The Value of Celebrating Victories
~Green-In-MI, SMART Recovery Volunteer
In my experience, progress toward a lifestyle of abstinence at times seems insurmountable; like you’re standing at the bottom of a mountain craning your neck to see a peak that looks impossibly high up and far away. Any given day may be a struggle against urges, old habits, and other potential problems. You look at people who have a month of abstinence and think “that’s a long time…I can barely go a few days”. You look at others who may have a year or more of abstinence and think “that’s so long, I’ll never get there.”
But you keep coming back. Addiction recovery takes work. You keep learning. You keep talking to others. You keep working on the tools. Next thing you know, your work begins to pay off. You have a week, or maybe a month. Maybe you successfully navigate a situation that caused problems in the past.
You come back to a SMART meeting or to chat and report your success, and suddenly a half dozen people congratulate you for your ‘victory’. You’ve successfully climbed part of the way up that impossible mountain. As you top each little rise on the way to the summit you might find yourself looking back and noticing “that wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be”.
SMART encourages celebrating reaching those hill tops on the way to the summit and keeping that momentum going. That’s one of the reasons SMARTies are so happy to celebrate one week or even one day of abstinence. Even something like going out with friends for dinner and ordering water as your beverage is a part of the process. All those little hills add up.
Going out and having water instead of wine may seem so small to some, but it represents new strength and acquisition of new skills. If you look back from the top of each hill you might notice the new skill it took to get there. On one hill you learn to socialize without your drug of choice. On another hill you learn to battle through an afternoon where the urges never seem to let up. On a third hill maybe you finally nail doing an effective ABC on the fly. These all add up and build expertise, confidence, and momentum. And those hills, just like real life hills, help prepare you for the next hill.
Celebrating reaching the top of a little hill is really celebrating important progress – a new piece of the puzzle in building a lifestyle of abstinence. Go ahead and celebrate. Take a minute and enjoy the view from halfway up the mountain. It’s not so impossible is it?
About the author: Green-In-MI is a SMART Recovery Online Member and Volunteer. He continues to build on his progress and enjoys endurance sports and gardening.