The end of the year is upon us, in a couple weeks we will be getting ready to watch the ball drop as a new one rings in. But before we start thinking about our new year’s resolutions we need to take a moment to ourselves and introspectively reflect on this past year. Let’s be honest, the past 350ish days have been hard for many people both here at home and abroad. Between the nonsensical war in Ukraine and the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, which both then contributed to inflation, many of us feel like we have been on an emotional rollercoaster. We all hope this ride will end with that exhilarating scream of excitement to match the most wonderful time of year but for many, ‘Bah Humbug’ syndrome has settled in. For those in recovery, this isn’t a healthy mental and emotional place to be! We at the Dismas Home of New Hampshire want to implore each of our residents to take a step back and reflect on your journey to recovery and see how the art of gratitude has fueled your progress.
Reflection is a necessary exercise for recovery because it allows us to reflect on how we got to where we are today. It helps us to uncover the timeline of when and where things began to unravel, how our mental state or a traumatic event played a crucial role in creating unhealthy behaviors, and possibly what drove us to substance abuse in the first place. It also highlights our achievements and failures, the things that worked and those that didn’t, providing essential insights that can then be used to reassess and readjust. Our staff at the Dismas Home of New Hampshire believe that reflection is vital to the growth and should be used regularly to get a pulse on where you are in your recovery journey. We encourage you to use this tool and your gratitude journal to celebrate your wins, big or small and use it to gain perspective and shift your perception as needed. Some good points to reflect on are:
- What experiences are you grateful for and how can you acknowledge or express that gratitude?
- What moments are you most proud of and what can you do to celebrate yourself in a kind and loving way?
It is important to take time to respond to the insights you have uncovered after reflection but be sure to understand the difference between a response and a reaction. While reacting is normal it can have detrimental consequences that sets us back and that is because it usually occurs immediately and is emotionally charged. We are often regretful after such reactions because we either said or did something we wish we could take back. A response on the other hand comes from thoughtfulness and consideration of that which is relevant. It usually takes time to craft so that it can be appropriate to that which is uncovered in the reflection process. Allowing yourself time to respond, especially to unfavorable insights, requires discipline but it promotes growth through understanding and accepting where you are, why certain things worked or didn’t work and what needs to be readjusted to bring you closer to your recovery goals. Look at it this way, allowing yourself time to respond to your reflections is a gift you will thank yourself for because it will allow you to do so with compassion, love and kindness which we all need but seldom give ourselves.
After executing your carefully formulated response, it is time to reset and re-engage with a grateful heart, whether those insights were positive
or negative. On the positive side – that rush of adrenaline we feel when we realize we are making progress and that which we have put into motion is working is addictive. It drives us to work harder, to push ourselves to that next level and we experience an insurmountable sense of gratitude, for life, for our journey, for recovery. On the negative side, how we handle disappointment or failure is
extremely important as it sets the tone for how our journey continues. Don’t just look at it as failure but rather be grateful for the valuable lessons you have learned from these failures, go back to the drawing board and make adjustments. Remember recovery is not a sprint but rather a lifelong marathon which takes acceptance, dedication and gratitude.
From the Dismas Home of New Hampshire to each and every member of our community and our residents, we pray that you are blessed with peace, love, hope, joy, and kindness this holiday season!