By: Marilyn L. Davis


I Am My Own Puzzle to Complete


“I’m not a puzzle piece to someone else’s puzzle, I’m my own puzzle that is still growing. I’m unsure of what it’ll look like when it’s done, but it will be uniquely me.” ― Macy Niichel



The BIG Picture: Too Many Puzzle Pieces 


Sometimes we can’t see the bigger picture or 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.


Recovery is Like a Puzzle: Learn to Examine the Pieces marilyn l davis


We look at these “pieces,” which are our actions, attitudes, behaviors, and feelings, and see if they fit our better selves, and when they don’t, we concentrate on changing just that one aspect. 

If you learn to separate the pieces of the puzzle, they become manageable, either change or keep them for your recovery. Click To Tweet

Just dealing with one aspect 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 Puzzle Piece at a Time


“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


Please 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:

  1. 50% is all I have to do for recovery to last.
  2. 30% is my fear that people won’t like the “new me.”
  3. 10% is about my fear of meeting new people.
  4. 10% is my guilt over past actions. 

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 in your recovery. Determining actions for now and later can help you plan concrete steps. Click To Tweet


Create Concrete Plans for Now and Later 


Recovery is Like a Puzzle: Learn to Examine the Pieces marilyn l davis



When 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. Some solutions would be:

All I have to do for recovery to last.

  • Study literature one hour per night and go to a recovery support meeting daily. 

My fear that people won’t like the “new me.”

  • I want to change for myself and my family likes the “new me.”

My fear of meeting new people.

  • I’ll get a sponsor or accountability partner and invite them for coffee.

Guilt over past actions. 

  • I can change my behaviors and make amends for my past actions. 


Also, 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. Click To Tweet

If they pay you a compliment about these changes, there is an appropriate comment for you to make, “Thank you.” 


Recovery is Like a Puzzle: Learn to Examine the Pieces marilyn l davis

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?



Once you learn to view the pieces of the puzzle and take appropriate actions to 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 of the healing lessons that I write about on FromAddict2Advocte. Let me know what puzzle pieces you are examining. 







Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at Two Drops of Ink and From Addict 2 Advocate. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Books, and Books A Million.

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