Every day without using can be uncomfortable especially when trying to practice and implement new recovery skills. This alone makes the first 90 days of recovery very critical. The first 90 days has been known as where most relapses occur.
When in recovery, you give up more than a substance, but also behaviors. If you are returning home from treatment, everything you left (friends, job, family, etc.) can be overwhelming. Recovery can be difficult to manage without structure, a routine and consistency. Without these things, recovery can collapse. Below are 12 critical tools for surviving the first 90 days of recovery.
Is your body living in the present, but your mind is in the past or future? Do you have resentments, guilt, or shame from your past? Are you afraid of current circumstances causing you displeasure continuing in your future?
The voice of the ego-mind makes us believe we can only achieve internal peace based on what happens in the world around us.
The philosopher Wittgenstein stated, “The eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.” When you do not allow yourself to experience any moment for itself, you stop time.
The past is said and done. What remains to be seen is what you can bring to your present and future. You always have the power to decide that any poor decision you made in the past does not have to be repeated in the present.
Be motivated by having been treated unfairly in the past to treat yourself fairly in the present. You have better things to do than rake yourself over the coals because of your past. What you tell yourself today is way more important than what others have told you in your past.
Shift your thinking to understand how past experiences do not represent you. Instead, your past experiences represent things you have experienced. Your past does not make you a better or worse person nor is it your enemy. The enemy is your way of thinking about your past. Use your past to make you emotionally strong in your present.
Let’s face it; the past is not going to get any better!
Growing up, the parent-child relationship is the first social relationship we experience. Children who grow up in a household where their feelings are not acknowledged, validated or responded to sufficiently learn their emotions are not valid, unacceptable to others, or don't matter and they must ignore, neutralize, devalue or push away their emotions. The child now knows how to disconnect from their own feelings.
Some children grow up with parents or caretakers that treat them as though they are not lovable. They then develop the idea that they are the problem or something is wrong with them. The truth is that the child received uncaring treatment by an unhappy and/or emotionally limited parent.
As an adult, the feelings of emptiness from childhood become a vital part of ones being. Emptiness can be described as something missing inside of you; a disconnection from yourself and others caused by absence of feeling. Physically, your body could feel as though there is an empty space in your belly, chest or other parts of your body.
As an adult, people who have emptiness often care for others better than they care for themselves. They can put a smile on their face, never giving away their emptiness. Adults that do not feel worthwhile may suffer from depression and lack confidence.
If this resonates with you, please know you can begin to give yourself the emotional attention you did not get as a child. You can begin to accept your own feelings as an expression of your true self without feeling or believing you are weak. Pay attention to what you want and need while using your voice to ask for them.
Take time to practice positive self-talk to eliminate your inner critic. Start showering yourself with self-acceptance and self-love by appreciating the good qualities you have.
Take great care of yourself. This can include forgiving yourself for your past mistakes and eliminating any guilt or shame associated with feeling empty or worthless. Relationships that are toxic, find a way to end them so you can treat yourself with the self-compassion you deserve.
Engage with others in a meaningful way to take a step towards healing your emptiness. Others may feel the same thing, but do not express it, so you could be offering a gift that helps them. Every human being has value.
Work on your inner child to give your adult you a better life. You can heal!
Growing up, you may have discovered ways to make yourself feel better when you had been hurt or felt bad. Some self-soothing ways could have included playing with your dog, favorite doll or toy truck. As an adult, when you felt uncomfortable, upset, anxious or irritated, you may have turned to negative self-soothing techniques to make yourself feel better as quickly as possible. Some of these things included:
These things may have made you feel better at first, but later worsened your situation. If you are using any of these negative self-harm techniques now, there are safer ways that can work for you. Try any of these 10 self-soothing techniques to feel better about yourself or any situation.
Remember, each day you can help yourself feel better by doing many good things that do not involve cutting, overeating or using alcohol or illicit substances. You are in control of your life. Do something fun, creative, uplifting, interesting and exciting when self-soothing routine.
Every day the list expands to the things we can buy and do online. If you live in a rural area and want to go to therapy, but are afraid of running into someone you know, online therapy could be a great option. If you live in an urban area and are super busy from work demands, but want to go to therapy, online therapy could be just for you. Here are 5 pros to online therapy.
One con to online therapy would be if you are experiencing a crisis situation. Online therapists are at a distance making it difficult for them to respond fast enough. Therapists can respond, but their approach to the situation when communicating solely online may have to be changed.
Whether you live in a rural or urban area, online therapy is not for everyone. Some people prefer the face-to-face session and that is totally fine! As long as you are getting the help you need, the delivery method does not matter. Only you can decide if online therapy works best for you and your situation.
One’s quality of life can be enhanced by having a positive attitude and sense of general well-being. Improving your mind and memory through mentally stimulating exercises can also help. Keep in mind, happiness takes work. The basic ingredients to being happy includes safety, satiation, perception and quietude.
Feeling unsafe can bring about fear. This fear creates uncertainty and tension within your body making it hard for you to experience happiness. Ask yourself, “How safe and secure do I feel in my everyday life?”
No one has everything they want, but ask yourself, “At this moment, am I full?” Only you can answer this question. You know how much you need to be satiated however, if nothing is ever enough, your search for happiness will never end! You can be happy in this present moment without having everything you want, but you cannot be happy if your life is empty. How satiated are you with your finances, relationships, career, etc.?
Right now, take the time to reflect on the bigger picture of what your life is all about. Getting caught up in the minuscule details can be derailing you from enjoying the journey, the positive impact you are having on others and within your own life. How pleased are you with your general life situation? Are you grateful for the way your life is turning out?
How often do you find yourself in a quiet place where you can have a true moment of reflection? If not every day, at least once a week, find a quiet place where you can get in touch with feeling safe, see how satiated you are and self-reflect for 20 mins. Take a break from your day of being busy and rest. Find the space where you can hear yourself think and have no responsibilities. How often do you have sense of peace of mind? How often do you feel content?
As you reflect on these questions, focus on the ones you struggled with or could not answer. These are the ones that need your attention the most. As you work on these, you move closer to being a happier person.
We all have experienced stress, anxiety, depression, grief or relationship problems at some point in our lives, right? Many of us have friends or loved ones who are suffering right now and could benefit from therapy. But, how do we tell them to go to therapy?
Telling someone they need therapy can come off very offensive. Therapy itself is still a sensitive issue to talk about. Suggesting to a loved one or friend they need therapy can make them feel as if they are being criticized.
6 Ways to Recommend Therapy:
Don’t let your loved one or friend suffer in silence. Express to them that therapy is not replacing the relationship. If they decide to not go to therapy, you did your part. If the relationship is becoming harmful to you, reevaluate your boundaries with them. You might want to examine if the relationship is worth continuing. We all can benefit from therapy!
Did you have a pen pal as a kid? I loved sitting down, writing and sharing something from my heart, funny or serious. I was able to share my authentic self to someone else in a meaningful way. I remembered how excited I was when my letter arrived in the mail. It was a wonderful experience to hold a letter that someone else took the time and thought to write just for me.
My first pen pal was assigned to me in the 5th grade. She was another 5th grader from Alabama. In the 6th grade, I was assigned my second pen pal from Germany. Both pen pals added so much to my learning because of their cultures as they were different from mines growing up in Illinois.
Writing a letter provides time for us to be ourselves, honest, dream, listen and understanding. It can be hard to embrace ourselves, especially if we’ve been taught that we need to change based on so-called norms in our society and/or culture. Meaningful connections with others have been lost due to our overuse of social media and texting. I love technology and its benefits, but nothing will ever replace the human connection needed within ourselves or from others.
Ways to embrace yourself and connect with others now:
There are many things in life we try to control on our own. We try to control what other people do, say and feel about us. Sometimes, we internalize these things. There are also times where we don’t control the things we can. Some days, we just don’t feel like it because it appears as though everything is falling apart in the middle of a life-storm creating a flight or flee response. But even in difficult times, we can get through life-changing events.
As life happens, try to be honest for what’s true for you. Remind yourself, you have power no matter the circumstances that comes your way and with the help of a therapist; you can cultivate a meaningful, fulfilling and compassionate life for yourself. It is empowering to keep in mind that you are not alone.
Here are 12 ways therapy can be helpful in navigating life.
When life gives you lemons, they say to make lemon-aide.
How about when life comes at you fast and throws several curve balls?
You just got a new job, more money so now you revisit your finances and find ways to keep more money in your savings account; home-run!
Your daughter just made #1 on the charter school lottery for the upcoming school year; home-run!
Your sister just had her first baby and you are super excited to be an aunt; home-run!
After flying through green pastures, celebrating these homeruns, you grab a seat and close your eyes to stay in the present and relish on the beauty of it all.
As soon as you open your eyes, the fastest curve ball you have ever witnessed is now coming towards you.
The basement is flooded with the view and stench of feces leaving you to now wash clothes at the laundromat as it will cost over $300 to get the pipes in the basement unclogged.
You call to follow up on the first day your daughter starts the new school to be told, they made a typo on the letter you received and she will not be attending their school this year.
You hang up the phone with the curve ball now stuck in your throat.
On your way out the front door, heading to see your newborn niece, the phone rings! Your grandmother died.
You sit! You began to feel a tingle of pain in your chest, so you breathe although the air seems uncooperative because you cannot seem to calm yourself and the curve balls are now stuck in various parts of your body.
So you stand and begin to walk from one end of the room to the next. Now, the pounding in your head matches the sensation in your chest. The sound of the mailman placing the mail in your mailbox snaps you out of your head and for that split second, you are now focused on the task of reading the mail in hopes of a distraction.
You open the first piece of mail to read you are being fined $300 by the city for having the police dispatched to your home too many times for false alarms. You open the second piece of mail and it’s a notice stating your mortgage has increased $400 because your mortgage company failed to take out enough money to cover last year’s escrow.
The money you meticulously budgeted every month to go into your savings is now gone.
Now, the room is spinning and all those curve balls have knocked you on your ass. And it’s only Tuesday!
How are you going to make it through today? The rest of the week?
Eat comfort food…or not.
Well, whatever you do…stand still and catch those curve balls.
Life is always testing you! Your perception of events can be good or bad; own it!
With each curve ball, be present and feel those uncomfortable feelings. Do not try to move away from the discomfort of those curve balls. Go with the ebb of each one, but stay grounded. With every season, winter, spring, summer and fall – as humans we adapt and you can too when life throws you a curve ball or three!
Staying present is the only way to find a solution to current problems and fully go with the ebb of life’s curve balls! Once you solve the problem, you can move on. Another curve ball will come, and that is fine just like when one season ends, we prepare for another.
For every curve ball is a homerun waiting to be hit out the park!
I am a determined, loving, loyal and perceptive therapist that helps professional women of color build their self-confidence to build a career and live a life worth living. I listen quietly and attentively remembering details to tell truths that need to be spoken.