During times of crisis or heightened anxiety (whether personal or global), coping mechanisms are key. For those of us who once relied heavily on substances or processes for comfort or control, the possibility of turning to what’s most familiar is also heightened. However, to do so would simply create another crisis. As such, it is imperative to have (and keep) faith.
But how does one keep faith—an abstract concept—when there is so much fear?
Well, it is first necessary to understand that fear is also an abstract concept. As such, to choose faith over fear is about choice and perspective.
Yet, the choice to have faith doesn’t mean we spiritually bypass the emotion of fear. Spirituality and religion can be addictive processes too if we use them as ways to avoid rather than address our woundedness. So, instead of substituting addictions, we use the opportunity to transmute fear into faith.
By allowing the feelings to surface and experiences to simply be, we are exercising faith. Instead of trying to numb the emotions, silence the thoughts or find a way to control through distractions, substances or processes, we permit them and trust the process. And, most importantly, we love (not shame) ourselves through it.
So, how do we keep the faith and stay sober through the crisis or heightened anxiety?
Choose (Your Perspective) Wisely
Rather than viewing something as a crisis, we can choose the lens of faith over fear and see it as an opportunity. What does the experience stand to teach us (or the world)? How can it heal us (or the world)? What is the experience asking us (or the world) to do on a deeper level? In other words, on a spiritual level, is the experience asking us to disconnect? Or is it presenting an opportunity to see that we are all connected? Are we possibly being shown our purpose?
There are many questions and just as many answers, but the one truth is love. So, as long as the answer is based on love (of self and others) and not fear, it’s our truth.
Remember Recovery is Not Simply Sobriety
Another key perspective here. Recovery is a much deeper process than simply maintaining sobriety. In fact, believe it or not, sobriety is the easy part. Anyone in active addiction will tell you they’ve been sober multiple times. However, that is likely a very temporary experience if maintaining sobriety was seen as the main goal.
Unlike sobriety, recovery requires us to dig deep into our conditioning—the ways in which we were programmed to respond to the world around us—and find the origin of our fear-based response to self-medicate. It asks us to face the traumas and painful experiences in which we learned or formulated these responses in an effort to survive.
Sit, Stay, Heal
Sounding much like commands you might employ when parenting a furbaby, this is actually a great start to reparenting your inner child.
Sitting with whatever surfaces—feelings, thoughts and experiences—and staying present is something active addiction fully prevents. As such, the conditioning and fear-based responses continue as we reenact the traumatizing experiences of our childhood.
If we gently encourage ourselves to sit with the pain or discomfort of the situation, stay in the moment and allow the fullness of the feelings and experiences to surface, we honor and acknowledge our truth. In doing so, we are sitting with our wounded inner child, being aware of and validating their experience and being available for their need to reveal and heal the wounds.
Utilize Medicine, Not Poison
True medicine first does no harm. As such, we do not want to choose anything that will further harm (even if merely through further suppression) our bodies, minds or spirits. Instead, we can look to music, journaling, recovery meetings (virtual, if needed), calls to sponsors, trusted friends, laughter and acts of self-care to soothe without distracting or numbing. We can also call on the professional assistance of counselors, therapists, life and spiritual coaches to facilitate the needed healing while teaching healthy coping and soothing techniques.
And all this unfamiliar but needed intervention can be employed as a result of tough times.
This is not only how we become our own best parent or integrate our inner child. It is how we transmute fear into faith, teaching ourselves new love-based ways of being, allowing ourselves to be triggered and learning to sit with the itch—without the need or desire to scratch (self-medicate or control). But, not for the purposes of eternally wanting to scratch and white-knuckling our way through it. With regard to the itch of active addiction, that scenario is merely sobriety.
Rather, in recovery, we become familiar with the emotions and thoughts (like feelings of frustration or various curse words running through our minds) that accompany the itch and dig deeper to get to the root of the itch, itself. Metaphorically speaking, what poisonous tree were we exposed to? Where and when did we first notice the itch, even if it did not first present as a craving for a substance or process but merely a need to self-soothe or control?
All the while, we refrain from judging or shaming the itch or any accompanying experience. We, instead, trust the process and ourselves while having faith that this too (just like an itch) shall pass. And, we (personally or collectively) continue to hold or keep that faith.