How to Not Self-Destruct

Nearly all of the unhealthy things we do to ourselves in the course of recovery are not consciously chosen. I’ve never thought to myself, “Hey this would be a great day to self-sabotage!” The more we are connected, mindful, and accountable, the more we act from intention and make healthy choices.

Complacency is the easiest trap for us to fall into. When we become comfortable, we are lulled into a false sense of security and cease investing in ourselves and others. This is especially dangerous because we stop doing the very things that have improved our lives. We embrace the the false belief, “I’m ok now.”

Ideally, we will move away from our all-or-nothing mindsets and towards moderation. Just as it is not manageable to constantly strive, it’s also not healthy to remain on our latest plateau. If we are honest with ourselves and others, continued steady progress safeguards us not only against relapse, but also against depressive episodes, accumulating excessive stress, and anxiety about our futures.

Recovery is a lot of work. It’s continuous investment and sometimes it’s very difficult to see our own growth. It’s too easy to become discouraged and too easy to retreat to what’s more familiar.

I worked with an old-school addictions counselor who would always say, “Hang with the winners.” She knew that not only are we products of our environment and relationships, but also that surrounding ourselves with people who are committed to growth makes our progress is more manageable and sustainable.

As the adage goes, “It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys.” We need mirrors – people who reflect our growth and help us to integrate our gains. Measuring our own progress in recovery is difficult. It’s like watching a child grow – day by day we don’t notice the change because we’re with them all the time. We need outside input and suggestions. Moreover, we need to relax our defenses to the point that we accept these with at least a modicum of grace.