One of the ways in which black and white thinking manifests itself is is the conviction that we need to be at our best in order to make any kind of progress. 

The temptation, when we’re not feeling well, when we’re hurt or injured, when we’re sick, or when we’re otherwise compromised, is to put personal development and recovery on the back burner until we feel better. 

We’re surely not going to make any progress right now, not when we’re in pain, not when we’re feeling so lousy, right? 

Surely we should just wait until we’re better in order to move ahead with our recovery, right? 

Surely it just makes more SENSE to wait until we’re feeling better in order to try to get back on track, right?


If we’re serious about recovery— from addiction, from trauma, from depression, from whatever— we don’t get days off. 

Even if we’re not feeling well. 

Even if we’re injured. 

Even if we’re in pain. 

Even if we’re tired. 

Don’t get me wrong: I completely get the impulse to not want to do recovery stuff when you’re not feeling well. 

When your’e not feeling well, all you really want to do is curl up until you feel better. 

Moreover, I totally get the argument that if you’re not feeling well, you may not be in a position to make great leaps and bounds when it comes to recovery. 

The problem crops up when we use “not feeling well” as an excuse to induce in the thinking and behaviors that keep us sick. 

Many people who are trying to recover from substance abuse get it in their heads that, you know, I’m not feeling well, so I’m going to just go ahead and cave in to my cravings tonight, and I’ll get back on the abstinence bandwagon when I feel better. 

Many people who are trying to stick to a diet get it in the heads that, you know what, I’m kinda sick tonight, I don’t want to have to expend the energy to resist my food cravings tonight, I’m just gonna go ahead and cave, and I’ll get back on my diet when I’m feeling better. 

Many people who are trying to recover from trauma-based symptoms get it in their heads that, you know what, I’m just not at my best right now, I don’t feel like I can use those tools and skills that I’m developing in therapy to their fullest extent, so I’m not even going to try tonight. Maybe when I’m feeling better I’ll hop back on the “tools and skills” bandwagon. 

Here’s the thing: you don’t need to be at your best to use your tools and skills. 

You don’t need to feeling great to stick to your diet. 

You don’t need to be at the top of your game to stay way from your drug of choice. 

In fact, it’s when we’re not feeling well that it’s PARTICULARLY important that we stay on track. 

What you need to do in these moments, when you don’t feel well, is be real and firm with yourself. 

You need to commit that, you know what, I’m not about to let this moment of pain become a moment of relapse. 

I may not be making great leaps forward in my recovery tonight…but that doesn’t mean I need to take a step backwards. 

I can still use the baseline tools and skills I’ve learned to keep me out of the worst headspace tonight, EVEN IF I don’t feel well. 

We need to remember that if we’re in recovery, we’re in recovery. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. 

The name of the game is not, ‘I’m in recovery, but only if I feel well tonight.’ 

The name of the game is, ‘I’m in recovery, no matter what.’

You can do this. 


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