I don’t think people struggle in their recovery work because they’re being “stubborn.”
I don’t think people struggle in their recovery work because they are “difficult.”
I think if someone’s struggling in your recovery from depression, anxiety, trauma, and/or addiction, it’s usually because they’re overwhelmed, exhausted, or confused about what they need to do next.
Lots of times, we get attitude from other people who see us struggling in our recovery, and who apparently assume that we’re not “trying hard enough.”
They’ll call us “avoidant”— as if there’s anyone out there who DOESN’T avoid things that are overwhelming or or painful.
OF COURSE we’re “avoidant” sometimes in recovery. You would be, too, if you really understood what we’re being asked to wrestle with.
People in recovery are asked to go into battle against some of their scariest personal demons.
In trauma recovery, we’re often asked to confront feelings and memories that we’ve buried specifically BECAUSE they’re overwhelming.
In addiction recovery, we’re asked to with with emotional and physical discomfort that is so distressing that we’ve almost destroyed our lives scrambling away from it.
In recovery from depression and anxiety, we’re asked to reevaluate thought patterns and beliefs that feel INCREDIBLY real and valid to us— a process that can make us feel crazy, stable, or foolish.
NONE of this work is easy.
Can you blame ANYONE for being “avoidant” when it comes to emotional and behavioral change?
If we’re going to successfully do recovery work, we need to continually work developing ways to stick with it EVEN WHEN it gets overwhelming, exhausting, or confusing.
The vast majority of people I’ve ever guided through their recovery have been extremely eager and motivated to do the work— but they often run into a wall when they get overloaded, tired, or uncertain about what exactly a situation calls for.
We need to stop seeing our struggles in recovery as a manifestation of willful “resistance.”
Generally speaking, the most “resistance” we hit in recovery are completely normal. ANY human being would resist pushing forward when they’re overwhelmed, exhausted, or confused.
All of this goes to how we talk to ourselves, about ourselves.
How do we talk to ourselves about our recovery efforts?
Do we extend ourselves the benefit of the doubt, affirming that this is a difficult process that’s asking a lot of us?
Do we remind ourselves that it’s okay— and unavoidable— to have normal human reactions such as fear, uncertainty, or fatigue?
Or do we get on board with our critics and bullies, tell ourselves we’re just being difficult, and that we just need to get our sh*t together?
“Suck it up” isn’t a strategy.
If we’re stalled out in recovery, we need to get clear on the roadblock and brainstorm strategies and tactics to go around or through that roadblock— not a pep talk about how our attitude sucks.
People who don’t have to do this “recovery” thing will never understand how hard it is.
They’ll never understand how much it asks. They’ll never know that, in choosing to be and stay in recovery, you’re doing something that MOST people out there in the world aren’t prepared to do.
Be real and compassionate with yourself when you stall out in recovery.
It’s not you. It’s the nature of the process.
Breathe; blink; and focus on doing the next right thing.