from addict 2 advocate

Recovery is Like a Puzzle: Learn to Examine the Pieces

By: Marilyn L. Davis

“Don’t beat yourself up for not knowing the answers. You don’t always have to know who you are. You don’t have to have the big picture or know where you’re heading. Sometimes, it’s enough just to know what you’re going to do next.” ― Sophie KinsellaThe Undomestic Goddess

The BIG Picture: Too Many Puzzle Pieces 

Sometimes seeing the big picture is just too much – overwhelming, stressful, and seemingly impossible to comprehend. Just about the time that we think we have two pieces that seem to have the right edges to join, we discover that they do not. When this happens, people often feel fearful and confused.  
In our recovery, we can examine these pieces and see if they fit our better selves.   
This makes any overwhelming problem puzzle or issues easier to solve. When you find solutions for a particular problem piece, you can feel less stressed, and proud. So, how do you begin to isolate the pieces and get to solutions? 

One Piece at a Time


Start with the big picture: 100%, and then break that down into its separate pieces or issues and assign a percentage to that part of the bigger picture. 

For instance, “I am 100 % overwhelmed and confused about recovery”.  Next, break that larger picture of 100% down to the components:

from addict 2 advocate marilyn l davis puzzle

Now you’ve identified 100% of the reasons for feeling overwhelmed and confused. You can then begin to assign tasks and actions that will change or modify the components and make your work manageable. With just this simple isolating exercise, you then concentrate on actions to manage each issue. Determining actions for now and later can help you plan concrete steps.  

Create Concrete Plans for Now and Later 

from addict 2 advocate marilyn l davis puzzleWhen you see that there are solutions for each part of what you’re feeling overwhelmed about usually calms you down, and helps strengthen your resolve to stay in recovery. 

As you isolate the variables of the big picture into separate issues or change your perspective on it, most people feel less confusion and fear.

In addition, the confusion and fear are often replaced with other positive feelings and attitudes such as:

  • Confident
  • Disciplined
  • Encouraged
  • Satisfied
  • Positive
  • Proud

People Will Notice the Positive Changes 

Just as you will feel differently by taking actions to correct an issue, other people, such as family, friends, and coworkers will also notice a more self-reliant, changed person. If they pay you a compliment about these changes, there is an appropriate comment for you to make, “Thank you.” Any rebuttal is in effect telling them that they are wrong to notice a positive change.
It’s like someone complimenting you on a job well done and responding, “It wasn’t anything special.”
Yes, it is special; it is an indication of your commitment to making changes in your life and working hard on your recovery. It takes courage and hard work to change. Even if you judge the issues as trivial, or assume that other people figured out how to cope with something years ago doesn’t matter. You’re dealing with them now. 
So, What Piece Do I Tackle Next?

from addict 2 advocate marilyn l davis

Once you learn to view the pieces of the puzzle and take appropriate actions to modify or change them, this exercise works for most situations when you are feeling overwhelmed, confused or fearful.  

I am always interested in how people apply one the healing lessons that I write about on FromAddict2Advocte.  Let me know what puzzle pieces you are examining. 

Writing, and recovery heals the heart


When you’re ready to share your experiences about addiction and recovery, consider submitting a guest post. 


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