People judge no matter what until it’s been a few years. When you are early in recovery, you still might be judged by your past, but I do what’s right for me.
No one wants to feel ashamed or devalued. Especially when you’re trying to do your best in recovery and stay sober, the sting of others’ judgments, comments, or opinions can make you feel bad about yourself. But remember that your sobriety and your recovery journey are what’s important. You can’t change others’ reactions and how they feel about you, but you can focus on your recovery, stay hopeful, and heal.
Recovery is about you, and you have to make it about you.
Focus on your recovery
I don’t have to explain it to them. If they don’t get it, they don’t get it.
Recovery makes it okay to be self-centered. All your energy should go toward staying sober and staying focused on your recovery. Focus on your goals instead of feeling the pressure of people’s expectations. This means prioritizing your healing over others’ feelings and opinions. Here are some ways that you can stay focused on your sobriety:
- Know your limits. You know yourself well enough to understand your limits or what you can and cannot do in recovery. Knowing your limits allows you to avoid potential pitfalls or relapses.
- Stay away from certain people, places, and things. Though you may want to, try to avoid going to the usual places or seeing the people you know that will tempt you. This change will help you stay the course and remain in recovery.
- Forgive yourself and show yourself grace. Sometimes, you’ll have to reflect on the things you’ve done. In these moments, it’s important to give yourself grace and compassion. Forgive yourself for your past by accepting that you can’t change what happened, but you can always move forward.
- Build up your coping skills toolbox. Replacing what you lost will be important in your recovery. You can do this by developing new coping strategies, such as mindfulness, movement, journaling, etc., to replace old coping strategies like using or drinking.
Accept that your life will be different
When I first came into recovery, my family seemed to think I was very fragile and couldn’t handle stressors to the point where it was overzealous and overkill.
It’s a fact that your life in recovery will never be quite the same as before. Different aspects of your life are going to change. These may include:
- Your relationships may have suffered while you were in active addiction. Making amends for past behavior might be in order for you now. And you may be grieving the loss of friends or family you can’t see anymore because they continue to use.
- Your coping skills will change. Dealing with life newly sober can be overwhelming. You can’t use or take the edge off like you used to. This is where you need to use your coping skills. It’s as if you’re starting at zero, finding new ways to deal with stress and feelings.
- Your mind and body may not be the same. When your mind and body are dependent on substances for so long, it’s a shock when it comes to living life without them. Sobriety is a major change. And your mind and body both need time to recover and heal.
All of these changes, and many others that come with getting into recovery are normal. Yes, people may change how they treat you, but you are doing the work to heal yourself. And those who have not done it will not understand it.
Try not to stay too long in the space of people who are judging. They are judging, but you know your truth. It’s important for sobriety, mental health, and well-being.
Surround yourself with supportive people
The people I’ve met in recovery are some of the best people I’ve been around. They are self-aware and aware of their own problems.
Your old buddies may not agree with your decision to enter recovery. They may pressure you to drink or use drugs or even make fun of you for abstinence. It may be a sign to find new friends who support you and encourage your new lifestyle. Sober life may include exercising, doing art, journaling, or going out for coffee.
People who have not lived through addiction can’t understand and may have a hard time listening without judging. This can make you feel rejected, judged, and hopeless. Feeling this way can be dangerous for your recovery and may lead to relapse. So, it’s important to surround yourself with people who will support your healing journey. Looking for a sponsor, going to recovery meetings, finding a doctor or mental health professional, or asking for peer support are positive ways to get yourself help.
Setting boundaries is also vital to your recovery. Even when it’s uncomfortable, speaking up is key, especially if you’re letting resentments get you down. It’s okay to walk away from those who don’t respect your boundaries because your recovery is what is most important.
Connect and educate
Knowledge is power. And education can help you arm yourself with time, self-compassion, and understanding. You will get stronger as you navigate people’s opinions, but always stay true to yourself and your healing journey.
Forgive yourself for the things you did in active addiction, in survival mode, or when you didn’t know better. Learning and fulfilling your own needs helps you prioritize your healing and continue to move forward in your recovery.
Many people avoid talking about addiction and recovery because of their own feelings or even experiences with loved ones. And feeling alone is a natural result of this lack of communication. Sharing your own experience will help educate others.
A hug, a text, a phone call goes a long way. Feeling heard is sometimes all you need to overcome judgment and hurtful labels. Overcoming the opinions of others requires you to fight back with self-love. Doing so will help you on the road to good health a