You finished substance addiction treatment — congratulations! Before you completed treatment, you created a port-treatment plan. The confidence you feel is strengthening your resolve to maintain your sobriety. Nothing can stop you from living a sober life.
Having an after-treatment plan is excellent, but do you have a plan for the unexpected? Recovery isn’t maintained by strictly following your post-treatment plan. Instead, you must learn how to be flexible. You will encounter obstacles, setbacks, or the realization that life isn’t black and white — in between black and white is gray. An essential part of maintaining sobriety is becoming comfortable in your gray space.
Life Is Messy
In your life, you will experience many things. While you were in substance addiction treatment, you learned life skills to help you respond to uncomfortable or adverse situations. Learning how to achieve gray space living is another way to cope with challenging events.
What do people mean when they talk about a gray space?
You can approach your sobriety with passion, commitment, and determination, but take caution; focusing on one thing can increase your risk of failing. Why? Setting goals is excellent, but tunnel vision is dangerous. Adhering to one view assumes there is a right or wrong way to do something. Life isn’t that simple; there are shades of “rightness” or “wrongness” in many situations. Life is messy; there is a lot of gray areas to navigate. An essential skill you can adopt is being flexible.
You can use gray space to write your treatment plan and set up your goals.
- Figure out what your mission in life is or what you want to achieve
- Create milestones, short-term goals, and long-term goals
- Permit yourself to approach your goals with flexibility, maybe push your boundaries, but don’t compromise yourself by stepping outside your boundaries
For example, if you choose to start a business based on an interest or hobby, allow yourself to flow with the unexpected by finding ways to move around an obstacle without placing your sobriety at risk.
Protect Your Gray Space
When you begin to think gray, you begin to free yourself from absolutes. When situations occur, you don’t need to define them and place them in a category.
During interactions with others, you don’t need to voice your thoughts or form an opinion immediately. You aren’t required to respond quickly or rashly before you learn all of the facts or circumstances. Sometimes when you rush to develop an idea, you are working on flawed or inadequate information. Perhaps you act on this information only to find out later you didn’t have the whole picture. What does this do to your goals?
When we jump to a conclusion, we can damage the outcome of our goals. Waiting for the complete picture, processing the information you receive, and assessing a proper response aids you in moving forward.
Learning How to Think Gray
Learning how to think gray is, at times, challenging. Gray space means you may not have all the answers or things are inconclusive; remember to be comfortable in the unanswered or unknown. Not reacting or moving forward is not an act of inaction; it is an action, flexible action. Gray space is the ability to live and act concerning your morals or principles. When you accept uncertainty, you become flexible.
Being comfortable moving and flowing with an unexpected event while keeping your boundaries is a part of achieving a goal. Although substance addiction treatment includes integrating rules and healthy habits into your life, gray space means you retain your right to move within your boundaries as situations change.
You don’t need to respond based solely on predetermined paths; instead, you learn to respect your values and principles by remaining within your boundaries and being flexible at the same time. What does this mean? Your core values aid you when you begin to incorporate your gray space into decision-making. You adhere to your values because you waited. Rash decisions may conflict with your morals and ethics.
Your Gray Space in Action
Place your ego to the side and reassess your goals when necessary. Perhaps you start the business you always dreamed of, but things aren’t working out as you thought they would, that’s okay. Instead of giving up or jeopardizing your sobriety, reassess your goal. Are you reaching the demographic you originally intended to reach, or did your business attract a different audience? Acknowledge the new clientele and shift your mindset to increase the interaction you have with this group. As things move along, remember to reassess your business model and be flexible to the change needed to continue meeting the needs of your clientele.
Sobriety is like a business. When you finish active treatment and move into post-treatment care, you set your treatment plan into action. Unfortunately, the plan may not always go as anticipated, and you will need to reassess it to navigate the new path. Eventually, you will achieve a goal, maybe not your original purpose, suited to your needs. Being flexible, not forming quick opinions, and allowing yourself to reassess and live in the unknown will aid you in finding the path you need to take.
Living in the Gray
When you are comfortable living with ambiguity, you are comfortable living in the gray. Responding after you receive all of the information needed to make a fully informed decision, reassessing circumstances, and moving forward based on the complete information is how you grow. Whether it’s a business, a passion, or your sobriety, learn to live in the gray so you may thrive.
Life is not black or white; it is shades of gray. You may not always know where you are going or how you will get there, but that’s okay. You are not required to act quickly, and you should respect your ability to wait for the data, assess situations, and be flexible. Rigidity can break you; flexibility allows you to bend. Allow yourself to find what you need to thrive while maintaining your boundaries. Work for your goals, your sobriety, for you — don’t give up. Protect your gray space. Alta Centers of Los Angeles recognizes the importance of gray space. We provide compassionate care for the time when your gray space is compromised and you need to reassess how to move forward. Our center has trained staff to help you through the detox process while guiding you back to your goals and gray space. For more information, call (888) 202-2583.