You Hear & See What You Want
One of the natural cognitive instincts we have as human beings is that we hear and see what we want to hear and see. When we want something to be true, we find the evidence that makes it true. Similarly, if we wish something to be false, we find evidence that supports this belief. In either case, this dangerous approach to decision-making often cuts fact-finding short, disregards opposing opinions, and lacks objectivity. However, because we have identified certain elements that support our belief, we can justify the decision and feel as though we are doing what is right.
For this reason, confirmation bias is something to be keenly aware of in recovery. As we begin to work a recovery program, it keeps us clean, which brings a comforting stability to our lives. The joy generated by this stability encourages us to continue our life advancement, which is a good thing. This advancement manifests itself into ideas like buying a car, moving out of sober living, getting into a relationship, changing jobs, or applying for a credit card. As these ideas ferment in our mind, the fantasy of a better life seems guaranteed. As time continues to pass, the evidence to support ideas like moving out of sober living builds momentum, and our selectively gathered data provides the confirmation needed for us to move forward.
However, when we are making decisions that carry penalties for non-performance (For example: signing a rental agreement or taking on debt), we cannot base decisions on information that is misleading or fraudulent. Confirmation bias uses information that is generated through a narrow prism of favorable facts. It is a process dictated by our addiction that lacks an honest assessment of reality. It is void of responsibility and could be a significant step backward in our recovery.
The great thing about sustainable recovery is that it produces results. Getting a car, moving out of sober living, or changing jobs are all expected to happen. However, as we advance forward, we must accept that recovery is a step by step process that takes patience, commitment, and honesty. There are no quick fixes, and recovery cannot be rushed. We must allow our thoughts and plans to normalize as we embrace a new way of life. We must understand how and when to lean on our support groups for guidance. We must proceed with an abundance of caution as we engage in affairs that carry harsh consequences when not fulfilled. For these reasons, the due diligence process used when making any decision must extend far beyond simply what we want to hear and see.
Things to consider before moving out of sober living and into an apartment with roommates. This list entails a few of the many considerations needed before a responsible decision can be made.
How does an increase in rent affect my overall budget? Is rent expense taking too large a share of my monthly income, which could create additional stress in my life?
Do I have at least 6-months of rent plus living expenses in savings?
Does my roommate(s) have a similar reserve fund?
How and when are bills going to be paid? Who is paying the rental deposit? If I move out, what happens with the deposit – when is the deposit returned even if my roommate(s) stay in the unit or vice-versa?
What liability do I incur per the rental agreement if my roommate moves out before the termination date? Am I guaranteeing the entire rental amount per the contract or only my pro-rate share?
What is the average cost of utilities? Am I signing the contract with the utility companies, or is my roommate(s)?
How is the furniture being purchased – is there a budget? What happens to the furniture if someone moves out/the furniture breaks? What happens if I want to buy an additional piece of furniture, but my roommate(s) do not want to?
Do I want a pet, and my roommate doesn't/does my roommate want one, and I don’t? What are the expectations for cleaning? Guest policies?
Buying a Car:
Things to consider before purchasing a car. This list entails a few of the many considerations needed.
How does a car payment and associated expenses affect my overall budget?
Do I have 6-months of car payments and insurance in savings in case of the unexpected?
Do I have a repair/maintenance reserve fund to keep the car running if it breaks down and needs repairs?
What is the actual/estimated cost of insurance, gas, title & registration, and maintenance for the car?
If getting a car loan, what are the interest rate and terms? Is it a market interest rate? What are the default provisions, and how could the loan affect my credit? How much is required for the down payment?
What will the car be worth at the end of year one – what will the loan balance be at that time – year two, year three, etc.? Will the loan ever be higher than the value of the car?
It is okay to take time and consider all factors when making major life decisions. It is also okay to say “no” when something is not right. Doing what feels good is easy. But doing what is right takes maturity. It is fun to shop for a car. It is empowering to get approved for financing to buy a car. The hard part comes as the monthly payments, repair expenses, and insurance bills appear month after month in conjunction with all the other life expenses that never seem to never go away. The financial stress can become overwhelming and the euphoria of having a car can end quickly. Likewise, how much fun is it to be tied to an apartment rental contract when your roommate cannot afford their share of the rent?
Life choices can be complex and putting your “wants” on hold is no fun. Part of your recovery is to follow a responsible decision-making process that allows you to make sensible choices that can be trusted. Be cognizant of when confirmation bias is convincing you that a decision is right. Use your supports in recovery and ask for help. If you are honest and hold yourself accountable when making decisions, your life advancement, and recovery, will continue without disruption.
ABOUT CHOICE RECOVERY
Addiction treatment is offered in a variety of settings and formats for good reason. Every addict is different and their needs must be met in order for treatment to be affective. Choice Recovery is an outpatient integrated behavioral health facility in Mesa, Arizona offering intensive outpatient treatment ("IOP") for those struggling with drugs and alcohol. Using a wide variety of treatment modalities and masters level clinicians to lead group, Choice Recovery provides clients with personalized treatment plans in an outpatient setting to assist them in overcoming their substance use disorder.
AHCCCS health insurance accepted including Mercy Care, Banner, United Healthcare, AZ Complete Health, Care 1st, and AZ Health Choice (Steward).
IOP offered at night from 6:00pm to 9:00pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights.
A whole-body approach to care that focuses on the individual, not the disease.