If you are an addict, an alcoholic, or a family member of one, you have faced adversity. Merely being an addict or living with one brings negativity to your doorstep. Many addicts and their families have faced painful situations before addiction ever became an issue in their lives.
Sometimes addiction is borne out of a desire to crush the pain of adversity. So, if using drugs or alcohol has been a coping skill to manage hardship, how do we achieve it when we are sober?
In the initial stages of getting sobriety, the recovery house you’re in and meetings will likely offer a reprieve from negative feelings. I was angry when I got sober, but being at Breakthrough Recovery Outreach enabled me to make friends and participate in a community. I was able to laugh with and relate to people that were like me and that helped dissipate the anger. At the start of sobriety, we don’t yet have the coping skills to face adversity well. That’s why we attend 90 meetings in 90 days and why we go into treatment. Those activities help safeguard us until we get sponsors, work steps, find a higher power, and a solution.
Whatever trouble you face will dim in the face of gratitude. Life is ever-changing, and it doesn’t stop evolving when we get and stay sober. The one thing we can count on is that adversity will find us all at times. Our job is to learn how to stay sober and sane in the face of it.
Gratitude can and does combat adversity. I want to be very clear here. Sometimes the pain we experience in life is overwhelming and includes periods of profound grief. I don’t suggest using gratitude to combat severe pain lightly. If you’ve lost something or someone, the gratitude will not send your pain packing. It will, however, help you hang on until you can come out on the other side.
So, regardless of what challenges you face, I suggest doing something that will give you a grateful heart – if even for a moment. Look for the goodness in the world, and you will find it. When you do, for a moment, your pain will recede.
Gratitude lists are powerful tools. When life is going well, they’re easy. When the world feels like it is falling around us, it takes effort to find our gratitude, but we must. It is the way out and through.
You know the expression, “it’s the little things?” If we are to find joy in the face of tremendous physical or emotional pain, we need to look for the little things and revel in them.
Every human being faces challenges throughout their life. Here are some ways to find joy even during the hardest times.
Focus on Love
Whatever you are going through, let the love others show you sink in. FEEL it. Let it settle into your soul and rest there. Knowing you are loved may not erase your difficulties, but it will help. Love is a universal healer. It is the purest form of goodness there is, and it smashes the idea that we are facing hard times alone.
Pay Attention to the World Around You
When we’re in the thick of pain, especially if we are isolators, we can quickly lose sight of the joy of life that surrounds us. Be kind to yourself and don’t rush through anything. Look outside your car window at the rainbow in front of you. Look up at the stars at night and remember that they are a constant source of brightness – hidden by day – that cover the world. How beautiful is that? Just beyond the darkness lie a million points of light. It’s so easy to walk out to your car at night and NOT look up. But, please, look up, down, and to the side. If you do, you’ll see babies, puppies, kittens, lavender sunsets, trees, color, and LIFE – all of which elicit joyful moments.
Pray, Meditate, or Practice Self-Care
If you believe in God, praying for Him to guide you through your difficulties can be very empowering. My sponsor has told me to pray before I go into a situation that I’m anxious about or afraid of. She tells me to send God in first, and, I do. I stop what I’m doing, pray, and ask God to go into a room before me. I then stand up and imagine myself following Him in. This prayer works for me. Find a prayer that works for you if you believe in God. If you don’t believe in God, that’s ok. There are other positive coping tools.
Many people find meditation to be a calming and centering activity. It slows the mind and welcomes in peace. The same is true of exercise. Whatever coping tool you choose, be sure it includes self-care. This could mean watching a movie or reading a book to escape reality for an hour. It could mean spending time with family or getting your hair cut. You know what soothes you. Practice it.
Hard times are temporary. Remember, nothing lasts forever. If we wait long enough, our feelings will change. Life will change. The sun will come out again. So, let’s remember to look for joy actively, and whenever we can.
The Breakthrough Recovery Outreach Team is committed to helping addicts, and alcoholics find a healthy and new way of life. Call us at (770) 493-7750 learn more.