One of the best rewards to recovery is developing the ability to gain the strength and resilience to achieve a state of independence. However, in recovery from a substance use disorder (SUD), specific challenges can stifle you and leave you in a state of hopelessness and low confidence. You might wonder when or if you will ever attain true independence. You might even ask, “What is true independence?” When you begin to feel like you are still under the weight of your past, you lose the ability to see how far you have come and how much you have gained.
The idea of independence is much like recovery in that it varies for everyone. Further, to understand independence, you have to understand your dependence and its relationship with your past. While there is no definitive answer, there are contributing factors we can examine to help you free yourself from the past and gain the confidence needed to achieve a state of true independence.
Forgiveness From Shame and Guilt
Early recovery is about rebuilding the relationships you have with yourself and others. However, early in recovery, you might define yourself by your past, thus holding you back from moving forward. A significant proponent to being able to overcome your past is through learning how to forgive. Forgiveness is an act that helps you understand who you were and why you made the choices you did. When you can understand the who, why, and what of your past, you then discover sincere reasons for your forgiveness and others’.
The process might not happen as quickly as you want; however, when persistent, you can attain freedom from feeling shame and guilt attached to the past. When you no longer need to look at your past, you can only look at what is currently around you and what is in front of you. Therefore, a facet of true independence is implemented into your life after treatment when you learn forgiveness from the shame and guilt.
Learning to Control What You Can Control
Healthy practices such as exercise, mindfulness, and meditation allow you to manage the impulses for control that you might feel you need to protect your recovery. Once you realize that you can only control what you can control, you free up a lot of mental energy that you normally use to stress about things you cannot control.
Part of learning how to free yourself from the impulses to control everything is by managing your expectations—having strong expectations that something will happen in the future limits your ability to grow into your potential because the more expectations you have, the more control you require to keep them. Further, not meeting an expectation creates feelings of disappointment and therefore places you in a negative headspace.
Reasonable expectations are those that don’t have you trying to do too much too fast. Remember, each stepping stone is an achievement that should be recognized and celebrated. Taking smaller steps will soon accumulate and have you where you want to be. When you dismiss what you cannot control and focus on what you can control, you realize how much freedom of choice you have.
Even though it seems like our options are limited during rehab, we actually have a lot of choices available to us, and even more, open up as we progress in the program. If we’re willing to stay open and work with our therapist and other treatment professionals, we can have a say in what kinds of treatment we participate in. As we communicate our needs, likes, and dislikes, we can have a large degree of influence over our own recovery plan. As we earn more trust and freedom, we can choose what activities to participate in, whom to form bonds with, and even what to do in our free time.
Attain Inner Peace
Recovery allows you the gift of finding inner peace. When you inevitably encounter hardships, you must remember that substances made the life you deserve impossible. You can achieve inner peace through practices of mindfulness, meditation, or yoga. You might also find equilibrium by surrendering to a higher power.
Spirituality is unquestionably one of the most transformative aspects of many people’s recovery. When you seek comfort in something bigger than you, it leads you to a life-changing spiritual awakening. Therefore, when you surrender to a higher power and accept your past, you lay the foundation for which your quest for peace can begin. Achieving inner peace is a freedom that helps you grow and become more resilient to the things that trigger you.
Learn to Establish Productive Freedom
The structure of some rehabs can make us feel like we don’t have many choices in our life, or in our recovery process. For some people, the structure and support of the center feel like a good match right away, but for others, it can feel very restricting and limiting. Establishing new boundaries is hard, but we just have to keep reminding ourselves that we’re choosing to be here and that this will be good for us in the long run. Living a more restricted lifestyle now will translate into freedom from addiction in the future.
Commit to Staying Committed
The bottom line is that every day or hour or minute that we decide to stay in rehab, we are exercising our freedom to choose health over insanity. Even though intensive addiction therapy feels restrictive, it is a choice we’re making, and one that will pay off if we can stay committed. Instead of thinking of all the things that we’re missing out on, we need to keep our minds trained on all the possibilities and choices we’re opening ourselves up for in the future.
Your Sobriety Is Freedom
The journey to overcome your addiction was challenging; however, now that you are in recovery, do you stop and appreciate your sobriety enough? Your sobriety gives you back a part of yourself that you lost when being driven by your addiction. It has also allowed you to be more present and active in your life and the lives of others. Your sobriety has helped you become more capable of handling responsibilities, and it enables you to understand that you are capable of so much more.
While recovery is the journey you are working to sustain, remember; each day you are sober is another day you are free to continue shaping the life you desire. You can help yourself remember your sobriety each day by staying connected with peers from recovery, keeping a gratitude journal, or simply reminding yourself aloud each morning upon waking, “I have my sobriety.”
True independence is a concept that allows you to reflect upon and realize how free you are now that you are sober. However, gaining such insight and foundations that help you establish your independence takes work that sometimes means facing complex challenges. If you experience difficulties sustaining your sobriety, then it is time to seek help. At Renaissance Ranch, we work with men to help them realize the wealth of their inner world and capabilities. Our approach to care provides a safe and inspiring space where you can develop the tools needed to help you flourish in recovery. Our model of care incorporates conventional, alternative, and spiritual elements to ensure that your individual needs get met. We also provide support for families, including six professionally taught family education classes per week that we include at no extra cost. If you are searching for a place to begin or continue treatment, learn more about the innovative men’s-only program we provide at Renaissance Ranch by calling (801) 308-8898.