Many of us in recovery used alcohol or drugs to escape reality. When we’re sober, it takes work to embrace the reality that we’re in, rather than finding other ways to numb ourselves. Being present with what’s happening in our lives is acceptance.
If you’re in recovery, you’ve already practiced acceptance. That’s one of the biggest prerequisites to getting sober; you have to accept that your drinking or drug use is a problem/not suiting you in order to stop.
The Importance of Acceptance
Still, I’ve been sober six years, and I have to actively work to stay present with my life. I do it because trying to fight against reality causes suffering. Attempting to control things that can’t be controlled can lead to rumination, anxiety, and—counterintuitively—feeling more out of control.
Meditating, Growing, and Acknowledging Your Past
One way I’ve cultivated acceptance is through meditation. Meditating regularly gives you practice at allowing your thoughts, feelings, and even physical sensations to be there, without trying to change anything. Regular meditation helps you learn presence. I find that when I meditate more, it’s not that I’m always present; it’s that I notice faster when I’m not in the moment, and can bring myself back more calmly.
Sometimes I get antsy and wish the meditations were over, but I see that as a way to learn patience. Acceptance doesn’t mean becoming complacent so that you can’t grow; it’s really the opposite. It means making space for where you are in the moment, so you can move forward without your resistance holding you back.
Acceptance can also mean embracing moments from active addiction about which you might be ashamed. Part of healing is acknowledging that that is where you were at the time, but it’s not the whole of who you are.
If you’re stuck on the mistakes you made in active addiction, you can’t move forward. Accepting where you were makes space for you to grow and change in recovery. This doesn’t mean you can’t take accountability for what you did then; in a lot of ways, recovery is about finding balance.
When someone says to find acceptance, it can be frustrating; it’s easy to say that accepting reality is good, but much harder to actually feel or do. It helps me to realize that acceptance isn’t a destination you get to and then you’re done; it’s something you work towards and will feel closer to at some times than others. That’s okay. The work itself is its own form of acceptance—it’s an acknowledgement of the ways you can grow.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build peace in recovery. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.