How to Make Peace With Your Addiction and Mental Illness?

how-to-make-peace-with-addiction-and-mental-illness

Four choices that will help you find peace

___

Some things you can’t fight, some things you have to live with. Joe, from “the Flash.”

Peace begins on the inside

Some things you need to learn to live with. Maybe even make peace with. You wouldn’t think that self destructive behaviors would be a place for any kind of peace to exist. But that is exactly where you need a more peace.

If you cannot find peace inside of your addiction or your mental illness, you may never find the peace that you so desperately need.

If you cannot find peace inside of your addiction or your mental illness, you may never find the peace that you so desperately need.

You can make peace with your addiction because underneath your addiction are important needs: Your need for love, for acceptance, for respect, for strength, for hope, for you to share what you know with other people, and for a future. Your needs tell a story of who you are and where you are heading. Your substances and your illnesses may tell a story of unhealthiness. But your life can become healthy again.

Making peace with alcohol, with drugs, with depression or with PTSD is not easy. Rarely can we find peace in a relationship with something that can destroy us. But life is miraculous. People can change how they relate to a substance. They can change their relationship to depression, to anxiety and to other painful experiences.

Knowing when and what to fight takes wisdom. Sometimes you can’t fight because you are not ready. Other times, you realize that this is the wrong fight for you or it’s just not important any more.

Four choices that can help you find peace

One of the keys to recovery is learning that surrender is different than giving up. You learn that you have at least four choices that you can make in any situation (I credit Russ Harris, PhD for the idea behind the four choices, which he calls the Resilience Formula):

  1. You can leave. This may feel like running away or avoidance. But sometimes a valid choice is to get away from it all. Most times, leaving only takes the problems with you.
  2. You can stay and work at it, and try to live more (and more) in line with your values. You can work to improve, every day. Take it one day at a time. Admit your mistakes. Identify your values. Set small goals. Be honest about your pain. Get some therapy or other forms of support. Make a contribution to your relationships and your workplace. Begin to have hope again. Learn to tolerate anxiety and frustration without giving in to your triggers. Pray and meditate and deepen your soul.
  3. You can stay and practice acceptance. You can learn to accept and become at peace with what you cannot change. Maturity comes when we accept our limitations.
  4. You can stay and give up. Stay and continue to live an unhealthy, and destructive life. Coast, stay stuck and do nothing to change yourself or your circumstances. If you don’t work at it, you are guaranteed that your life will never improve.
When you learn to be at peace with yourself, you learn to be at peace with your addiction and with your mental health.

Living with a mental illness or addiction can be chaotic for you and for those who care about you. But at times we have no choice but to learn to be at peace. When you learn to be at peace with yourself, you learn to be at peace with your addiction and with your mental health.

Remember that the peace that you find may not be what you expect, but it will be what you need.

Recovery will change your life and it will give you peace. But this peace may not be what you expected. It will be uneasy.

It’s true, some things you can’t fight, some things you have to learn to live with. In recovery, we call this wisdom… the wisdom to know the difference.

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

How do you learn to live at peace with your addiction or mental illness?

You can find peace.

Peace is not something you have to earn or find on a mysterious spiritual journey. Peace is simply about being free to be who you are. Even when you struggle, you can find peace in all of the mess. Peace is not something that is outside of you. You will find peace when you live in harmony with your values.

You may need to change your relationship with your substance or with your mental illness. How you do that is often by making small, even tiny improvements to your life. Stretching yourself ever so gently.

You may need to learn to breathe more. “Breath” comes from the root word for spirit (Latin, “Spiritus.”) Every time you breathe deeply, you inspire… you breathe in a new spirit. Slow down, close your eyes, take intentional breaths and picture the life you want to live. Feel it deep down. Let your preferred story warm you from the inside out.

If you enjoyed this article, I invite you to read some of my other writings:

The Weight of Living: Mental Health and Faith

Addiction: A Simple Path

To Heal, You Must Become the Art

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. Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing. If you like what I have to say, please share my work with your friends.

Lastly, if you like my writing, you can click here to vote for my page on Psych Central’s list of mental health blogs.

Keep it Real

Photo by Shannon Kringen

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