No matter where the winding road of recovery takes you, your personal values and goals form the toolkit that will hold you in good stead. Temptation can appear from many angles and in many guises. No matter what the outside world throws at you, the most effective way to stay on track is to keep your eyes focused on your ultimate priority: long-term wellness, sobriety, and success. Anything that distracts from those goals is simply an obstacle for you to leap over.
Some days, recovery will seem easy. On days like these, you may find yourself wondering what the harm would be from having just one drink or one hit. Don’t let yourself be fooled: the hubris of man is a common gateway for the insidious tendrils of addictive behavior. Thinking you have everything under control can set you up to disregard your training and act rashly; once you make a mistake, your pride may prevent you from acknowledging that you weren’t as on top of things as you thought, chalking it up to a simple fluke. Before you know it, you’re repeating destructive behaviors without accountability or acceptance.
If you’re riding high on your recent success in sobriety, resist the temptation to take it as a sign that you can let your guard down. It’s great that you’re doing well; just remember that you got this far by following the steps you’ve adopted in treatment and maintaining your priorities in line with your long-term goals. If you want to keep seeing positive results, keep doing the things that lead to them. Here’s an easy way to tell if your success is leading to dangerous territory: you’re in recovery because it’s in your best interest. If you start to have thoughts that encourage you towards actions that go against your sobriety goals, they’re probably not in your best interest.
On the other hand, not every day will find you filled with the motivation to stay sober. Your past failures can seem to outweigh the progress you’ve made, you might find it pointless to try to better yourself, and the general existentialist weight of meaninglessness may come to rest on your weary shoulders. Your support network is in your life for exactly like moments. It’s always worth trying to use the skills you’ve developed in therapy to combat depressive episodes; just don’t feel like you have to do it all on your own. Mental isolation is a major factor in relapse and the buildup of addiction, so don’t give it the chance to fester.
It’s also important to remember that you’ve made it this far. While a negative outlook can make it hard to acknowledge the significance of your progress up until this point, looking back on your accomplishments can help remind you of your ability to make it through difficult situations. It can help to keep a log or tracker of your recovery. Some people collect notes that detail positive steps and achievements so they can read them on bad days. Doing this with a friend can rejuvenate your efforts to stay on top of your ultimate quest to attain lasting health.
One of the characters in The Da Vinci Code is a monk who wears a spiked band around his leg; when he thinks sinful thoughts, he smacks himself on the band, poking the spikes into his leg, which hurts. Obviously, this is an extreme form of self-flagellation that no sane person should attempt; however, while you certainly shouldn’t ever resort to physical pain, you can take a page from the mad monk’s book by developing a nearly-automatic response to intrusive thoughts of temptation or indulgence when it comes to recovery. Choose a mental exercise to center your thoughts when you begin to notice signs of temptation. You may find various forms of meditation and mindfulness practices helpful in this regard, or you can work on your brand of self-talk in a way that reaches you.
Of course, if thoughts of deviance grow too large in your heart, you don’t have to fight them alone. That’s what your support network is for. You’ve heard it time and again throughout every step of recovery for a reason: people can help you in ways that you can’t always help yourself. If you’re struggling with recurring thoughts of temptation or abandoning your plan, reach out to the people you’ve designated for this exact purpose. They can remind you of your goals, encourage you through moments of weakness, and hold you accountable to the standards you’ve set for yourself.
Like life itself, recovery means playing the long game. Your support network is there for you to celebrate your victories, encourage you in times of challenge, and most of all to keep you focused on the path ahead when things seem impossible. At Cornerstone Healing Center, we know that recovery is a process that can come with ups and downs for years after you decide to get sober. That’s why it’s so important to have access to consistent, trustworthy professionals who can provide the support and accountability that you need to make it through as successfully as possible. From a wide array of evidence-based treatments to a network of counselors and peers who are invested in your personal growth, we give you the resources to overcome any obstacle in recovery and build the life you want to live. You don’t have to go it alone any longer. Call (800) 643-2108 to learn more.