In recovery, you will quickly find that while detox is a huge hurdle to clear, recovery is more of a marathon than a sprint. Along the way, it becomes apparent that the real hurdles that pop up are assumptions that you didn’t realize were getting in your way and behaviors that seem to happen automatically.
Passing judgment is one of those behaviors that can be tricky in recovery. The feelings that judgmental responses come from and the feelings that judgmental statements and choices cause can be very painful, and this emotional upheaval can lead to relapse.
The good news is that if your first response is to be catty or judgmental of someone else or even yourself, as long as you take notice, it can provide you with the opportunity to start questioning some of the assumptions you are making about what “should” and “should not” be true for people in recovery. In fact, if you are looking for a resolution to make in 2018 that will boost your ability to stay sober, exploring your judgmental behaviors and responses and making a concerted effort to curb them is a great one.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Judgment may stem from trauma. If you have been hurt in the past, it is more likely that you will be more critical of the people around you. For example, you may fear that someone who is trying to control a situation is going to harm you in the same way that someone has in the past, so your first response may be to judge their choices. If this is the case, it is important to undergo therapeutic intervention for trauma to curb your judgmental behaviors and to help you stay sober as well.
- Judgment may stem from jealousy. If you see someone else doing something that you wish you could do but for whatever reason, you feel like you cannot, then your response may be to judge them for making that choice at all. Why not look at what they are doing and ask yourself, “Why can’t I do that or something similar?” There is no limit to what you can accomplish in recovery, and perhaps you can turn those judgmental, negative feelings into motivation.
- Consider what assumptions you are making when you are judgmental. Do you believe that someone “should” be doing something different in this situation? Why? Upon what are you making that assumption? Is it possible that there is more than one way for someone to behave in that situation? Even if your way makes more sense, is it really a problem if someone makes a different choice if the outcome is fine? The only thing that requires your rigidity in recovery is a commitment to staying sober; beyond that, it is important to question your assumptions and what they are based. Learn how to go with the flow and allow others to do the same.
- Consider why and how you are judging yourself too harshly. It is not just judgment of others that can harm your relationships and make it more difficult to stay sober. Judging yourself harshly can also have a negative impact on your sobriety, stopping you from taking chances that can improve your life and causing you to focus on things that are not important in the grand scheme of things. The fact is that in recovery, you have the opportunity to redefine everything you once assumed to be true. No longer do you have to apply others’ standards to your life on how to live, what to do, or what to look like. You are your own person, and in recovery, one of your major orders of business is to strip back all the things that are unnecessary and begin the process of rebuilding from scratch – in any direction and however you choose, provided it supports a sustainable healthy life in recovery.
How will you choose to improve your life in recovery this year? What assumptions can you toss out? What judgments can you shed as you work to build your new life in sobriety?