This article is by Susan Linney and published by AAC
Acceptance is often times an essential part of recovery. When one is new to sobriety, it can be difficult to accept the new version of themselves. Learning how to see your circumstances clearly and live life on life’s terms can open the door to a whole new level of emotional sobriety. Below are just some of the ways in which acceptance can aid in your healing and enhance your recovery.
Letting Go of Shame
Shame is one of the most powerful drivers of the addiction cycle. All too often, it prevents people from coming to terms with their problem and getting the help they need. Learning how to accept your substance use disorder for what it is—i.e. a treatable illness and not a moral failure—can take an enormous emotional weight off your shoulders. When you see addiction as a solvable problem and not something to be ashamed of, it becomes easier to take the steps necessary for change.
Learning from Life Lessons
Practicing acceptance makes it possible for you to see valuable life lessons in every experience—even the ones that are painful. Because more often than not, we experience the most growth when we endure difficult situations and come out stronger on the other side. You can’t learn from your mistakes if you deny they exist, after all. Acknowledging your addiction and accepting its consequences will help you to make better choices in the future.
Setting Reasonable Expectations for Yourself
It can also be helpful to accept the fact that recovery is not a linear process. There will be ups and downs and it can be easy to feel frustrated and discouraged when you hit a roadblock. Understanding that struggle is part of the process allows you to let go of judgment as you learn how to live life sober. It enables you to set realistic expectations for yourself and show yourself (and others) compassion when mistakes are made. No one is perfect, after all.
Acceptance is Part of Recovery and of Life
As people in recovery, we often feel guilt and shame about our addiction. Learning how to accept life on life’s terms allows us to let go of these feelings so we can move forward and make better decisions for ourselves. It does not mean giving up and letting life just “happen” to us. Rather, it means accepting the things in life that are unchangeable (such as our past) so we can focus our efforts and energy on the things that can be changed (such as our future life in recovery).