Mental Health Recovery

Cultivating Healthy, Healing Relationships in Recovery

Developing positive, healthy relationships are the one of the cornerstones in our recovery process.  One’s earnings or the size of one’s bank account doesn’t define success in recovery, though that doesn’t stop us from placing the expectations of monetary success upon ourselves. It’s not unusual to get sober and equate success in recovery with what we have, whom we date, where we live, what we drive, et cetera. In time, however, it is our cultivation of healthy relationships with those around us that are the true markers of success. Think about it this way: if the things we have define the quality of our lives, what happens if our accumulation of stuff is abated?  Are we left empty and bereft of joy? I think not. Instead, we must find a way to enjoy the skin we’re in, sans outside pleasures and impermanent pleasure


When we fixate on accumulating stuff rather than cultivating strong, supportive relationships with those around us, we may find we’re not as happy as we want to be. The more we ignore that which causes us pain, and the more we attempt to fill ourselves with stuff, the more uncomfortable we’re apt to become. We tend to place undo importance on what we have during our lives but speak primarily about the quality of relationships with family and friends at the end of our lives.  When we face our mortality, the issue of “stuff” isn’t high on the list of important topicsOne of the most important relationships we learn to cultivate early on in recovery is with a sponsor. The only guideline we have is to find someone who “has what we want.” That doesn’t refer to the kind of car they drive; it refers to the quality of their program, if they’ve worked the steps, and if they are spiritually sound. Unfortunately, we often times are influenced by someone’s outsides rather than what’s important for our insides. The moral of the story is this: cultivate your relationships with others the way you would nurture a burgeoning garden or pot of coffee. You know I know how important coffee is in recovery!

Recovery Spirituality

Guide to Finding a Sponsor

After the initial revelation of finding ourselves on a path to recovery, we have to get into action. Our first course of action is to find a sponsor: someone capable of leading us on the path toward taking responsibility for our actions. In the world outside of recovery, sponsors are those who vouch for you or who act as your benefactor. In recovery, however, a sponsor’s role is quite different. Their role isn’t to vouch for you but rather to guide you through the 12 steps. In more apt terms, your sponsor is more like a mentor.

When looking for someone to sponsor you, look for:

  • An individual of the same sex. Yes, you can have a sponsor of the opposite sex, but it’s more beneficial to you and has less potential for complications if sponsorship is gender specific.
  • Someone who has what you want. I’m not talking cars, finances or partner, but someone whose spiritual life and sense of self is something you can strive toward or which you admire.
  • An individual whom you can trust. If there’s any reluctance, look to someone else.
  • Find someone whose actions reflect his or her words. A sponsor who functions under the guise of “do as I say, not as I do,” is not the one for you.
  • Someone whose recovery inspires you.


When you have finally found someone with whom you are willing to do the work:

  • Call them, even when you don’t need anything. If you don’t have that relationship developed, you won’t call them when things are tough.
  • Be consistent. Remember the lengths you would take to use? Apply that same sense of urgency to your recovery.
  • If you think you made the wrong choice, realize it’s ok to move on. It’s your recovery, not theirs.


Your sponsor (is):

  • A guide
  • Spiritual
  • Kind
  • Honest
  • Tough when necessary
  • Works a program

Your sponsor is not:

  • An ATM
  • Your therapist
  • Your parent
  • Your best friend
  • A guru
  • Your lawyer
  • Your higher power
  • Perfect

If you are looking for a sponsor, keep this in mind: Finding the “right”sponsor may take time. If you are having issues beyond the reach of the 12 steps, your sponsor should ultimately ask that you seek professional help. They are morally obligated to do so. Remember, the basic tenants of sponsorship is to take you through the steps.

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