“Tip the Scales” – Learning Balance in Recovery
“Me. I’m all or nothing, no middle ground here.”
Learning to find balance can be particularly challenging in recovery
(trust me I am still practicing almost 8 years later)
You see, leading a balanced life means avoiding extreme highs or lows. It forces you to pay attention to those compulsive tendencies that many of those who experience dependence own.
In recovery we then have a tendency to focus on or obsess too much on one activity, such as exercise or work. When these scale tip too far in one direction, it can trigger the urge to turn back to old behaviours to cope.
Life can become unbalanced when you expect to feel good all the time.
(we deserve it after that roller-coaster, right?).
You want to experience good things now your clean, have energy and are excited. You want to be:
- More excited
- Having more fun
- Experiencing more pleasure
The danger, like substances, If you feel good, you want to feel even better. You want to intensify and prolong feelings of joy, excitement, love or enjoyment. You want every day to be a good day.
In early recovery you may feel like there is no room for bad feelings.
(I’m Mr, or Ms, positive all the way. No time for negative stuff here).
You want to experience:
- Less pain
- Less disappointment
- Less fear
- Less sadness
I know that when I abuse drugs and alcohol used it to numb negative feelings. I did everything in my power to avoid feeling anything that was unpleasant or uncomfortable. Life revolved around substances that helped me try to prevent ever feeling bad.
Now. Running from feelings is what you’re used to, and since you know you can’t pick up a substance, you can see why you may try to run in other ways.
It’s very common for a someone in recovery to turn to overeating or gambling or relationship addiction. You may sleep too much or you might become obsessive about exercise.
(I ran 5 marathons in 18 months. Really balanced).
You may tend to approach pretty much everything addictively. Strangely enough, some people miss the extreme highs and lows of active addiction.
Life may appear boring when you first enter recovery and once you survive the initial roller-coaster of newly felt emotions, you might find yourself thinking,
You want the secret?
How to Lead a Balanced Life
Firstly, one thing to keep in mind is that recovery is a constant learning process. Learning to live life sober takes time, and your life will never be completely balanced.
What you should strive for is progress, not perfection.
The old bicycle analogy fits in here. A balanced life is just like riding a bike. Lean too far to one side and, well, you know.
It’s the same with recovery.
Other things to consider when you are working towards balance are:
Asking for help.
Learning to live sober takes time, let alone deal with the negative emotional that go with it. It’s important to ask for help from others who have experience dealing with life on life’s terms.
Keep it simple.
I will say it again. “KEEP IT SIMPLE”. Use this approach to life. Be mindful that there are areas that frequently can cause you to lose your balance.
Your actions and recovery are your own. No one else’s. Don’t blame others for the things that aren’t working in your life.
Keep striving for progress, not perfection.
Your life will never be perfectly balanced. You will (and I did) make a lot of mistakes along the way, but as long as you don’t pick up a drink or a drug, you will have another chance to try again tomorrow.