In every trauma or addiction recovery, there will be a ton of stuff we can’t control.
In every LIFE, there is a ton of stuff we can’t control.
I don’t believe in trauma or addiction recovery that depends on controlling stuff we can’t control.
It’s true that it would be much EASIER to recover from trauma or addiction if we had control over certain things in our lives or environments…that we just don’t.
It would be much EASIER to recover if we NEVER had to come into contact with people or situations that trigger us.
It would be much EASIER to recover if we NEVER had to interact with family members that had been abusive or neglectful toward us.
It would be much EASIER to recover if we didn’t have to work jobs to make a living.
Many of the trauma and addiction recovery takes I read on the internet seem to assume that those of us in recovery have nothing else to do BUT recover.
But that’s not the world we live in.
We have jobs. Many of us have kids or pets. We can’t just check out of life to deal with our trauma or addiction issues, the check back in when we’re sufficiently safe or stable.
I HATE when I see takes about how we need to take our recovery “seriously” by “getting help” when we need it…without acknowledging that the “help” on offer, even when it is affordable and/or accessible, often asks us to put everything else on hold in a way that just isn’t practical.
Similarly, I see lots of recovery takes that encourage us to “take control” of certain things in our lives that we just can’t control in the real world.
In the real world, we’re never going to be able to 100% control the people we have to interact with or are exposed to.
In the real world, we’re never going to be able to control certain things about our stress level or our personal or professional responsibilities.
In the real world, we will ABSOLUTELY come up against systemic obstacles and prejudices that can drastically limit how accessible or realistic certain recovery resources are to us.
We can’t meditate or stress-manage those real world things away.
So we need to design a recovery that is, as much as possible, realistically under OUR control— one that doesn’t hinge on us being able to access things that we just can’t reliably access.
To me, what that means is that the main work of recovery happens in our head and in our heart.
We have very limited control over certain aspects of our external environment— but we have a lot MORE control over our INTERNAL environment.
That does not mean we have PERFECT control over what happens in our head and heart.
Often times we are starting out with habits and beliefs that are energetically working AGAINST our recovery.
Often times trauma survivors in particular struggle with intrusive thoughts and memories that can, at times, absolutely DOMINATE our internal environment.
Often times addicts struggle with cravings that can positively OVERRUN anything we’re intentionally trying to think, feel, or focus on.
What I’m trying to say is that NO aspect of recovery, internal or external, is easy.
But if we are truly invested in our success in either trauma or addiction recovery, it matters whether we start with and focus on our internal or external world.
I say life is too short to wish and hope that things reliably change for us externally.
But in my experience focusing on the external world to bolster our recovery is a mistake.
I can’t control what other people say or do. I can’t control the weather.
i can’t perfectly “control” what I think, feel, or focus on either— but I have a LOT more INFLUENCE over what happens INSIDE my head and heart than I often have over what goes on out there in the world.
So that’s where I choose to focus.
My recovery— our recovery— has to work for us EVEN IF things to to hell in a hand basket “out there.”
Because— spoiler— things absolutely WILL, sometimes.