5 Of The Most Important Coping Skills In Sobriety
Sobriety is all about learning how to deal with the situations and circumstances that we drank and used over for most of our lives. Getting a handle on healthier ways to deal with these situations is extremely important if we are going to have a chance to put together any type of long lasting sobriety. It isn’t just about relapse prevention though. While it can be tempting to just avoid “triggers”, the kind of techniques that will allow us to live in recovery are more about learning a completely new way of dealing with life.
It takes time for these to develop though. Expecting someone to learn how to consistently implement these skills after just a few months of sobriety is unrealistic. These take practice and applying them to our lives is a process. Here are 5 of the most important techniques that we must develop in recovery:
- Letting Go of a Victim Mentality
- Learning to Deal With Resentment
- Taking Ownership of Mistakes
- Be Honest
- Practicing Gratitude
1. Letting Go of a Victim Mentality
As addicts we naturally want to blame all of our problems on the world around us. It is much easier to justify the way that we feel and the way that our lives look when we can point the finger at the people, places and things that have made it this way. We don’t like to take responsibility for our problems! As long as things are someone else’s fault, we don’t have to change the way that we are living and behaving and have the ability to rationalize continuing on our path.
This keeps us trapped though! When we have a victim mentality, we don’t have any power to change our circumstances. While it may seem counter-intuitive, once we let go of the idea that we are victims, we gain the ability to start making positive changes in our life. As soon as we realize that we do have control over our attitudes and our actions, we are able to start changing the behaviors and perspectives that keep us trapped in addiction.
This is a process that takes time though. Expecting someone’s entire paradigm to shift in just a couple of months is unrealistic. We have to put energy into looking at things differently and develop this technique of looking at the world differently. As we get more time sober and see more and more that we are responsible for how we feel, this new mentality becomes a working part of our mind and allows us to get involved in not just our sobriety but our lives.
2. Learning to Deal With Resentments
Building off of the last point, addicts like to hold onto perceived injustices. Sometimes it can feel good to be angry at other people and situations. For recovery though, this type of thinking can kill us. We end up using tons of mental and emotional energy staying angry at other people and find ourselves still in the exact same situation with no way out. We have to learn a more healthy way of dealing with these type of feelings in order to stay sober.
In sobriety, we learn to do this by looking at our part in things and practicing forgiveness. Again, this is a process that takes practice and time. There are so many unresolved emotions going on in early recovery that can make this especially difficult. Expecting someone who has just gotten sober to be able to intuitively handle their anger is just not realistic. This doesn’t mean it isn’t important though. Holding onto resentment is one of the things that can take us out of sobriety very quickly. This is why it is so important for someone to be in an environment that gives them time to develop this skill safely.
3. Taking Ownership of Mistakes
When we are getting sober we are also going to inevitably make mistakes. This isn’t something that changes – we will make mistakes our whole lives. This is ok! The important thing is to be able to take ownership of them, especially if we are going to stay sober. In early recovery this is very difficult. Our egos scream at us to not take ownership and deflect blame away from ourselves. To achieve long-term sobriety though, we have to be able to take ownership when we do fall short and take actions to make it right.
Whats more, this should be done without shame and guilt. Addicts live in a world of extremes. Either we aren’t at fault at all, or we are terrible people, riddled with shame. Neither of these is true. Recovering is about finding a balance and learning not to live exclusively in these black and white terms. This is contrary to the way that we have dealt with life up unto this point and as such, takes some time to develop. Being surrounded by an encouraging community that not only pushes you to be better but helps you to look honestly at yourself is important to develop this trait.
4. Be Honest
Integrity is of the utmost importance in recovery. Without honesty, there is little hope of long lasting sobriety. Like the other tips on this list though, it is something that has to be practiced. When we are living in active addiction, dishonesty is a necessary part of continuing to drink and use. This means that we usually come into recovery with years of practice and habits centered in dishonesty. Getting to a place where this can change and we are able to look at at deal with things in an honest and open way takes time.
Addicts try to avoid negative consequences and the easiest way for us to do this is often by lying. We have to practice honesty and over time we see that life actually goes much better for us when we are living with integrity. It doesn’t happen overnight though and we learn this process by making mistakes, getting honest and slowly changing our character.
5. Practicing Gratitude
Finally, we have to learn to practice gratitude in our lives in order to stay sober. This is partly a change in our perception and partly a change in our behavior. Gratitude is an action word. It is not enough to just be thankful – we have to live in our gratitude. This means demonstrating it by the way that we conduct ourselves and live our lives. In early recovery, we have often not yet tapped into gratitude and still feel like the world has wronged us. Only through time and experience are we able to shift this perception and then incorporate it into our behavior.
Once we take this approach we find ourselves much more able to enjoy the little things that happen on a daily basis. We also find ourselves more connected with others and enjoying the way that it feels to live a good life. Again though, we cannot be expected to be in this place in our first few months sober. This lifestyle change takes practice and has to be consistently worked at!