Despite all the work you do in rehab, the journey to wellness will begin in earnest once you’re managing your sobriety outside the structured environment of your recovery program. The routine available in treatment helps remove temptations and triggers such as familiar people, places and things, making it easier to focus on your goals.
However, after you complete your initial treatment, you will need to put all the knowledge and strategies you’ve learned to work in a real-world environment, which can often be more challenging than you expect. One of the most valuable skills you’ll need to hone is your ability to stand up for yourself by saying “no.”
Protect Your Sobriety
Often, society teaches people – especially women – that it’s somehow impolite to stand up for ourselves and tell people “no.” However, it’s entirely possible to learn to turn others down while still being respectful and courteous. Remember, your sobriety is your top priority at this point. If you’re feeling insecure about turning down someone’s request out of fear that you’ll offend them, you’ll need to work on moving past that. It’s not worth sacrificing all the effort you’ve put in and the progress you’ve made up to this point.
Practice Makes Perfect
Nobody knows you better than you know yourself, especially after you apply everything you’ve learned in addiction treatment. If a situation seems as if it could lead you down the road to relapse, listen to your instincts. For example, if a friend invites you to a party where you know people will likely be drinking or using drugs, you’re doing your sober self a favor by turning them down.
By the same token, if you’re already under a lot of stress at work and your boss asks you to take on an extra project that you know will cut into your precious leisure time, you can politely decline. Over time, you will get more accustomed to saying no without feeling guilty. If you still feel nervous about it, ask a trusted family member or friend to role-play some scenarios with you so you can become more comfortable being polite, but firm.
Learn Alternative Strategies
Perhaps you’ve made enough progress to advance past the point where you feel any lingering guilt over telling people “no,” but you still find yourself dwelling on the opportunities you’re missing out on by turning people down. For example, if you decided to protect your sobriety by not attending a party, you might feel as if you’re depriving yourself of a fun opportunity to socialize. Or, if you had to tell your boss you didn’t want to take on an extra assignment, maybe you’re now worried you’ll get passed over when the next opportunity for a promotion rolls around.
You can avoid these negative feelings by having a strategy prepared in advance. If you’ve had to skip a party, call an understanding friend and invite them over to watch a favorite movie, and order in comfort food from a nearby restaurant. If you’re worried about not appearing competitive at work, set aside time to do some online training so you can get ahead of your peers.
Prioritize Your Needs
Learning to say “no” is a form of self-care for people in recovery. Assert yourself and stick to the boundaries you set, and you will be in a better position for success in your future.
It’s never too late to pursue a path to recovery if you haven’t already started. Contact us at Canyon Crossing to learn more about our continuum of care for women living with substance misuse disorders.