After an individual in recovery from addiction or from the effects of addiction (for ex., a significant other of an alcoholic or addict) has been able to cease the addictive behavior (using or obsessing about the user), how does the individual begin to find serenity while coping with the realities of life? Here is a quote from Victor Frankl, a noted author, psychiatrist, and creator of logotherapy (see this website for Frankl biography), that I think describes a fundamental recovery concept for the addict or alcoholic or the individual adversely affected by the addiction of a significant other. Bear in mind that Frankl's ideas were forged in the hell of German concentration camps during World War II:
"Everything can be taken from a man [or woman] but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." (Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning)
In other words, in recovery, the individual can waste energy trying to change others or even external events, or he/she can choose to focus on the one thing always capable of change, how the individual thinks and reacts to others and life events. My favorite tool that I have mentioned in posts on this blog before, is the Serenity Prayer, that I copy here, with my interpretations. Note that one can leave out the reference to God and still have a very useful cognitive behavioral recovery tool:
Me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change–other people and many life events;
The courage to change the things I can–me and how I think about and react to other people and life events; and
The wisdom to know the difference.
So, the idea is to monitor how you think and react to life's events and seek to change or re-frame negative, emotion producing thoughts (This is the end of the world! I can't deal with it!) to more positive, practical thoughts (This is a pain but I can handle it) that avoid escalation of emotions. As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, 05/29/2013.