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Recovery is a time for many things. It’s a time for reflecting on what led you to substance abuse in the first place. It’s a time for taking inventory of your thoughts, deeds, and motivations. It’s a time for asking and granting forgiveness, for charting a new course in life, and for rejoicing at the opportunity of a second chance.

One thing recovery is not, however, is a time for wallowing in guilt, shame and regret. Yet all too many people make this mistake, thinking that beating themselves up will somehow wipe the slate clean. It won’t. Instead, it will keep you mired in an endless cycle of pain, as writers for Psychology Today point out. In this post we’ll offer tips for forging a different path towards wellness, one which stresses positive change rather than negative self-abuse. Moms Strong wants to help you begin by looking at a truth we all know but all too often regret.


Nobody is Perfect


Some of life’s biggest fallacies masquerade as undeniable truths. Take perfectionism for example. The belief that we should accept nothing less than flawless may seem like the ideal motivator. In reality, though, perfectionism is a curse, according to Right as Rain by UW Medicine. Not only does it rob us of justifiable pride in our strengths and accomplishments, it drives us towards ongoing failure by sapping us of the energy and focus we need for success. So begin your journey to positive recovery by admitting a sometimes negative truth: you’re not perfect. Neither is anyone else, for that matter.

Instead of dwelling on how you could have avoided mistakes or why you are a horrible person for falling prey to common vices, focus on what you can learn. It is hard to admit a mistake, but doing so allows you to separate yourself from that mistake – I made a mistake instead of I am a mistake. Once that emotional burden has lightened, you can focus on how to avoid that mistake in the future.


You Must, and Can, Know Yourself


According to Swift River, getting to the root of your addiction will be a confusing and emotional experience, but understanding your substance abuse completely is an important step in conquering it. Additionally, marriage and/or family counseling can help facilitate healthy conversations with your loved ones and pave the way for stronger relationships. But all of this starts with self-understanding. You must know why you sought refuge in chemicals before you can find your way out of the maze of addiction. Here are some common reasons why people fall prey to substance abuse, according to 12 Keys Rehab:

Grief. Losing a loved one or even ending a relationship can leave people struggling to understand why and if there was anything they could have done differently.

Mental illness. Feeling anxious, confused or downcast is part of normal life. But, when these problems inhibit our ability to think or act with rational intent, then we may need to seek counseling or medical help.

Pressure. This stress can come from school, work, or a dozen other places, but they all leave the person feeling inadequate and deflated.


Being Positive Even When Negative


Just as lies often sound like the truth, so great truths can sound like lies or utter nonsense. Here’s an example: negative emotions can serve positive purposes. Sound absurd? It’s not. Let’s consider some examples:

Anger can inspire us to fight injustice.

Sorrow can help us to savor joy.

Fear of death can make us feel fully alive.

In saying these things, we’re not trying to confuse our readers or contradict anything we’ve already said. Rather, we’re saying that emotions are like any other force. You can use them to accomplish great good or unleash horrific evil. It all depends on who’s in control: them or you. Properly controlled and focused, your feelings can not only help you to manage your addiction but to accomplish any goal you set for yourself; and that’s a very positive thing to know.

When you are in control, you can make decisions that will benefit your overall well being. You can choose different friends who will encourage positive actions and thoughts. You can choose to avoid substances that you know will make you feel worse. And you can purge your home of negative energy by removing painful reminders, opening some windows, and bringing in some nature through plants and images. Being in nature has been shown to reduce anxiety and lift moods, so start creating your safe haven by embracing the benefits of Mother Nature.

We wish you the best in your ongoing recovery. The tips in this post can help, but they’re no substitute for the passion and commitment you bring to the table. Only you can walk this path. It all starts with the first step.

This article was submitted by Melissa Howard of Every suicide is preventable. After losing her younger brother to suicide, Melissa Howard felt compelled to create Stop Suicide. By providing helpful resources and articles on her website, she hopes to build a lifeline of information. She attended school at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and currently works as an executive assistant.