But what does it mean to “live your truth”?
What should you do – or not do – to make sure that you are living authentically and reaching your greatest potential in recovery?
Living truthfully in part means living with honesty. This not only references speaking the truth, avoiding embellishment, or purposefully omitting details that you know would impact someone’s opinion or choices, but it also means behaving in a way that is honest as well. There’s a well-known saying in Alcoholics Anonymous, “We are only as sick as our secrets,” a phrase meant to encourage people to open up about what it is that is bothering them that may otherwise fester into stress that turns into a trigger for relapse.
The things you say and the things you do matter. The choices you make about how you live and present yourself in the world are important. They impact how you feel about yourself, how others view you and interact with you, how your ideas and thoughts are received, and whether or not you have the impact you want to have on the people around you. When you make even the smallest choices thoughtfully, you are living honestly – from choosing your hairstyle to deciding what movie you would like to see. This is your life, and you get to decide how to spend it and experience it. When you make choices honestly, you are living your truth.
Do you find that you listen to the music you listened to during active addiction? What made you start listening to that music in the first place? Was it the “scene” you were on, or what people listened to when they used your favorite substances?
Why do you wear the clothes you wear? Read the books you read? Watch the type of movies you watch? Are these genuinely your choices, made according to what interests and moves you, or are they kneejerk responses you have made for so long that you are not even sure why or when they started?
Part of living your truth in recovery is getting to know your authentic self. You can do this by taking nothing for granted. Explore new styles of music. Read new kinds of books. Go to a movie you may never have considered in the past. If you’ve always thought of yourself as “not outdoors-y,” go hiking or camping. If you believe that you are not much of a people person, make a commitment to volunteer at a community organization for a couple months. Learn who you are authentically and then do the things that define you in recovery.
If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to see, it absolutely makes a sound. That is to say, even the things we do that are not witnessed by others have an impact on who we are and how we function in the world. In recovery, the way you spend your time, the places you allow your thoughts to wander and dwell, and issues like insecurity and low self-esteem that may not be verbalized to anyone else will have an impact on your ability to live your truth.
Take some time to assess what you do with your downtime. How much of your time do you spend doing different activities? Do you feel content, bitter, angry, overjoyed, relieved, scared, depressed, or jealous? Are you spending a great deal of time replaying past events in your head, focused on what could happen in the future, wondering what other people are thinking about you, or judging others? If so, make a concerted effort to be present and to do little things that increase your sense of wellbeing in the here and now. Notice if you are thinking negative or angry thoughts about yourself or others, and actively seek out a new, brighter, and more hopeful focus that will inform your ability to positively live your truth.
In early recovery, work is about making and keeping a commitment to show up to the same place at the right time and do the job well. It’s about a paycheck. But when you are more stable in recovery, it is time to start considering how you and why you do the job you do. Identify the calling you have, the reason you are here, and why you got sober in the first place.
It has often been said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Who makes up your inner circle? With whom do you spend the most time? This includes people at work, friends, and family – anyone who is in our lives frequently. These people contribute to how you view yourself and the world, what you work for in life, and how you enjoy yourself and plan your time.