Everybody Makes Mistakes
It sounds like a cliché, but it is certainly true that everybody makes mistakes or to put it another way to err is human. Despite the ubiquitous nature of mistakes there are many people who are uncomfortable about admitting to making them. These individuals may even struggle to admit to themselves that they have done something wrong. This type of behavior is common among those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. The addict uses chemicals mixed with denial to ignore their shortcomings. When people enter recovery they may still struggle when it comes to admitting mistakes. This is something that these individuals will need to overcome if they hope to get the most out of their sobriety. Without the ability of humans to acknowledge their mistakes they would not have been able to evolve to their current level.
Emotional Sobriety Defined
Emotional sobriety is often described as the ability of people to deal with their feelings in a positive way. Life can be full of ups and downs but some people are better able to handle whatever comes their way. The turbulence of life means that feelings are constantly changing – one minute people are up and the next they are down. Emotional sobriety can also be described as the ability of people to feel their feelings. It is not about people feeling happy all the time but more about being able to feel in control no matter what they are feeling.
The signs of emotional sobriety include:
- The ability to live in the moment
- Those with emotional sobriety will tend to avoid extremes of mood
- The absence of the urge to numb feelings with alcohol or drugs
- Being able to have meaningful and deep relationships with other people
- An increased ability to comfortably deal with the ups and downs of life
- The individuals will enjoy an increased ability to regulate their own behavior
- Such people will generally have a positive view on life and the future
- An increased ability to deal with stress
Emotional Sobriety and the Ability to Admit Mistakes
Those who are emotionally sober are no longer a hostage to their feelings. This means that they do not have to resort to extreme actions to protect themselves. If such people make a mistake they will have no problems with admitting this to themselves and if needed other people. Those who are emotionally sober will view mistakes as a chance to learn and grow and not as evidence that they are a complete failure.
The Need to Make Mistakes in Recovery
If people hope to make a successful life away from addiction they will need to accept that mistakes are unavoidable. This is not such a bad thing because it is by making mistakes that people learn. For some reason humans seem to learn more from mistakes than they do from successes. Some people erroneously equate mistakes as failure, but that is not the case. All the most successful people in the world will have made mistakes along the way. Failure only occurs when people stop trying to achieve something.
The danger with mistakes it when people try to deny them or ignore them. This usually occurs when people have low self-esteem and worry that they will look like a failure. There are also people who can’t even acknowledge failure to themselves. Such individuals will take a wrong turn in life and just continue plodding off course because of their refusal to admit to a mistake. This type of behavior most often leads people right back to addiction or at the very least makes life in sobriety a bit miserable.
Mistakes can also be a good thing because they remind the individual that they are human. When life is going well the individual can develop a false sense of security – they can feel invincible. This overconfidence can be dangerous because it may mean that the individual is hit particularly hard the next time things go wrong in their life.
The Dangers of Not Admitting to Mistakes
Not admitting to mistakes is dangerous because:
- If people fail to admit to acknowledge their mistakes they will be likely to keep repeating them. This is why many people become stuck in recovery or end up relapsing back to their addiction.
- It is only by admitting to mistakes that people can learn from them.
- Trying to ignore mistakes is a type of denial. Recovery should be all about walking away from a life lived in denial.
- It takes more work to hide from mistakes than to learn from them.
- Those people who refuse to admit their mistakes can be hard to spend time with. This makes it difficult for them to make friends and family members become estranged.
- Refusal to admit mistakes can lead people in recovery to develop dry drunk syndrome. For some people life in recovery can begin to feel like a prison sentence because they continue to have the mind of an addict.
The Reasons Why People Ignore Mistakes in Recovery
There are a few common reasons for why people will try to ignore their own mistakes including:
- They have low self-esteem and worry that admitting mistakes makes them more of a failure.
- Those who have not humility will view admitting mistakes as a type of weakness.
- Some people have poor insight into their own situation. This means that they can remain in denial about a great many things even though they have entered recovery.
- There are those who believe that just giving up alcohol or drugs is enough. Such individuals may not see the value of trying to live a more honest life.
- Admitting mistakes often means having to make changes. Some individuals resist change and so may refuse to acknowledge the need for such changes.
The Danger of Excessive Pride in Recovery
It is often said that pride comes before a fall. Those who manage to build a good life away from addiction will have a great deal to be proud about but excessive pride can also be their downfall. If people become too prideful it can mean that they refuse to acknowledge any of their own faults. If they make a mistake they may try to ignore it or even try to blame somebody else. The danger of excessive is that it prevents people from knowing the reality of their situation. It also often puts them at odds with other people. If people fail to bring their pride under control it can lead them right back into addiction.
How to Deal with Mistakes in Recovery
In order to build a successful recovery the individual will need to learn how to deal with their mistakes. This means being able to face them and not run away from them. People will be better able to handle mistakes when they:
- Understand that mistakes do not lower their worth as a person. The most successful people on the planet will also make mistakes.
- If a mistake has negatively impacted another individual it is important to offer a sincere apology.
- It is helpful to view mistakes positively as a chance to learn.
- Keeping a journal is a good way for people to monitor their progress in recovery. It will make it easier for them to observe when they have gone off track.
- Those people who are following a 12 Step program will be expected to face and deal with mistakes. In step 10 it discusses how each member continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- If people feel convinced that they never make mistakes it is a sign that they need to pay closer attention to their own behavior.
- One of the benefits of belonging to a social network is that these people can provide feedback on the individual’s behavior. This means that mistakes can come to light earlier.
- Those people in recovery who have a sponsor will find that this person can be a good asset when it comes to facing and dealing with mistakes.
- A therapist is particularly skilled at helping the individual face their mistakes and deal with them.
- Practices such as mindfulness meditation can allow the individual to develop a more objective view of their thinking and behavior.
- The individual needs to avoid looking upon mistakes as a sign of failure. The only real failures in life are those who stop trying.
- In order to benefit from a mistake the individual needs to be able to take a step back and examine how exactly they went wrong. In order to achieve this people need to be rigorously honest and not allow their pride to get in the way.
- There are times when making a mistake can have serious consequences – for example when driving a car. At these times the individual needs to be extra vigilant to ensure that they do not make mistakes.
- Attempting to blame other people or the universe for mistakes can prevent the individual from learning. Knowing what went wrong is more important than proportioning blame.