Upon first becoming sober, many people are usually just grateful to escape the pain of addiction. This will be an improvement on how things were, but the problem is that it may not be enough to keep them sober long term. The goal of recovery is not just to be just ‘okay’ – it is about creating a way of living where one will no longer feel the need to use alcohol or drugs again in the future. Ultimately, it is a path that leads to a wonderful sense of well-being called serenity.
What is Serenity?
Serenity means a sense of inner well-being. It is not about being blissed-out on happiness, or about living a life that it is free of problems. When individuals have achieved a good level of serenity, it means that they generally feel content no matter what is happening in their life. It is an inner-strength that is the ultimate in human functioning.
It is usually the desire to experience serenity that drives many into addiction in the first place. In the beginning, it can feel as if alcohol or drugs are making life easier to deal with. The problem is that this sense of freedom comes by trying to hide from life and by numbing the emotions. Real serenity is the ability to be at peace with whatever is happening, never about running away from things. The other way that serenity differs from the numbness of addiction is that as the person develops this inner-peace, it becomes a permanent fixture; it is not something people only benefit from when high.
How to Develop Serenity in Recovery
Once people have developed a good level of serenity, the need to use alcohol or drugs disappears. This is because the person is now able to handle life easily. The way for you to get more serenity in your own life is to work on your emotional sobriety, as this is one of the key features of serenity. Emotional sobriety is made up of a number of different features:
- never feeling overwhelmed by life
- having an optimistic attitude towards the future
- having the ability to live in the present moment
- having an ability to handle stress
- having the ability to regulate behaviour and give up bad habits once they become a problem
- being able to avoid extreme moods
- having an above-average ability to form relationships with others
- having the tendency to think about the needs of others.
Giving up alcohol or drugs is not usually enough to ensure the development of emotional sobriety. It requires effort and it usually takes many years before people have developed it to a strong enough level that it leads to long periods of serenity. The good news is that as soon as an effort on developing emotional sobriety is made, it will automatically lead to improvements in life. Here are just a few tips for how you can begin to develop emotional sobriety:
- learn to live in the present moment – practices like mindfulness medication can help you develop this ability
- see the challenges in life as an opportunity to grow – every time you overcome a challenge, it brings you that much more closer to serenity
- start collecting tools to help you deal with the challenges in life – once you have enough of these tools you will be able to deal with anything
- learn to ignore the urge to run away from problems by turning to maladaptive behaviours like work addiction or internet addiction
- be aware of your stress levels and develop tools to help you manage this
- get involved in some volunteer work whereby you spend time focused on the needs of others
- develop a more optimistic attitude toward life and avoid negative speech
- follow a programme like the 12 steps as this can help the development emotional sobriety.