3 Signs You are Holding onto Control in Your Recovery

November 10, 2021 | Eric Anderson, LMFT, CSAT

One of the most important concepts in early recovery is surrender. In active addiction, we try to control everything in our world. This includes trying to maintain the appearances, maintaining a secret life, or avoiding any unwanted or uncomfortable experiences. We approach life in survival mode. We try to hold it all together.

In recovery, we have to let go of the facade and admit to others and ourselves that things have gotten out of control. That is the first step of surrender. We embrace the truth that I have a problem, and if we try to deal with things on our own, it will only make things worse.

Because surrender is a process, here are 3 signs you are holding onto control in your recovery.


You are defensive or dismissing. 

If you knew how to fix your issues on your own you would not be in your addiction. Recognizing you need help means you are open to feedback from those who are there to help you even when it is feedback you don’t want to hear.  

This doesn’t mean you have to agree with all the feedback you get, in fact it would be unhealthy to not be discerning. Avoiding discernment means you have disengaged. However, you will have to face some hard truths about real issues you are facing.  

We all have a dark side where we have done things we aren’t exactly proud of. You have to face this side of yourself and sometimes be confronted by others. This is an uncomfortable but necessary part of the recovery process.  

If you react defensively, or worse, dismiss this feedback, you are resisting the help you need. You are resisting getting better. Instead, take some time to consider the feedback you are receiving. Assume the person giving you feedback is trying to help and show you a part of yourself you are blind to.  

After carefully considering what ways there may be something for you to work on, ask a therapist or sponsor if they see the same patterns. If through the process of considering the feedback and vetting it with a therapist or trusted guide you do find that the feedback is unwarranted, then you can disregard it.  

But if you do find there is truth to it, that’s even better! You know something more about yourself, and you are progressing in your recovery. Now you can do something about it. Dropping your guard and being open to feedback and criticism is vital in early recovery.


You make excuses for not doing recovery work. 

There’s no way around the fact that recovery takes work. In your recovery you have to do things you won’t want to do. You will be uncomfortable, and you will be challenged. This is how you will grow.  

It’s not hard to find reasons why it’s not a “good” time for recovery in your life. Recovery is something you have to prioritize. It will often mean sacrificing other important priorities at least for the time being. It can be easy to make excuses for not doing recovery work especially when it makes you uncomfortable.  

If the impulse comes up for you, remember that the growth that comes with dealing with our challenges is a far better path than staying in the misery of addiction. The more you invest in yourself and your recovery, the more you get out of it. Don’t sell yourself or your healing short by making excuses.


You avoid looking at the consequences 

Addictive behaviors lead to consequences and cause problems. Deep down you know this, but it can be hard to face the repercussions. 

The lies you’ve told have led to a loss of safety in your relationship. Your partner doesn’t trust you for good reason. The secrets you kept caused trauma and misery for you and those you care about. These things can be reconciled and be healed, but you have to first accept the reality of the present. 

Consequences are not your enemy. They are needed to see the reality of addiction and help bring you back to reality. They will empower you to change your behavior and the trajectory of your life. Don’t sacrifice the future of your recovery to avoid facing an uncomfortable truth in the present. 



Living in survival mode can be exhausting and destructive. Learning to surrender can be difficult process, but you’re worth it!

We are here to encourage you and help you in your recovery journey. Please feel free to reach out to anyone at Banyan Therapy Group if you’d like more support on your road to recovery.

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