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I count myself as in recovery from many things, including alcoholism, bulimia, self-harm, anxiety and depression to name a few – but how do you know you have recovered from something, be it addiction, mental health problems, break-ups or bereavements?

In the case of getting over divorces, illnesses, addictions, bereavements and other difficult periods in our life most people believe that the amount of time between you and the problematic event denotes whether you have recovered or not.

I could not disagree more. I believe that you ‘know’ when you have recovered, because you feel it. It does not matter if it takes you five weeks, five months or five years. Time is not the most relevant thing when it comes to recovery.

I believe that true recovery from challenges and life transitions is directly proportional to the amount of work you do on yourself. Whatever difficulties you face, your route to recovery will be determined by the help you get, your mindset and tools and skills that you can learn to give your recovery a good solid grounding.

Of course losing someone or living through a trauma is inherently painful but those who never recover from such things or react in a way that causes them even more problems are those that need to work on their thinking. I'm not being flippant: this is clearly difficult, as the way we think and react can be installed in us through traumas big and small, especially when we are very young.

However, it is the truth.

In order to recover you need to work on your own limitations and ways of thinking and reacting that cause you the most pain. Practising positive thinking is one thing that benefits everyone – so make a start with that. Being more mindful of your reactions and looking at where they might come from can really help you overturn those old ways of being as well.

The other elements of your recovery will be individual so it’s best to work with a Recovery Coach to pinpoint exactly where your mindset is letting you down and work on changing that. Remember, it's not necessarily your fault if you have unhelpful thinking or reactions, but you are the only one who can truly change them. You may well need help to do that, but ultimately, you have to be willing to change and take the necessary steps if you want to recover.

by Beth Burgess, Therapist and author of The Recovery Formula, The Happy Addict, and What Is Self-Esteem?

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