While rules and regulations often seem to hinder your opportunity and growth, you might be overlooking the amount of freedom you still have. If you have accepted that today’s COVID-19 restrictions have put a pause or a stranglehold on your life, it might not be circumstantial. How you enter into and get yourself out of a situation often depends on your frame of mind.
Whether consciously or subconsciously, you might be using this pandemic as an excuse to not motivate yourself or do what needs to be done to serve your health and recovery. If you are trying and still see things through a pessimistic lens, it might be time to look at all the freedoms and choices that you still have.
Binary thinking is essentially black-and-white thinking. It always defers to only two options, usually good or bad. This kind of thinking is an oversimplified approach to finding resolve that can lead to emotional highs and emotional lows. For example, your new workout regimen is the best until it is the worst. This type of cycle will keep repeating when you think in terms of black and white. Recent situations might have suggested as much.
At first, you liked being home, not having to commute and waking up at your own place. Until you didn’t — and now you have shifted your mind to think you are trapped. When striving to maintain mental health and addiction recovery, this kind of thinking can have serious effects on your well-being.
When transitioning into a new frame of mind, you will want to balance your thinking — in other words, live in the gray. While black-and-white thinking might feel like it gives you more security, it also limits the number of choices you have. First, acknowledge that you are having these thoughts. Consider writing down what you are thinking when you are making a choice.
You will likely discover that there are patterns to your thinking. If you are still struggling, think of extreme words that you might use to describe a person or situation, such as bad, good, ugly, or beautiful — then try to think of more nuanced ways to describe them. This will allow your mind to begin thinking outside of the black-and-white world, and you will discover that you suddenly see things differently and more clearly.
Your Choices Count
Since there are still shelter-in-place restrictions that limit social interaction, these factors might be framing all of your choices. While it is important to maintain your safety and the safety of those around you, you do not need to limit yourself to feeling as though all of your choices are somehow less effective or exciting because of the restrictions. In other words, do not devalue what you are deciding to do just because it is an alternative way of doing it.
Your choices are a reflection of what you value most in this world. Who you want to be in this world has not changed. Remember this upon making each new choice and ask yourself — is this kind of decision or this kind of thinking who I am or who I want to be?
Slow and Steady
Do you often reach an opinion about something too quickly? Sometimes we can shut out or turn off a thought before we really have time to think about it. For example, you don’t like computers so there goes your support group. Or your home can’t accommodate a workout, so exercise is gone.
If you are simply rushing to find reasons not to do something, this does not serve your character or your recovery. You have learned that you need to face challenges with an open mind. It might be easy to cast something away — but when you find yourself doing this, it often means you need to spend more time thinking about it. Do not decide within the first five seconds that you will or won’t do anything. This goes for negative choices, too.
Once you begin to consider how to do something — rather than if you can or cannot — you give yourself the freedom of affirmation. Turn “Can I?” into “I can.” You might feel like so many things are out of your control right now, but one thing you can control is your choices. Knowing that your decisions are your own brings about a great sense of freedom and reinforces the many capabilities you have.
Use this power to break away from what should you do, and start asking what is the courageous thing to do, or what is the loving thing to do? This frame of mind will allow you to see what you need to do for your recovery — not what you want or don’t want to do. This affirmation leads to greater confidence as well.
Permission to Choose
You do not need permission to choose or not choose something, or to choose again. If your choice does not offer you the results you wanted, that’s okay. It’s a normal part of the process. Even if you have a clear idea or expectation of the outcome, you can never truly predict how something will or will not work out. Instead of feeling like you are out of options, or that you broke a pact with yourself, just choose again.
When you allow yourself to choose, you avoid building resentment toward that act. For example, you didn’t like your online support meeting because only a few from the class showed up and the video feed was poor and it was shorter than usual. While these are valid concerns, it doesn’t mean it is a loss. There are multiple ways to interact with friends online.
Instead of setting expectations that your support meeting will translate to the online world seamlessly, understand that there will be compromises. Look at other options, reach out to support friends, and set up individual times when you can talk. Invite them to play games or watch a Netflix movie together. You can choose to adapt.
It’s okay to change what you want. Insight offers you a better understanding of how you feel about something. Ask yourself if you will like yourself better for pursuing one option instead of another. You are not only building a relationship with your recovery, but with yourself. The more options you pursue, the more you will discover about yourself.
While recovery benefits from a team of supportive people around you, it ultimately takes feeling confident enough to know when to face challenges on your own and when to ask for help. If you feel stuck during these times, it’s time to seek help. True Recovery offers 24/7 care that can give you the confidence to get back on track to the road to recovery. To learn more, call us today at (866) 399-6528.