Jul 25 • 4M

140. I'm Making Progress, But Now I Have To ...

When you are looking for "tips" on how to take the next step.

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I often talk about the difference between understanding the principles of recovery, and asking for recovery instructions. See episode 179 of The Anxious Truth podcast for more on this. Why do I talk about this? Why is it important?

Let’s take a look at a real life recovery example as an illustration.

Once in a while a member of our community will pop up to say that they’ve been working hard at recovery and making good progress. Then they will ask for tips or advice on taking a next step forward. Going back to work or returning to school after an extended absence are two common examples I can point to. This person will talk about how they’re doing so much better and are now in a position where they can take this step forward that they’ve been working toward for some time.

Awesome, right?

But in asking for tips and advice on taking the next step, you are often forgetting the principles of recovery that got you to that point to begin with. Remember that we are working on building a new reaction to anxiety and a new relationship with fear. We’re learning that we are safe even when anxious and that we do not have to treat anxiety like an emergency.

When you go back to these principles, you see that you already know how to take the next step. You’re just doing the same thing you did when you took your first steps. You know how to do that.

How do you go back to work or school when you think you’re ready? Or even when you’re not entirely sure that you’re ready? You go do the things, expect to be challenged, the respond to that challenge the same way you’ve been responding to the challenges that came previously. If you get anxious in your office, then allow that, relax into it, and let it pass. If you get anxious in the classroom, the same rules apply. The good news here is that there are no new or special instructions for you to follow. Just follow the basic principles you already know and have practiced.

We can acknowledge why people sometimes ask for tips at this stage of the game. Maybe your confidence is still lagging a bit behind so you’re not sure that you’re really ready. Maybe you’re concerned that unlike a short exposure, being at work or school all day means you can’t escape. This is also a confidence issue. You’re still afraid that “too long” might be “too much” and that you won’t be able to handle it. But remember when you took your first scary steps forward in recovery? Remember how you were really afraid that you would not be able to handle that?

But then you did. Then you did again. And again. Then you handled more. And more.

So while you might not be feeling all that confident, and you might be feeling like your recovery is a bit fragile and might break if you “push it”, you’re still OK. The only way to be convinced that your recovery is durable and that your progress is lasting is to take that next step and let it unfold like all the others unfolded.

This is an exciting, but still sometimes scary place to be in your recovery. If you started at ground zero and you’re on the edge of something big, take the step. You know what to do. I can’t believe I’m going to write this but …

You got this. ;-)


Hey it’s Monday and that means that today at 2 PM Eastern I’ll do my “Recovery Monday” livestream on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Come join in!