A Fulfilling Life May, in Fact, Help Prevent Relapse
There’s a lot of aspects of recovery, but there is evidence to support that the quality of your new lifestyle directly helps prevent your relapse. I was told early on in my own recovery that sobriety is like biking up a hill; you’re either pedaling upwards or backward. I believe this to be true, all the times I’ve made a conscious decision to coast in my sobriety, I was rolling downhill without realizing it at first. This curse, however, can become your biggest blessing and if you capitalize on it, can help prevent a relapse.
There’s clearly a certain sense of satisfaction that comes along with completing a task and building something to the best of your ability. “Now that’s a job well done” you might say to yourself, and being able to say that earnestly builds self-esteem in an integral way. This same methodology can be applied to your own life and the way you build it up from the bottom you reached in your using. Give yourself the opportunity to look at the endeavors you embark on and the goals you complete with a sense of satisfaction; ultimately building upon them one at a time until you create the life you want for yourself, and in my opinion becoming the person you want to be in that process.
There are two types of goals that allow an individual to feel fulfilled, commonly referred to as “level 1” and “level 2” goals. Level 1 goals are the material goals most of us have, such as “I want to drive a black Subaru WRX STI” (For the record, this is a real level 1 goal for myself). The obtainment of these level 1 goals feels good, but it’s not everything because there ultimately not an end in themselves to happiness. Level 2 goals, in my experience, have been the most crucial way towards building a fulfilling life in sobriety that, when accompanied by certain level 1 goals, gives an individual a sense of self-satisfaction that makes a relapse sound horrendous. Examples of these level 2 goals would be things like “I want to be a college graduate” or “I want to nurture a spiritual connection” and even “I want to be healthy”. These level 2 goals are actually the more guaranteed way to build a fulfilling lifestyle. We get so caught up in level 1 goals that level 2 goals are often thrown to the wayside. But I’ve found that I feel a lot more fulfilled from my future college graduation in May, and I feel just fine about the fact I still don’t drive the car of my dreams.
The point is this, that a fulfilling life is obtained more through obtaining level 2 goals than by the pursuit of level 1 goals. If you don’t have an idea of what your level two goals are, I encourage you to make a goals list, divided in half with level 1 on one side and level 2 on the other. What you’ll find is that the two columns aren’t always compatible, and I guarantee you that you’re better off setting aside portions of the level 1 side for the level 2 side instead of vise versa. For example, you’re better off keeping your integrity in a deal and not getting the maximum financial gain than cheating someone (losing your integrity) to maximize your gain.
If level 2 goals are obtained, you’re sure to be more fulfilled in life. There’s a sense of self-esteem that comes along with being the best person you can be, that in turn allows you to savor your life more, and thus be more fulfilled. This fulfillment ultimately aids in the prevention of relapse because you’ve obtained so much internally at this point that you wouldn’t be willing to throw it away, and the upkeep of it becomes an essential part of who you are.