Using “So What?” as a Tool of Recovery

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By Scott Brassart

In recovery, no matter how well we plan and prepare, life happens. We constantly encounter challenges and obstacles. Some days it seems like one darn thing after another until we feel like we’ve reached a dead end and there’s no way to move forward. At that point, we can take the easy route – giving up on the work of healing and going back to how we were living before – or we can ask ourselves one very simple question: “So what?”

We don’t do this to be dismissive of the situation. In fact, our intent is quite the opposite. What we’re really asking is, “In the face of this series of challenges, what am I going to do next? How am I going to continue moving forward? What can I do to make my situation better?” Basically, rather than wallowing in self-pity, we assess the situation, figure out what’s gone wrong, learn from that, decide what’s next, and take positive action.

It doesn’t matter if we wake up on the wrong side of the bed and don’t want to face the day ahead. It doesn’t matter if our challenges feel too big and too difficult and the only solution feels like hiding in a dark closet until life miraculously gets better. When we feel crummy, we ask, “So what?” And then we get to decide what sort of day we’d like to have. If we want to be miserable, we’re off to a good start. If we’re going to have a decent day, we must consciously break out of the addictive/depressive cycle. We must break away from our ‘stinking thinking.’

This type of break always requires some sort of action on our part. We need to figure out what the proverbial ‘next right step’ is and then we need to take that step. Sometimes this means getting out of bed and thanking our Higher Power for our sobriety and recovery (even if we’re not truly appreciative of those gifts in the moment). Other times, when we’re really stuck, we might need to call our sponsor, therapist, or a friend in recovery to share what we’re feeling and ask for advice about how we might proceed.

When we’re feeling blue, whatever the situation, no matter how onerous it seems, we ask, “So what?” And then we continue moving forward in our process of recovery and healing, one small step at a time, knowing that for recovering addicts like ourselves even incremental progress can be a massive victory. We do the next right thing, and the next right thing, and then the next right thing, and then our day, no matter how far off track it is, gets better.