Decision Making while in Recovery


Decision’s, Decisions and more… Decisions

Today I would like to talk about decision making while in recovery. This morning I had to make a decision, and I turned down an opportunity that I know I would have been good at. But sometimes, it’s all about the timing of the opportunity versus what is going on in your life. It’s like the Rolling Stones said, “You can’t always get what you want.” Well, isn’t that the truth.

But seriously, anyone who’s in recovery knows that it’s not all good times. Sure, there’s the great feeling you get from knowing that you’ve completed treatment and are on the road to recovery. But that’s just it – it’s an ongoing road, not a destination that you’ll charge towards and then rest at the end. This means that there are bound to be many twists and turns along the way, and some of these can prove frustrating, difficult, or downright confounding. How do you know what to do?

Sometimes you just have to take it slow. Take little baby steps… You’re not expected to know how to do everything all at once. How could you? This whole idea of recovery is all new to you – or, it is for most in early recovery. If you’ve been in recovery for a while and have slipped now and then, you may need to go back to the basics and reapply the lessons you first learned during treatment. At any rate, everyone needs to take it slow in the early days of recovery.

So what do I mean by taking it slow? Well it implies is that you carefully think through your options before jumping into a decision that may prove shortsighted in the long term. This doesn’t mean that you should become paralyzed, unable to go forward because you’re afraid to make any decision for fear of making the wrong one. It’s a simple case of weighing all your options, and going through the pros and cons of each.

So when you look at it in that light, making a choice is far less complicated and frustrating that it might otherwise be. So, just take it slow…just think about how you would prepare yourself for a long-distance race, or an outdoor hike in higher elevations. You prepare by doing some stretches, breathing exercises, getting yourself in physical shape. You don’t just leap forward without a second thought. The same principle applies to making choices in early recovery.

Another thing that I’ve done, which I rarely used to do before, is talk to someone. You obviously wouldn’t want to make an all-important life decision without consulting with your trusted advisors or friends. Seek wise counsel! In this case, those advisors will likely be your 12-step sponsor, your loved ones and other family members, close friends, perhaps even your boss or co-workers.

But obviously, not every decision you need to make will require that you arrange a meeting or get on the phone with your spouse, boss, sponsor, or best friend. Many of them you will be able to make yourself. But leave this open as a part of your strategy for the really tough decisions. This is especially true if the decision before you will impact your life and that of others in major ways.

So what I am saying is this? If you need help, talk with others you trust. And don’t feel guilty about doing so. These people are your support network. They want you to succeed in your long-term recovery. Go ahead and ask for their help if you feel you could benefit.

Then there’s this decision to not make a decision… Yup that’s right not making a decision is a decision. What this indecisiveness tells you is that you are avoiding making decisions. You have to look at why and how to overcome this.

Everyone makes decisions daily, sometimes many times during the day. Often, we are not even aware of consciously making a choice between the good, the bad, and the in-between. We just do it. But we are always filtering our ultimate decision through the assessment process in our brain. Do we want orange juice or coffee? Will we wear the blue striped tie or the solid one? Do we want the full-service car wash or the exterior washed only? Will we go to the gym before work, at lunchtime, or on the way home from work?

But other decisions that we don’t make for one reason or another just languish there. We don’t move forward and we may not move backward either. We just stagnate, existing in limbo.

Don’t allow your decision-making process to grind to a halt. If you’re stuck on something, revisit the list, talk with your wise counsel again, and choose something. The more important the decision, the more likely you’ll need some solid advice to help you figure out what’s best for you.

Lastly… Try not to let your emotions get the best of you while making a decision…

Granted, some decisions are going to be gut-wrenching. What may be only troublesome for one person may be agonizing for another. There’s no simple solution that works for everyone. There never is, whether the issue is decision-making or getting out of bed to face the day. So what happens when your emotions become so overwhelming that you just can’t seem to figure out which way to turn? What should you do then?

Although it may seem like a small consolation, recognize that you’re not in this alone. Millions of others in recovery – especially early recovery – have faced and are facing the same emotional turmoil. There is, however, a silver lining in this potential black cloud. You have the support and encouragement of your support networks: your family and your sponsor and fellow group members.

Your support network consists of people who love and care about you, those who are or have been in the same or similar circumstances, and who offer their encouragement and support for no other reason than they do care about you and want you to succeed in your long-term recovery.

In this case, when emotions get the better of you, finding help is as simple and basic as getting in touch with your support network. They won’t give you the answers. That’s not their responsibility or role. But they will listen

Anyone can do this. It just takes time and patience, networking, and doing what’s best for you and your overall long-term recovery. In the end, how to choose from the good, the bad, and the in-between in recovery is just another process that you learn how to do better each and every day.

Regardless of the way you’ve made decisions in the past, you can start making wise decisions now. All you need to do is think before you decide. Before you make any decision, always start by considering the consequences. This simple practice will help you avoid untold pain and regret.

Happy decision making… Luke D.

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