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Our recovery program can entail anything that supports our sobriety and helps us stay on track with our goals. For many of us, this work can include learning entirely new skills that we might not associate with recovery because they don’t necessarily relate to sobriety in particular, but that bolster our recovery in various different ways. Learning new skills strengthens, uplifts and empowers us in our recovery, at a time when we need to harness all the resources and supports available to us. Our recovery is full of promise and potential, but it also can be full of fear and self-doubt. Acquiring new skills can help us strengthen ourselves from within so that we become more resilient as we’re working to recover.

Perhaps there’s a talent you’ve been suppressing that you want to explore, that your addictions have caused you to neglect or abandon. Maybe there’s a skill you’ve always wanted to learn or something you started to explore at an early age that then got overtaken by your addictive patterns. Perhaps you’re feeling called to learn how to write, play an instrument, cook or farm, practice a specific craft, or enjoy different artistic forms of creative expression. Whatever it is, even if it feels as though it has nothing at all to do with sobriety or with a recovery program, give yourself permission to learn more about it, to practice and explore it. Strengthen your skills at anything that interests or compels you. Our interests are often our inner voice calling us to capitalize upon a talent or strength we possess, and the more we heed that call, the happier and more fulfilled we can feel.

Our struggles with addiction cause us to suffer in all kinds of ways pertaining to our mental and emotional health. Many of us come to feel as though we’re not good enough because of our addictions. We feel unworthy, inadequate and inferior to other people. We feel alone and isolated. We feel bored and unfulfilled, confused about our purpose and overwhelmed when we don’t know what direction to take in our lives. Learning and practicing new skills can help us with all of these difficult thoughts and emotions. When we develop a skill, whether or not we gain proficiency in it, we renew our faith in ourselves and our capabilities. We feel more hopeful and optimistic about our future and our ability to stay well because we’re watching ourselves grow and learn and apply our energy to something useful and productive. We feel better about ourselves. We repair our suffering confidence and low self-esteem. We feel a more whole and complete sense of self. Our feelings of self-worth improve. A skill that might seem to have nothing at all to do with sobriety can give us many of the tools we need to stay sober – faith in ourselves, hopefulness, self-confidence, and self-assurance. We feel more validated and fulfilled the more active and productive we are, doing something we enjoy and can take pride in. 

The stress we accumulate from living with addiction takes a toll on us and can be overpowering and debilitating. When we practice a new skill, we’re practicing not only that new skill but also focus, concentration, and conscious awareness. We’re essentially practicing mindfulness, which helps to quiet our minds and lower our stress levels, just like meditation. In fact, practicing a new skill can in itself be meditative, which has therapeutic effects on our mental and emotional health, as well as on our physical health and energetic balance. We feel more at peace within ourselves, more balanced and stable. We feel more in alignment with our true selves, and more harmonious, because we’re giving our energy to something that feels positive for us rather than the self-destructive, self-deprecating patterns of addiction. We’re spending quality time with ourselves doing something meaningful, rather than engaging in our addictive patterns of trying to fill up our time and escape our loneliness and boredom, with toxic substances and behaviors. Now we’re engaging in things that feed our spirits rather than detract from them. We’re doing things we can be happy about and proud of, rather than the things that brought us regret, remorse and shame. We’re turning our lifestyles and routines around, transforming our lives one step at a time.

The more we learn and practice a new skill we’re passionate about, the more we have to look forward to. We have something that brings us joy and meaning. We feel redeemed and fulfilled, in stark contrast to the deep lack of fulfillment we got accustomed to when struggling with addiction. We feel lighter and more at ease. We have something that makes us happy, and this is a crucial part of our recovery program. The more we have genuinely positive things to engage our minds and hearts, the less we feel inclined to turn to our drugs of choice for a false sense of positivity. The happier we are, the stronger and more resilient we feel, making us better able to withstand the addictive urges and temptation that can lead to relapse. Whatever the new skill, or the old skill you’re revisiting, let the learning process be fun and exciting for you. Allow it to be part of your recovery program to help support your growth and happiness as you’re working to stay sober.

Riverside Recovery believes in the importance of holistic healing and education, mindfulness and mind-body-spirit wellness. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information on our treatment programs.