The mental health and addiction recovery fields are, by nature, filled with stresses and extreme situations. Each patient brings a unique story, and rarely do they make an appointment to share only good news. Recovery involves confronting adversity at every step. As a result, this process often requires us to address people at the lowest point of their lives.
This takes a tremendous emotional toll on each professional in the field. At a certain point, we have to draw a line between our patients and our mental health. However, letting go of past patients’ trials doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting or dismissing them from our minds.
The Difference Between the Two
Letting go and forgetting are not interchangeable concepts. While they both represent an attitude towards the past, their implications are vastly different. Forgetting means dismissing an event or information from your mind entirely. Letting go, however, requires you to acknowledge the facts for what they are, internalize the data, and accept it. Primarily, it is a difference in processing information and whether it was blocked off or passed through someone. Letting go is part of moving forward.
New Day, New Stresses
Professionals are regularly exposed to the darkest sides of humanity. We are a nexus point for suffering. We channel our expertise to lift people out of deteriorating mental health states or ill-informed self-medication practices. Unfortunately, the emotional toll can be immense. Being able to block off stress is essential, but also leaves little room for us to cope with our own stress.
The constant exposure to these extreme situations can inflict its own “curse of knowledge.” That is, knowledge and circumstances can run together between patients. The more we learn, the more difficult it becomes to separate our lives from our patients. We begin to internalize their desperation and suffer their agony. We must always remain acutely aware of the barrier between provider and patient, striving for empathy without taking on a burden, which is not ours to bear.
Breathe First, Act Second
The first step in processing these difficulties and formulating a plan is something that we remind our patients to do each day – breathe. Taking a breath and the time for self-care helps to process each task and prevent us from becoming overwhelmed. Self-care is a life skill that can be used in all situations through life for both professionals and patients.
Using the Evidence
“Letting go” requires a degree of processing, even from the professional’s point of view. While many therapeutic teachings center around the idea of processing and moving on, many professionals struggle to implement our own advice. The compassion of each person working in this field creates a need for emotional resilience. However, instead of using anecdotal evidence, empirical techniques can be a way to process and “let go” of these thoughts and patients.
Letting Go Isn’t Forgetting
Letting go, then, is using past experiences and successes to inform and help the next patient. It is a way for professionals to act as a bridge between patients and employ the right language and strategies in different scenarios. Letting go means utilizing the skills that each case brings and bolstering those skills with past successes. While forgetting leaves little room for growth, letting go of a situation allows us to use our experience to help other people.
Many of the techniques that professionals learn and instill in their patients are also applicable in their own lives. Every occupation is stressful, and professionals in the addiction recovery and mental health fields can be a beacon for the trials that others face every day. Employing and modeling practical coping skills is essential in keeping a healthy, progressive mindset amidst the difficult atmosphere in which professionals often find themselves. Letting go of patients is different than releasing the skills and information learned from each of them.
Coping with the difficulties presented every day is a difficult task, even for professionals in the field of addiction treatment. As more people seek aid, the personal struggle of these professional roles increases in turn. If you or a loved one are struggling with your addiction or co-occurring mental health disorders, contact Alta Centers today. Taking a modern approach to the detox phase of recovery, Alta Centers champions the community aspect of each person’s recovery. By keeping people integrated and instilling practical coping and life skills, Alta Centers helps each person bridge their connections rather than feel isolated from the world around them. For more information on the programs available to you, contact any of the caring professionals at Alta Centers at (888) 202-2583.