“Recovery is not linear”. How many times have you heard this?
There are ups and downs from day to day or even hour to hour. Some days it seems like we’re killing it. Other days we feel frustrated, impatient and discouraged. This is difficult to navigate. It confuses us. It also triggers an emotional reaction in many cases. This week on The Anxious Truth let’s take a look at how that emotional reaction can create a pattern that will have you swinging from one recovery extreme to the other and back end.
The non-linear sometimes inconsistent nature of recovery can be difficult to navigate. It confuses us. It also triggers an emotional reaction in many cases. This week on The Anxious Truth let’s take a look at how that emotional reaction can create a pattern that will have you swinging from one recovery extreme to the other and back end.
Everybody experiences “good times” and “bad times” when moving through the recovery process. This is normal. It’s also normal to have emotional reactions when we experience big wins and what may feel like crushing defeats. All of this is to be expected. None of this is an indicator that you re doing anything wrong.
However, sometimes these experiences, and the corresponding emotions, can lead us into wild swings between “I’M RECOVERED!” to “I AM NEVER GOING TO GET BETTER!”
When we are struggling and desperate for a few victories, when they come we should celebrate them. I’m continually reminding people to recognize and celebrate the wins. This is a good thing. But somewhere along the way, we also have to be mindful that enthusiasm can drive us to extremes. How many times have you heard the coach or manager of a professional sports team say that the team has to celebrate a great performance but also remain focused on work that still has to be done? As it turns out that’s good advice when it comes to the anxiety recovery process.
Getting caught up in enthusiasm and positivity is just one side of the coin here. On the flip side, emotions like frustration, desperation and despair can trick us into latching on to them and riding them into a deep pit. This is not helpful, nor required. Again, experiencing and expressing emotions is always allowed and never bad, but we do not need to take our emotional reactions to extremes.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s never bad to feel things. But it can be counterproductive to build elaborate narratives and to try to make meaning out of the things we feel all the time.
“I did it! I’m so happy and proud of myself right now.”
“I feel so frustrated and hopeless today because I feel like I’ve been struggling for so long.”
These are perfectly valid statements to make on both sides of the emotional spectrum. But once we’ve made the statements, we must be aware of the propensity to keep adding interpretation, analysis, and predictions on top. Experiencing emotional reactions to our recovery states is fine. Always baking a 10-layer emotional cake as part of those reactions isn’t necessarily helpful.
Celebrate your wins because every win stands on its own. Remain process focused rather than celebrating an outcome or hoped-for outcome. Expect struggles and have a plan ready for those days to help you from being dragged down the “square one” rabbit hole. This plan helps keep things rolling forward even through the struggles without feeling like you are being dragged back and forth from one extreme to another.
The emotional rollercoaster of recovery is always ready to whisk us away. Being aware of this and taking reasonable steps to avoid needlessly jumping onto the ride can help make things a bit easier, which is something everyone wants and deserves.
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