Your compass is what gives you direction. All of us have a recovery compass– something that gives direction to our attempts to get better and to find more in life. What happens though when it doesnt take us where we want to go?
I want to suggest a couple of things that I believe should be part of the “recovery compass.” None of them are particularly original but I think taken together they provide a foundation that works.
One way to use this compass is to ask yourself rather or not what you are doing or trying to do makes these things better or worse. Does it give you a deeper sense of their truth or make them seem more empty to you? Whatever you do to strengthen these core strengths will make life better in the long run. Whatever attacks them makes life worse.
Hope- It begins there. If you dont have an abiding conviction that something better can come or is coming I dont know if anything else can really take hold. It may have a lot of sources. What has brought me hope may not bring you hope, but without it we are all defenseless. It is not a one time achievement. It is a process that must be confirmed and restested each day. It changes and grows. Sometimes it can be destroyed.
Empowerment- It is not enough to feel like it is worth doing. You must feel like it is possible for you to do. Anything that tells you that you can expect nothing out of yourself, that in the end your welfare is dependent upon the actions of others will leave you in the long run feeling worthless and resentful of those you are told you must depend on.
Knowledge and tools- It is not enough to feel like it is worth doing and that you can do it. You must know what to do and have the tools to do it. Passion without direction is ultimately self destructive.
Connection- Recovery is what you do with others, not what you do to yourself. Without a sense of positive connection the stress of everyday living will simply overwhelm you and shut down even the best of intentions.
Meaning and purpose- There must be something that drives the engine and this is it. Many people with mental health issues are told that life will simply be a journey from crisis to crisis and from disappointment to disappointment. Without the possibility of a meaningful life and a meaningful role in life everything is reduced to self maintenance.
I think this is the compass that works for me. I would love to hear what you think.