Working Through Fear in Recovery

Fear in recovery is incredibly common – you are encountering all of these new experiences and situations that you never had to face while sober.

You relied on drugs and alcohol to soften and subdue everything before, and now, without a barrier, you find yourself fearful and anxious. If you allow it, fear will consume you and block you from living your life to the fullest; it will dictate all of your choices and stunt your emotional and spiritual growth. However, you do have a choice. You do not have to let fear run your life. You have the option to choose whether you want to walk through your fears or cower beneath them. There are many tools and tricks available in sobriety to aid you in working through your fears, you just have to know what they are and how to best apply them.


Give it Up


To your higher power, that is. Stop trying to control the show and start trusting that your higher power will guide you in walking through situations that you fear. Have faith that something bigger and better than you knows what you can or cannot handle and that it would not have put something in your path if you could not scale it successfully. This is where the third step really comes into play: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him”. If you have truly admitted to your innermost self that you are powerless and have turned your will over to your higher power, then your fears become inconsequential for you have the understanding that your higher power will always keep you safe.


Address the Defects


In steps 6 and 7 we make a list of all of our character defects and then humbly ask God to remove them. If you find yourself living in a lot of fear, perhaps it is time to re-work the steps and really focus on you character defects and the fears that drive them. I find that fear is a major force behind our character defects, fears are in fact what cause us to develop character defects in the first place. By addressing our fears the character defects suddenly start to dissipate. Break down your character defects in your step work by looking at WHAT it is you fear, whether it be finance, disaster, death, etc. and how that fear translates into character defects. By being aware of your fears and putting names to them, you can then ask your higher power to remove them. You can immediately identify those fears and character defects when they come up and then address them whether it be writing on them, calling your sponsor, or praying and practicing meditation.


Support Network


Reach out to those around you and talk about your fears. Just as our secrets keep us sick, so do our fears. When you do not talk about those things that scare you the most, you give them power. By naming your fears and being able to talk about them with others you not only get feedback from those around you on what their experience has been with such issues but also bring light to the dark corners where your fears hide. It is truly incredible what simply talking can do to alleviate your deepest fears. Try not to worry about being judged or ridiculed, chances are good that you will be amazed at how many other people have had the same fears in the past. Talk to friends, to your sponsor, to a therapist. Talk with as many people as you feel comfortable. Sharing your own stories will not only help you but also those around who you might be struggling with the same exact fears as you are.


Remember Nothing is Permanent


When you are in the midst of your fears, it is hard to see to the other side of the equation. It is hard to truly comprehend that what you are feeling will not last forever. Sometimes when you are scared or upset it seems like those awful feelings will never leave, that you will feel terrible forever. This is not the case. Nothing is permanent, there is nothing that can’t be worked on, changed, mitigated. When you feel like you are drowning in your fears and can not possibly get to the surface for air, take deep breaths. Call your support network. Trust in your higher power. Say the serenity prayer. Remind yourself that this too shall pass. And I promise that it will.

Know that fear is a part of growth, and that without fear there would be no recovery. That without fear we would be stagnant and uninterested in being pushed towards bigger and better things. Understand that fear is a necessary part of the recovery process and know that just because something feels terrifying it doesn’t mean that it is. Remember that feelings aren’t facts, and that by working through your fear, you will always come out on the other side of the tunnel brighter, stronger, and happier than ever. Fear can run your life, but you don’t have to allow it to.


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