Recovery Basics: Don’t Let Your Past Dictate Your Future

Everyone has a past. Some people can look behind them and be alright with the memories and decisions. Other people have a difficult time with their past. They have painful memories and have not made the best decisions for their lives.  This is especially true for those who’ve spent years in active addiction to drugs or alcohol.

This life we live does not guarantee us a life free from pain and sometimes we certainly make mistakes or wish we would have done things a different way.  One thing that is important to learn is that your past is over and no matter what it was like, you don’t have to let it dictate your future.

If you were in active addiction, but now you’re in recovery, those old ways of living are over. You can now give yourself permission to forgive yourself and embrace a hopeful future. You can decide not to let your past dictate your future any longer.

Pain locked in the subconscious

From the time you are a little child, little bits of pain that you experience get locked up in your subconscious.  Sure, you might handle negative things as they occur with positive coping skills, but sometimes some pain or other negative emotions just get stuck in the subconscious.  Some people spend much of their lives stuffing negative emotions way down deep into their subconscious. In fact, the pain that this produces causes many people to start drinking or taking drugs in an attempt to numb the pain.

Healing the past

Sometimes the layers and layers of pain and negative emotions will do their best to rise to the surface of your life because it is necessary to process them and heal.  Healing your past frees up your future.  It allows you to enjoy the present instead of living in regret, fear, or dread.  Sometimes we can get so busy in life day after day and not even realize that beneath the surface we are seething with things like anger, bitterness, fear, anxiousness, etc.  It is important to see where you are when it comes to this.

Now that you’re in recovery from active addiction, looking under the surface to see what’s going on there will do you good. It might not be easy, but it can be helpful to process and work through the tough stuff, so you can free yourself up to experience more peace and joy. And isn’t that what you want in life? More peace and joy?

No more active addiction: You’re not a victim

Maybe your past was horrible, especially in active addiction.  If so, that is a terrible thing, but you don’t have to allow whatever happened to continue to haunt you. You don’t have to be a victim any longer.  If you have the victim mentality, you give your power away to live a happy life.  You hang onto the past and let the chances for a happy present and future slip away.

I know a woman who stuffed her pain for 10 years until one day she popped like an over-stuffed balloon. She had a mental breakdown, and everything just came flooding out.  She had no idea how to process the abundance of negative emotions that she had hidden deep within her since she was a child.  It was like a big balloon full of anger, depression, anxiety, bitterness, fear, rejection, abandonment, etc. had popped and she literally had no idea how to patch her life up.  Counseling and an honest look at her coping skills were in order and though it took a few years, she was able to process her past and let it go.  She experienced a good deal of personal and spiritual growth through it all.

What about you?  Do you think you are hanging onto negative emotions from your past? Do you tend to think about your days of active addiction, mistakes and painful memories quite often? Do you have a victim mentality?

Your past does not have to dictate your future.  Declare that you will take a season to face the negativity from your past, process it, and let it go. Wipe your slate clean.  Get help if you need it and look forward to learning how to enjoy your present and your future.  You deserve to live life feeling happy and content!

Slow down

You are more in charge of your life now that you’re in recovery from active addiction.  Doesn’t it feel good to be more in charge? Rather than alcohol or drugs ruling over you, you are freely ruling your life now.

One thing that can really help you in recovery is to take some time to slow down and learn the art of sitting in solitude.  Go out onto your porch and sit in your chair. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and just be.  Take inventory of your physical body and your emotions.  Are you feeling happy about life or are you living with regret, anger, or fear?  Are you content or restless? Are you sad?

As you take time to sit in silence and tune into your physical and mental states, you will be given an opportunity to deal with negativity.  Think about your past for a few moments and if you remember negative things or feel pain, process the feelings and then let them go.  You don’t have to let the past dictate your present or your future.

Utilize Meditation For Peace and Joy

Even when the days of active addiction are in the past, it’s understandable that life can get so hectic and stress can pile up high. We’ve all been there.  With work, family, chores, tasks, and so on, it seems sometimes that there is barely enough time to do things that you enjoy.  On top of beings so busy on the outside, our minds are continually busy with inner chatter. Try NOT to think for a minute straight and you’ll quickly find out the task seems nearly impossible.

Enter Meditation

You’ve probably heard about the art of meditation within the recent decade. In fact, meditation is becoming more and more popular, as well as other Eastern modes of relaxation and exercise.  Meditation is simply the art of getting quiet and silencing the mind.  It is a technique used by those who want to live more in a state of quietness and relaxation.  As someone who has put active addiction in the past, meditation can be a valuable tool to keep your mind more at peace.

Granted, it is not an easy technique!  Sure, you might be able to sit quietly and think about NOTHING for a minute, but how about 10 or 15 minutes?  Most people would roll their eyes thinking that they had to sit still in silence for that long.  In fact, many people are afraid of silence.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it

Meditation has been proven to have benefits that are worth the time and effort.  Those that have incorporated meditation into their lives report that they are less stressed, some have reported that their blood pressure has dropped, they feel happier, peaceful, and more hopeful in general.  Those in recovery oftentimes report that they experience fewer cravings for their drug of choice. They become more in touch with themselves and generally feel better about themselves. These, among numerous other benefits, goes to show that there really is something to hushing the thought life momentarily each day.

How often should you meditate?

It’s a good idea to get into the habit of meditating each day. You can begin with just one minute and then increase until you get to about 15 minutes per day. Of course, some people do more than this, but it is completely up to you.

Find a quiet spot to meditate in.  You can sit or lie down, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and relax every part of your body. Then focus on your inhale and exhale. Be sure to breathe as you would regularly breathe.  As you put your focus on your breath, your mind tends to keep free from other thoughts.  Sometimes a thought will pop in and this is fine. Simply acknowledge the thought and let it go.  You might think about what to have for dinner. Acknowledge it and then get back to your focus on your breath.

Meditation takes practice

The more you do it, the better you will be at controlling your thoughts. As you meditate, you become in tune with your body and this is beneficial for you.  Talk to those who are hardcore meditators and they will give you a list of the positive reasons they meditate.

Why don’t you give meditation a try this week? Begin with just a few minutes each time you do it.  Take that time to relax and forget about life.  If it helps, you can focus on connecting with your Higher Power while you focus on your breath.  You might find that you like to meditate outdoors in nature. If so, go for it!  With meditation, it is like art; it doesn’t have to look a certain way to be right.  Have fun with it.

What kind of life do you want?

Reaching out for help is one thing that many people struggle with. Whether in active addiction or in recovery, the thought of asking someone for help brings on a lot of anxiety for some people.  Though it’s fairly common, know that you don’t have to stay stuck. You don’t have to allow the fear of asking for help keep you imprisoned.

Today, if you’re struggling with active addiction, in recovery, or with any issue that you just don’t know how to handle, please give yourself permission to reach out for help. You deserve to live a great life and you don’t have to let your past dictate your future any longer.