Whether someone is in recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, dealing with their own mental health disorders, or overall suffering from the daily stresses of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, the idea of agency and control can often feel out of reach. However, despite the overwhelming feelings that are prevalent throughout recovery, there are always certain aspects of someone’s life that each person always has control over. Identifying the elements of a given scenario that someone can control and building upon them can help each person understand and extend their agency over their lives, responses to stimuli, and ultimately, their path to the future.
Trying to Control the World
During recovery, whether someone is just setting out on their own recovery journey or have gone through inpatient treatment and are living in transitional living or attending an intensive outpatient program, the sheer amount of changes that someone may want to make in their lives can be daunting. Not only are there constant stressors that may cause urges to revert back to unhealthy practices, but there is also the difficult task of learning to talk about recovery and learning how to adjust one’s life to re engage in their career path. From minor changes that someone may make to their everyday lives, to the overarching goals of change they may hold close to their chest, change is a constant. However, that doesn’t mean that someone has to try to control every single element at once. Asking someone to control everything they want to change from the beginning, however small or grand, can quickly become an overwhelming and exhausting task. Not only does this spread each persons’ focus over many things, causing its own mental stress, but it also can be disheartening as someone is met with a wall of demands and little energy or time to address them all. Trying to control everything at once can even compromise someone’s entire motivation and relationship with the idea of recovery. So instead, it is important to start small.
Finding what someone can control amidst a sea of changes and stressors can be a difficult task. However, finding one’s agency in recovery often starts with what is in their immediate vicinity. For example, someone may have to realize that they cannot control the people and society around them, but they can control how they can prepare to go out or schedule their own days. Instead of trying to formulate a world that is always conducive to one’s own goals, they can lay out a daily or weekly schedule that allows them to set appropriate goals and plan their time accordingly. Not only does this allow someone to control how they can spend their time that day, but it also can help prevent each person from taking on too much and becoming overwhelmed.
Starting small can even be simply how one is breathing in any situation. While someone may not be able to control all of their stressors they may experience, they can control their bodily response to those in the moment by simply taking a moment to breathe. This can give someone the sense of time they may need to process the stimuli, as well as the attainment to their own biological responses before instinctual reactions may have a chance to take hold.
Someone can even control the decision to talk about their recovery at all. While someone may feel anxiety about the social stigmas surrounding the word “recovery,” and thus feel like they are constantly being watched, there is nothing that says anyone has to know about their own recovery. Controlling how much each person knows about one’s history with mental health or substance abuse can be a way of controlling the kinds of relationships that someone develops for their own future.
Building on What You Can Control
By starting small, people can allow themselves to build up to tackling great challenges rather than feeling like they are simply thrown into impossible situations. Controlling one’s breath can be built upon to explore the idea of how someone takes their time to respond to stimuli, and thus demands someone to be constantly introspective about their own stressors, responses, and coping strategies. Building on the ability to make schedules can develop into proper planning and management, and thus create a great groundwork for professional development as someone becomes not just autonomous in their own work, but understands the needs and schedules of their coworkers or employees. Building on the idea that information is up to each person allows someone to develop the relationships and interpersonal skills they need. Whether they be professional or personal relationships, intimate or casual, it is important that they build the relationship from a place of agency rather than chaos.
Finding your own agency in recovery can be a difficult task. However, there are ways that the professionals at START UP RECOVERY can begin to explore all of the various ways someone can begin to control their lives and help implement the necessary skills and goals to help someone achieve the transformations that they want to make in their own lives. Each program available to the residents at START UP RECOVERY can always be personalized, and the comfortable, luxurious atmosphere at START UP provides the sense of comfort needed for each person to begin their own explorations of their identities or paths to success. For more information on the different ways that START UP RECOVERY can help you from our list of of different therapeutic approaches that have already been successful to how we can help create a plan that is right for you and your own goals, call today to speak to a caring, trained professional at (310) 773-3809.