Write Your Way Out of Recovery – The Bruce Lee Method

Last week I posted on here about how people can become sober by writing their own recovery book. I’m convinced that this approach will work in at least some cases, and I want to expand a bit more on how this might be possible. As I mentioned in the last post, I never intended for writing to become such an important part of my own recovery, and so I used it in a very haphazard way. It is my aim with these posts to describe what I’ve learned from this work, so that other people might be able to use this recovery tool in a more deliberate fashion. I’m still trying to get my thinking straight on how this path to sober living can be most effective, so I plan to add further posts on this topic in the future.

You Do Not Need to Love Writing to Write Yourself Sober

I know that there will be plenty of people who look upon writing tasks as a hassle and possibly even a complete waste of time. I can understand this sentiment. I’ve always loved writing, but it would piss me right off when addiction therapists would hand me a worksheet with instructions like ‘describe the last time you felt angry with someone and how you reacted to this emotion’. This always felt like busy-work to me, and I resented being asked to do it.

It wasn’t so much that I thought the questions on these rehab worksheets were irrelevant – it was more because it felt like we were just going through the motions because this is the type of stuff you do in rehab. Sometimes there would be a bit of discussion about what we had written, but most of the time these pieces of paper would disappear never to be seen again. On those days when I felt particularly cynical, I’d just write down any old rubbish that came into my head just to get the busy-work out of the way. It never seemed to make much difference what I’d write down. This is not the type of writing that I’m suggesting people bother themselves with, in order to write their way out of addiction.

The writing that people need to do in order to break away from addiction does not involve any busy-work – no writing for the sake of writing. We only write down those things that are going to help us because we are writing to save our life. The aim is to create our own program for recovery from the ground up, and there will be no room for any words that are not going to benefit our life in recovery.

Writing and Owning Recovery

I’m not suggesting here that you follow my method of addiction recovery – there is no ‘my method’. By creating your own recovery book, you will be creating your own unique path. There really is no need to fit into another person’s program unless that is what you want. This idea of having to fit in with other people’s recovery program is something that I’ve really struggled with in the past – it got in the way. I’d find an approach that seemed to offer some of the things I needed, but I’d then feel obligated to swallow the whole program – hook, line, and sinker.

I always felt a bit uncomfortable about following the ideas of other people too closely because it required putting too much faith in them. It meant that when I came upon some of their ideas that were less helpful for me, I would lose faith and use this as an excuse to abandon their program. This does not need to happen when we write our own recovery book because it belongs to us, and we only need to include those things that we know work for us. We also don’t have to worry about upsetting other people when we decide that some aspects of our program are not working and we need to remove the deadwood.

Getting Started on Your Own Recovery Book

Getting going with a project like this one can seem a bit overwhelming in the beginning. There are no rules, but I’d suggest that you start with this question – how am I going to become sober? This can form the basis of everything that is going to come later. You write down your best ideas for how to do this in the clearest possible way, and you then begin using this information to end your addiction. You eliminate anything from you book that is not working, and you use your success to tell you what stays in the book. I’d also suggest that you clearly state your reasons for wanting to become sober (not the reasons for why you should become sober).

Bruce Lee Stencil

The Bruce Lee Method of Recovery

As far as I know, Bruce Lee never became addicted to alcohol or drugs, but he does provide a perfect example for people who are trying to break away from this type of life. Bruce is remembered as a Kung Fu expert, but he’d more or less abandoned that traditional martial art before becoming famous. He wanted to be the most skilled martial artist possible, but he felt unable to do this so long as he remained limited to just one fighting style. He felt driven to create his own fighting art, Jeet Kwon Do, and he did this by taking the best bits from lots of different approaches to combat. Bruce Lee created a style that worked for him, and this is an example that people can follow in order to break free of addiction.

Please Help Me with Comments and Questions

I’m sure that this approach to recovery can work for people, but I worry that I’m not yet explaining things here clearly enough. My thinking benefits immensely from the comments and questions you guys leave on here, so please feel free to add these below.

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7 thoughts on “Write Your Way Out of Recovery – The Bruce Lee Method

  1. Hi Paul. I’m eager to learn more about your progress with this project when you first talked about it the other week.

    Coincidentally, a few weeks ago I started thinking myself about starting some sort of personal blog. LIkely not for public consumption, but just as a place to document my thoughts and struggles with recovery and depression. I actually find it very therapeutic to sit down and think through these things and put my thoughts down in writing.

    I should mention that what sparked me into the idea originally was that I found it beneficial to engage in some written cognitive behavioral exercises in a recent book I started (“Feeling Good”). I’ve always really enjoyed writing, especially emails to friends, commenting in online communities, and so on, so I do wonder if starting a blog specifically focusing on my recovery would be good for me.

    Unfortunately, I’m just so pressed for time, that I don’t know if I could commit to any writing projects right now. I barely even have to time comment on your blog regularly, as much as I’d like to.

    On another level, I also wonder if writing is the best option for me. I like it and am comfortable with it because it keeps me in a safe zone I have control over. But sometimes I think I need more social forms of support (i.e. a support group, therapist, etc). Those are options that are less attractive to me for a variety of reasons. So there are good and possibly not so good sides to writing and recovery (though mainly good).

    Anyway, I’m just ruminating now (in writing). Guess this is a good thing. 🙂

    1. Hi Tan, I was hoping that you would be one of the people to leave a comment after this post. I understand your reservations about writing, and it is probably not something that will work for everyone. I’ve found that this activity is constantly pushing me out of my safe zone because it is harder to delude myself if my bullshit is there in black and white. I often end up writing about things that make me feel incredibly uncomfortable – things that I’d prefer to keep hidden, but it can be like opening a valve and I’m not really been in control of what comes out. Like last year and my financial worries, I would never have admitted to other people how vulnerable I felt if it wasn’t for this blog. Writing has forced me to face to face the reality of my situation more than any other human could possibly do – it is too easy to question their motives and dismiss what they say, but I can’t do this when the truth is coming from me. I do agree though, that social support can be a huge help for some of us.

      I do hope that you one day get around to creating a blog where you will be able to share your thoughts and experiences. I’m sure that other people could benefit from what you have to say.

  2. love this and writing is helping me stay sober! it’s definitely one of my tools! this would be a good post for the new link up i did today “sober sundays” because it will help the newcomer.

  3. Thanks for writing this Paul. I am inspired. I have looked into a variety of recovery programmes and always thought and felt that there is something missing. That something is ‘me’ and how I really want to live my life. I will start a personal blog about recovery, probably anonymously to start with and bring in all the threads that I like about programmes that I have experience of and aspects I don’t find useful. This blog will be for me to unravel the mystery of my own sense of being blocked around recovery, and if it helps anyone else then great.

    1. That sounds like a great idea Daniel. Let me know when/if you feel ready to share your blog with the world. I think the best thing about writing this stuff down is it gets the nonsense out of our heads to where we can deal with it. I think we all have the answers we need inside, and the key is to keep digging until we hit gold. As far as I can see, the only right path in recovery is the one that works for us.

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