Everyone's journey to recovery is different, but these values are a MUST for those seeking a fulfilling life within it.
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I sit here today in my town library writing three weeks away from my 36th birthday. For me, that is extremely hard to fathom for a variety of reasons that go to both ends of the spectrum. Let me start off by saying that I am a Person in Recovery from addictions to alcohol and opiates and will be 22 months sober a few days before the aforementioned birthday. As you can surmise, there is the end of the spectrum that says there is no way in hell that I should be blowing out the candles sitting atop a Reese’s ice cream cake that I am hoping to see on May 27th. That leads to the other end of the spectrum of how on God’s green earth do I still get birthday cakes at 36 years old?
The answer to both riddles I already answered for you; I am a Person in Recovery. Of course, there was a time where I thought none of this would have been possible nor plausible and that time wasn’t long ago. I had done everything within my power for nearly a decade to assure that I wasn’t going to see any birthdays. So, with each miracle of May 27th passing and me still alive, I only grew closer to the end date. But the real miracle occurred on July 23, 2017 when for the last time I put those poisons into my body, and this journey began the following day.
In the first few months of recovery I did a LOT of thinking. I do not want to underestimate the amount of time I spent using my brain, a lot initial was lost in the thought of “how I got here”, which I do not suggest going to very often. Yes, it was essential for me to accept that I was where I was because of actions I had taken, but more importantly was me taking accountability for said actions and then wash my hands with these things and move on with whatever lesson I could take from them. There is NO need to stay stuck in your past, no matter how horrible or great it may have been, it is not who you are today and there is absolutely nothing you can do about changing that. What we can do is use all those lessons to make us a better person moving forward. This realization was one of the first major breakthroughs in my personal journey.
Where I do suggest using our brain is through knowledge. In life there is infinite knowledge on infinite topics. My choice was and is personal development because I want to promise myself that I am maximizing all resources I can so that I never go back to where I was. Pretty simple tactic, but again it takes a LOT of time. Time is something I am extremely grateful to have today because as I mentioned, not too long ago I thought mine was up. It was during the time since I entered recovery where I discovered five key values that were absolute musts for me to practice every day in order to continue granting myself more ice cream cakes.
With that, below are my 5 Core Values of Recovery, key word my. Always remember, everyone’s journey is different, therefore your list may be slightly different from mine. BUT I will say that overall, these five values must be included in some way, shape or form for anyone looking to have a fulfilling and rewarding journey of their own.
1 – Gratitude
Always express gratitude for the life we live today. It is imperative that we never forget the lessons we learned from the struggles we endured, the pain we caused, and the hope we lost. Being grateful for all that we already do have in life shifts our focus away from that which we do not. In doing so we help keep a positive state of mind and moving toward the dreams and aspirations that we thought were lost for good.
We need to be grateful that we are alive because if you are reading this, I’m taking a wild guess that you don’t think you should be. Showing gratitude expresses our appreciation for life, simplifying it down to the basics. While living in the cynical life of addiction we lose an inordinate amount of the very things we once had no appreciation for, such as a warm meal, a hot shower, and a bed to sleep on. When we start earning these privileges back, it is important to be grateful for them because we know how quickly they can be ripped away from us.
2 – Integrity
If we are not honest with ourselves, we cannot be honest with others, and we cannot find fulfillment on our journey. Dishonesty holds us back from finding true inner peace and acceptance of our past experiences, whether good, bad, or indifferent. In doing so we leave ourselves extremely vulnerable, and I’m not talking the vulnerability where we can grow. This type is where we continue to harm ourselves by repeating the same mistakes that hurt us in the past. Remember, we MUST learn from our past, not let it anchor us down, and we do so by practicing Core Value #3.
Our relationships are heavily fractured upon entering recovery due to our past dishonesties, and as you’ll see further down severed forever. In order to begin the rebuilding phase of any relationship we must earn one’s trust (back). This takes time, but with an increase in our honest ways and total transparency comes an upward trend of our integrity. Integrity is the key component to our character and shows our authenticity. We are no longer pretending to be someone we aren’t. We are no longer a fraud when we are honest.
On top of that, by becoming honest we no longer are wasting an inordinate amount of time trying to trace back the origin of a lie. That is one tiring exercise I do not suggest embarking on. This time and energy can now be used positively in a multitude of ways to better ourselves. Remember, there is infinite knowledge to be learned.
3 – Acceptance
We are NOT defined by our past. Yes, what has happened has happened, but that is not the person we are today when living clean and sober. A key component to moving beyond the baggage we carry is owning up to our past actions and accept that they have occurred, but again knowing that they do not define us. By accepting the things we cannot change, we then can begin to shift our focus to that which we can; the present. It is in our present where we have the opportunity to breath easier and grow in all aspects of life.
Acceptance, like re-earning trust, is a place that can take a long time to come to, dependent upon the severity of the past action(s). However, by letting go of these anchors that have been holding us down, we are now able to use these experiences to better ourselves moving forward and, in some instances, completely rid ourselves of the past act itself. This can only happen by removing it from the dark hole we have been hiding it in. We may accept the trauma that we’ve been a victim of or caused over the years because there is nothing we can do to change it, but we can choose to no longer let it determine the outcome of our lives.
Finally, even though we may no longer be battling substances, we are still talking about addiction and that means not everything is going to be rosy. Unfortunately, time does not heal all wounds and some of the relationships we have shattered we will never be able to put back together. As I said, some relationships are severed forever, which we must accept, as difficult as it will be. All you control is doing whatever you can to be the best YOU, that’s it. You cannot change the way someone else feels about you, and even though many see all these great changes you have made, some still won’t care. I personally am dealing with this and it sucks, but I always remind myself that I cannot control anyone else’s actions or feelings, I can only strive to be the best Jason Hyland that I can.
4 – Humility
The foundation to new beginnings must arise out of humility. It is a common sight seeing someone enter the recovery journey with their tail tucked between their legs, with little to no self-worth and a belly full of shame, among other things. As fragile as we may be, our confidence will grow in due time if we put in the required work, but less we never forget we are no better than any one else on this journey for it is one we cannot go at successfully alone.
The ultimate sign of humility is surrendering to the demons that have pried us of our freedoms, and that humility must continue throughout the entirety of our journey to ensure positive expansion on our life. An uncomfortable and humbling experience for most is finally allowing help into our lives by admitting we do not have the answers to solving the riddle that is addiction. This willingness to learn and to be open-minded cements the bottom layer of our foundation which is where some of our greatest growths will occur. This is that vulnerability where major growth occurs, where we show real courage and strength. That is the vulnerability I choose to embrace.
5 – Selflessness
With a firm foundation strengthening below us, our substance abuse combating tool-box continues to fill up through the help of others. The more knowledge we consume the more we can selflessly hand off to others who have also taking the life-changing turn into the beautiful world of recovery. Whether newcomers or old-timers there is always room to improve in all areas of not just our recovery, but in our lives. The graciousness of those who helped us through the trying early days of the journey is now to be passed along as freely as it was given to us.
We must realize all our stories are those full of hope and inspiration for others. We do make a difference, regardless of how many steps we’ve taken thus far on this new path. No one is too good to learn; remember to always remain humble and open-minded, that the tool-box is always expanding. Giving back not only helps the individuals who are still struggling or once were, but it also helps fortify our own recovery. Therefore, practicing selflessness is a lasting value that keeps the community growing indefinitely.
There you have them, my 5 Core Values of Recovery. There are many other values and attributes that are integral on my journey, but it is these five that I do my best to practice daily so that I keep living my dream one day at a time.
What are yours? I’d love to hear and learn from others, please SHARE below in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, we are all in this together, there is plenty of ice cream cake to go around!
Enjoy what you read? Check out the author's bestselling book Stop Thinking Like That: No Matter What for much more motivating, inspirational, and gut-checking stories that will help you find yourself living your best life, too!
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