous – going online, smiling at a pretty stranger, saying “no” to going to the grocery store with my spouse – these are the same behaviors I just listed!
3) Consider the things you do that are helpful, healthy, engaging and rewarding – playing with your kids, date night, reading, hobbies, working out, etc. These are activities that keep you from engaging in your addiction. These are ways to live a life of recovery.
3.1) Make a list of all the healthy activities you do, you’ve done in the past, that you’d like to do, that friends do. Make the list as big as possible. Then pick 1 or 2 of those activities to incorporate into your life every day. It may not be the same activity every day (Thursday is date night, Tuesday is kid-time, Saturday is working out, etc.) but a life of recovery means you’re intentionally doing healthy activities – planning for them and executing them.
Addiction is a way of life. It takes time. It takes planning. It takes energy. It takes a willingness to engage in these behaviors.
Recovery is a way of life. It takes time. It takes planning. It takes energy. It takes a willingness to engage in these behaviors.
Which are you choosing?