WoW 056: On 17 keys to recovery [Words of Wisdom]

To overcome an addiction, maintain sobriety, and experience recovery it's simple but not easy.

Following are what I call keys to recovery, and they also happen to be keys to flourishing in any life, not just for us addicts.

  1. Do what is essential. Say no to the rest. When everything is a priority, nothing is.
  2. Live in the truth. Secrets will kill you and the change you seek. You must be completely transparent, honest, and vulnerable with a few trustworthy and wise people.
  3. Live with gratitude in all things. A grateful heart gives sobriety.
  4. Develop a daily stillness practice. Slow down. Prioritize learning to be deeply present. The more you learn to sit still and be silent, the more success you will have in life. Grow in your commitment to daily prayer. Learn fundamental breathing and mindfulness techniques. Go on a silence and solitude retreat. You will move from loneliness and isolation to contentment in solitude.
  5. Affirm yourself. Learn to be kind to yourself and to receive compliments.
  6. Know what matters. Knowing and living out your values will help you make difficult decisions.
  7. Celebrate good things and accomplishments. Reward yourself and celebrate others.
  8. Be known and know others deeply. Take ownership of your choices and be held accountable. Come to know and tell your story. Listen often and carefully to others' stories. Learn that vulnerability is strong, not weak and that perhaps the greatest gift to give another is your simple, loving presence.
  9. Commit your life to loving service. Serving others gets your focus off of yourself but also helps you. Life is not about you. You are both important, and your life is meaningful, but it is also small and insignificant. Find daily, small ways and significant, sacrificial ways to serve others.
  10. Become an expert in self-care. Sharpen your sword daily. Self-care applies to your physical, psychological, spiritual, social, and professional needs. The more you understand yourself and your needs and how to care for yourself, the fewer triggers you'll have, and the more you will be able to serve others. If you've never taken a self-care assessment, take this one for free.
  11. Devote yourself to a movement practice. Our bodies are made to move! A daily movement practice and growing a diverse library of movement skills will improve the quality of your life. You will come to crave movement helping your body, mind, and spirit.
  12. Learn your triggers and how to overcome them. When you feel triggered or find yourself in middle circle behavior, ask, "What do I need?" (further reading: read about the 3 Circles for free here and here)
  13. Hold boundaries with yourself and others. Your needs are valid, and it's not controlling to have needs. Keep boundaries with those who are not trustworthy. Boundaries change, and trust is earned.
  14. Be resilient. Accept chaos, loss, and pain. Be courageous, learn from your mistakes, and don't let them define your identity. Learn to have compassion and not shame for your struggles. Shame feeds addiction, and compassion kills it. Have a resilient, humble learner's mindset. With every situation or challenge, ask, "What's the opportunity?"
  15. Allow yourself to feel joy, fear, anger, sadness, and uncertainty. Learning to feel and then address uncomfortable emotions is critical to maintaining sobriety. Develop the skill of identifying and expressing your feelings. Grow in your emotional awareness and acceptance.
  16. Embrace your sexual self while also cherishing purity. Enjoy pleasure without being controlled or shamed by your urges. Honor yourself and others in all ways.
  17. But above all else, true recovery is a rebirth, a spiritual awakening. Abide with God deeply. Seek to stay connected to God every moment and follow His leading.

    I can't think of a time when I saw a radical transformation without a deep surrender to God and His love.

To the degree that you surrender, connect, and follow God in an honest community is the degree you'll experience freedom.

Use these keys, and you will open the door to a new way of living and discover a place of peace within yourself.


Let nothing disturb thee;
Let nothing dismay thee:
All things pass;
God never changes.
Patience attains
All that it strives for.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.

"Poem IX", in Complete Works St. Teresa of Avila, Vol. 3

"The more fundamentally you can support a particular system, the more problems can be resolved or prevented because you are peripherally influencing every outcome of that system."

Naudi Aguilar, Functional Patterns


How am I doing? Go through the list above and rank yourself on a scale of 1-10, where 1 means non-existent or poorly skilled, and 10 means you have this in abundance or highly skilled.

What truth can I apply today?


All you need to do is surrender everything.

Live wisely,


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