The work of recovery is growing up. Don’t fear, this guide will help you to understand the 8 tasks of maturity.
Recovery is not all that it is promised.
You hope for freedom from addiction, release from mood swings, and relief from cravings and what I call the Spiny Toothed Mad Man.
Recovery, it turns out, is where the work is. And work is spelled: Grow Up.
Maturity means you have to learn to use both your head and your heart. You have to learn what you did not learn through the rest of your life. And sometimes you need to relearn what you thought you had figured out.
Did you ever think to yourself: “When I grow up, I hope to be in recovery.”
Well, here you are.
Recovery is difficult, but it is a wide road.
Addiction is a narrow road. Addiction shrinks your world because of your behavior, your judgment, your strained and severed relationships.
The further down the path you go, it narrows. It becomes more and more isolating because the path is grown over with vines and covered in unstable rock.
Recovery, on the other hand, is wide open. Don’t get me wrong, recovery isn’t a no-holds-barred free-for-all. Because that is what got us here.
The funny thing is that at first, recovery is very hard. But with time, it gets easier.
Recovery is wide open, freedom to be who you are and who you can become. And that is what is frightening about mental health and addiction recovery.
Maturity gives you freedom – and freedom means work. This is where the work is, where it all happens. The tough part is that there is no guide to tell you what you really need to learn. You have to figure it out.
If you Google search maturity and recovery, you will find a million ideas for what it means to grow up. In reality, you need to decide for yourself what you need. Developmental Psychologist, Erik Erikson, described 8 stages of growth and development that each person needs in order to grow and be a fully functioning human being.
I have adapted these stages to addiction and mental health recovery because they are what normal, functioning people need. What follows is a guide the tasks that we need to work at in our recovery.
If you have mastered one task, you can move to another one. It can be tempting to work at several tasks at the same time, watch this because moving too fast can trigger a relapse.
The 8 Tasks of Maturity in Recovery
1.Trust for yourself and for the world. Trauma, neglect or family pain can make mistrust our default. Learning to trust yourself and other people will help you because that is the foundation of asking for help, sharing your story and recognizing your needs. You may have to relearn trust after a relapse, or a return of your symptoms. No worries, trust is the foundation and it needs to be kept healthy.
2.Secure in your ability to explore, to live, to decide. Confidence is not to be confused with independence or arrogance. Confidence is the willingness to be curious about yourself, other people, and your world. And curiosity will fuel your new growth. Curiosity can bring you out of your head, away from the voices, and back from the dead.
3.Taking responsibility and initiative. Responsibility means owning up to what you have done. It also means learning to pay your bills, getting to meetings on time, and doing what you say you will do. Responsibility is the way to rebuild trust. It means not waiting to be told what you have to do.
4.You have competence. You have learned how to gratification. It may seem odd that delay of gratification comes at the mid-point in development. It takes time to build our ability to delay gratification. You need experience to help you build the skills to focus on your own recovery.
5.You know who you are. Your physical cells and your brain’s neurons are continuously being replaced. Similarly, your personality is constantly adapting and changing. Knowing yourself is work that you will always need to do. It is one of the keys to a healthy future. Understanding yourself helps you understand your emotional life. Knowing yourself gives you a reason to tolerate frustration and cope with your emotions. You know you are valuable and you have worth. This fuels you and gives you strength.
6.You know how to open up, be yourself and be vulnerable. And vulnerability is one of the cornerstones of maturity. You need to learn courage to speak up for yourself. This means that you have learned to trust yourself. You learn to relax. The desire to please people is the opposite of this, and it builds inauthenticity. Maturity learns that you don’t have to be someone else to be okay.
7.You are generous and you give back to others. Giving back builds our maturity, emotional regulation, strength, and confidence. Giving means you have something to give, and you always do. You can give friendliness, encouragement, inspiration, help, hope, ideas, your story and so much more.
8.Reflection and gratitude. At times, your brain is so quick to judge, to react, or to assume. Maturity teaches you patience. You practice reflection, or prayer, or meditation and this builds your patience. You learn wisdom as you face hard times. You breathe and you teach your brain to slow down.
I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain.
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Photo by Demietrich Baker