The definition of “normal” can be subjective; people constantly adapt and change pieces of themselves and their lives to survive. Finding a sense of normalcy in yourself and your surroundings lends comfort and reassurance to your life direction. However, sometimes normal can be misconstrued and instead turn into negative traits, such as needing to control everything or becoming too impressionable to what others adhere to as “normal.”
In both addiction and recovery, the sense of normal can be turned on its head multiple times as you try to adjust. Normal comes from within, including how you feel and respond to feelings and your environment. We all want comfort in life, just as we all want a sense of normalcy; however, how we go about this begins with how we view and treat ourselves. If you have been trying to adhere to normal as a concept without first looking inward, it is time to sit with yourself and identify your normal.
Focus on Who You Are
First: know that you are not your addiction. In recovery, you can discover who you really are. Think about how you would describe yourself to others or interview for a job. You would likely want to focus on the positive aspects of yourself. Ask yourself:
- Are you pleased with these traits?
- Who is the person you want to become?
Self-improvement is an ongoing process of discovering things you enjoy about yourself and the things you do not want. When you realize that you are not your addiction, you can better prioritize your needs and manage your disorder without defining yourself by the challenges you encounter from triggering situations. Set small achievable goals to improve what you can each day.
Become Comfortable with Idle Time
You have likely heard that boredom is common in early recovery – you are no longer filling your time using substances. For many, boredom is seen as a red flag when it occurs. However, people are bored all the time, and in recovery, boredom is typical and quite normal. While staying busy participating in positive activities is essential, it is also crucial to accept idle time.
Part of finding your normal is learning to appreciate downtime. While you are discovering yourself, set a schedule for your days and stick to it, but try to incorporate time to do nothing. Utilize this time to reflect on your day, journal or sit with your thoughts. Not only will this help build up your resiliency, but it will help you confront thoughts and memories that might be weighing on you. When idle time presents itself, don’t stress about thinking that something is wrong with you; it is part of the process, part of life and maybe it’s just part of your normal.
Use the Tools Learned in Treatment
You do not have to try to come up with multiple alternatives to overcome an obstacle threatening your sobriety. Using the tools learned in treatment helps you; they work and you already possess them. If you attend a 12-step program, work on step work, attend meetings and stay connected with your network. In times of challenge, you might feel like you are all alone. You might begin to believe that your feelings are not normal. Remember, you’re not alone in what you are going through and that the situation is likely not unique to you.
Having a network of friends, family and peers to call on is crucial. Your peers from meetings and therapists can help assure you that your situation is not unique and that sometimes in recovery, it’s OK not to be OK; it’s a normal part of the process. Before exiting treatment and entering back into your everyday life, create a plan with peers to call upon each other in times of need. Having an accessible network is a great way to ensure that you always have someone to talk to in times of challenge. Doing this will work wonders in helping you not to feel so alone and helpless. It will also help you understand that what you are experiencing is normal.
Embrace the Unknown
Discovering your normal comes with its challenges; it is essential to remember that it does not have to happen overnight. The initial stages after overcoming addiction are challenging. Your brain is processing how to operate without substances, and this can impact you emotionally and physically. Getting over the speed bumps in early recovery will help build a strong foundation for long-term success. Remember not to rush yourself in the process of changing your life. You cannot predict the unknown, but you can work on how you handle yourself in times of challenges using the tools you have attained to help prepare you for the road that lies ahead. Once you accept that you can’t control the future, you begin to focus on the present. When you do this, you stop trying to adhere to or implement the idea of what it means to be normal and instead discover what normal means for you.
Establishing a new normal way of life can seem daunting at first; therefore, it is crucial to stay positive, connected and take it one step at a time. At New Hope Ranch in Manor, Texas, we help you attain the tools needed to sustain recovery and establish your normal. We offer various conventional and alternative therapies to ensure that your individual needs get met. We also help find support and treatment through 12-step programs in Texas, including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and SMART Recovery. Your sobriety is just as much of a priority to us as it is to you. If you are struggling with alcoholism or drug use and have not gotten help, now is the time to reach out. New Hope Ranch is here to help you regain control of your life. Remember, healing happens when you decide to take that first step. To learn more, call us at at (737) 600-8565.