If you’re thinking about getting sober or if you’re already living in a sober living home, you might be hearing again and again what it takes to get sober. You might be becoming more and more familiar with what it means to be in recovery and cultivating an alcohol or drug free life.
You might have read that getting sober doesn’t only mean you stop drinking, it doesn’t only mean you quit reaching for marijuana when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed; it doesn’t just mean that you stop driving to the bar when feelings become overwhelming.
Actually, sober living means a whole new lifestyle. Sober living means finding new and healthier thoughts, feelings, coping mechanisms, and choices. Being in recovery means being in a whole new relationship with yourself.
Of course, all of that requires letting go of old habits and acquiring new ones. Whether you’ve already taken your first sober step by joining a sober living home or you’re well on your way to recovery, below is a list of habits to consider releasing. And in fact, not only consider letting go of but actually shedding in order to create the life you want.
- The Need to Be Right – Sometimes, as we learn and grow and adjust to our environments (even if they are dysfunctional), we develop certain opinions and beliefs that reflect our worldview. We create them to make sense of the world, and we tend to hang onto them. We tend to become so attached that those beliefs and opinions are embedded into our identity. It can be hard to let those go. Yet, doing so, entering the world of recovery with humility and openness can facilitate learning and growing and understanding what it truly means to be sober.
- The Need to Control – We tend to want to control our circumstances when we are fearful or when past experiences brought pain. To prevent similar pain in the future we try to rule over our own life and the life of others. Yet, part of sober living is finding trust, relaxing into life, and finding a surrender that we were hoping to find in alcohol or drugs. It might feel like a counter-intuitive kind of experience, but letting go of control in exchange for having a certain confidence in your life can be a deeply rewarding experience.
- Blaming Others – Blaming comes with feeling powerless. You’re never going to return to a sense of empowerment if you’re pointing the finger at others. Blaming is centered on believing that your power is outside of your control. For instance, if you did poorly on your chemistry exam and you can admit that you did not study all the concepts covered in class or that you were distracted during your studying, you are exhibiting a sense of personal power and taking responsibility for your grade. However, if you feel that your low grade is because the teacher does not like you or because the concepts are too hard or because you had an argument the morning of the exam, you are handing over a sense of power to external sources. Blaming others is exacerbating your feelings of powerlessness, which is the root of addiction.
- Negative Self-Talk – It’s easy to do. Negative self-talk has probably been there since childhood. It’s probably within the thoughts of friends and family members that you know and just by spending time with them you’re sort of vulnerable to that kind of thinking. It includes the kind of thinking that is self-critical, judgmental, and limiting. But you don’t have to spend time in that negativity any longer than you want to. You have the power to change it. It will take some time to make that shift. Likely it will require your attention on what you’re thinking and when. But you can make the wonderful change from negative thoughts to life-affirming, loving, positive ones.
The remaining two articles in this series will continue with this list including letting go of self-limiting beliefs, shedding the need to impress others, and dropping the need to complain.
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