The Miracle Question: What Does ‘Fully Healed’ Look Like for You?
Whether you are in recovery from an eating disorder, alcohol or drug abuse, addictive spending, gambling, or an addiction of another kind, all of these conditions have one thing in common: thoughts and actions related to your condition run the show in your life. After a period of time, almost every decision – from the kind of work you do (or don’t do), who your friends are (or aren’t), how you spend your free time (or maybe you don’t have time for free time because your disease is so all-consuming), where you live – is based upon accommodating the limitations imposed by your condition.
By the time you seek help, often the disease has wreaked havoc on almost every area of your life. This may have gone on for so long that it is difficult to even identify what areas of your life have been impacted and the effects on your day-to-day quality of life.
One strategy that I frequently use with my clients to help bring greater clarity is what I call the miracle question. Using this question can help you identify to what extent your condition is impacting and has impacted your life and how you live your life, from moment to moment, day in and day out.
Before I further explain the miracle question, it is important to understand something about the recovery process. More specifically, the puzzling and often frustrating thing about addiction and recovery is that it can feel like a roller coaster ride. You wake up Monday morning with a fresh resolve to follow your recovery program, determined to succeed, convinced that this is the last go-round of getting on and falling off the wagon; and by noon on Tuesday that feeling of optimism is ancient history. Recovery feels like a remote dream (or nightmare!) and a lost cause.
You wake up Monday morning with a fresh resolve to follow your recovery program, determined to succeed… and by noon on Tuesday that feeling of optimism is ancient history.-Joy Jacobs
Before you jump to this faulty conclusion, let me remind you of an important feature of addiction and recovery: the path to healing is often not linear, it is full of ups and downs, victories, near misses, feelings of defeat and “why bother.” Furthermore, depression created by the condition tries to convince you that recovery is useless, futile, and/or meaningless. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I am here to be your advocate for hope and change. And this is where the miracle question comes into play.
Close your eyes. Now imagine that when you go to sleep tonight, a miracle occurs. More specifically, while you are sleeping, your struggle is magically removed from your life. You wake up and no longer have your eating disorder, drug addiction, compulsive shopping habit, or other quality of life reducing problem. Here’s the clincher: when you wake up, you don’t know that this miracle has occurred while you slept.
What would be your first clue that a miracle had occurred during your sleep? How would you know you had been “cured”? Below are some responses I have heard.
I would know a miracle had occurred if:
- I woke up and did not hop on the scale immediately after getting out of bed
- I woke up without a crushing headache
- I woke up full of vitality, actually looking forward to my day
- I said good morning to my partner and felt fully “present” with them, not already trying to figure out when or how I could use again
- I was more patient and upbeat with my children
- I was less irritable or “edgy”
- I made a plan to meet a friend and actually kept it
- My wallet was full of money and my house was neat and clean
The different responses to this question are as varied as each of us.
Now I encourage you to take this a step further. Walk yourself, step-by-step through an entire miracle day, playing out what a miracle day – a day when you have been fully healed – would look like for you. Map out exactly what this day would be like from the time you open your eyes in the morning to the time you go to sleep at night. Then, compare your miracle day to what a typical day looks like for you now. My guess is that you will see dramatic differences between the two scenarios.
Walking yourself through this process will bring to light the many ways – big and small – your life has been impacted by your illness. More importantly, envisioning a day free of the shackles of your illness will illuminate the many ways your life will improve through the recovery process. This is particularly important when you are feeling beaten down, defeated, and wondering why bother.
Walking yourself through this process will bring to light the many ways – big and small – your life has been impacted by your illness.-Joy Jacobs
When you heal yourself, you heal the world around you. This world needs your best you. I’ve got your back. Are you ready to experience miracles with me?
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