“Surrender to what IS. Let go of what WAS. Have faith in what WILL BE.”
~Sonia Ricotti, author of The Law of Attraction Plain and Simple: Create the Extraordinary Life That You Deserve
Recovery from addiction is a step-by-step process. The first, most important step is admitting the problem and the need for help. The person must be honest—their life has become unmanageable because of their out-of-control substance abuse.
But addicts are stubborn. After making initial progress, many new to recovery will resist what comes next. The idea that they must surrender control of their life is unthinkable. It is their life, after all.
Here’s the reality—they already gave up any control they once had– to their disease of addiction.
During active addiction, the disease gains control because of the person’s stubborn insistence on SELF – selfishness, self-delusion, self-pity, and self-seeking. This egotistical mindset makes recovery even harder or even almost impossible. The 12 Steps of Recovery calls this the “bondage of self”.
Real recovery means realizing that THEIR way of doing things simply doesn’t work. Listening to “self” has made a total mess of things. To move forward, they must consciously decide to turn their life and will over to something outside of and greater than themselves.
Read those words again – they are consciously deciding .
In a strange and wonderful way, by relinquishing control, they are actually regaining a degree of control over the direction their life takes. When they commit to a positive course of action – recovery –they are turning away from the chaos and dysfunction of active addiction and moving toward the stability and serenity of healthy recovery.
“Turning it over”, “surrendering”, and “letting it go” all refer to the same thing. The addict admits that they need outside help to regain their sobriety. Surrendering gives the person freedom from worrying about things they can’t control. Instead, they can productively focus their time, attention, and energy upon those things they CAN control—their thoughts and behaviors.
Now, they must make a conscious decision to ALLOW that help to happen. Specifically, they have to let guidance, inspiration, direction, and strength come from without, rather than within.
Most call this a “Higher Power”. It can be anything upon which they can place their trust and from which they can find strength.
The spiritual aspect of recovery doesn’t require—or prohibit—belief in any specific religion. In fact, the spirituality of recovery works just as well for agnostics and atheists. Anything that a newly-sober addict can use for encouragement, inspiration, and strength will suffice.
This decision means that the person chooses to believe that their Higher Power – will sustain them. And as long as they keep working hard at their sobriety, they will always be EXACTLY where they are meant to be.
Remember to have faith in the recovery process and patience with yourself. Breaking free from the bondage of self is an acquired skill. It’s contrary to “your way” of doing things. So there will be times when you catch yourself acting against your own best interests. If you can learn to recognize those times, you can step back, calm down, take a deep breath, and then… LET IT GO.
Since 1978, Chapman House Treatment Centers has been one of the most-trusted drug and alcohol rehab programs in Orange County. With an evidence-based treatment strategy that addresses both your addiction and your mental health, Chapman House is your go-to recovery resource.
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