The H.O.W of recovery and getting back on track

In this post I'd like to discuss the idea of recovery and what it takes to get back on track. In my counselling practice, it is not uncommon for clients to present seeking support as they struggle to recover from an eating disorder, an addiction or a poor repetitive relationship pattern. The sense of struggle is very real for those with these experiences and tremendous daily courage is required to pursue recovery. 

It can often feel when we are in the depths of a battle to recover our health and wholeness in the face of a life controlling issue, that we are very isolated and alone and that no one else struggles in life like we do.  However, the truth is we ALL struggle with something. None of us go through life without experiencing some issue or issues that challenge us, overwhelm us at times and can make us feel weak by it's powerful grip in our lives.

The pain of shame, regret, isolation, fear and weakness is something we all know and understand on some level. Shannon Cutts (2009) in her book Beating Ana: how to outsmart your eating disorder & take your life back, explains it's the things that we struggle with that make us human. All humanity is challenged by something and that includes you and me. We are not exluded by our problems but rather included by them and the process of overcoming and recovering from our challenge is our own particular rite of passage in the human life experience. Further, it is only when we come together to share our unique burdens and blessings that we fully access the power to really live a full life

However, for those of us who are right now in the grips of a deep struggle to recover and overcome in some way I'd like to offer some keys that Shannon shares in her book which are from the AA tradition that you can use right now in your efforts to get back on track. These principles were originally derived to assist alcoholics to regain sobreity but they have been used successfully by many people seeking to overcome other challenges such as an eating disorder, gambling addiction, binge eating, co-dependency, depression, poor repeative relationship patterns etc

The key ingredients are called the H.O.W of recovery and they include:

Honesty: objectively assess your life and acknowlege where you are broken and who might be able to help you fix it. The honesty to admit we are still broken despite our best efforts leads us to humility and the humble don't fake it, they ask for help

Openess: being open to believing that the way life has been doesn't dictate the future. Being open to new information, insights, and understandings that we haven't previously considered keeps us receptive and feeds the powerful flames of hope

Willingness: the willingness to do whatever it takes, an attitude that sustained recovery requires. Willingness also includes that remarkable human quality of resilience that chooses to see failure as a learning experience rather than something that disqualifies.  Willingness believes and engages in trying again and that in a moment with the benefit of our learning, we can begin again differently.

H.O.W. takes the faith and courage of hope and turns it into tangible action that makes recovery possible. HOW is a framework that can be applied daily to achieve the wholeness we desire. The human mind, body and heart is designed to be recuperative and regenerative. We heal because that is faithful to our design, however the process of HOW is needed to activate our healing.  Further, the joining together with fellow recovering others makes the journey of healing inspiring, sustainable, relatable and real. We learn, struggle, celebrate and journey together and as the old saying goes, "a trouble shared is a a trouble solved."

So today, I'd like to encourage us to give up our struggle with our struggles and rather engage with the HOW of our recovery.  Let's find our points of connection through our struggles rather than hiding them from and one another. You might be in the firey furnance right now but let's remember the lesson of the firey furnance - grab three or four mates to join with you and together walk out of the furnance not smelling of smoke, but of victory and overcoming

Copyright Marcia Watts 2014

Cutts, S (2009) Beating Ana: how to outsmart your eating disorder & take your life back, Health Communications Inc. Florida.



Posted on 07 November 2014

Marcia Watts


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