Oops! Mistakes and Recovery

Most of us in recovery have worked very hard at staying clean and sober, whether its your first day or your 15th year. It takes a lot of courage to not drink or use daily. During that time most of us are also working on improving ourselves in some way. We begin to recognize the changes we have to make in our behaviors or lifestyle to maintain our recovery. As we work on ourselves, some of us are terrified of “slipping” backwards, we may also view our old behaviors and attitudes as “slips”. Even though we may be told that recovery is about progress, we strive for perfection because of the fear and the knowledge of where mistakes can lead us.

Unfortunately, I have seen too many people beat themselves up too hard over making mistakes and eventual they spiral into relapse. Mistakes in recovery can be acting out in ways that you are ashamed of. Old behaviors which require you to have to apologize or make amends and admit you were wrong. Mistakes can also be in the form of financial issues, buying that pair of shoes and neglecting a bill, which later you feel guilty about and reminds you of the old irresponsible you. Or impulsively reacting to a situation which later turns out to be of no benefit, leaving you with a regret.

Recovery is about improving the quality of your life by also learning how to accept your humanness. Being human is full of mistakes. To experience the full range of emotions, trials and tribulations, successes, and setbacks, to experience love, is all part of the human experience. Embracing your humanness and showing yourself some grace when making a mistake is an important part of growth.

Give yourself a break!

The next time you feel like you’ve made a mistake, and its pretty much a guarantee that you will, remind yourself that this is all part of the human experience. You and most of us in recovery were trying to avoid this by using and drinking. We used drugs and alcohol to escape from our humanness. If no one told you today, it’s OK to be human, it’s OK to feel something other than good. It’s OK to stumble, fall and scrape your knee. The very next step after that should be to acknowledge that it happened, examine what you can do differently, forgive yourself and do different, better next time. You are not your mistakes; you are a human who has made mistakes but also who has overcome some serious obstacles and challenges.

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