Just when you think everything’s going well in recovery and you’re feeling great, you could find yourself breaking down and going into depression out of nowhere. Obviously, mastering recovery doesn’t happen in only two years. 

In your first two years of recovery, you learn how to go about normal life and enjoy various occasions without alcohol. However, once you hit the third year, you can’t just go on doing things you used to do and just try doing them sober. If that’s all you do, you’ll end up having lots of cravings as well as mental and emotional relapses. 

Just when you think you’ve gone as far as you can go, you realize you’re only at the beginning. Barry Lehman, the author of Mastering Recovery, says that achieving this mastery of recovery can take up to ten years or longer depending on the substance. It takes that long to truly learn how to live again.

What is Mastery?

Mastery is about getting better at something important to you. However, you can’t ever really reach mastery because you’re always a beginner and there will always be something new to learn. 

1. Practice, practice, practice

The key to mastery is to keep practicing. Focus on the basics and make sure you know how to do them. Every time you hit a plateau, that’s when you’re ready to begin again. When you think you’ve come to the end, you’re only just beginning. This happens regularly. 

2. Getting feedback from people and doing a personal inventory

Being self-aware isn’t just about saying sorry when you do something wrong. It’s about figuring out what you need to do to be better this week. What was the one thing you did great last week? How can you use that to get better next week? This requires a shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. It’s easy to get stuck in the idea of powerlessness where you think you can’t do anything. You have to change that mindset and commit to growing, getting better, and embracing change.

3. Finding meaning and purpose

Learning about movement and exercise is a big step that many of us need to take at that two-year mark of recovery, if not before. Whether it looks like writing or something else, ​​dig into whatever it is that you get excited about in life. When you start building your life, practicing these things, and developing an awareness of yourself and those around you, you will begin to find meaning and purpose.

If you want to learn more about how to master recovery, check out Episode 154: Mastering Recovery with Barry Lehman