For two of my favorite recovery tools I’m about to dive into, in order for you to really get value from, there are five guiding principles I want you to understand first.
These guiding principles are pulled from our Addiction Impact Assessment, which is accessible through our Stop the Chaos introductory training.
As you read these guiding principles, I invite you to score yourself for each one on a scale of 1-10, 1 being you don’t know it or believe it at all, and 10 being you fully believe it as fact and have integrated it into your worldview.
Principle #1: Addiction is not a choice
If you’re a 10 on this, you understand fully, with mind, body, and spirit, that at some point, something happens inside a person’s brain, mind and body that prevents them from having the ability to just stop.
Principle #2: Addiction is not who your loved one is
Addiction has taken hold of your loved one, but it’s not who they are. I can tell you this because I lived it—I remember the two voices that I constantly heard when I was active: my truth and the lie, my desire to recover and the addiction. I was taught in recovery that my addiction is always working in the background, looking for an opportunity to slip in. It’s very sneaky. It’s cunning and baffling, but it is not who your loved one is.
Principle #3: Their addiction is not about you
Them being sick isn’t about you and them getting well isn’t about you. It’s happening to them and you are nearby. It certainly impacts you, but it is not about you.
Principle #4: What you do with how you feel is your responsibility
What you do about how you feel about their behaviors and actions and how it’s impacting you is yours to navigate, manage, and recover from.
Principle #5: You are not responsible for their wellness
You can’t make them not drink, and you can’t make them drink. You don’t have that power. You can’t get them or anybody else to do anything. The only person you can control is yourself.
However…when you change your response to them and their addiction, it not only brings you back to peace, it gives your loved one a much higher chance at finding lasting recovery.
Which brings me to the two tools I want to share.
These are small hacks I use to help manage my own responses and maintain my peace and serenity.
The first is helpful for when addiction is coming at you full force, specifically in the form of nasty text messages or hurtful words from your loved one. Here’s the trick:
Tool #1: Imagine their words are coming at you in a foreign language.
Because in a way, they are. Your loved one is speaking the language of addiction. Not because they hate you, but because (principle #1) addiction is not a choice and (principle #2) addiction is not who they are. Addiction has taken over.
If someone insulted you in a foreign language you didn’t speak, would it insult you? Probably not, right? Because it would just brush right by you without registering. That’s how I want you to try and approach the nasty messages. You can even take their text messages and use an app to read them to you in German or French or some other language you don’t understand.
Another trick for this is to change your loved one’s name in your contacts to something that reminds you it’s the addiction speaking. Something that will catch your attention when you look at an incoming message and allow you to be aware of the addiction speaking before you even read what it says.
I know it’s not intuitive or simple. It hurts hearing or reading these things coming from a loved one.
But I want you to remember it’s not your loved one saying it; it’s their addiction. And not letting that addiction in allows you to reclaim your power over it.
Tool #2: Take inventory of what feels good
This tool came to me about 25 years ago when I was first getting into personal development, and I was so curious about why some days I felt great and others I felt dark and shitty.
So I created a document on my computer (you could do this in a notepad or journal, or even on your phone) and created two columns. One column I titled “Good” and the other “Not Good.” And then every time I noticed myself feeling good, I paused to take inventory of the circumstances around that moment.
If I woke up feeling good, I thought about what time I went to bed the night before. What did I do right before bed? What did I eat the night before? What did I watch, who did I talk with? If I caught myself not feeling good, I paid attention to who I was with, what time of day it was, how tired I was, and what I was doing or had been doing leading up to that point.
I wrote it all down.
After a while, a pattern started to emerge of the things and circumstances that make me feel good and the ones that did the opposite. I was able to create a nice long list called “I’m at my best when…” and it’s allowed me to be clear on how to prioritize the things that make me feel good.
So what about you? Do you know when you’re at your best? Try taking your own inventory to help you stay in that good zone more often.
And remember, recovery is an action word. Having an understanding of addiction and recovery is important, but if you don’t do something with that understanding, chances are nothing will change. And you deserve change. So does your loved one.
Even small changes like using these two tools can go a long way.
Leave a comment below or post in our Friends of Tipping Point online community, where are you at in your understanding of the guiding principles I mentioned? Are there any you scored yourself low on?
What do you think of these tools? Are they useful for you? Are there other challenges you would love tools to help you face? Let me know, and I’ll address them in a future blog.