Part 2: Facing Your Biggest Life Challenges - 8 Steps to Recovery
“I am a work in progress.”
~ Violet Yates, Lost & Found
Last week, you learned about how to identify and make sense of past traumas in your life, and learn to accept them and live in the moment. Today, let’s learn the other four steps to personal recovery.
Step 5: Focus on the Here and Now
A focus on the present will aid you in your recovery and enrich your life in ways you haven’t felt before. These strategies can help you let go of the past and focus on the now:
Ask yourself, “What is most important to me?” If you haven’t thought about what matters most to you in your life, take time to think about it now.
What do you want to do now? Do you want to sharpen your work skills so you can get a promotion? Does your love life need some extra effort? Do you want to make your home life better? Connect with what you see as the important parts of your life.
Pick a self-improvement goal and go for it. What does an “ideal person” look like to you? Would you like to build or strengthen one of those traits? Make a plan with tasks you can do each day to work toward your goal. Tackling a goal brings you new pride and helps you look ahead with excitement.
Give yourself permission to be honest with others. It can be hard to share your thoughts with others, but when you do you can connect more with your own feelings. Being honest with others about how you feel will help you accept that your feelings matter just as much as anyone else’s, too. For instance, let’s say someone invites you to dinner, but you’d rather enjoy a quiet evening. You can politely say, “Thank you for the invitation but I’ve had a busy day (or week) and I’m looking forward to a relaxing evening at home.”
Allow yourself time to think through what you want. Don’t let someone rush you into a choice that down the road, you may regret. If you need more time to ponder, share those feelings. Learn to say “I don’t know.” “I’m not sure.” “No, thank you.” Or, “I’ll have to think about that.” Focusing on your own wants and needs and carrying them out is one a key aspect of your personal recovery.
Focusing on the present will wake you up to the reality of your life. Knowing what matters most to you and what you want to achieve now are powerful tools for your recovery.
“You have no control over what the other guy does.
You only have control over what you do.”
~ A. J. Kitt
Step 6: Concentrate on Taking Care of You
The quality of your recovery depends on where you expend most of your efforts. And, those efforts are wisely focused on you. Follow these steps to strengthen your focus on self-care:
Figure out what you need. Have you been neglecting your appearance, health, nutrition, or general wellness?
Write down the changes you want to make. Writing down what, where, and when gives them added power:
Do you want to eat better? Buying more fresh fruits and vegetables can help.
If you want to slow down your pace, what can you change in your daily routine?
Would you like to exercise more? Document your plan.
Make calls and contacts now to get started. Keep up your momentum.
Call the doctor, counselor, or life coach to set an appointment.
Talk with the dietitian about healthy food choices.
Drop in to the local yoga studio to sign up for a class.
Keep a schedule. Put self-care on your calendar just as you would any other important task.
Acknowledge that you are worth the time. The time you take for self-love and self-care matters very much.
Follow through. Now that you know that you are the most important person in your recovery plan, live life to the fullest by following through with your plan.
“We've been there and come back. When you fall in the pit, people are supposed to help you up. But you have to get up on your own. We'll take your arms, but you have to get your legs underneath you and stand.”
~ Bucky Sinister, Get Up: A 12-Step Guide to Recovery for Misfits, Freaks, and Weirdos
Step 7: Seek and Share Support
To shore up your reserves as you work on recovery, connect with others who can support you. In the process, you’ll offer gems of your own success to them. Think through these questions to keep you on the path of wholeness and health:
Who are your main supports? Identify who currently supports you the most.
Do you have enough support? You may need more people in your life to give you life-enhancing emotional care and kindness. If so, who you can turn to?
Consider those you trust, like your parents, siblings, and close friends.
Seek out support groups near you, or online.
How often do you interact with your supports? There is no set time frame for to seek support. Ideally, you would talk fairly often with your main supporters. Weekly contact with a support group can help you, too.
Do your supports truly support you? This question might be tough because you may list someone as a support who doesn’t really support you, or do so in a positive way. Real support feels positive, encouraging, and helpful. It lifts your mood and compels you to do things that make you feel happy and content.
When you feel the life-affirming power of giving and receiving emotional support, you’ll jump ahead in your recovery.
“A fine glass vase goes from treasure to trash, the moment it is broken. Fortunately, something else happens to you and me. Pick up your pieces. Then, help me gather mine.”
~ Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
Step 8: Discover Your True Self
When your recovery program works for you, you’ll learn some magnificent things about…you! The journey will be challenging, engaging, and ultimately enlightening. Here are just a few things you stand to find out about yourself:
Who am I really? You can now give yourself permission to let the inner you out. No more fear, just go for it.
What makes my heart sing? Indulging in tasks that stimulate you lets your true self emerge into the light. Recovery is exciting when you think about it. You’re about to meet the new and greatly improved you!
What do you want to do with your life? Ponder your life goals. If you didn’t write them before, do it now. Maybe you want to seek education, make new friends, or change your career and move to the big city. Know deep within yourself that you can do all of those things and more.
Self-discovery is process. In each year of your life, you can try something new, meet a special person, and achieve something special and meaningful for you. Embrace what you will learn and how you will grow.
“I believe in recovery and as a role model I have the responsibility to let young people know that you can make a mistake and come back from it.”
~ Ann Richards
You have reached the end of this guide, but you are just starting your own journey of personal recovery.
We are all recovering from something. Knowing this will help you to identify, acknowledge, and make sense of your own traumas. Accept what happened and learn to live consciously to proceed ahead.
Focus on the now. Concentrate on you to sharpen your efforts to live a better life. Engage with support—both giving and receiving. Finally, enjoy your journey for what it is: a series of never-ending discoveries about the most important person in your life: YOU.