16 Jan Doing Your Part: What It Means to Be Part of a Community
Being a part of a sober living community means learning to be responsible and do your part. How you live, how you behave, and how you interact with others have an effect not only on yourself but also on the other people living with you. As an active part of a community, you should learn to recognize your role in a community system.
Being Part of a Community Begins With Self-Awareness
A true community is more than just people who live together or share common characteristics. When it comes to sober living, the goal of the community is to create unity by sharing interests and goals. That begins with the individual and their ability to gain self-awareness.
Self-awareness is the ability to see how your thoughts and actions do or do not align with your core beliefs. In short, do you lead by example? A 2014 author manuscript published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences examined self-awareness in people with addiction. The empirical evidence they gathered suggests those with addiction have a deficit in terms of self-awareness, leading to self-destructive behaviors. Therefore, it is important to address self-awareness in therapy and in your own learning. Your efforts ensure that you are putting your best foot forward when you enter a sober living community.
Accepting Responsibility for How You Live
Maintaining unity within a sober living environment is also dependent upon each person accepting responsibility for how they live. Sober living communities are guided by a set of rules that everyone is asked to abide by. The structure sets up accountability and an understanding of what is expected of you. Additionally, there are social norms to follow that demonstrate respect for yourself and others.
When you make a mistake, break a rule, or get in a fight with someone, you take responsibility for your actions. This includes apologizing, doing what you can to right the wrong, and most importantly, not repeating the behavior. You must demonstrate that you have learned from your mistakes. After all, simply apologizing or even righting the wrong is not enough. Truly accepting responsibility for how you live involves being willing to learn from the things you have done and do your best to improve the next time.
Behaving Responsibly Affects Everyone
When you do your part and behave responsibly, everyone in the community benefits. Responsible behavior promotes positive growth, encourages bonding within the community, and helps everything to run smoothly. When you accept responsibility for everything that you do, you are being accountable to yourself and to the entire community.
The opposite also holds true. When you behave irresponsibly, your actions impact the entire community. Negative words and actions can have a ripple effect throughout the community and disrupt the harmony of the group. Things you do can trigger others or lead to conflicts that further disrupt the community. When you are part of a community, your responsibility extends to the entire group. Unquestionably, your choices don’t only impact your own life.
Learning to Interact With Others Improves the Community
A collaborative narrative study from 2019 published in Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment Learning suggested that building and maintaining healthy social relationships are important to the longevity of a successful recovery. Sober living provides opportunities to learn how to interact with others within a community. Some people may be more difficult to get along with than others, but it is important to learn to interact with everyone within the community.
By learning to build and maintain healthy friendships and interact well with everyone within the sober living community, you are also improving the community. Connecting with other people and establishing bonds based on the commonalities you share in recovery helps strengthen the recoveries of each person involved in the community.
The Community Is a Reflection of Each Individual
Aristotle said that “The whole is greater than its parts,” and in a community, that is the ideal. Individuals who come together to form something greater than all of them is the goal of a sober living community. However, when it comes to people, the opposite can also be true, that the community is a reflection of each individual within the community.
To put it another way, “One bad apple spoils the whole barrel.” A sober living community is dependent upon each person stepping up to the plate and committing to do their best, live with self-awareness, integrity, and accept responsibility for their actions. When you do your part each day to completely commit yourself to your recovery and to the sober living community, that will be reflected in a positive light in the community as a whole.