Female paramedic

The Most Important Relationship in Early Recovery Should Be With Yourself

Published on January 15, 2021 by First Responder Wellness

During the early stages of recovery, it is essential to focus on yourself. As a first responder, helping others is what you are good at, and focusing too much on your own needs may feel selfish. However, the steps it takes to lead a healthy lifestyle in recovery can be all-consuming, especially in the beginning. This is why overly involving yourself in new romantic relationships can complicate this process and take away from the effort it takes to re-learn how to be independently healthy and happy. Although finding positive, healthy ways to create connections is essential, the relationship you have with yourself should be a priority amongst others. 

Be Your Own Source of Happiness

Focusing on yourself is not selfish; it’s salubrious. Sometimes you may try to focus solely on others to avoid dealing with your personal battles. In recovery, you may begin to feel like a new and improved person. Still, you may also look for new romantic relationships to use as a crutch to cling to during the uncertainty of what takes place in early recovery. Using avoidance or dependence in early recovery poses a significant emotional risk. Although many relationships in our lives can be beneficial, relying on newer, unstable relationships as an outlet to avoid our feelings can pose a risk for relapse. Building a firm foundation of recovery and self-assurance is vital to do before we dive into something that has the potential of shaking our core if it does not turn out well.

Having meaningful connections is paramount for long-term recovery. However, sometimes diving deep into a brand new relationship before you commit to helping yourself first can potentially be detrimental to maintaining sobriety. Take the time to wait for a new romance, focus on yourself, find a new healthy routine, and build on your personal growth. Doing this can open up pathways for healthier relationships in the future. Being a more self-confident and stable person can also attract people with similar morals and goals as you.  

Everything You Need Is Already Within You

We are often taught to seek safety in numbers, comfort in others, and validation in our peers. Although these lessons can be helpful, we should not solely rely on them. Until we feel safe in our own skin, comfortable with ourselves, and know our self-worth, it can be too easy for negative outside forces to sway our thinking. Many first responders may understand that while having comradery and trust amongst coworkers and peers is essential, it is crucial first to have a foundation of personal resiliency. This is true in recovery as well. 

If we continuously depend on someone or something else to make us feel happy, free, or safe, it can be challenging to be content when alone or when evasive thoughts emerge. 

Training Your Brain

Once we realize we have the skillset and capability to be happy and resilient on our own, how do we go about doing so? Surely being happy requires more than just thinking happy thoughts.  Although it may seem trivial at first, learning to transform your negative thoughts into positive ones has real effects on the brain.​ ​This process is called Neural Plasticity. The more you think about certain things, the more your brain creates neural pathways of that thing. If we start thinking more happy thoughts, our brains will strengthen and grow our happiness pathways,  even if they seem forced at first. We will be able to choose happiness. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most folks are as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Ultimately, finding happiness within ourselves, and building a better relationship with ourselves, are key components in the path to recovery.

Relationships With Others

Life is not always black and white, and if you do find yourself involved in a newly forming relationship in early recovery, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Keep yourself and your recovery a priority: Without maintaining your sobriety first, you will have difficulty maintaining your relationships.
  • Set Boundaries: By setting comfortable yet effective boundaries between one another, this form of communication can help create a clear understanding between both parties. 
  • Have trust: Having a strong foundation of trust in a relationship is crucial. If there is no trust, it leaves room for fear, insecurity, jealousy, and other negative feelings to arise. 

The relationships we build in early recovery have the potential to significantly impact our health and well-being and can influence the course of the rest of our recovery. Due to this, the most important relationship you have during this time should be with yourself. Recovery is a process and can be a time of great trial. Fortifying the relationship with yourself first ensures that any new relationships you build in the future, no matter the outcome of them, will not negatively affect your recovery. Building personal resilience can also help you create healthier, more stable relationships in the future that support and encourage your healthy lifestyle. At First Responder Wellness, we understand the value of maintaining stability in early recovery and that maintaining this balance can be difficult for those within the public safety profession. If you or a loved one is experiencing difficulties in the recovery process, call us at (888) 743-0490.