The work we do in recovery and how much energy we put into it determines how successful we ultimately are in our recovery. Being sober tests our power, our strength, our resilience, and our capacity for growth. When we’ve been struggling with addiction for many years, one of the skills we’ve lost or been unable to develop is that of mindfulness. We often are not conscious of our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. We aren’t aware of how everything we think, say, feel and do affects us and our lives. We aren’t mindful of the impact we have on other people. Very often many of us aren’t even aware that we have a problem. We’re living with mental health issues without even realizing it. Our undiagnosed depression, for example, is causing us tremendous pain, but we don’t know where that pain is coming from. Mindfulness is a huge part of learning to understand ourselves, knowing who we are and what we need, and transforming our lives so that we can finally be happy. Without mindfulness we will continue to operate on autopilot, defaulting to the same unhealthy and self-destructive tendencies we’ve developed without even being aware of them. Mindfulness allows us to put a stop to our unwanted patterns and create new ones. With mindfulness, we can tune into our inner selves on a deeper level and become conscious of exactly what it is within us that has been holding us back.
An important step in developing mindfulness for sobriety is learning to monitor our inner world. We often get caught up in what’s going on around us, the external circumstances, the other people in our lives, the stresses of our daily routines, our obligations and responsibilities. We often don’t realize that everything we see and experience in our lives is a direct reflection of how we’re thinking and feeling. Our outer world is the physical manifestation of our inner world. To develop mindfulness and heal from something as overwhelming as an addiction, we have to start accessing that inner world.
We often think of addiction as an isolated problem. We go to treatment for our addictions, not realizing that we have the underlying issues to heal from as well. We haven’t developed the mindfulness to be aware of what wounds and fears caused our addictions and mental health issues in the first place. We aren’t self-aware enough to see that our addictions don’t operate in a vacuum. They’re often accompanied by serious mental health issues, as well as by other addictions. For example we might think we need treatment for our substance, not realizing that we also suffer from debilitating anxiety, and we’ve been using substances to try to cope, as a misguided, self-destructive coping mechanism. Mindfulness teaches us to look at our whole being, not just the surface issues that are most obvious to us, not just the visible symptoms, but our illnesses as a whole.
As soon as we start putting energy into being mindful, we start to notice that we’ve developed all kinds of limiting beliefs about ourselves and our lives that have contributed to our addictions, our mental health issues and our deep feelings of unwellness. We start to be able to differentiate the things our thinking minds are telling us from the truth of our inner selves. We start to see that our self-talk is full of fear, so much so that it’s been lying to us telling us we’re not good enough, telling us we need a substance or relationship to make us whole, telling us that we need to find relief in something outside of ourselves. Our limiting beliefs distract us from the truth which is that we have everything we need to be healthy, happy and whole already within us. We are beings of incredible, strength, resourcefulness, resilience and brilliance. We have the capacity for total transformation. We don’t need an unhealthy relationship to define us. We don’t need a drink to make us good enough. We don’t need to be anything other than who we truly are. Mindfulness helps us rediscover these truths and helps us to redefine who we are. Mindfulness helps us understand our needs. If we’ve been using a substance, relationship or behavior to feel better about ourselves, what we really need is to develop our self-love and our self-appreciation. Mindfulness helps us to see past the surface of our issues and down to the deeper core to the meaning within.
When we are mindful, we’re able to transform our limiting beliefs and create new beliefs that are uplifting and empowering. When we’re mindful of our inner dialogue, we’re able to redirect our thoughts from negativity and self-deprecation to self-acceptance and encouragement. ”I hate myself” can become “I am learning to love myself. I am healing. I am growing and changing.” Mindfulness teaches us that healing and transformation come not just from abstaining from a substance or behavior but from understanding ourselves from the inside out.
When we are mindful, we’re able to see all of the behaviors that we’ve been unconsciously developing without even being aware of them. We’re able to see just how toxic our relationships are. We’re able to see just how unhealthy our relationships with ourselves are. We’re able to see how our thoughts and feelings affect our behaviors, our patterns and our life cycles. We’re able to stop repeating all these patterns by default and create healthier patterns for ourselves. When we’re mindful, everything we learn about ourselves becomes a lesson we can apply to our daily lives. We let go of the self-deprecation, the self-harm and the self-destructiveness. We decide to prioritize our well-being and our happiness over everything else. Sobriety without mindfulness is superficial change that isn’t necessarily profound enough to be transformative. In addition to our abstinence, we want to become so mindful of our inner world that we’re working to create balance and peace within ourselves on a daily basis.
Mindfulness is an important part of the treatment programs at Riverside Recovery. We have everything you need to help you conquer the disease of addiction and regain the positive lifestyle and ambitions that once drove you. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.