Welcoming the Challenges in Recovery

Recovery is known for being a difficult time in our lives, where we’re faced with obstacles that push us mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, in ways we’ve never been challenged before. Our recovery is a time when we’re finally taking the steps needed to get sober, learning more about ourselves and deepening our understanding of our addictions. We’re often coming into our recovery with a great deal of trepidation and uncertainty. We’re afraid of the challenges that are part of recovery, the physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms, the temptation to relapse, the addictive urges, the self-doubt. When we fear these challenges, we often create resistance to them. We try to avoid thinking about them and pretend they don’t exist. We try to convince ourselves that we’re fully healed and that we don’t have anything to worry about in terms of relapsing. We deny that we’re feeling unsure of ourselves and our ability to get well. We deny that we’re afraid and don’t seek help or confide in others. We try to pretend that everything is fine, even when internally we’re dealing with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues that often accompany addiction. When we view our challenges with fear, we give them more power over us. We’re more likely to allow our fears to drive us back to our addictive patterns, using our drugs of choice as relief from all the anxious, troubled thoughts we’re experiencing and emotional pain we’re feeling. On the other hand, when we can welcome our challenges, we open ourselves to learning from them and receiving the guidance and wisdom they have to offer us. We allow our challenges to strengthen and empower us rather than letting them bring us down.

When we fear something, instinctively we want to run from it, but what would it feel like to embrace our fears instead? Even the thought is uncomfortable for us, because fear can be such a destabilizing, overwhelming and painful force, but we can transform our relationship with our fear so that we become more accepting of the difficult challenges in our lives. We can start to look at fear as a natural part of our lives that we want to learn how to accept. We want to reconcile our fears and the resistance we feel to them with a newfound sense of acceptance that lets us move through our fears with more courage, balance and peace. Our fears teach us where we need healing, and our challenges are the spiritual tests we need to heal ourselves. Resisting our fears blocks us from learning all the important lessons we’re meant to learn. We can change our relationship with our fears from being one of turmoil, angst, confusion and panic to one of calm, understanding and peace.

When a challenge arises, or the thought of a challenge, let’s take a moment to breathe before reacting. Let’s allow ourselves to just sit with the feelings that come up – the anxiety, the fear, the discomfort. We might feel sensations in our body that are physically uncomfortable. We might find it harder to breathe or relax. We might feel overwhelmed and find it hard to focus. Let’s sit through everything that comes up for us, any difficult thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. Now let’s try to be open to the challenge at hand, rather than closing ourselves off to it. Let’s ask ourselves some questions. “What am I meant to learn from this? What are the spiritual tests and lessons I’m being invited to learn? What do I need in order to move through this challenge successfully?” We can start to see our challenges as opportunities to expand ourselves and to grow, to meet new goals and to set new intentions, to strive for new accomplishments that we might not have thought possible before we were challenged and pushed. Our challenges push us out of the safety of our comfort zones, they compel us to take on new experiences, and they stretch our conception of who we are and what we’re capable of. Once we’ve risen to the challenge of the many hurdles we face in recovery, we start to see ourselves differently. We believe in ourselves more. We feel our hopefulness rejuvenated, and we see that anything is possible. We start to believe that we can in fact be happy.

What challenges in your life are you resisting and having a hard time facing? What problems are you avoiding thinking about and trying to distract yourself from? How can you embrace your challenges more and open yourself to everything they have to teach you? The lessons are within our difficulty and pain. We come out of depressions knowing more about ourselves than ever before. Our recovery from addiction connects us to our inner selves in ways we might never have before. Our healing journey takes us inward to explore wounds we’ve been afraid to heal and fears we don’t want to face. When we can welcome our pain rather than shutting it out, we become stronger, more courageous and more empowered in our recovery.

If you’re struggling with addiction, you’re not alone. Reach out for support. The community of Riverside Recovery has personal experience with addiction and recovery. We’re here to help you reclaim the life you love. 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. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.