Keep Recovery Simple – Not Easy.
I have a client that rides mountain bikes. He has ridden them long enough that he can really challenge himself. As he comes down a mountain, he has found that his risk of crashing increases if he sees an obstacle ahead and focuses on it. He has found that his body will instantly tense up and his vision narrows in on the obstacle. This bodily reaction combined with fear doesn’t allow him to use all of his experience to maneuver around it. So, he knows when he gets in those situations, which frequently happen coming down a mountain trail, he has to focus on the trail. When he shifts his focus to the trail, his mind stays calm and his body is able to relax which allows for more flexibility and a heightened ability to assess the entire situation. This shift in focus has saved him from many scrapes, costly repairs and hospital visits.
He has learned to focus on the simplicity of the task (follow the trail), not the difficulty (that obstacle looks to big).
Stop for a minute and think about your thinking.
What are your thoughts focused on? Are you scared you can’t make next month’s sales quota? Are you worried you are going to see someone you know when you walk into that new 12-step meeting? Are you wanting to ask your wife how her day went but feeling anxious about the answer? Are you considering making a call to the guy in the meeting that said to call anytime, but every time you think about it you cannot figure out what to say to him? Can you see a pattern in all of the above-mentioned examples? Go back through them and you will find that they all focus on the difficulty of the task; not the simplicity.
You will have a greater chance to stay in recovery if you learn how to shift to the simplicity of the task and spend little or no time focusing on how difficult that next step might feel. Much like my mountain biking client, if you are worried (obstacle) about making next month’s sales quota, the simple next step is to make a phone call to a potential client (trail). If you are anxious (obstacle) about attending a 12-step meeting, the simple next step is to look up the address (trail). If you don’t know how (obstacle) to ask your wife about her day, the simple next step might be to reach out for support on the drive home (trail). If your shame increases (obstacle) every time you think about calling a 12-step member, the simple next step is to dial the number (trail).
What is the next recovery move right now for you? What feeling might be causing you to focus on the difficulty? Is it shame, resentment, pride, anger, lonely? These, and other feelings, often times will shift your focus to how difficult the task is. Once you begin to focus on the difficulty, your thoughts and feelings can really get hijacked and the task jumps from a 5 on a 1-10 scale, to a 10+. This makes a difficult task go to impossible in a relatively short period of time.
Keep it simple.
I promise recovery is simple. That is the beauty of recovery. It has to be simple, it has to be achievable by anyone who chooses it. What you are being asked to do, you can do. There is a trail that leads away from addictive behaviors. It does have obstacles, it does have challenges, it does have setbacks and frankly all of that means it is not easy. However, the good news, the very good news is that if you look ahead to the trail that many, many have walked before you, you will find that staying focused on the simple will give you the life you want. Keep it simple; not easy.