Sobriety One Day at a Time


Sobriety One Day at a Time

In recovery, you’ll hear the phrase “One day at a time” quite frequently. It’s based on the idea that people generally focus too much on the past and future. This mindset inevitably gets overwhelming, especially for a person newly in recovery. Focusing on the future means that a person is worrying about something that may or may not ever happen. Worrying about the past means that you are stuck thinking about something that can’t be changed at this point in your life. The only moment we have is right now, and consequentially it’s important to base your sobriety around that.

This One Day is Everything We Have

A common issue for people newly in recovery is the overwhelming idea of never being able to indulge in any kind of substance again. This idea might seem crazy to people who don’t deal with addiction. Those who are familiar know drugs are a crutch – something to numb the pain in bad times, and ignite the fire in times of celebration. The idea of never having that again can make a person have an anxiety attack and think that recovery may not be worth it.

If you look at things through a different view, all you have to focus on is your sobriety, one day at a time. By shifting your perspective, all you need to do is pay attention to what you are doing at this current moment. Doing so will help eliminate the anxiety associated with thinking about the future, and getting overwhelmed as a result.

The driving idea behind this is to live a life that is full of balance. It goes without saying that a person should still keep some idea of their future. While it may sound fun, blowing through savings accounts will inherently cause problems down the road. The idea is to do the best you can with the current moment to make sure you are being your best self possible.

Ways to Focus on The Present

Keeping your attention on the present is often easier said than done. On top of that, addicts tend to have racing minds that rarely stand still. Learning how to balance all this and re-design their way of thinking is all a part of getting used to a daily state of sobriety.

The philosophy of “one day at a time” is closely related to 12-step groups like alcoholics anonymous. The idea is that all we control is staying clean in every given day. Also, it doesn’t matter if an individual has 3 years clean or 3 days – it can all come crashing down within 24 hours. All we have is now.

So, how can one reel in their thoughts about what may (or may not) happen in the future and focus instead on today? It can be difficult, and it takes some time to learn. The first step would be to practice some mindfulness exercises. Additionally, you could take a few minutes to focus in on your breathing, or maybe work on a drawing to keep your hands busy. Every time you feel your mind floating off into the future, consciously reel it back in, without judging yourself. While simple, this may take some time to master because of the prerequisite clarity of mind.

Realize that most of the things people worry about in the future never actually happen. People spend so much energy agonizing over death, sickness, worrying about the possibility of a negative event, just to find out all their time was wasted.

On the flip side, if you know something is coming up, like a court date, all you can do is what you can do about it today. If you begin thinking about what you need to do a week or month from today, you’ll overwhelm yourself. Conversely, if you think about what you could have and should have done to avoid the situation in the first place, you are likely to drive yourself crazy enough to pick up your drug of choice once again.

Living for Today Does Not Mean Ignore The Future

We’re not talking about the ridiculous phrase, YOLO (You only live once) here. This is a daily practice in becoming your best self, and acknowledging you can only humanly do your best, today. Some examples of what you could do for your sobriety, today, are:

  • Attend an AA or NA meeting
  • Make time for loved ones, especially those with whom you might be trying to repair relationships 
  • Do an activity you love and is good for you, like yoga or going to the beach.
  • Eat healthy
  • Don’t criticize yourself for anything
  • Smile
  • Make a gratitude list of all the great things you have in your life
  • Connect with your higher power
  • Do something really well, like your job or a school project
  • Appreciate another sober day 

In conclusion, people committed to sobriety can become overly focused on the future, and in doing so, forget how valuable the present is. Living one day at a time allows you to reel yourself back in and look at things with fresh eyes, on a daily basis.

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