A path from surviving to thriving
When I first got sober, I couldn’t imagine life without alcohol – and I certainly couldn’t imagine fun without alcohol.
What would that even look like? All of my social activities involved drinking. I assumed that life would be rather dull.
I would be happy enough and it would all be fine.
It would just be.
I would figure out a way to survive life and make the best of it. Drinking was no longer a choice so not drinking had to be the way forward.
What I didn’t realize is that reality was quite the opposite of my belief.
I was barely surviving life with alcohol. In the midst of addiction, I didn’t know the freedom or joy of living a full life because I had a very small life.
I had big ambitions and outside success, but I couldn’t celebrate them or be fully present.
There’s a saying that some use after a length of time in recovery to refer to their, “a life second to none” that refers to having the best life possible.
Why is this?
Because life in recovery opens doors that we could have never imagined.
Don’t Be Afraid to Dream Big
Developing the belief that one is worthy of a good life. People in recovery are often used to feeling pain, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, and uncertainty. While it seems counterintuitive, sometimes feeling discomfort seems more comfortable because it is a known feeling.
For many, having good brings about a feeling of “when is the other shoe going to drop?” This is normal! It takes a while to rewire the brain to think more positively. In the meantime, start by a simple affirmation, “I am worthy.”
Thriving is different for everyone.
Start examining your dreams and desires. What does a full life mean to you? What do you want your life to look like in five or ten years? What brings you joy? Envisioning your future can help you to build your future.
Set Realistic Goals.
Dreaming big doesn’t mean big things happen overnight. Most people can’t run a marathon if they’ve never run a mile before.
Change takes time, and small steps lead to big results. A great way to move forward is by goal setting using the SMART acronym, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Set a specific goal, create a measurable way to track that goal, define the steps to make it achievable, ask yourself if it’s realistic, and set a time frame to complete. For example, using the running analogy, a SMART goal could be, “I am going to run a 5k in three months. I am going to use a mobile app to help train on how to increase distance and frequency. I plan to run three times per week until I make my goal.” You can set SMART goals in any facet of your life.
It’s ok to make mistakes and change your mind.
Resiliency is one of the keys to thriving. Mistakes are going to happen.
Opportunities are going to be missed. Some things aren’t going to work out. Or you may realize halfway down the road that you don’t like the path you took.
It’s all okay – you’ve done nothing wrong.
People in recovery are some of the most resilient people because you’ve already bounced back from a seemingly hopeless state. You can overcome setbacks!
There is no timeline on what thriving means in your life.
Sometimes it’s the setbacks that propel some forward beyond what they had originally envisioned.
In early sobriety, someone told me to write down five things that I wanted in my life and she guaranteed it would be true in five years from that date.
I opened the list six years later, and none of it was true.
What was true is that I was happier in my life than I had ever been because I had found peace within.
Ten years later, that list is getting checked off slowly but surely.