How many times has it happened to you? You find yourself in a stressful situation and those around you offer words of encouragement: Stay strong. Hang in there. Man up. Push through. It's as if being strong is the only way we as humans are believed to be capable of success and survival. Except for one thing...it's not.
The myth of strength
During a hurricane, strength will only get a person, an oak tree, or a building so far. Just like a natural disaster, our emotions can act like powerful storms that threaten to sweep us off our foundation or snap us in two. In these times, we face triggers that heighten our desire to do that one thing that comes most naturally...even if we've worked hard to build our lives into something better.
Abstinence is a recovery of strength. It's you versus the bottle or the needle or the pill, willing yourself not to cave in and break. But therein lies the problem. Human beings are not known for being strong indefinitely.
The problem with faults
Fault lines are the boundaries between shifting tectonic plates. Their slippage has created the world’s most majestic mountains and is responsible for billions of dollars of damage and loss of life. Earthquakes occur when the pressure between two plates becomes too much to bear and gives way.
When a person focuses solely on not slipping, the pressure of recovery can often build like tectonic pressure on a fault line. To make matters worse, traditional inpatient treatments require individuals to hold two worlds in check—a world of abstinence and the rest of the world that drinks a Champaign toast on special occasions or networks with clients over a pint at the pub. It is unrealistic to expect these worlds will not collide. They can and they will, which may be why nearly 90% of people who attempt treatment for alcohol use disorder relapse in the first four years.
Resilience in nature
Most people can effortlessly tear a single blade of grass. It bends easily under the weight of our feet. In a hurricane the wind can blow, the
rains can flood, and yet grass is usually among the first to bounce back after a storm. This isn’t strength, but something much more
We need more resilience in life because our strength will eventually let us down. The fault lines that slip the most may produce the most earthquakes, but they tend to be less damaging than those that only give way after absorbing great amounts of pressure.
The Sinclair Method is recovery by means of resilience. Instead of trying to bully away alcohol cravings with brute strength, TSM teaches your brain to walk away from the fight. Through gradual detox and targeted extinction, the pressure of the colliding worlds of recovery and the rest of life is gently diffused. If a person intends to moderate drinking, TSM helps keep the major “earthquakes” in check.
Give yourself a break
TSM takes time. You wouldn’t get into a car, step on the gas, and expect to get to your destination without ever hitting the brake, would you? Of course not! You would accelerate at different speeds, slow down from time to time, and possibly even stop to refuel or double check the directions. So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t teleport your way to instant recovery. This is where being resilient can help you.
Whether your recovery goal includes moderate drinking or abstinence, it’s important to find your individual balance or center in life. Some people will do this through counseling, others may do this through sports and hobbies. Whatever your means of balance and recovery, focus on doing more of what works for you to build resilience.
Being strong will only get you so far, but resilience will put you back on your feet after the storm.