From the time they take their first step into detox through graduating from a recovery program, each person can feel the weight of any number of expectations. Those going through the recovery process are expected to embrace new lifestyle changes. Family members may expect that graduating from a recovery program has solved all addiction problems going forward, even though the reality is that addiction recovery is a lifelong journey. On top of this, one’s expectations for themselves can also be prevalent as a person expects themselves to incorporate new daily routines or tackle anxiety, depression, or urges with grace.
However, the weight of all of these expectations is heavy. There can be a lot of stress associated with the idea of continuing to make progress in recovery, leading a person to self-sabotaging behavior to cope with this unexpected and unnecessary stress. Learning to let go of the burden of expectation in recovery is crucial for creating a truly healthy and sustained mindset about oneself and their recovery journey.
Defining the Stress of Expectation
The stress of expectation is the idea that an individual must constantly progress in their recovery. While constant progress is the overarching goal, it can actively become a hindrance when interpreted as a daily, or even minute-to-minute, expectation. This can lead a person to feel like they are not directly challenging their recovery at every second, then they are somehow wasting time or not making the best of themselves.
However, this mentality can be counterintuitive and can lead an individual to deny themselves essential self-care practices, introducing even more stress and anxiety to the situation. When expectations, either imposed by others or upon oneself, begin to overwhelm a person’s other feelings, schedule, or dictate the minutiae of daily life, they need to be addressed as the obstacle to one’s prolonged recovery that they are.
Losing Track of Progress
Much of the anxieties surrounding the weight of expectation stems from focusing on what one needs to do rather than on one’s achievements. Creating lists and writing journals that highlight what an individual has accomplished daily, weekly, or even monthly can illuminate these otherwise overlooked accomplishments. Highlighting objective progress, like maintaining a clean living space, cooking dinner for another, attending work on time, and many other things are all accomplishments deserving recognition, as they may not have been easy to accomplish before one’s recovery.
Calendars, journals, photographs, or any other records of accomplishments can help contextualize progress to show how one is continually making strides without needing to focus on additional stresses or goals.
Setting Appropriate Goals
Setting appropriate goals is a part of the recovery process from the beginning, but the stress of trying to meet unrealistic goals can become overwhelming at every point in the recovery process, from the first day in detox to the daily life of an alumnus. To set appropriate goals, it is critical to remember that each individual sets personal goals for themselves and that you aren’t going through the difficult steps of recovery just for the sake of others. One’s progress, goals, and expectations are all their own and aren’t subject to outside influence. Setting goals based on the expectations of others might hinder recovery and depersonalize the path ahead.
There are also many kinds of goals and time frames that an individual can set for themselves. However, these goals must be reasonable and achievable. For example, while learning to cope with the daily anxiety and urges following addiction is a goal worth striving toward, it may not be appropriate to expect oneself to do this within just a week or month of recovery.
In reality, there can be any number of unforeseen stressors, influences, and sources of anxiety daily, some of which may not surface until well into one’s journey or even after one has become an alumnus. Concrete time frames to accomplish goals are often more challenging to manage as their non-malleable nature contrasts with the fluid, flowing, and ever-changing nature of addiction recovery.
Making physical, mental, and emotional strides in recovery can be as tiring as it is exciting. Making progress and coping with the daily struggles of addiction recovery can be exhausting, and relinquishing the weight of persistent expectation is not just advised but essential to maintain a healthy, rested mindset about one’s recovery and self-confidence.
While reaching milestones in one’s recovery is worthy of celebration, it is also necessary to take time to recuperate from reaching these goals and give one’s body and mind a break from time to time. This break frees oneself to engage in self-care and respite without unnecessary anxieties around the fallacy of “wasted time.” Prioritizing self-care, scheduling in time in one’s daily schedule to engage in a hobby, relaxing period, or even just to take a nap, is just as important as any other part of the recovery process and can’t be overlooked due to the pressures and anxieties of irrational expectations.
The stress of expectation can be a lot to cope with. At Everlast Recovery, we understand the need to balance one’s continued progress and education throughout addiction recovery with their needs for self-care and comfort. We work to help address the effects of addiction on all fronts and build an effective model of healthy sobriety. We utilize this mentality from our detox and residential services to relapse prevention programs, all of which can be further customized to help you find your own best practices throughout recovery. Art therapy, mindfulness practices, individual and group therapy programs, and family programs are all available, along with an atmosphere of home-like comfort, with home-cooked meals and a feeling of security throughout your journey. For more information on how we can personalize your stay with us or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call to speak to us today at (866) 338-6925.