Hold on to Your Sobriety in the Face of Challenging Times
We are living in extraordinary times of fear, misinformation, information overload, conflict, and entrenched points of view, all of which lead to extreme anxiety and communication breakdown. In the midst of this, no matter how strongly we feel about any given issue, the most important thing that we can do is protect our recovery. If we cast our sobriety aside, ultimately we’re not going to be helpful to anyone or any cause, and especially not to ourselves.
Recognize Your Triggers and Your Vulnerability
In my early sobriety, I relapsed twice because I was listening to the news and participating on Facebook on issues important to me, and, as a consequence, this resulted in me feeling personally offended and getting so triggered and stressed out. It was very, very difficult on me, because while I cared deeply and wanted to participate, my emotional investment in the news cost me my sobriety, and I found myself back on Day One. Big lesson here. However, on the upside, it was a valuable lesson for me in learning how triggers set us up to be vulnerable to drinking again.
Recognizing this risk is critical in early sobriety. It is only natural to want to speak your mind about current events and other topics, but NOW IS NOT THE TIME to engage in emotionally driven issues. Nothing is worth relapsing over. It doesn’t mean you can never speak your mind again. It just means you are taking a break for now.
My beloved addiction counselor used to say, “Don’t give up your seat! Hold on to your recovery seat!” I feel it’s a great metaphor, because we don’t want to be pulled off our center in early sobriety.
Cultivate Your Autonomic Nervous System of Recovery: Withdraw from Triggers
Recovery is just as much about the actions we take as it is the actions we avoid. If something is triggering you, no matter how much you are drawn to engaging in it, I invite you to leave the conversation, environment, or whatever is triggering you.
We want our autonomic nervous system of our recovery
to pull back as soon as the triggering begins.
Consider this analogy. When your hand accidentally touches a hot stove, it’s your natural instinct to pull back, because that’s your autonomic nervous system at work, automatically doing the responding for you. This type of response is what we’re aiming for in early recovery—an automatic response to pull back when we start to see that something could be triggering, especially if we’re already in the process of being triggered. Our goal should be to ignite the “autonomic nervous system of our recovery.”
So how do you do this? Ask yourself a simple question:
Is this harmful to my recovery?
If the answer is yes, then retreat, because it is putting your recovery at risk, and it’s pulling you off your balance. Put yourself first, no matter whom you think might be hurt or angry when you withdraw. This also means that you might have to “not win” an argument you’re passionate about. This is NO LONGER about having the last word or getting all your points made; NOTHING is more important than your sobriety.
You might say something like this:
“Hey, this conversation is starting to get a little uncomfortable for me. I’m feeling a lot of anxiety, and we’re not going to solve this right now. So why don’t we just table it and move on to some other topics that I really want to speak with you about?”
Or it could be something like, “You know, I’m in early recovery, and emotionally charged situations put me in a vulnerable position. And I’m really committed to my early sobriety because it’s the most important thing in my life. So I’d like to table this conversation, and let’s move on and talk about other things.”
Some people aren’t going to accept your retreating, and that’s okay, but it might mean that you need to disengage from them for a time. It’s okay if you’re not as connected with them or spending time with them for the time being. Remember, it is better than relapsing. Or you might find all of a sudden that some people are unfriending you on Facebook. And that’s okay, too. You might even need to get off social media altogether. Or, if you stay on it, you might want to “snooze” somebody on Facebook for 30 days (even close friends or family), or even unfollow or unfriend others. You can also tell people you’re taking a break from social media, but you certainly don’t have to let anyone know.
This is NO LONGER about having the last word
or getting all your points made;
NOTHING is more important than your sobriety.
Other people’s reactions are not our responsibility. Our responsibility is to ourselves. Our responsibility, first and foremost, is our sobriety, our recovery, where so much awaits us, which we’ve been working on, and which we’re so proud of!
Take Precautions before the 2020 Elections
As the 2020 presidential election proceeds, the divisiveness, anger, combativeness, and negativity is only going to escalate, especially on social media, contributing to toxic energy. Knowing this, it’s essential to take precautions. NOW is the time to tune up your autonomic nervous system of recovery. Make it a habit to check in with yourself, asking, Is this harmful to my recovery? Your entire life should be around protecting your sobriety. No exceptions.
Rebalance Yourself with Self-Care Practices
In early recovery, we want to remove (as best as possible) all stressors from our life and replace them with things that bring us balance and stability. If an incident has taken your energy or triggered you, it’s important to immediately refuel with the things you know that are good for recovery and will bring you back to balance, for example, going to meetings, talking to people, breathwork, meditation, movement, reading, singing, connecting with people, and calling your sponsor. If needed, repeat the whole process until you’re back on your balance.
To help support you in cultivating these healing strategies, I am sharing our Self-Love Daily Practice worksheets. There are several practices and a guided meditation you can listen to that will help you recenter. I encourage you to print the worksheets and use them throughout your day every day.
Your recovery is not dependent on a person, place, or situation. Your recovery is unconditional. No exceptions.
So don’t give up your seat, Humble Warrior Women! Stay strong! Love and compassion to all of you and to the world we live in! Namaste.