By Elizabeth Rosselle
One thing that holds a lot of us back from getting sober at first is that it forces us to look at the idea that we might be powerless over something. And, admitting powerlessness over anything makes us feel like a failure.
Many addicts in active addiction struggle with life on life’s terms. This might include doing basic things like paying bills and taxes, going to the doctor, showing up for work on time, showing up for work at all, making the bed, and the list can go on. But, what can be more detrimental to our characters than anything is that struggle we have with the possibility of failure—we tend to hold ourselves back from the things we’ve always wanted to try, and we often turn our backs on our talents, too. Does any of this sound familiar?
As addicts, we often have this weird idea that if we try to do any kind of adulting, or if we attempt to do anything that could be meaningful to us, we might fail. So, we might as well just get drunk or high instead. The part where we want to get drunk or high is that mental twist we all seem to have in common, but the fear of failure can be related to different things, depending on the addict.
Everyone fails in different ways
Some of us have been high-functioning addicts where our professional lives are concerned, but maybe we struggle with relationships. Or, maybe we get along with our significant other, but we can’t seem to ever make financial ends meet, we don’t honor our family commitments, and we struggle with peronal hygiene. Or, maybe we’re super organized and we do a decent job at work, but we have a difficult time expressing our truest talents. These patterns don’t just apply to addicts, by the way, but when addicts possess certain traits that aren’t considered generally esteemable or that indicate that their lives might be unmanageable, this can result in a myriad of excuses to drink or use.
At the end of the day, no single human being is created 100% equally, but there are a few threads that connect the vast majority of addicts. One of these threads is fear, and it tends to run the show in a lot of different ways. That fear is usually attached to the idea that we might fail in any number of ways. This can be a real drag, and it results in a lot of setbacks for addicts.
The thing is, if we let fear of failure stop us from getting out of our comfort zones and trying new things, we risk living in complacency which can be a really dangerous place for an addict. In recovery, it’s important that we continue to grow and experience life in all of the beautiful ways that it unfolds. To live any differently puts us at risk of relapse, simply because it’s familiar territory. Plus, complacency is just boring.
Failure can lead to success
When all is said and done, what’s the worst thing that can happen if we try something new that we’ve always wanted to try? Likely, the most common answer to this question is that we might fail. But, what’s actually wrong with failure? To fail just means that we’re out there living life.
Failure is a part of any good success story. Sure, some people have beginner’s luck when they try new things, but they usually don’t get a lot better without a few epic fails along the way. Failure is an opportunity to redirect our thoughts and actions so we can do the things that allow us to improve.
Steep learning curves
Let’s say we’re learning how to surf, for instance, but we can’t seem to figure out how to stand up on the board after we catch a wave. First of all, surfing has a pretty steep learning curve, and figuring out how to stand on the board is usually the first thing everyone struggles with in the beginning. So, failure to stand up is absolutely critical to the learning process. If we stand up on our first try, then we might not bother to learn how to correct certain bad habits in order to acquire the right techniques that make us better surfers.
This idea applies to just about anything in life, barring the things that come instinctively such as eating, sleeping, and breathing, of course. Even when we’re learning how to walk, we fall down a bunch of times before we figure out how to make it across the room without a faceplant. Some sort of redirect had to take place in order for us to figure out the mechanics of walking. So, unless you’re still getting from point A to point B on your hands and knees every day, you’ve already experienced the kind of failure that you needed to experience to grow. Failure is a fact of life.
Admission of Powerlessness is Brave
If you’re in early recovery, then you’ve already admitted powerlessness over something and you recognize that you’ve needed a redirect. You’ve made a very brave decision, and you need to honor that. Be proud, because it’s not easy, but it’s the coolest redirect that can happen. Recovery is a beautiful journey where the entire world opens up for us to be able to try new things and view life through a completely different lens. And, if you haven’t made it into recovery yet, consider the idea that it might actually be a positive thing you get to do.
Learning to Fail, and being okay with it
In recovery, we get to learn how to fail in life over and over again, and then we get to redirect and grow. And, life gets bigger because of it. Even if a relapse occurs, it’s still an opportunity for a redirect. It’s a time to try things in a new way. But, it never means we’ve failed. Getting sober in the first place is a triumph, and having the courage to do something that we might not do perfectly is one of the most courageous gifts we can give to ourselves.
So, do that thing you’ve always wanted to try, and let yourself fail. Failure gets easier with practice, and it’s pretty darn liberating. Also, keep in mind that the idea of failure, in and of itself, is all a matter of perspective. Maybe try removing the word “fail” from your vocabulary altogether and see what happens. There’s no good reason to take anything too seriously. We’re here to enjoy life and have fun.
Oh, by the way, paying bills and taxes, going to the doctor, and showing up for work on time are all cool things to do. Really. But, even if you’re struggling with these things right now (as so many of us have), just start with making the bed. We promise, it will feel good, and it’s a step in a new direction.
Kembali Recovery Center is Here for You
Kembali Recovery Center is situated in the heart of beautiful Bali, Indonesia, and the country is officially back open for tourists and visitors. If you’d like to learn more about our recovery programs, contact us today to speak with one of our counselors. You never have to do this alone.