As humans, it’s natural for us to have a competitive nature. However, this is not always healthy, especially in the case of recovery. When you are healing from a gambling disorder and the pain of the past, you may be feeling less confident which leads you to start comparing yourself and your recovery to that of others. Remember that everyone progresses at their own pace, and you are not weaker or stronger than another person based on the speed of your recovery. There is also no rule that says that everyone has to recover in the same way. Tactics that are helpful for you might not be helpful for someone else and vice versa. Here are a few simple tactics that we recommend trying out, but be patient with yourself as you do some trial and error to figure out what works for you.
1. Remember that you don't know their whole story
The reality is that comparisons are rarely accurate. You do not know the full stories of other people, you only catch a glimpse of what they decide to share with you. Especially in a world of social media, the people you are comparing yourself to may only be showing you their recovery successes, when they may be struggling more than they want you to believe. For all you know, the person you are comparing yourself to could be looking at your journey and wishing they could be as strong and persistent as you.
2. Talk to people
Connection is an extremely important part of the recovery process. When you are vulnerable with others, they are more likely to be vulnerable with you. This way, you can exchange your stories and your struggles, and you may find that your experiences are much more similar than you thought. Remember that you aren’t doing anyone any favors by pretending you have it all together - we are all human, and we all need support from others.
3. Start a gratitude journal
What are the things that YOU are grateful for, that are specific to your life? By writing down just 5 things you are grateful for every single day, your brain will automatically start to pick out the positive things in your life. You could also include things that you like about yourself, or things you accomplished throughout the day that you are proud of.
4. Celebrate the small victories
You should be proud of yourself when you reach a certain milestone, whether it’s being gambling-free for a week or for a year. Or maybe you notice that you haven’t compared yourself to anyone today. Document these moments, take a picture or write it down so that you can track your progress. These achievements are a sign of growth, and they deserve to be recognized and celebrated.
5. Focus on your personal growth
Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing - just focus on your own journey. Identify areas in your life that you need to work on, and put your energy into that. Try practicing mindfulness and meditation and try to recognize why you feel the need to compare yourself to others, and how you can come to appreciate yourself and your individual recovery journey. All the time and energy you put into thinking about what other people are doing, you could be using to focus on improving yourself.
Remember that recovery is not a competition. Everyone is wired differently, we all have different strengths and weaknesses, and everyone has different methods that are helpful to them. When you stop comparing yourself to others, you will find that you can truly be happy for them when they accomplish their goals. It doesn’t do anyone any favours to create an environment of competition, where someone else’s success feels like a loss for you. We’re all in this together and we should be able to celebrate each other’s success in recovery.
When you attend a residential treatment center like Algamus, you will be surrounded by other individuals who are facing similar challenges to you. Here we can all be honest about our recovery, our struggles and our successes, and learn to support each other throughout the process. If you or someone close to you is struggling with a gambling disorder, we encourage you to reach out to us and we can help you navigate this.