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What makes recovery recovering: assessing how well life is going

Posted Mar 31 2013 10:18pm

What makes recovery recovering?  What does it add to life?  What does it make better?  The 5 dimensions described below give one way to look at it.  It also gives a way to assess how well life is going.  Rank yourself 1-10 on each dimension.  What are your greatest strengths?  What are your weaknesses?  What can you do to make life better?  What is already happening that makes life better?  How can you let it have greater impact?

  1. Appreciation-  Everyone needs to feel like the people in his life think he is important.  The fundamental idea here is that if a person is important what is important to that person is important.  This means your interests, your feelings, your thoughts, your goals, your values etc. are all treated as being important.  At the low end of this spectrum the people in your life see you as a burden that they must endure.  If you are appreciated people will give you time and attention, not because of what they give you, but because the message you give is that they are important enough to merit that investment.  Are you a source of opportunity or a source of deprivation?
  2. Affiliation- Everyone need to feel like those around them care about them.  They need to know that they belong and fit with others.  They need to know that they are loved and liked.  At the lower end of this spectrum people feel alone and chronically lonely.  They are often resentful and feel like they have been abandoned by those that should care for them.  It means that people support you  and affirm you even when they do not like your behavior.  If you are affiliated with people they try to pull you closer.  If you are not they push you away.
  3. Autonomy-  Everyone needs to feel some sense of personal control in their life.  This means they can make decisions and carry through with those situations.  It means they are not simply dependent upon the influences on them rather those influences be their own brain, other people, or the circumstances of the moment.  People with mental health issues often feel little sense of autonomy.  Even when they make decisions it often seems like something always interferes with making those decisions reality.
  4. Status- people need to feel like they make an impact on other people that counts.  It is crucial for mental health to feel like you have something to give that matters, whether that be on your job, or in your relationships with others.  In some sense they have an identified competence or success.  People with out status feel like a failure and have little faith in their ability to matter in life.
  5. Role-  people need to feel like their life has meaning.  Life must be more than a “groundhog day”.  It must be more than busy.  It must be more than urgent.  It must be important.  Part of this is that people need to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.  If life is about nothing other than you, about what you have and what you  manage to keep, then it is unlikely that you will have a sense of meaning in life that sustains you.  It is not enough to live.  People need to “live for…”

These dimensions dont describe everything by any means.  But they do describe some of what makes life worth living.  The distress we have in life affects how we are doing in each of them.  What would it take for recovering to be a stable and growing part of your life?

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