Just Breathe: Three Steps on Focus and Growth
As you sit in recovery, your mind is racing, "how am I going to do this?" "What if I relapse?" "What is my family thinking?" "What are my children thinking?" "I need a cigarette!" "This coffee is not cutting it." "How did I get here?" "How do I get out?" "No, Wait! I need this; I have to do this!" "But what if I can’t?" But what if you can? This is the reality of recovery. These are the moments fear sinks in, and these are moments where learning to focus is key. It is all about baby steps, and it’s all about breathing. If everyone were to take life a thousand questions at a time, nothing would ever be accomplished, the world would be full of people that could, but just scared themselves into thinking they couldn’t.
Moments like these are going to happen often, and when they can affect you the most. Fighting them is something that takes strength, focus, and the understanding that you might fall down along the way. When learning to fight your racing mind remember why you are here, and the beautiful life that awaits you. Facing your failures, forgiving yourself, and having faith are all tools you can learn and use to help fight the flood of thoughts distracting you from where you are and where you are going.
Many of your mind’s distractions will be thoughts from your past. The pain you have caused yourself, and others. Maybe this isn’t your first time in recovery, and the thoughts of defeat still linger in your mind. Perhaps you are still going through withdrawal, and the idea of one more line, or one more drink, beats at the side of your head. These are all real thoughts, real concerns, and you must face them. It is okay to fall down; everyone in life fails. Your path is different than others, but you are not alone. Failure is how we learn how to get it right. When sitting in recovery, and your entire past starts racing through your mind, look around you. Every single person in this position is struggling and swaying towards the light of sobriety. Embrace the fact that you are here, and face the demons of your past as well as the ones that are going to be in your present and future. Take it one step at a time, remind yourself of the first step, face and accept you have a problem, and push away the chaos with the self-fulfillment that you are in this room seeking to fight your addiction.
Many times in recovery the most common reason for relapse outside of physical addiction is guilt. Guilt has the ability to eat away at our hearts and minds. It can stop progress right in its tracks. When in recovery you will repeatedly be telling your story and in return you will continually hear the stories of others. Do not let your mind run away in these moments, because reminiscing helps you heal but it also makes you face all the things you have done because of your addiction. Remember you are your nemesis, as well as your hero. Stop your mind, breathe, and forgive yourself. The only way your guilt can get to you is through your mind, but if you face yourself, and forgive yourself you will be able to focus. Think of it this way, your mind is going to play the same game; it will throw every single thing that makes you weak in your direction. Once you accept that you have been weak, and it is okay, you can react with humility, and once you are humbled by your own defeats, you can gain control again. This will create the strength you need to stay focused in recovery. Recovery is here to guide you and teach you, and your mind is here to both help and taunt you. As long as you remember this you will find your center to grow.
Keeping the Faith
As much as self-awareness and forgiveness play a role in keeping your mind focused, faith is equally, if not more important. When referring to the 2nd step of AA and NA, "came to believe that a power greater than yourself can restore your sanity" is all about faith. When struggling with addiction you are battling every single day, with your own mind and body. For someone who has been spiraling down a dark whole of addiction when the light of sobriety hits you, you often want to take control or at least pretend you have it. Don’t. In order to gain control you must first accept you are out of control, and have faith that if you face, and forgive you will receive the strength to focus and grow.
When the chaos hits, and the barrage of questions attempt to distract you, breathe, and believe this: "I am here to face the failures of my past, and the struggles of my future. I forgive myself, and I have faith that if I focus I can fight this chaos, this addiction, and one day be forgiven by those I have harmed. For this is one battle, in the war of my life, and only victory is acceptable. "