How to NOT Settle for Less (in Recovery)

It’s always been fascinating to me that people in recovery so often ask me how to NOT do something. The most common example of this is when folks ask me, “How do I not drink?” This question, at face value, is insane. Well, you don’t go to the store, don’t buy alcohol, don’t bring it home, don’t open it, and don’t pour it into your mouth. That’s how you don’t drink.

It took me a while to realize that what’s really happening is a person is asking important questions but doing so without vulnerability. Most of us, by late adolescence, become progressively unwilling to admit that we don’t know things and even more hesitant to ask for the skills and wisdom we’re lacking.

So, the question I was asked yesterday was, “How do I not settle for less than I can have?” I didn’t bother asking what the issues at hand were. I simply advised them:

  • Be mindful: Pay attention to yourself sufficiently that you have a strong sense of what you need and later, what you want
  • Be completely honest with yourself and others.
  • Maintain a ton of accountability for your goals and dreams.
  • Surround yourself with kindred spirits and people with passion.
  • Invest in each other and work very, very hard.

That’s the Keep It Simple-System at work.

Settling is a great example of how people continue to utilize addictive thinking even in long term recovery. As the adage goes, “Everything you most want is on the other side of fear.” We utilize justifications and rationalizations to avoid facing discomfort and fear. That’s how easy it is to settle – convince yourself that this is all there is – or that it would be too risky or greedy to try for more.

Our ability to talk ourselves in and out of ideas – both good and bad ones is astounding. We’re natural born bullshitters. If we’re going to have the life our HPs want for us, then we need folks who will challenge us, encourage us, support us, and hold our feet to the fire.

Settling is complacency – one more thing we cannot afford. The point at which we stop growing is the point where we return to surviving. Surviving sucks. Living is awesome.