Recovery is a very personal journey; no two people will suffer from addiction in the same way. Each recovery process and therapeutic strategy will influence each person differently. However, people still have the urge to compare themselves to others, despite the very individualized approach each person should have when it comes to addressing addiction. Comparing oneself
to others during recovery can have certain benefits, but it can also quickly develop into a detrimental practice that can have lasting negative effects on someone’s own recovery. The way that these comparisons present themselves can change, but the effects of the comparisons are often relatively the same and can cause someone to rapidly lose motivation for their own recovery.
There Are Some Benefits
The practice of comparing oneself to others does have a nuanced benefit. Looking at the successes of others, can make someone’s own goals feel tangible and motivate them to get to their own personal goals in recovery. This mentality of using success to motivate and push each other in a group setting can prove to be beneficial for some, but it does have a number of drawbacks. While looking at other people and their successes, it is important to remember that people achieved those successes while chasing different goals that were unique to them. The number of steps that someone may need to take, the resources available to them, and the time that each recovery takes will all vastly differ from person to person. While looking at someone else’s success can be a motivational tool, it is important to also remember that the goals and paths may be different, and a direct comparison may not be apt for any particular situation.
The Problems With Comparison
Directly comparing one’s self to another brings forth a huge number of problems. The individuality of each person’s recovery will always be a factor in these comparisons, and it can quickly cause someone to compare themselves with others despite putting themselves in an unfair position by judging themselves according to someone else’s criteria and not their own. Overall, the largest issue that has to do with the idea of comparison itself is the idea that there is a “better than” or “worse than” in recovery. Each person is chasing sobriety for their own reasons and pursuing their own goals. There is no “more sober” than another person in recovery, nor should someone’s success in recovery be measured by a narrow metric.
Someone reaching their first week sober can be a much more difficult prospect than someone reaching their third year. Both are worthy of celebration and should be rewarded in proportion to the effort required for each person to reach these milestones. For someone who has just reached their first week sober, comparing themselves to another person who has been sober for several years isn’t a fair situation, and can dampen the pride that they should be feeling with their accomplishment.
There Is More Than One Way to Recover
Comparing oneself to others in recovery can also take the form of the different styles of recovery. The detriment in this situation is the idea that one method of recovery is “better” than another. For some, having a spiritual awakening and journey through their recovery can be a huge motivational factor for them to continue pursuing their sobriety and their goals. However, that doesn’t mean that it will work for everyone. One method of recovery is not better than another. Each different method serves a very personal purpose for someone to pursue their own goals, and shouldn’t be compared against the successes and living styles of another person during recovery.
The only healthy comparison that someone can make is with themselves. Each person can look back on their actions and lifestyle before their recovery and during it, and use that to see exactly how far they have come in their own journey. Comparing where someone was before recovery with where they are during recovery, can help each person see how much progress they have made, as well as inform them of working strategies to help them continue to achieve the goals that they have set for themselves.
Don’t Steer Away From Celebrating
Unfair comparisons can make reaching landmarks feel like they are nothing, or somehow worth less than the effort and determination that it took to reach them. However, each step is worthy of celebrating in one’s recovery, regardless of the recovery stage of others. When someone reaches their first goal or experiences an urge that they don’t act on, there is a reason to celebrate.
Recovery from an addiction is a long process and isn’t designed to be a race. It is something that is slow and difficult, so when someone is proud of themselves, they should be allowed to be proud. They should celebrate. They should share the milestone that they reached with others, and not minimize it based on someone else’s standards.
Recovery will always be a personal journey first. Setting your own goals and accomplishing what that you set out to accomplish will always be the primary motivators for each and every person. Motivation, and thus recovery, all start internally with someone’s own experiences and own goals.
At Lighthouse, each program and professional staff member works with you to create the best situation for you to accomplish your own goals and set your own pace in recovery. Each person is encouraged to challenge their own perceptions at their own pace, rather than feel like recovery is something that they have to rush. Instead of a comparative environment, Lighthouse Recovery curates a space of encouragement and acceptance for each person and their individual stories.