We've all gone through the experience of feeling doubt and confusion, sometimes to the point where it feels like being on an emotional rollercoaster. These are normal emotions to deal with in everyday life, but when they get overwhelming the inner turmoil that results can be too much for a person to handle.
The early days of recovery are a vulnerable time, especially when it comes to experiencing emotions like doubt. Feelings of uncertainty and confusion can simmer inside of you for months, creating a serious threat to the progress of your recovery. It's important to understand doubt and know about some strategies to handle it to prepare yourself.
Everyone experiences doubt in recovery, it's the way you choose to handle it that makes a difference between letting it turn into an obstacle or treating it as a an opportunity to grow and learn. The following strategies can help a person in recovery do just that.
1. Connect with others in recovery.
Recovery can't be done alone. That's why it's so important to begin reaching out to others early on. The people you connect with can be the people you meet in rehab, in support groups or 12 step meetings, or a sponsor.
Reaching out to others may be the last thing you want to do when experiencing self doubt, shame, or uncertainty, but the only people who are going to understand these feelings are the ones who have gone through the same experience themselves. Listening to their experiences and what they did to get through them is a good way to inspire yourself to stay motivated and develop your own strategies for dealing with doubt.
2. Change a negative outlook.
This one is tough, as the early stages of recovery are when you feel most emotional and vulnerable. You probably also have some pretty negative views of yourself and others that have been with you for many years.
This kind of negative outlook can be hard to shake off or even be aware of, but that doesn't mean it can't be changed. Instead of dwelling on old ideas and perspectives, embrace the change you're about to make in your life.
Just the fact that you've made the choice to begin recovery is a big step in the right direction. Train yourself to notice when that old voice of negativity creeps up in your thoughts and influences your actions.
That voice can sometimes be so quiet it's barely noticeable or it can be an overwhelming presence. Either way, you don't have to listen to it anymore. Remind yourself that positive experiences and possibilities are everywhere. You just have to be open to them.
3. Pick your goals and work toward them.
You may want to make big changes in your life, but it's not going to happen without any action. Start by deciding what small goals you want to accomplish. Make a list and then figure out what steps you need to take to make those goals happen.
A goal could be something simple that you can practice daily, like saying something nice to a friend or coworker, reading a book or looking at another source of information about recovery, or being helpful in any small way you can. As you practice these small actions every day, you'll soon find that progress is being made.
As you begin accomplishing these small goals, you'll find that it becomes easier to begin taking steps towards larger ones. Just remember to take time at the end of each day to reflect on the progress you've made.
4. Take care of mental health
If doubt is persistent or especially overwhelming, look at the state of your mental health for a possible source of these feelings. Don't be afraid to ask for help from a sponsor, counselor, or therapist if you feel a mental health disorder could be the culprit.