Are you thinking about continuing your education in recovery?
Pursuing an education is an important thing for anybody to do. This is no different for an addict in recovery.
There is a quote from Arthur Fletcher that most of us have become familiar with. It says that “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
Addicts like myself can spend an incredible amount of time, wasting the opportunity for education. But recovery from addiction puts us right in the driver seat to make up for all the time we spent wasting our minds, as well as our lives.
What is it to Pursue an Education?
To pursue education as I am speaking of here is nothing more than the pursuit of any type of knowledge that will be used to build a healthy life.
There are many sources for getting the education we desire. Some of these sources are more structured, such as showing up for college. But most of the sources can be tapped into without ever enrolling into “higher education.”
The pursuit of an education is something that any individual with any kind of socially acceptable success has undertaken. Though with addicts such as myself, life before recovery made pursuing an education almost impossible.
Addiction and Education
Addiction is like a thief that robs individuals of their sane selves. It can cause us to set aside better futures for short-term mental and emotional pain relief. For addicts, the delayed gratification that is needed to build a better life was most often too difficult to comprehend.
There is learning happening in active addiction, no doubt. But that learning is generally nothing resembling the types of learning we need to build lives that we can truly be proud of. Skills may be mined from our misdirected learning techniques, but it is usually obtained through a fog of emotional pain.
And of course, not all addicts are the same. There are addicts that come from all walks of life. Including those that have experienced educational and financial success even when they were in the midst of the pain of the obsession and compulsion that tends to take us over.
Whether you are someone that found great success in areas of life or not. If you have ventured through the life of a using addict, there is still much to learn about living.
Learning in Recovery.
Recovery is about healing our pasts and finding a better way to live. Without getting in touch with ways and principles to go about this we tend to slip back into old, painful ways of living.
There is a tremendous amount of learning to do. In my case when I entered recovery, the healthy learning a human needs to do was on a long-term hiatus. By the time recovery came into the picture, with all the failed attempts at positive learning, I was pretty sure I was mentally handicapped.
But like me and many other addicts, we are highly intelligent individuals. Our mental capacities were just hyper-focused on continuing a life path that bred mental, emotional, physical and spiritual sickness.
In recovery, it is imperative that we get busy learning. If we have had success career wise and monetarily during addiction, maybe we need to learn in the area’s of self-care and maintaining healthy relationships. There is always something new to learn when we think we have it all figured out, we are likely allowing our own minds to mislead us.
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Making up for Lost Learning Opportunities.
In recovery, it can be easy to be caught up on regrets from the past. Many of us have missed out on a tremendous amount of opportunities for healthy personal growth.
Some individuals do find educational and financial success before making it to recovery. But it seems that the majority of us, do not. Many of us land in recovery completely unaware of how to make a healthy living.
Of course, healthy living means different things to different people. And hardly any of us learn in exactly the same way. But however we learn, and whatever healthy living means to, we can find ways to get there.
Ways to Make an Education in Recovery Possible
1. Get Enrolled in College
Attending college was a part of my recovery for several years. With failed attempts, while still using, I felt the strong pull to attend again and make up for the lost time. I desired to make myself more employable, and learn things that would be tough to learn outside of structured education.
There are of course benefits and drawbacks to going to college. A couple of benefits are that we can learn from principles from people that have honed their knowledge over many years. And we can get a degree that may be required from many of the places we may be seeking employment.
Some drawbacks are that college is expensive, and can saddle an individual with debt for many years. And going to college requires a large amount of time, energy and dedication to making good on the expenses that will be incurred.
Not all college costs the same though, for instance going to the University is generally much more expensive than going to a community college. And both serve an important purpose in society.
I personally am grateful that made the decision to attend college. But I am aware that college is not for everyone. If you don’t feel college is for you, that is entirely okay. There are many different ways to receive an education.
2. Get to Work
Many individuals either do not see the reason for going to school or it just would not work for them. Getting on the job training from where we are employed will teach us quite a lot. To get as much learning as possible from the job requires a deep commitment to studying the job. Just showing up and doing the minimum requirements is not going to teach us much.
Show up and be helpful. Take any opportunities for learning that they offer. Do this long enough and who knows where we can end up.
3. Read Books in a Variety of Areas
Books are amazing. It was through reading tons of books in my early recovery where I started realizing that I am a damn smart individual. By reading all these books on self-help, philosophy, psychology, recovery and such, I came to realize that I needed to get my butt to college to study these concepts more deeply.
Even by reading all of these books I learned a great deal about myself and the world. If I hadn’t gone to college and kept reading a great deal, the education received would still be very helpful to my life.
There are an incredible amount of benefits to reading daily. Check out this Readers Digest article to see just a handful of the benefits that book reading can provide.
The same goes for getting online and researching information that we find interesting. With all the information online, a person can get deeply informed about basically any topic they desire to understand.
4. Get Educated about Self
Recovery from addiction is all about the recovery of ourselves. We recover ourselves by experiencing painful emotion from the past and freeing ourselves from irrational and fearful thinking.
We study our pasts, learn what went wrong, and practice acceptance for what can no longer be changed. Self-education is as important as any other kind of education. We could actually say that it may be the most important. Because what good is being a genius in multiple areas, if we cannot keep ourselves sane?
There is a great deal of information to learn about ourselves, and many ways to learn it. The learning we need in this area is on two levels. The level of intellectual understanding and the level of emotional understanding. On the path to self-knowledge, emotion is exposed, felt, understood, then used to be more of our amazing selves.
The best self-education I have received has come from talking with people that will help me own my emotion. Not allowing me to complain too much or blame others. As well as through journaling and the form of therapeutic writing I have come to know.
If you are looking for the perfect addiction recovery journal, I got you covered. Use the form below to get your FREE journal and tons more.
5. Take Manageable Risks and Learn from Mistakes
Learning about ourselves and what we are capable of, requires taking risks. We take risks, either succeed or don’t, then learn what went well and what didn’t.
To take a risk implies that we need to get uncomfortable. There is no risk in comfort and not much learning. That is not to say never relax because that would be horrible advice. But there is a whole world both outside and inside ourselves that is available for our study. To leave too much of it untouched would be a great shame.
Every time we step up and try something new, we get the opportunity for learning. We also get the opportunity for feelings of confusion, frustration and disappointment, but those feelings are a small price to pay for a well-educated life.
Now I am not saying just jump into a bunch of activities without thinking about them first. That would just be silly and reckless. In recovery, we need to learn to take manageable risks. Risks that have sane reasoning, and that we have the means to safely work our way through.
RELATED POST: 6 Changes To Make In Sobriety For A Healthy Lifestyle
So step up and try out that new job if you need new experience, start that blog, enroll in college, tell a trusted person about a painful experience.
Whatever makes sense for you to do, based on your desires, resources and abilities. Go ahead and take that risk, it may succeed, or it may not, either way, we will learn.
6. Education through the Mistakes and Successes of Others
An important part of recovery is finding other individuals that are willing to teach us the tools they have learned over the years.
We rely on them, to be honest about their histories and what they have learned. These lessons that others are willing to teach us can come from peers as well as mentors. Both of these are a blessing on the path to recovery.
The mistakes and successes of others have the potential to teach us important life lessons. They can help us bypass the creation of unnecessary struggle for ourselves.
Words from the author
Well, that is all that we have for you today. Thank you so much for checking out this article. We truly hope you gained valuable information, from what I have learned through my own struggle and growth in this area.
We wish you great success in your pursuit of more education in your recovery. Learning can be difficult, but it is such an invaluable gift to give ourselves. Go get uncomfortable and get yourself some. Don’t you dare allow that mind of yours go to waste!
Guest Post – My Life Experiment
We are Travis and Casey Hagen of My Life Experiment Blog.
Over the years that we have been in recovery from active addiction, we have learned a great deal about managing our rather intense mental and emotional worlds. We have found healing from our pasts, peace in our presents and new and improved ways of living.
Find us on www.Mylifeexperiment.blog.
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Whew – Now it’s time to get busy.