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12 Characteristics of Winners in Recovery


winnersIf you have ever attended a 12-step meeting, you have probably heard the advice to ‘stick with the winners’. It does make sense that you would want to surround yourself with the right people so that some of their ‘magic’ can rub off on you, but who exactly are they. In one sense, you could say that everyone who is sober is a winner, but this is not what is meant by this advice. The reality is that some individuals in recovery are doing better than others are, and it is these inspirational characters that you are being advised to get to know.

So how do you spot a winner in recovery? Below are just 12 of the characteristics you will want to look out for.

1. Rigorous Honesty

The winners in recovery do not necessarily go around with their heart on their sleeve, but they are committed to rigorous honesty. This is because they know that they are only as sick as their secrets. Those who have developed a high level of emotional sobriety don’t feel ashamed of their past, and they no longer do things that they need to feel ashamed about – if they make a mistake, they are quick to admit it. If you get the feeling that somebody you know in recovery is being deceitful, it is probably best not to consider him or her as being one of the winners.

2. An Ability to Live in the Moment

Most of the suffering individuals endure is because they are regretting the past or are worrying about the future. Usually the present moment is free from suffering, but the person can still feel completely miserable because of mental time travel. The winners in recovery are much better able to live in the moment, which is one of the important secrets of their apparent serenity.

3. A Genuine Interest in Others

Just because a person is being helpful, does not always mean they have a genuine interest in others. There are many examples of individuals getting involved in service as a way to massage their own ego or to be exploitative. The successful individuals in recovery are genuinely interested in others, and this is not due to any ulterior motive. It can be hard to judge the motivations of others, which is why you often need to trust your intuition.

4. Open Mindedness

The need to be right can be a source of suffering, and it means people are willing to believe in inaccurate things long after they have been presented with sufficient evidence to disprove their opinion. Open mindedness is about putting a higher value on improving your life than on protecting your ego. It means that you are always willing to consider new ideas and let go of old ones. It is often a refusal to change their way of thinking that gets people stuck in recovery and puts them at high risk of relapse.

5. Freedom from Extreme Emotions

The winners in recovery are not only physically sober but they have a good level of emotional sobriety as well. This means that they are no longer at the mercy of their emotions and rarely experience intense emotions such as anger outbursts. It can take many years of sober living and dealing with life on life’s terms before a person develops emotional sobriety. There are also some people who have been physically sober for many years but have not made much progress towards emotional sobriety.

6. Mindfulness

At the moment, mindfulness meditation is extremely popular; however, being mindful is not a new thing. In fact, plenty of sober people have been practicing mindfulness without even realising that this is what they have been doing. All mindfulness means is being able to look at your thoughts and emotions in a more objective way so that you are not just reacting to whatever pops into your brain. Getting involved with mindfulness practice is likely to help you develop a stronger sobriety, so spending time with those who are naturally mindful will also be a great help to you.

7. Faith

The word ‘faith’ is viewed by many in the secular community as old-fashioned because of its association with religious faith. The faith you need to become successful in recovery is not necessarily religious in nature, but it is the belief that if you do the right things, the right things will start happening to you. There are likely to be some dark days for you even after you get sober, so you need faith to keep going at these times. It is important to understand that having faith is not the same as having beliefs – it is all about trust and not about knowing anything for sure.

8.  Healthy Laughter

Those caught up in addiction may regularly engage in laughter, but it is usually a hollow laughter that comes at the expense of somebody else. Those who develop a strong sobriety tend to have a playful attitude towards life, meaning laughter comes easily and regularly. These individuals do not take life too seriously and, most importantly, do not take themselves too seriously either.

9. Doing More Than Talking the Talk

If you attend fellowship meetings, you are sure to meet a few people who say all the right words, but it is obvious that that they do not practice what they preach. Newcomers can easily mistake the fact that these individuals appearing so positive and successful to mean that this is the case in reality. Those who have a truly solid sobriety do more than just say the right things – you can tell by the way they act that they just have it.

10. Compassion

Those who have put in a good deal of effort into their own personal development, no longer need to spend so much time obsessed with themselves. The fact that they now feel more comfortable in life means there is room to think more about others. These people are able to remember how much they have suffered, meaning that they feel compassion for those who are still suffering and want to help. Winners in recovery are usually going to be involved in some type of service, but they might not talk about this work too much because they are not doing it for attention.

11. Good Listeners

Some people really struggle when it comes to listening to a conversation, so they do not do much of it. While the other person is talking, most of their attention is on what they are going to say when their turn to speak comes. People with a strong sobriety understand that it is far more beneficial to listen than it is to speak, so they no longer have the need to dominate a conversation. This means that when you think to them, you really feel that you are being listened to, which makes a real difference.

12. Humility

The winners in recovery usually have small egos – even though they have a lot to feel proud about, they tend to be humble creatures. This humility is what has allowed them to get so far in sobriety; it is what is going to ensure that they continue to make progress for the rest of their life.

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