It may sound cliché, but it’s the hard truth: everybody makes mistakes. No matter how many times those words are spoken, there will always be those who have trouble admitting their errors – not just to others, but to themselves as well. That’s common behavior among patients of addiction. The right mix of chemicals and denial makes it dangerously easy to ignore our shortcomings.
The ability to deal with our feelings in a positive way is often described as “emotional sobriety.” Life has its ups and its downs no matter what. It’s how we handle those events that determine our happiness.
You don’t have to optimistic all the time. You just have to accept the situations, embrace the emotions that come with them — both the good and the bad, and use them efficiently. If you can live in the moment, enjoy meaningful relationships with others, and view the world in a generally positive light – you’ve reached emotional sobriety. You don’t have to be financially secure or perfectly healthy to do it.
People who are emotionally sober are no longer a hostage to their feelings. No longer do they have to resort to drug use to protect themselves. Their whole perception of a “mistake” has shifted into something productive: a chance to learn and grow, rather than evidence of their failure.
THE NEED FOR MISTAKES
Mistakes are unavoidable, which is something all recovering addicts will have to accept in order to move forward. Past mistakes make up the foundation of group meetings, therapy sessions, and other helpful exercises in treatment. Patients come to associate mistakes with growth rather than simple self-spite.
We learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. It’s low-self esteem and relentless anxiety that get in the way, hold back self-acknowledgement and drives us off-course, right back into active addiction. Specialists have even created a term for this sober-addict attitude: dry-drunk syndrome. This is used to describe not just recovering alcoholics, but recovering addicts in general who, despite getting clean, feel as though they shouldn’t have to be in recovery.
SHIFTING THE PRIDE
You can blame yourself for something without hating yourself as well. Knowing what went wrong – knowing how not to proceed – should become the source of pride, not the self-contained belief that the mistakes aren’t ours to begin with. In order to benefit from a mistake, the individual must take a step back and examine how exactly they went wrong, whilst still retaining a degree of pride.
That’s a tricky balance, which is why we have therapists and counselors for guidance.