“What have you done for someone else today?” is a question you can ask your loved one in recovery that will not sound accusational as if you were convicting them of being selfish and self-centered. After a loved one has graduated one or more levels of treatment, they have become well educated on the selfish and self-centered nature of addiction, caused by the way the brain chemistry changes as a result of chronic substance abuse. They will learn that “contrary action” is one of their best ways to be sober. When they feel too focused on themselves, caught up in the small details of their own world, they have to act against that nature. Being of service to others helps them be less self-centered and selfish. In being of service, they have an opportunity to focus on other people, which does more than distract them from the focus on themselves.
Empathy and Compassion
Connecting with the emotions of another person is a demonstration of empathy. A loved one who spends time being of service to others spends time cultivating their sense of empathy. Understanding that one’s own experiences of suffering are no greater than or less than others, but that everyone suffer, is a demonstration of compassion. Compassion and empathy are positive signs of emotional development in recovery. Being of service helps to build these qualities by connecting with the emotions of others and recognizing their struggles. In the process, they disconnect from their own concentrated troubles and gain a wider perspective of the world.
Giving Back What Was Freely Given
There is a sentiment in twelve step programs about giving back to others what has been freely given to them. Recovery is more than learning to live without drugs and alcohol. The opportunity to learn how to live is a second chance at life. The principles of recovery, the simple actions advocated for sustainable living, transcend simple definitions of recovery and sober. When your loved one, an addict or an alcoholic in recovery, connects with another one through being of service, they are giving to them more than recovery. They are sharing an opportunity at life.
New Vista Behavioral Health is committed to helping you on your road to long term recovery. Begin our partnership today by calling 888-316-3665.