- Be open-minded and honest
A clinician is not able to assist you if you are not completely honest with your thoughts and feelings in the clinical setting. In my addictive addiction, I had very little concept of honesty because of the delusions I lived in regarding my drinking and using. I was not willing to be honest with myself regarding how substances were affecting my life, therefore I projected my delusions onto others, creating an echo-chamber of delusional beliefs regarding my thoughts, feelings, and actions. Once I found recovery, for the first time I was able to be honest in therapy, therefore being able to fully utilize the services therapy offered, which propelled me into true emotional health.
- Take feedback
In my active addiction, I spent much time and energy seeking people that would enable my maladaptive behaviors. I was not willing to hear feedback or take suggestions to engage in behaviors that were healthy for me. When I got sober, I became willing to do something “different”, and in turn understood that others’ feedback and suggestions was only meant to be loving and helpful as I continue to heal.
- Do your homework!
I can’t tell you how many times my previous therapist recommended mindfulness and meditation as a skill to manage my anxiety and minimize trauma responses. Every week, I would swear that I would make a commitment to doing that week’s “therapy homework”. Without fail, I made the decision to never utilize the skills that were being offered to me, despite (what I thought at the time) a desire to be emotionally and spiritually healthy. Come to find out, the skills therapist suggests have taught me, when put to practice, do offer the relief I was searching for.
Therapy & the 12-Steps
When I first entered recovery, I felt as if I heard so many conflicting messages regarding therapy and the 12-steps. I was confused about when to assert boundaries, and when to let things slide under the idea that the Universe has a plan and to “let things fall as they must.” I continuously felt conflicted and pulled in two directions.
As I continued to engage in both 12-step recovery and therapy and developed a deeper understanding of both practices, I began to understand that instead of conflicting each other, they compliment each other. I learned that “one day at a time” can translate to “one moment at a time”, which was exactly what Mindfulness was. I learned through the Serenity Prayer, that I could not control other people and that the only thing I had control over was myself. These tools built a foundation where I learned how to face life successfully.
When I got sober, all I wanted was to quit drinking. My life had become messy and I was unable to exist in society. I believed removing alcohol would clear that all up. The reality was, the only coping skill I had development was picking up a drink, and had to develop those skills as well. The outcome of continuing to persevere through trial and error, is a life of freedom, contentment, and happiness.