The four basic core areas of recovery that we must focus on improving daily are mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.
If our recovery is to grow and prosper, then we must maintain and grow in these four core areas of our life.
Mental. We must grow stronger than what our addiction is feeding us. We must accept that we are human and have made mistakes, but we also must believe that we are worthy of another chance. We are worthy of redemption in all phases of life.
One of the clear goals of addiction is our imminent “self-destruction.” It will jail us or kill us with no remorse. Addiction doesn’t care about you, or me, or the weird smelling guy outside the corner store.
Mentally, we can learn from our past—what worked, what didn’t work, how we react to certain situations (thoughts, feelings, and actions), and develop coping strategies. We can embrace new ideas and new things that will make us mentally stronger.
We are what we believe—good or bad.
Emotional. Dealing with emotions on the roller coaster of life is something that leads many of us back to addiction.
We are so habitual in how we used to deal with things via drugs or alcohol that it’s only our natural reaction to want to reach for that next hit or drink at the first sign of trouble. Why? Because we seek to numb the feelings. Who in their right mind would want to feel pain or sadness or loneliness?
But, in the process, we also numb ourselves to the happiness, love, and joy that would make life worth living. A life without feelings is a life wasted, in my opinion.
Physical. When we start feeling good about ourselves again, whether it’s from working out, eating and sleeping right, or maybe getting that new shirt or shoes, we overlook our personal appearances on many levels during our “street time,” and it’s about time we started treating ourselves to something that isn’t gone in 60 seconds and doesn’t make us feel ashamed or guilty.
When we start feeling better, we start acting better, and we gain self-confidence, which is another tool that will keep us sober. Living the “right” way becomes a habit that will pay huge dividends in our recovery. We become more social and outgoing as a byproduct. Confidence is sexy.
Spiritual. This was the missing piece to my recovery. I wasn’t the church-going type. Sitting on a pew for an hour or two wasn’t something that I ever thought would interest me, so my relationship with God was nonexistent.
As an addict, how was I to believe in a “higher power” when my life sucked? I was wrong. I shouldn’t be here; my life was so empty on so many levels. Prison or overdosed in some crappy backstreet motel—that’s what I thought my future held.
Humbly, I have learned a few things since I’ve been on this sober journey. God never left me; I had left Him. I’m only alive because He didn’t abandon me; through His grace, I am still here. He was the missing piece. He has moved mountains on my journey.
I should be locked up, but I’m not. I should be dead, but I’m not. I shouldn’t have the amazing job that I do, but I do. My family shouldn’t still love me, but they do. I have seen hell through my addictive years; I’ve seen a part of me that was so evil that it scared me. God wanted me to experience the darkness so I would appreciate the light. That much I hold true, and it is truly a blessing that was hard-fought and earned.
When we learn to balance these four core principles into our daily routines, our recovery grows stronger. We grow stronger. A weakness in any of these will eventually lead us back to our addiction, who is forever waiting for our return with open arms.