When I say I’m a life coach for people in recovery, I’m mostly referring to the population that has had or is currently dealing with mood, addiction, or behavioral concerns. Many of these folks have formal diagnoses from clinicians—those psychologists and psychiatrists trained to detect and treat the many forms of mental illness. Recovery is the most common buzzword for coping with and healing from a specific disorder. But still, recovery is a loaded word. Some feel it implies a definitive state of dysfunction with little hope of healing. Many believe people can totally recover and no longer exhibit any signs and symptoms of disorder, so they shouldn’t say they’re in recovery. What I would like to propose is a much more encompassing view of recovery, one in which we are all in recovery if we think in terms of regaining what has been originally lost.
I looked up the definition of recovery, and there were two. First, recovery is “a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.” Recovery is the return to a normal state. Normal is not exactly the most descriptive word, but this definition implies that we were once healthy, and we would like to return to health. To me, this is an area where I believe we all can relate. When it comes to issues of the mind, we can all recall a time when we were freer, less burdened, and generally happier than the rough patches we can find ourselves in from time to time. We have an innate understanding of how life should and could feel if we were to make positive changes.
The second definition of recovery is “the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.” This is the more powerful definition of recovery to me. Who hasn’t had some vital piece of them lost or stolen in this life? During our development, we learn to change to meet other people’s expectations. We conform. We suppress. We hide. We hear that we are not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough to succeed, and we make ourselves small. To recover in this sense is to reclaim our natural birthright as uniquely beautiful manifestations of the Universe or God or evolution—whichever fits your particular orientation.
In my own journey, I thought that recovery meant I would need to suffer forever and always the rest of my days. This false belief left me feeling a sense of hopelessness that disrupted my treatment, prevented me from moving forward, and made me unable to make necessary lifestyle changes. I didn’t see how my recovery would lead to my wellbeing. It was all or nothing, all good or all bad. Over the years, I understood recovery to be a key principle in my health and happiness, even though it was difficult. Now, not only is recovery how I am able to be a loving and useful member of society, but recovery is also a spiritual lens through which I see the world.
We are all magnificent in our own ways. We are innately good, sane, whole human beings. Beneath all the baggage, trauma, and dysfunction is a healthy individual waiting to emerge. Perfect health is an illusion, but tremendous progress is available. The path of recovery is reconnecting to that innate wisdom, and once we tap into our unwavering truth, we continue to deepen and align with this highest essence of ourselves. My hope is that no one ever feels ashamed or embarrassed to be in recovery. This is ultimately a human path, and we’re all on it, whether we realize it or not.