One of the cornerstones of recovery is open-mindedness. It is essential to most in order for recovery to begin, and the reason being is that once a person starts out on their journey to recovery they are introduced to a number of revolutionary ideas that are counterintuitive to everything they had once believed. This means that the more open-minded they are, the more receptive they will be to implementing these ideas into their life. This is what was told me to me when I first got sober, that the only thing necessary for me to make a start was to have an open mind about the things that I was going to hear and as long as I did this and followed the few suggestions that were given, everything would be okay. Making the decision to enter detox was hard, for months I told myself that I did not need to go or that I would go tomorrow, but I realized after failing time and time again that I needed help, and so began one of the hardest journeys I have ever undertaken.
It is was not always easy for me to be open-minded, especially in early sobriety when I was being told to implement such things as self-reflection, prayer and meditation, and honesty into my life. However, one thing that helped me during this period, and continues to help me to this day, was my experiences with traveling throughout my youth. In total I lived overseas for 7 years. My parents were missionaries and when I was 8 years old we lived in Costa Rica for year and then moved to Peru for the next 6 years. It wasn’t until I was 14 years old that we moved back to the States, and so having lived abroad for an extended period of time during pivotal years in my life, I was given the ability to have a broader view of life then would have been afforded to me if I had just resided in the States all those years.
This is not to be boastful, but living abroad allowed me to avoid some of the ethnocentric views that can come about as a result of only seeing one part of the world and in turn has allowed me to be more open-minded when it comes to ideas that do not match up with my own beliefs. This was particularly helpful when I was first getting sober because even though many of the things that were being told to me were foreign, and to be honest sounded a little crazy, a part of me understood that I may not know everything and that I should probably give it a try.
I think one of the reasons for this is that traveling to different places in the world has always brought me back to the right size. It is easy to start to think that my little world and my little life is so exceedingly important, but traveling to different parts of the world has allowed me to understand just how small I am in the grand scheme of things and has allowed me to put my own problems into perspective. This has always allowed me to remain open-minded to the possibility of solutions to my problems, rather than getting stuck in the feelings of the problem.
While we all know that geographic changes do not work because we take ourselves with us wherever we go, traveling does help us to gain perspective on our lives, and what’s even greater is that we don’t always have to go somewhere exotic in order to get this perspective.
My one friend was telling me how every time that he goes home to visit his family in New Jersey, he is able to find solutions to some of the problems in his life. He told me that this method has been so effective for him that sometimes he will just plan a trip home as a little get away, so that he can get some perspective on his life. He said, “it is so easy to get caught up in the day to day madness of my life and so sometimes just taking a step back and getting out of my environment opens me up to the possibility of different answers that I couldn’t see while I was stuck in the situation.” He went on to say, “whenever I get out of town for a couple of days, I always come back feeling recharged, and ready to deal with whatever it is that I have to deal with.”
Besides getting perspective on the basic problems of life, traveling can allow people to discover things about themselves that they may not have ever known before. Whether this be finding out new hobbies that they were never introduced before they traveled, or new cuisines that they love, or just finding out some basic truths about themselves that were somehow revealed in their travels. Regardless of what comes up during a person’s travels they are bound to discover something new, and something that will hopefully change them for the better.
I remember in early in sobriety, traveling seemed like a scary and dangerous proposition. I was afraid to be away from my meetings and my support group for an extended period of time, but after having done these things I realized that my fear was unfounded and that granted my spiritual condition was in tact, I could go anywhere on the earth and not have to fear. The experiences that I have had traveling, in my youth and then since getting sober, have made me into the person I am today and I would not exchange them for anything in the world. So my suggestion is go out and see the world. It will not only enrich your life, but will enrich your sobriety as well.
Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.