Living with addiction means we’re often struggling with inner turmoil, tumultuous interpersonal relationships, challenging circumstances, stress, anxiety and depression. At the root of our pain is a lack of inner peace. We don’t feel grounded, centered, stable or secure. We don’t feel at peace with ourselves, our lives, our relationships. Attaining inner peace doesn’t mean we no longer deal with difficulties or feel pain.

It means we’ve managed to find a way to approach life, and all the challenges that come with it, with grace, peace, calm and balance. It means we’re able to find joy and gratitude within ourselves and our lives, regardless of however difficult our circumstances might be. Finding inner peace means connecting with a deeper part of ourselves. It goes beyond our thinking minds which are constantly embroiled in worry, anxiety, overthinking and rationalizing. It accesses our hearts and our spirits, our connection to love and to our inner self. It is in this place that we can connect with our higher power. Recovering from our addictions isn’t just about abstaining from our addictive substances and behaviors.

It isn’t just about becoming clean and sober. It’s also about growing our self-love and our inner strength and developing our connection with our higher power. It is in these things that we find the power to stay the course of our recovery and not fall off the wagon. Inner peace helps us stay grounded and centered when we feel tempted to use. It helps us navigate our painful emotions and process them in healthy ways so that we don’t resort to unhealthy forms of escapism, avoidance and self-medicating. How do we achieve inner peace? Experiment with different things that have worked for other people and try new things, and see what helps you to feel calm and balanced.

What helps to quiet your mind and brings you internal stillness and space? For many people, meditation does the trick. There are countless forms of meditation, including focusing on our breathing, visualization, repeating mantras and affirmations, walking meditation, and chanting. Prayer also helps many people. You can try using prayer beads, lighting candles and creating an altar to help you immerse yourself in your meditation and/or prayer. 

The Power of Meditation

Worry, anxiety, and stress can be more than distractions. Constantly replaying in your mind daily problems and fears can affect your mental and physical health. Controlling your attention as you meditate can help you feel more relaxed and at peace. And this peacefulness often lasts far beyond the meditation itself. So when stress appears hours later, you have the means to redirect it. Meditation lets you become more awake and more purposeful about your actions. It teaches you how to respond, rather than react, to situations in your life. Meditation sounds simple. But it takes discipline to remain still in body and mind. You have to block out the world around you and quiet your thoughts.

 The benefits of meditation include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Decreased pain
  • Better immune system function
  • Better mood and brain function

There are many theories about how meditation may improve your physical and mental health. One theory is that it reduces activity of the sympathetic nervous system. This leads to a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, slower breathing, and muscle relaxation.

Positivity in Life

“Start each day with a positive thought and a grateful heart.” 

                                                                                                              Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Trying to be positive when you’re grieving or experiencing other serious distress can seem impossible. During these times, it’s important to take the pressure off of yourself to find the silver lining. Instead, channel that energy into getting support from others. Positive thinking isn’t about burying every negative thought or emotion you have or avoiding difficult feelings. The lowest points in our lives are often the ones that motivate us to move on and make positive changes. When going through such a time, try to see yourself as if you were a good friend in need of comfort and sound advice. What would you say to her? You’d likely acknowledge her feelings and remind her she has every right to feel sad or angry in her situation, and then offer support with a gentle reminder that things will get better. Maintaining positivity is a daily challenge that requires focus and attention. You must be intentional about staying positive if you’re going to overcome the brain’s tendency to focus on threats.

Self-compassion

Self-compassion or self-love may be a unique concept for some people. This is especially true for those who were raised in abusive or unloving homes, where compassion may have been non-existent. A construct drawn from Buddhist psychology, self-compassion refers to a way of relating to the self with kindness.  Psychologist Kristin Neff was the first person to measure and operationally define the term “self-compassion.” She describes self-compassion as kindness toward the self, which entails being gentle, supportive, and understanding: “Rather than harshly judging oneself for personal shortcomings, the self is offered warmth and unconditional acceptance.” In other words, being kind to ourselves in good times and bad, in sickness and in health—and even when we make mistakes.

“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” –RuPaul

People who lack self-compassion often exhibit a pattern of unhealthy relationships. “How you treat yourself reflects how you let others treat you. If you’re unkind to yourself, you create a standard for how much abuse you accept from others and as a result end up attracting abusive and disrespectful relationships.” 

Following are ways to begin practicing self-compassion and stop being so hard on yourself:

Treat yourself as you would a small child. Manly suggests considering what a child might want or need in a hurtful situation. That child could be your own, or you could imagine yourself as a child.

Remember that you’re not alone. If we can recognize our shared humanity that not one of us is perfect we can begin to feel more connected to others, with a sense that we’re all in this together.

Give yourself permission to be imperfect. Self-compassion is about giving ourselves room to be human, to be flawed and sensitive, lazy and unproductive, without having to define ourselves by those flashes of feelings and ways of being.

Work with a supportive therapist or coach. We know that our brains have the ability to learn self-compassion but cultivating new patterns of thought or behavior takes effort. “It’s tough to learn self-compassion all on our own. “Therapy provides a safe environment in which the therapist can help you: notice your thoughts and feelings; have a realistic perspective of yourself and others; and demonstrate empathy for you. In time, you will begin to internalize these skills and integrate them into your own life perspective.”  Finding a therapist with whom you feel safe and supported is key.

The “The Gateway Advantage” can also provide support, challenge distorted thoughts that impede self-compassion and stop being so hard on yourself. I John Bonavia, work with primary care providers in situations where good health care involved paying attention not only to physical health, but also to habits, behaviors and emotions. This platform is providing you a great facility to shape your life. 

Learning to love and respond and not react

The difference between reacting and responding is awareness. Knowing you’re about to react in a way that’s unbecoming and having the ability to stop yourself before you do it. Mindful awareness allows you to monitor your automatic reactions, so you can stop them before they become destructive. This kind of skill can be developed through daily mindfulness, because it will get you used to knowing what it feels like just before you do something you haven’t given much thought to. When you know how every situation fits into your overall goals and objectives, it’s a lot easier to respond. Zooming out helps you notice how the little things can either help or hinder your efforts. As long as you know where you’re going, how you get there isn’t that important. But you must be clear on your core values as well, or you will find yourself getting frustrated when conflict creeps into the situation. Just like zooming out and seeing the big picture, keeping every situation in context is also very valuable. This is because anything can be frustrating when taken out of context. And there’s no point in overreacting to something that isn’t even a threat. If you hear footsteps in the night, it could mean someone’s broken into your house or it could mean your partner finally came back from working the night shift. Knowing the context makes the difference between you reacting with fear or responding with calm satisfaction. Always think about what is happening and how the current situation can affect you going forward. Sometimes all it takes is to ask yourself if you’re reacting or responding. This will give your mind pause for a moment while it processes all the available information in order to figure out the answer to your question. This split second may be all the time you need to take a mental break from the situation and choose an alternate route. A lot of the time we react when we feel like we don’t have any other option. When we feel as though we’ve lost control over the situation our mind plays tricks on us and tells us the only way to get what we want is to retaliate and through a tantrum like a two-year-old. But we all know that’s not true. When you think about it with a level head you’ll realize you always have a choice. No matter what sort of situation you’re in, there is always another way to handle it. And knowing this can empower. When you feel empowered you are more likely to prefer the option with the least possible negative consequences. 

In addition, with all these mentioned tips and tricks in the situations when we don’t even know how to react or respond. I John Bonavia, will provide proper knowledge and sessions to you which gradually leads you to react in a proper manner in any situation. 

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