Fear can quickly become the enemy of successful recovery. In fact, it potentially threatens any form of personal growth. However, if you think about it, fear is merely an emotion that we all experience from time to time—and we have a choice whether or not we give it power.
For people contemplating addiction treatment and individuals in recovery, it is important to keep their fear in check. Learning how to prevent fear from kicking in and reigning it in when it becomes overwhelming are crucial survival techniques for recovery.
Here are three things you can do when fear kicks in and you’re ready to kick it out.
1. Be mindful
Focusing on the past or future robs us of the ability to live in the only moment we truly have—the present. Being present and gently reminding ourselves to redirect our thoughts to the here-and-now can ease our fears from consequences of the past or unknowns of the future.
2. Stay grounded
Fear that is overwhelming and out-of-control is typically irrational fear. Those who experience anxiety or panic attacks are aware of this reality. For those in recovery, it is important to find a “safe person” you can call or talk to when you feel this irrationality creeping in. Plug into recovery groups or go to a sponsor, therapist, life coach or spiritual counselor to take active steps in staying grounded and accountable.
3. Open up
Talking and expressing personal feelings, thoughts and experiences may be difficult to do but it is a necessary practice in preventing and calming fear. Although vulnerability often creates a bit of anxiety, finding emotionally safe ways to express yourself and people who are safe to open up to can ease the experience.
Recovery groups are a generally a great place to begin this practice of honest, open communication. Of course, different rules apply for every group, so be sure to respect those which apply to communication within or directed to the group.
As with anything else, practice makes perfect. The more you communicate, the easier it gets. Writing letters (unsent or otherwise) is one way to start opening up without the fear of judgment. But, remember, the point is to grow and continue to gain new life skills, including but not limited to honest, open communication. So don’t stay stuck in the safety zone of unsent letter-writing. Find your voice, and let it be heard.
Regardless of whether you’re considering a change or an individual in recovery grappling with the sober life, these tips are important to keep in mind. And when it comes to recovery, just remember that the unknown is always a better alternative to that which you’ve once known. Now, what becomes of it is solely up to you.