Why do we let the hurdles, difficulties, and challenges of life take control of our joy and happiness? We know they are coming, yet we allow them to overwhelm us. Whether it be related to finances, relationships, addiction, transportation, work, etc. there is always something to get us down. When we are down, it ignites a desire to use, which is never good.
In recovery, we are repeatedly told that life is about overcoming challenges, everyone in and out of recovery has them, and that the quicker we accept this, the easier life will be. While this concept is easy to understand, it isn't easy to enact. We can agree that life is full of hurdles, but we struggle to accept the diversity and complexity of them. There are so many hurdles, and, in most cases, we have no idea how to overcome them. They are things we know little about, do not have the resources to fix or simply scare us. As the stress from these hurdles increases, we often get stuck, allowing the problem to compound upon itself until we believe a solution is hopeless.
However, if you look at all the life hurdles you must overcome, is it really that you don't have the know-how to solve them, or are you taking the wrong approach? The truth is, if you are honest with yourself, you will recognize that you have the know-how, resources, and expertise to conquer anything. You have all you need to get to where you want to go.
This is true because even in this complex world, there is only one kind of life hurdle, and that is a mental hurdle. The only thing stopping us from overcoming these hurdles is ourselves. When we are honest, get into action, and get out of our way, life hurdles no longer stop us. When we stop believing everything, our addiction says, and we start looking and asking for help, the world will suddenly look different. To solve any problem in life, you must mentally find the courage and commitment to conquer it, and we can all do this if we choose.
Steps to Finding a Solution to Any Life Hurdle
Ask the Appropriate Question: When encountering a life hurdle, stress and anxiety begin to build as we try to figure out how to overcome it. We often start to evaluate if our skills and resources are fit to solve the problem, and when they aren't, the concern grows. However, what if we started attacking the problem with the question, “who do I know that can help solve this problem” rather than worry about what skills we might or might not have.
If it is a hurdle, it means we need help, not that there is something wrong with us. If we were an expert in the field, we would not see a barrier. Most anything that causes an elevated level of stress in life is due to the simple fact that we do not know how to handle a situation or how to solve a problem; which creates fear and uncertainty. As time passes, this fear and uncertainty can become more significant than the hurdle itself.
There is nothing wrong with not knowing; nobody has all the answers. However, there are people in your support group who can assist in solving specific problems. They have had similar issues, are experts in the desired field, or have a resource that can help. When a hurdle arises, if you start by identifying the "who," you will eliminate most of the fear and uncertainty. This limits stress, so you won't get stopped from getting into action.
Be Patient: If a problem does not go away immediately, that does not mean it cannot be solved. Yes, we want the stress and anxiety to go away, but to conquer life hurdles, it may require multiple attempts to find a practical solution. The solution may demand a set of steps and involve many people. The complexity of the situation may extend the completion time to days, weeks, months, and even years. If the hurdle cannot be solved immediately, even with the right supports involved, focus your attention on the daily tasks that need to be completed rather than solely on the ultimate goal. Also, don't be tempted to take shortcuts. Shortcuts may make the problem go away for today, but at a future point, your shortcut will cause the problem or a subset of the problem to return.
Be patient and commit to doing what is required to make the problem go away forever. This progress produces confidence that a solution is possible. Using your supports to identify the proper strategy prepares you for the next step, which is to do the work. Any life hurdle can be resolved if you choose to do the work, but this requires you to win the mental battle with that voice in your head that is trying to convince you that a solution is not possible.
Use Your Tools: Are the issues you confront overwhelming or do we let our addiction turn them into something bigger than they really are? Do we let our past failures predict how future events will unfold, even though we are clean and sober now? The fact is our addiction is trying to get us to use again. To do this, it uses emotions like fear, uncertainty, and anxiety to get what it wants, and life hurdles create the perfect opportunity for your addiction to gain control of your thoughts.
The 12-steps, IOP, and individual counseling provide much more than merely the tools to stay clean and sober. They provide tools to create a better you. By building a foundation in recovery, you are building a foundation to conquer the hurdles of life. The principles and tools used to overcome triggers and cravings are the same tools you use to resolve job, relationship, financial, and other life hurdles. The ability to recognize what is reality versus rationalization, regulate emotion, and develop coping skills are a few of the valuable tools to be used when confronted with a life hurdle.
Get Into Action: Life hurdles do not go away; they get bigger. They get bigger mentally as well as structurally the longer you ignore them. From a mental perspective, when you ignore acting on a problem, you allow it to take refuge in your mind and thoughts. As the problem ferments in your brain, the more unlikely a desirable outcome seems. The worry is often based on what you have made up about the problem, and the feeling of being overwhelmed is driven by these thoughts rather than the issue itself.
Similarly, as time passes, the severity of the problem grows. For example, legal charges become warrants, late fees become defaults, and a hit of marijuana turns into a job loss and homelessness. To end this repeating cycle, we must act. Action is the only way to find solutions for problems.
Life is about making the right decision, and recovery is about building a trustworthy foundation from which those decisions can be made. With this trusted foundation, which is based on core principles, purpose, and routines, you can tackle any life hurdle with confidence. Use your supports, tools and patients to mitigate the fear and uncertainty. Then choose to get into action, so the challenges you encounter can never negatively influence your excitement for life.