PERSONAL GROWTH AND SELF-LOVE
1. What's Old Is New:“You can revisit and recreate the excitement of the newcomer experience, no matter how long you have been sober,” says Johanna O'Flaherty, Ph.D, CADAC II, CEAP, vice president of treatment services at the Betty Ford Center. “Increase meetings; go to meetings where nobody knows you. You will feel like a newcomer.”
2. One Thing At A Time: Programs of recovery urge a day-at-a-time – or even moment-to-moment, approach. Successful people learn that this applies to all areas of life, not just picking up a drink or drug. “Pacing and expectations of myself have been a problem for me,” says Paul Tallo, an alcoholic with four years of recovery. “I wanted to do and be everything for everyone. In recovery, I am learning that I can’t solve it all today.”
3. Remember Not To ‘Should’ On Yourself:Quieting negative thoughts seems to be a universal challenge for people with the 'isms.' “I remember a time when I'd been in recovery for a while and I lost my keys,” says Brian R., a recovered alcoholic of about 20 years. “I was really beating up on myself: 'That was so stupid. What an idiot!’ A friend said, 'Brian, is that what you would say to me if I lost my keys?'” It was an 'aha' moment.
4. Beware The Inner Naysayer:“I've learned to talk back to the critic,” says Paul Tallo, an alcoholic with four years of recovery. “I tell it, 'So what?' Then I can move on instead of being stuck and isolated with my own negative and distorted perceptions.”
5. Check Your Expectations:“Rather than aiming for happiness, aim for health. And rather than aiming for peace, aim for freedom,” says Daryl Spidaliere, a psychologist who practices from the traditional psychotherapy model put forth by Sigmund Freud. You will find, he assures, those loftier ideals for which you were aiming will follow.
6. Where's Your Playground? Are the people you're hanging with and the places you're spending leisure time supporting your recovery, or moving you away from it? While life must strike a balance, recovery has to be at the top of the list for those who want to stay clean and sober.
7. Make New Social Connections: “Call friends, go to support groups, join clubs, and participate in community events,” say experts from the Renfrew Center. “The bottom line is when we are outside of ourselves, involved in healthy relationships with people, our community, and our recovery-related activities, we are more likely to stay abstinent.”
8. Receive By Giving: “Help another,” says Johanna O'Flaherty, Ph.D, CADAC II, CEAP, vice president of treatment services at the Betty Ford Center. “Perhaps one of the best ways to supercharge your recovery is to work with a newcomer.”
9. But beware codependence! Most alcoholics can benefit from including Al-Anon in their programs—and not just those who grew up with alcoholic parents. Why? “Alcoholics and addicts are also codependent,” O'Flaherty says.
10. Travel In Twos, Or Threes, Or More: “We have to see other people walking into the sunlight and try and follow them,” says Judi Hollis, a public speaker and author of several books, as well as a recovering food addict and alcoholic. “We need to work on the personality changes necessary to become a person who doesn't want to slap herself; how to give up dishonesty and control and join our fellow man.”
11. Stay Close To Your Program: It's easy to get far away from meetings when you get some time. And it's a bad idea. You need people who have similar experiences to hear your thoughts and feelings.
12. Tumbling Toward Enlightenment: “I've recently rediscovered Tumblr, and have been using it daily,” says Patricia Swindell, a recovering alcoholic of eight years. “I love having the feed on my iPhone, always ready anytime of day (and night) when my brain just won't quit.” Tumblr is a social networking site that is not specifically designed for people in recovery, but certainly includes myriad of individuals dealing with addictions, as well as everyday life difficulties, situations, highs and lows. “If someone has an interest in it, there are people posting about it,” explains Swindell, who chooses to use an anonymous profile to follow bloggers. “I can easily save them to my phone and send them off again to share with fellow 'recoverers' and loved ones.”
13. Meetings, meetings and … meetings: Whatever approach to recovery you take, the power of sharing cannot be underestimated. “I'm in AA, and I go to meetings, especially when I don’t want to,” says Paul Tallo, an alcoholic with four years of sobriety. “Recently I did that twice in a 24-hour period and opened my mouth to share. It relieved that internal stress that is a dangerous place to be.”
14. Honesty, honesty and … honesty:If no one knows you're struggling or hurting, no one can help.“Be honest with yourself first and foremost,” says Tina M. Dixons, a recovering alcoholic and addict who works as dental coordinator for the drug and alcohol treatment center the Phoenix House in New York. “Grab anybody—anybody—and tell them what you are feeling. You can't have image issues or worry about what other people are going to say. You have to say it's OK, whatever you are thinking—and especially if it's about using.”