By Toshia Humphries
Fear can quickly become the enemy of successful recovery. In fact, it potentially threatens any form of personal growth. But, fear itself, is merely an emotion we all experience from time to time. Therefore, the power we give it is a choice.
Additionally, most everyone fears change. And, with regard to active addiction, that particular reality is quite concerning and significant. Conversely, however, fear can also be a great motivator, depending on the perspective.
As such, it is important for active addicts contemplating treatment as well as those individuals already on the path of recovery to keep their fear in check, so to speak. Learning how to prevent fear from kicking in and finding ways to reign it in when fear becomes overwhelming can become unexpected survival techniques and keys to successful recovery.
Below are three ways to prevent fear from kicking in and taking over:
Be mindful. When we focus on the past, we live in yesterday. If we concentrate on only the future, we are living in tomorrow. Either leaves us lacking the ability to live in the only moment we truly have; the present. Staying in the present moment and gently reminding ourselves to redirect our thoughts to the here-and-now can ease our fears over consequences of the past and of anything unknown in the future.
Stay well-grounded. Fear that becomes overwhelming and out of control is typically irrational fear. Those who experience anxiety or panic attacks are aware of this reality. As such, the implications for those who encounter both as a result of active addiction are great.
Rational thought is not something that accompanies active addiction, as such, fear can be a motivator here. But, for the record, it is not a place to get stuck. Quite the contrary. Fear is not a place anyone wants to live. As such, moving past contemplation into action with regard to seeking help for active addiction is one sure way to attempt to move from fear into the much more hospitable environment of hope.
For those in recovery, it is important to find ways to stay well-grounded. Finding a “safe person” to call or talk to when irrational fears creep in, plugging in to recovery groups, acquiring a sponsor, therapist, life coach, spiritual counselor, etc., can all be active steps toward staying well-grounded and accountable.
Open up. Talking and expressing personal feelings, thoughts and experiences is a necessary, yet sometimes difficult, practice for preventing and calming fear. Although the vulnerability involved often creates a bit of anxiety, finding emotionally safe ways to express and safe people to open up to will ease the experience.
Recovery groups are a generally a great place to begin the practice of honest, open communication. Of course, different rules apply for every group, so be sure to respect those which apply to communication within or directed to the group.
As with anything else, practice makes perfect. The more you communicate, the easier it gets. Writing letters (unsent or otherwise) is one way to start opening up without the fear of judgment. But, remember, the point is to grow and continue to gain new life skills, including but not limited to honest, open communication. As such, don’t get stuck in the safety zone of unsent letter-writing. Find your voice, and let it be heard.
Regardless of whether you’re an active addict considering change or an individual in recovery grappling with the reality of a sober life, these tips are important to keep in mind. Nothing gets better in active addiction. As such and with regard to that reality, it’s also vital to keep Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s words in mind; “the only thing you have to fear is fear, itself.” With regard to active recovery, just remember this; the unknown is certainly a better alternative to that which you’ve known, and what becomes of it is solely up to you.