By: Marilyn L. Davis
“We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better.” ― C. JoyBell C.
I’m Afraid, But I’m Comfortable
For most of us, we’re afraid when we think about changing the patterns of our lives, whether it’s giving up drugs or alcohol, or changing the way we think, feel, and act. After all, we have done or been something for so long that those actions, behaviors, thoughts, and feelings are mechanical or habituated. These predictable actions are the norm, and when we leave the comfort zone, we get anxious.
But for many of us, we got to the point where we didn’t want to live the way were anymore. Our biggest drawbacks to recovery though, were that we weren’t sure how to change our lives from addiction to recovery. Some of us wanted guarantees that our actions would produce better outcomes. Others weren’t willing to do more than stop using substances, and their lives only marginally improved.
Fear Keeps Us Stuck
Fears prevent many of us from making the simple change from addiction to recovery. I say it’s simple; I didn’t say it was easy. There is a difference. Change will always produce anxiety and a degree of discomfort, even for positive changes.
We stop using to have a better or different life. That’s usually our first reason for giving up substances, but it still doesn’t lessen the fears of changing other aspects of our lives. So what are some common fears?
1. I’m Afraid of the Unknown
Most of us want to know and understand the risks and the outcome of a decision before we act upon that particular choice. It is simply part of being cautious, or is it something greater? Many of us are looking for a guarantee that this action will produce better outcomes than another action.
Most of us were willing because we did not like the current reality of our lives. Therefore, if we do not like our bodies, our jobs, our relationships, or our financial circumstances, we can apply the same willingness as we did in our use to make other changes.
2. I’m Afraid People Won’t Give Me Good Advice
Recovery has been around in one form or another for over seventy years and as such, the knowledge about changing from active addiction to recovery is immense.
A simple search on Bing or Google will get you multiple methods, philosophies, and ways of recovering. Use them.
There are no wrong choices; there are faith-based, 12-Step, or secular to help you get closer to your goal of recovery. Each offers ways to move you forward through change, and each step forward is one step removed from your active addiction.
Does that mean that everyone is trustworthy. No. Remember: “Sober up a horse thief, and you’ll still got a horse thief.” There are some people in any recovery support meeting who aren’t dependable, honest, or reliable. They gave up the substances, but didn’t make significant changes in who they are.
However, it’s not always about trusting the person, but the process.
3. I’m Afraid I’ll Never Feel Confident
We begin to think that we are incapable of making decisions based on sound judgment. That is to be expected, and it is good to be cautious while still moving forward.
Therefore, it might be necessary to ask others or research how others have recovered. Again, that simple search; however, beyond that simple search is the reassurance that once the chemicals are no longer driving the decisions, many of us do become smarter in our choices.
One of the smartest choices we can make is to ask successful people how they did something and then mimic their actions, whether it’s about recovery or not. One thing most successful people will tell you is that they make goals, and carry out them with sub-goals.
4. I’m Afraid of Doing This Alone
We don’t have to do this alone; we draw on the experiences of others in our recovery to help guide our personal changes.
Does that mean that they make the changes for us? Certainly not, however, we get encouragement and support from others who have made changes in their lives and are willing to share the process with us.
For most of us, these directions and suggestions help us find the resolve within us to change our lives.
5. I’m Afraid of Giving Up the Illusion of Control
Too often people want to control their recovery; yet if we are realistic, our choices in our addiction have netted us, our families, employers, and society less than favorable outcomes.
Therefore, we give up the illusion of having control. We didn’t have it in our addiction. In our recovery, we give up trying to control the results or outcomes of our decisions.
But, there are many areas of our lives where we do have control.
For instance, I can control which meetings or therapies I take part in; I cannot control:
- Who will attend the meeting
- What other people say
- What topics will prompt feelings in me
- What I’ll hear that will help me
I can control what I do with any information or suggestions, and that gives me some control.
6. I’m Afraid I Won’t Have Options
I think one of the fundamental or basic underlying truths about recovery is that each day I have the option to be positive or negative about the life and recovery lessons. I also have the choice to alter my course if I see I’m not heading in the right direction. I know that sounds pat and cliché, but it’s true. Sometimes, we don’t change courses, because our ego won’t let us look foolish for an unwise plan. However, that’s just another fear because most of us don’t want to admit that we’ve made a mistake.
People sometimes assume that because I have been in recovery for 29 years, I am this fearless human. That is not true. When I entered treatment, I had fears about everything, but I had two choices – change or stay the same.
Each of those choices had a fear. So there was no avoiding the fear, however, the fear of staying the same was greater than changing, so I changed.
Weigh your concerns today and decide which has the greatest fear – changing or staying the same. The choice might encourage you to change as it did for me.