Early Sobriety: 3 Ways that Reflecting on Past Experiences Can Benchmark Your Recovery

Early Sobriety: 3 Ways that Reflecting on Past Experiences Can Benchmark Your Recovery

To create benchmarks in your recovery, have a clear picture of where you are now compared to what it took to get clean

by Melissa Riddle Chalos

Healthy self-reflection can lead to a better understanding of the how and why of your addiction. If you or a loved one struggles with drug or alcohol abuse, then reflect on and learn from past mistakes to create beacons of hope for future struggles; reflecting on what drove you to substance abuse, what motivated you to reach out for help and even what caused relapses to build a stronger arsenal against future setbacks. If you focus on these three past experiences, then they can become benchmarks to recovery success that empower your continued recovery efforts.

Healthy Reflection Teaches Us About Past Mistakes

For those who struggle with substance abuse and addiction, the ability to reflect on past mistakes is often compromised. Because one of the key components of addiction is denial, healthy reflection is lost, because many addicts are unable to admit that they have done anything wrong—the addiction is always someone else’s fault, or the addiction is only hurting the addict and etc. This unrealistic view of addiction keeps drug users trapped in a vicious cycle of drug abuse, despair, cravings and more drug abuse.

However, healthy self-reflection can help an addict learn from his past mistakes. Rather than being doomed to repeat the same mistakes for a lifetime, healthy reflection helps people look at the decisions they made to move past them. In other words, instead of repeating the same negative behaviors, reflection helps addicts break the cycle and keep moving forward. By looking honestly at past decisions for what they truly were, denial no longer has the power it once had, so moving ahead is possible.

Healthy Reflection Reveals Our True Selves

Although it is difficult at times, reflecting on past events and decisions you made while active in addiction can help you get to know yourself better, which means you can bring new life to old dreams or even create new ones. If you understand the reasons behind your drug-seeking behaviors and the triggers that drive them, then you can put a stop to similar behaviors in the future. It takes time to learn how to reflect in this way, especially since most addicts also struggle with self-esteem issues—the temptation is to beat yourself up for any wrong choices you make, which can then derail your recovery. Instead, use healthy reflection as a way to get to know your triggers and to avoid them in the future.

Learning from past mistakes can remind you of how strong you really are and how far you have come in your journey to a drug-free life. Look for these benchmarks at times when cravings feel overwhelming, because you will then remember that you have made good decisions in the past, so you can do so again. Focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses to get a true picture of who you really are.

Healthy reflection also helps you get rid of negative and false beliefs about yourself. Telling yourself the truth—that you are worth saving, that you deserve happiness and that there is a plan for your life—can bring a greater sense of peace and contentment, even in the middle of struggles with drugs.

Healthy Reflection Improve Communication Skills

Learning to look back and learn from past mistakes helps those who struggle with addiction become better communicators. When you reconsider behaviors that alienated you from friends and loved ones, it becomes easier to express what you were feeling at the time and why you reacted the way you did. Analyzing past mistakes in healthy ways can also help you predict future problems and communicate them to your loved ones. Predicting future problems can help you plan ways to avoid them, which means you can safeguard your recovery by knowing how you will respond to surprises. Improved communication skills also make you better at talking to your friends and

loved ones about your hopes for the future. Knowing what you want out of life can actually put you in a better position to achieve your dreams.

Healthy reflection can increase your ability to empathize with others. Empathy is feeling what another person feels in response to situations and relationships; connecting with other people on this emotional level teaches you how to communicate your thoughts and feelings better to those around you. With help and understanding, both giving and receiving it, you can get and stay clean from addiction.

Find Help for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Learn to look at your past in healthy ways to increase your chances of recovery success. Healthy reflection improves communication skills while it also increases self-awareness and self-esteem. Using your past actions as benchmarks in your recovery journey can help you avoid making the same mistakes over again. If you or a loved one struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, then know that we are here for you. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline anytime to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.