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10 Spiritual Principles that Can Strengthen Your Sobriety

self-reflectionFollowing a spiritual path in recovery is recommended because it can be a way for you to pick up all of the tools you need to create a solid sobriety. The word ‘spiritual’ can be off-putting to some people because of the association with with the New Age movement and religion. The reality is that you do not have to have any particular beliefs in order to be spiritual – it just means that you feel part of something larger.

Here are 10 spiritual principles that will help strengthen your sobriety:

1. Acceptance

Many things in life will be beyond your control. Whatever is happening right now is already there, so to resist it is a complete waste of time. Of course, you can work to make the future better, but to resent the present moment is a path to misery. The inability to accept life on life’s terms is the most common reason why individuals turn to alcohol or drugs; therefore, it is important to begin developing this spiritual principle upon becoming sober.

Practices such as mindfulness meditation can be effective at teaching you how to accept what is happening in the present moment. You can get to see for yourself that suffering mostly occurs when you resist what is arising – even discomfort can be easily dealt with if you approach it with an accepting attitude.

2. Hope

If you do not believe that there will be good things in your future, there will not be much point in remaining sober. The problem is that there is no way to know what the future will hold, so you need to develop a hopeful attitude. This is important because pessimism can easily cause a self-fulfilling prophecy – this occurs when the act of predicting a bad future means you act in a way that makes it become bad. Having hope for a better future is easier to do once you accept the universal tendency to provide positive results when you act in a positive way – your fall into addiction should be enough to allow you to see how the opposite is definitely true.

3. Service

One of the most powerful things you can do to strengthen your recovery is to get involved in some type of service. If you belong to a group such as Alcoholics Anonymous, you will find that there are plenty of opportunities to do this type of work. The benefit of service is that it boosts your self-esteem and allows you to develop some compassion – it also means that you are going to be less focused on your own needs and concerns. If you are newly sober, it is important not to take on too much service, but even sharing at recovery meetings can be a type of service as it can help others who are listening to you.

4. Honesty

It is hard to make much progress in sobriety unless you have the ability to be honest with others and, most importantly, yourself. It takes courage to be honest because many people fear that if they open up to others, they will risk being rejected or otherwise hurt. The reality is that it is the closing yourself off to others that is the real cause of suffering. By developing your ability to be honest, you can feel able to confidently look any person in the eye, and your life will no longer be controlled by fear and shame. In recovery groups, it is said that ‘you are only as sick as your secrets’.

5. Faith/Trust

Getting sober always involves a leap of faith because you have to trust that the process is going to bring you to a better life. As you experience improvements due to giving up alcohol or drugs, you need to rely on faith less; however, this is a spiritual tool you are likely to need many times in the future. Life will always involve times when the going gets hard; at these times, you have to have faith that there is light at the end of the tunnel and to be willing to keep going.

6. Humility

The process of addiction can lead to an arrogant attitude – this can be a type of defence mechanism to hide the fact that the person is dealing with low self-esteem. Becoming more humble does not mean you have to become a doormat or overly passive. It is just about becoming open enough that you are teachable.

7. Beginner’s Mind

Beginner’s mind is closely linked to humility; it is an attitude of always being open to new information. As long as you have a beginner’s mind, you will always be learning and developing. Once you lose your beginner’s mind, you become stuck and all progress comes to a halt.

8. Willingness

If you are willing to do whatever it takes to stay sober, you are never going to have to worry about relapse. Willingness is a type of passion that is self-perpetuating, meaning that doing the right things does not have to be a struggle. Humility, beginner’s mind, and willingness are all spiritual principles that you can develop altogether.

9. Compassion

Compassion is your ability to accept people and things exactly the way they are, and doing so with a mind-set of kindness. As well as showing compassion for others, it is also important that you learn to do this for yourself. If your mind is full of self-critical thoughts and judgements, it can make sober living unbearable – compassion is all about letting go of these unhelpful thoughts.

10. Letting Go

Knowing when to just let go is an art that you develop due to living the sober life. The more you can let go of things, the more you will experience inner-peace. If you want to become a monk and go live in a cave, you may eventually let go of everything, but for most people it is about slowly letting go of the unimportant stuff over time. The most important things to let go of are those things you have no control over; doing this can remove a great deal of unnecessary worry from your life.

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