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Sober Living Means Conscious Living | XL Health Blog

Sober Living Means Conscious Living

Posted on 04. Apr, 2014 by in Wellness

Sure, getting sober means you’re no longer drinking until drunkenness and you’re no longer injecting heroin to feel blissed-out. But there’s another way to look at getting sober that makes recovery more than quitting a bad and destructive habit.

Getting sober is about recognizing the patterns of thought, the deeply embedded beliefs about yourself, and the destructive behaviors that you find yourself doing as a result. Getting sober is about becoming conscious or aware of how you are living your life.

It’s a journey that is filled with challenge. It’s not easy. Not only does it require a willingness to change, it also necessitates your keen attention and making new choices consciously. The challenge stems from the repeated pattern of making old choices in the same way again and again. Over time, connections in the brain have developed that continue to make it easy to make that same choice.

In recent brain research, those connections in the brain are called neurons. Yet, the good news is that research also points to the brain’s ability to rewire itself and form new and different connections.

In his book, The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Dodge includes a metaphor originally created by neuroscientist, Alvaro Pascual-Leone. The brain could be compared to a snowy hill in winter. When we go down the hill on a sled, we can be flexible the first time because we have the option of taking different paths through the soft snow. However, as we continue to choose the same path the second time or the third time, tracks will start to develop, and these tracks become really easy and efficient at guiding the sled down the hill. It doesn’t take long to begin to limit our choices to the one track that we have been taking again and again. In this sense, it is literally like getting stuck in a rut, following the same worn out path again and again. And taking a different path becomes increasingly difficult.

But, thanks to the brain’s wondrous capacity for learning and rewiring itself – neuroplasticity – it’s not impossible to change our patterns regardless of how worn out those paths down the hill become.

This is why paying close attention to your present circumstances is so important, versus unconsciously making similar choices to those you made in the past. What helps is staying keenly aware of what you are doing while you are doing it in order to facilitate finding a different path through the snow. Carrying out action patterns that are positive and healthy may be challenging at the start, but with practice, they too can become habitual. Finding and creating new worn-out paths (healthier ones!) is the definition of neuroplasticity.

Now, the truth is that there is often a lot to the process of recovery. Rewiring the brain is one part – albeit an important part – of getting sober, along with unraveling deep seated and destructive beliefs, perhaps healing from childhood trauma, finally letting go of repressed emotions, learning new coping mechanisms, and more. Within the process of the emotional, psychological, and spiritual healing, is the opportunity to rewire the brain.

And over time, as you continue to make new choices, and as you create new paths in the snow, you can slowly create a life that is happy, successful, and fulfilling. Follow this link to learn more about wellness and sober living.

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