What Does It Mean to Be in Control?

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Control is the cornerstone of recovery and plays an integral role in developing a new, sober lifestyle. However, it is also a term that carries many different meanings. Establishing control over one’s new lifestyle means first understanding what control means to each person. Unpacking these various definitions can help each individual create a dedicated plan for establishing agency in their daily lives, helping manage one’s physical responses to stress, challenge destructive manners of thinking, and regaining control over finances and workplace stresses. 

Maintaining Control Over Physical Responses

The most immediate thoughts of control typically surround one’s physical responses. For some, this can mean being in control of how one responds to stress or manages angry outbursts. These kinds of physical responses are incredibly difficult to manage. It is possible that an individual experiencing high levels of stress can feel out of control of their own bodies, even reaching back for addictive substances when they know it is a self-destructive and dangerous path. Regaining control over one’s physical responses also means providing oneself time to process and choose their course of action rather than reacting wholly on impulse.

Breathing techniques, mindfulness practices, and ready access to supports and self-care outlets are essential for processing one’s immediate impulses. Breathing techniques provide an individual with time to acknowledge their feelings and grant a few seconds to think before acting on any particular stressor. Likewise, mindfulness practices can help an individual identify any racing heartbeats or shaking that may be present as a result of a stressor that indicates if one is reaching an emotional threshold that needs to be addressed before it can manifest in unwanted physical responses. 

Emotional Control and Resilience

Emotional control affects one’s thinking, impacting one’s decision-making, self-image, and emotional state. Being in control of one’s emotions can be a difficult task, but also is essential as it promotes a healthy lifestyle and a fair way of judging oneself. One’s emotional responses can range from critically debilitating self-doubt in the face of criticism to thoughts of self-belittlement, doubt, guilt, and shame. Regaining control of one’s emotional responses can come in many forms, the most poignant of which is the development of a fair metric against which to measure oneself.

Emotions are tricky and often illogical, making them difficult to manage. However, being able to step back and objectively gauge one’s feelings can help to contextualize one’s emotions. During addiction recovery, a fragile emotional state can cause an individual to unfairly see themselves in a negative light, blaming themselves for things that were out of their control or were not wholly their fault to begin with. 

Others may see small criticisms blown out of proportion, creating feelings of complete inadequacy or debilitating doubt which may not be deserved. Control over one’s emotional responses begins with finding ways to objectively view one’s progress and situation. Journaling, keeping reminders of one’s successes and rewards, and constant communication with supports can help bolster one’s emotional resilience by adding new perspectives that are not littered with doubt.

Financial Control

Addiction comes with a hefty price tag in order to continue fueling it, and one’s finances are an important factor to address, similarly to any other aspect of one’s recovery. Regaining financial control over one’s situation means beginning to understand the financial impact that addictive substances carry, as well as learning to budget for one’s success in sobriety. 

Many people may not realize exactly how much they spend on drugs, alcohol, gambling, or other addictions. Thoughts of finances may have taken a back seat in order to engage with these addictions. Keeping receipts of all purchases can begin to show the exact financial cost that addiction carries. 

Regaining control of one’s finances means looking at one’s income and understanding the effects that finances have on the rest of one’s recovery. This can highlight the importance of making it to work instead of skipping out to go to the bar or coming in to work high and risking one’s employment status. Working with supports and professionals to explore how much money goes into addiction and where that money can otherwise be invested, such as rent, groceries, or beginning a new hobby, can help each individual better grasp the importance of financial control. 

This kind of control over one’s spending can add a needed sense of agency in one’s path through recovery. The conscious decision to divert funds from one’s addiction to new hobbies, interests, and being able to tend to one’s own bills and obligations can be a freeing, empowering experience in sobriety. 

Control is the cornerstone of transformation in recovery, and regaining a sense of emotional, financial, and physical control over one’s thoughts and reactions is essential in developing a healthy base for one’s life in recovery. However, it can also feel difficult to manage all of these aspects of one’s life simultaneously without the help of trained, caring professionals. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we understand the difficulty and need to regain control in your life and are prepared to help you take the first crucial steps towards regaining your agency over your goals, actions, and daily life. By personalizing your time with us through pertinent therapeutic practices, backed with individual and group counseling and education, we can help you break down the elements of control in your life and begin exploring the strategies most pertinent to you to begin incorporating a sense of agency in your physical responses, emotional resilience, and financial security. For more information, call (866) 338-6925.

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