What to Do When You Hit “The Wall” in Recovery
What to Do When You Hit “The Wall” in RecoveryPeople who are trying to live in sobriety will hear that at some point in recovery, they will “hit the wall”. When people first begin working out, they will notice a big difference in their bodies. This is because the body is experiencing something new and is reacting to it accordingly. After a while though, they hit a plateau. It is not because they are no longer working out. It is more than the body has fully adjusted to the current workout and is ready for something new. When this happens, they have three choices: 1) give up since they no longer see results; 2) remain at that plateau thinking what they are doing is enough and never progressing; or 3) push through it by changing up the current workout. When you plateau in recovery, you are faced with the same three choices. The easiest thing would be to give up, but you did not go into this because it is easy. And yes, you can just hover where you are, but then you will never reach your goal. The best option is to push through it with everything you have inside of you. The following are some ways to help you do just that.
Remember Where You Came FromWhen you hit a wall, you often look around and feel you have not done enough, that you are not good enough, and that you just wasted your time because you think you are no better than when you started. That is absolutely not true. You have to remember where you came from, how low you were when you started. When you think about how you used to be, you will see the difference and that will push you to continue.
Know Your EnemyOften, when you know something is coming, you can prepare for it. Understanding what it means to “hit the wall” in your sobriety is the first step in battling it. You do not want anything to catch you off guard that regresses your progress. Study the signs and symptoms, and talk to others who have been there to hear how it really feels. This will help you recognize what is going on before it gets too far, so if you do hit a wall, you can recognize the negative self-talk for what it is: lies.
Be Open About ItOne of the worst things that you can do when suffering from any emotions or negative thoughts is to keep it to yourself. Suffering in silence is not going to help you in the recovery process. There are people who know what you are going through because they have been there, but they cannot help if you do not allow them to. Also, speaking to your therapist, counselors, and anyone else involved in your recovery about it can let them know that it is time to change up your program. Discuss these feeling with them and ask what you might do differently or in addition to your current program to stimulate your recovery once again. They, too, are committed to your success and will do what they can to help you move past this phase.
Surround Yourself with SupportThere are people who love and care about you, and they want to see you succeed. If you are committed to your sobriety, they are most likely willing to do whatever it takes to support you. Also, when you do feel like you have gone nowhere, those are the people that can tell you just how far you have come. Ask them how they feel about your progress so far and you will probably find that they are proud of you. Hearing the praise can boost your self-confidence and push you toward the finish line.
ConclusionThough hitting a wall in your recovery may seem intimidating, it does not have to be. It is completely possible to run straight through it with the right support and program. Remember why you chose to reach for sobriety in the first place and keep that goal in mind. Do not wait for help to find you. If you feel yourself struggling with your recovery, reach out to the people that can help you keep pushing and hold you up when necessary. Above all, do not give up hope.
Relational Self Care
Relational HealthOur well-being depends very closely on the quality of our relationships. Thus, when subject to a life absent of healthy relationships, we lose our sense of self-esteem, our capacity for empathy and compassion, and our mutual support. This often leaves room for a focus on individualism that encourages isolation and creates conflicts. Under our current economic system, we are often rewarded for these behaviors as well, but more on that in our next segment. Here are some tips for improving the quality of your relationships:
Smile More.The easiest and most effective advice to follow to improve your relationships with others is to smile. Smiling reduces aggressiveness, hacks your brain’s reward system to release dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, and tends to help others’ have more positive perceptions of you.
Compliment People More Often & Be Sincere.Keep track and notice the positive changes or the progress made by the people around you. Sharing with someone the ways that they have made a positive impact on your life, or even that you admired the way they handled a situation, can be a powerful gift, for you and for them. Taking the time to expand your focus onto others can have a huge ripple effect in your relationships.
Meet New People.There is nothing quite like the intoxicating feeling of getting to know someone new, and connecting over a shared interest. C.S. Lewis’ famous quote reads, “Friendship is born at the moment where one man says to another, ‘What, you too? I thought I was the only one…’”
Nurture Important Relationships.Spend time with people that you like, or time connecting with them via phone or writing and sharing updates. Check in with family members as well, and nurture your ability to ask for help. This also includes being the one to take initiative in organizing activities with these people to increase the quality of time spent with them.
Complete a Digital Detox.Digital detox refers to a period of time during which a person abstains from using electronic connecting devices such as smartphones and computers. Regardless of the length of the detox, it is considered an opportunity to reduce stress or to increase focus on social interactions in the physical world. Benefits include increased awareness, decreased anxiety, a better appreciation of one’s environment, and approaching the world in a more person-centered way.
In Close Relationships:
Spend Alone Time with Your Romantic Partner.Firstly, see ‘digital detox’ above. More than just spending alone time together, engage one another in stimulating conversations, continue to seek understanding of the complex inner world of the other. Try not to spend all of your time together “doing” and cultivate a practice of just “being” together.
Develop Your Listening Skills.It is absolutely impossible to achieve good long-term relationships when you are unable to listen. Embrace the fundamental idea that ‘you do not need to agree with what is being said to listen to what is being said’. Try to stay out of fixing the problem, invalidating feelings, or stealing the focus of the conversation.
Admit Your Wrongs.One surefire way to make sure that you avoid happiness is to “be right, always right. Be the only one who is always right and be rigid in your rightness.” On the other hand, willingness to admit your shortcomings tends to go a long way in creating authentic and lasting relationships. While by no means is this an exhaustive list for how to have a good relationship, shifting focus to some of these practices will certainly help to increase relational wellbeing and overall life satisfaction. Next up: Professional Self Care.
Emotional Self Care
Emotional Well-beingEmotional well-being can be defined as the overall state of one’s emotions, as well as their sense of purpose, and ability to pursue meaningful goals. However, emotional well-being is not the absence of emotions, but rather, the ability to understand the value of your emotions as signals of what is happening internally, and to use them to propel your life forward. Becoming an emotionally mature adult involves first taking responsibility for the way that we feel, and the way that we communicate those messages to others. It involves ridding our vocabulary of the phrasing, “you made me angry! (frustrated, sad, violent, etc.)” or in essence, “you made me react that way!” In this process, it is imperative that we remember that emotions are not “good” or “bad”, and it is truly only our attitude and reactions that matter. Often considered as a taboo subject in today’s culture, this aspect of our person is an intimate constituent of our happiness as indeed, taking care of your emotions is a delicate process. However, it remains a necessary process, and involves the following considerations:
Love Yourself.Practice giving yourself affirmations and praising yourself for a job well done. Set yourself up for success by planning out several small tasks throughout the day which you know that you can accomplish, this will help to boost your self-esteem and help to feel good about yourself. Start with making your bed.
Listen To Your Needs.Pay attention to what might be going on in your emotional world, and seek out healing activities to bring comfort to the storm raging inside of you. Reconnect with your inner child by reading your favorite books again, or re-watch your favorite movies and leave space for yourself to connect with any and all feelings that arise.
Identify with Your Feelings.In her book, Braving the Wilderness, Brene Brown speaks of her practice of writing permission slips to herself as she goes about her daily life. This advice is useful for those of us who have a hard time expressing emotions. Give yourself permission:
- To be sad
- To be excited
- To Cry
- To act goofy
- To laugh boldly
- To have fun
- To express your political or social outrage
Create a Healthy Support SystemMake an effort to stay in contact with important people in your life, and balance your schedule to make time to be with friends or family members who really understand you. Devote time and energy to these and other relationships that bring you joy.
Embrace VulnerabilityAlthough many people aren’t comfortable talking about their feelings, or what’s going on in their emotional worlds, we know that it is through our ability to have an honest connection with others that we are able to find true healing. Opening up about personal issues is never easy but can have huge effects. Whether in a community support group or with a therapist, talking it out and processing through your emotions can reduce your sense of helplessness and provide relief in the shared burden of your struggles. Stay Tuned for the next installment in the Self-Care Series: Spiritual Self-Care.
Psychological Self Care
Make time for Reflection.