When we are ready to recover, how successful we are in our recovery all depends on how willing we are to do the work to develop healthy habits for ourselves. We want to eliminate all of the destructive habits that were limiting us and holding us back, contributing to our self-destruction and self-sabotage. We want to replace those habits with ones that are empowering, uplifting and comforting, that aid in our self-discovery and expansion. Over the years, our addictions caused us to form habits that morphed into unhealthy coping mechanisms. As a result, we exacerbated our illnesses, our anxiety and depression, our sadness and fear. We form compulsions and act impulsively. We form toxic thought patterns based on our fears and woundedness. Our addictions are our misguided attempt at escaping our pain, and we develop habits to try to help ourselves in this process, not knowing that we’re actually making our conditions worse and postponing our chances of getting better. We’re actually exacerbating our unwellness and impairing our well-being.
When we think of bad habits, we think of benign things that we assume aren’t making a huge difference in our lives. Habits, however, form our routines, and our routines inform how we move through our day, how we move through the world and our lives. Our habits are essentially the foundation of how we operate and function in our lives. They form the basis of our lifestyles. Our wellness depends on our willingness to really examine our habits and shed the ones that are no longer serving us. It takes a great deal of strength and commitment to be willing to develop the self-awareness to examine ourselves closely and honestly. Often we don’t want to look at our habits because we don’t want to do the work to change. We don’t want to look at ourselves or the things we need to change. We’re afraid of being vulnerable or being perceived as weak. We don’t always have the humility to know there is strength in change. We’re stubborn and prideful and cling to the habits that are most familiar to us. We find comfort in staying stagnant because we’re not ready to push ourselves or move beyond our comfort zone. We’re not ready to reach for better. Personal transformation is a challenge many of us are not ready to undergo. When we are ready, though, our habits are one of the first things we’ll need to address.
Just like our good habits are the foundation of our recovery, our bad habits were the foundation of our addictions. We created lifestyles specifically to maintain our addictions. We prioritized our drugs of choice, and our habits revolved around enabling ourselves to get high. Some of our habits were intentional, and others were formed incidentally as a result of our addictive patterns. For example, we might have gotten into the habit of lying to loved ones, isolating ourselves, missing work, or shirking our responsibilities and obligations. We might not have intended to form these habits, but because we were so focused on our addictions and so committed to maintaining them, they developed by default. We’ll need to address all of our habits, both the ones we’re conscious of and the ones we have a hard time uncovering. We’ll want to develop more awareness around our habitual patterns, which will entail practicing being mindful, taking inventory of our routines and practices, and asking people we trust to help us analyze the things that might be invisible to us. We want to start practicing analyzing our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. As we become more mindful, we’ll be increasing our self-awareness, a hugely useful tool in our quest to know ourselves more deeply. We’ll gain clarity and insight on ourselves and our ways of being. We’ll become more conscious of who we are and more connected to our inner selves.
During our struggles with addiction, we often were so impaired we weren’t conscious of all the different ways in which we were hurting ourselves. Our habits add up to become our lifestyles, and once we start becoming clearer in recovery, we can see all the ways in which we were holding ourselves back and limiting ourselves. We want to start being honest with ourselves about all of our habits, no matter how awkward, embarrassing or shameful we might perceive them to be.
In order to increase our capacity for awareness, we’ll want to start practicing mindfulness on a regular basis. We can begin a meditation practice, and work on it on daily. Meditation is one of the best ways to increase our mindfulness around our behaviors, our patterns, and the ways in which we’re thinking and feeling.
Another great way to become more mindful of our habits is with journaling. We can ask ourselves, “what are my routines? What are the focal points of my lifestyle? What do I do regularly, without even thinking about it? What unconscious behaviors do I have? What things do I always make sure to make time for? How do I spend my time? What things do I get done? What things do I wish I got done, that I don’t seem to be able to make time for? What things, like self-care, get neglected?”
It takes time to revamp our lifestyles and the habits that constitute those lifestyles. It takes energy and concerted effort. We’ve been putting our energy into the wrong things for much of our lives, the things that were contributing to our illness. Now it’s time to start putting ourselves first, and we can do that each and every day by developing the habits we need for wellness.
Riverside Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment center offering a full continuum of care for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. We understand the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and are here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.