Dealing with the Loss that Accompanies Recovery

One major factor of Rechanneling is addressing the perception of loss that occurs at the elimination of the negative behavior. A common consensus is that the replacement of the bad behavior with an honorable, preferably, superior one generates enough positive feedback to mitigate any feeling of loss, and the accompanying feeling of emptiness; this is a false assumption. It is human nature to grieve the absence of a behavioral attachment that has been part-and-parcel of your being for years. However, as the godfather of human potential assures us, “…the loss of illusions and the discovery of identity, though painful at first, can be ultimately exhilarating and strengthening” (Maslow 1968).

How is the transformation from anxiety, dis-ease, and maladaptive behavior to recovery affected by Kübler-Ross’ stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance? The dynamic that detriment-lost is compensated by value-acquisition does not eliminate the sense of loss. While adjustment is contingent upon adaptability to change as well as the subject’s personal dependency, the stages of grief-in-recovery, be they Kübler-Ross’ or amended models, provide the transforming subject a clearer recognition of the feelings of uneasiness that arise upon commitment-to-recovery and its corollary perception of loss and emptiness.


Prior to transformation, we dwell in a false reality of self-deceit and delusion. Reconciliation with, and recovery from immoral and maladaptive behavior is achieved only through unequivocal acceptance of our condition, and our willingness to change. As the foundation for action is established, this new awareness negates denial. When we choose to remain in-denial, we relegate blame to ‘others’―persons and circumstances that often have no tangible relationship to our condition. Our personal duplicity remains so ingrained, it challenges our potential to change out of fear of losing our illusory complacency. Unequivocal acceptance of our condition, a necessity for ReChanneling, encourages and facilitates the dissolution of denial.

Although Weber (1919) advises that “bearing the (foreseeable) consequences of [our] actions,’ requires that [we] be able to face realities ‘with inner composure and calm’” (Williams 2008), the discomfort caused by our fractured Beingness complex (mind, body, spirit) often expresses itself as anger directed at self, friends, strangers, loved ones, speculative entities, family―even irrelevant associations. It is all too easy to deny situational reality through blaming, nagging, and shaming ‘others’. The substance-abuser will blame the intoxicant―I was so high, I didn’t know what I was doing―rather than taking personal responsibility. Remedying a life consumed by dis-ease demands personal accountability; our anger a positive ramification as it instigates self-analysis necessary for recovery. Once we accept our condition, this anger, turned inward, can be a catalyst for deeper introspection and self-examination. Animosity is thus rechanneled to deliberation.

Many anonymous programs appeal to values based on religious beliefs where the bargaining stage is characterized by an attempt to negotiate with a ‘higher power’. Arbitrarily subordinating our will to that of another is a stultifying impediment to self-improvement. Scapegoating as substitution for personal accountability is a capitulation of the extraordinary power and will of the recovering individual. The only ‘higher power’ required for transformation is extant within us. Bargaining is a natural component of our defense mechanism. However, Rechanneling is less a negotiation than a positive acquisition towards transformation.

Depression manifests by an overwhelming sense of futility. Symptoms include the inability to function in a current job or family environment, emotional instability, and feelings of overwhelming hopelessness that often lead to thoughts of suicide. Depression is a conspicuous consequence of recovery because change is difficult, and loss formidable. This stultifying condition will linger even as we commit to recovery and conduct ourselves accordingly. Depression can reveal itself in lethargy, apathy, dispassion, anger, sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, a sense of isolation, guilt, inept social engagement, issues of execution, and substance-abuse. Robust self-evaluation of the cause(s) of our injurious behavior will assist in the amelioration of depression.

Acceptance is honestly taking full responsibility for the existential, behavioral reality of our condition―who we are, why we have become who we are, and why we persist to be who we are in light of associative feelings of uneasiness.


Until we begin the necessary steps towards transition, we remain dis-content. Contentment is a stasis of happiness, of satisfaction, synonymous to the fulfilling of purpose. Commitment to renewal is underscored by the acceptance of what can be altered, and what cannot, both fundamental to transformation. We cannot change the harmful actions of past events and circumstances, but we can confront them, analyze them, and place them into proper perspective. We can do likewise for things for which we are responsible, commit to not repeating them, and rechannel them to more worthy pursuits. Acceptance allows us to move beyond; it is recognition of the cause(s) and circumstance(s) of our condition which motivates our willingness to change that which is destructive. Acceptance leads to a renewed life with new potential, the breach to new possibilities.

Acceptance determines that we recognize the need and the means to confront and evaluate our current existence and its accessory behaviors. Whining that we want things to be different does not make them different. Rather than flailing about in our self-created, emotional morass of self-delusion and illusion, we need to clarify our role in our discomforting condition through introspection and inner-discourse, and strategize methods of reconciliation.

Acceptance is not acquiescence, resignation, or condoning. It is acceding to our ability to transform. We are endowed with a formidable capacity for change―the potential, no matter our disposition, to rechannel and modify issues that are psycho-physiologically detrimental to our innate goodness, thus granting accessibility to greater goodness.

In addition to the stages-of-grief proposed by Kübler-Ross and subsequent revisionists, there is another element or stage indispensable to resolution―that of ‘forgiveness’. We cannot hope to function as a fully conscientious being without absolving both our self and others whose behavior contributed to our negative behavioral addictions. This forgiveness, which underscores the attributes of compassion, love, and introspection, is indispensable to the revival of our innate goodness. The ability to forgive is essential for transformation so that we can disencumber ourselves of the unresolved antagonisms of resentment and hate. The manifestation of maladaptive behavior is a consequence of choice. By adolescence, we have been made aware, either by example, cultural maturation, or instruction, that behavior no longer hinges on the actions of others but remains, primarily, a function of our own cognitive decision-making. The realization of our need for accountability is facilitated by a deep awareness of self and its interconnection to others as we recognize our “humanity and [commit to taking our] place in the human community” (Bauer et al. 1992). This requires opening our hearts and letting go of our misplaced identities, expectations, and beliefs. It opens us to new possibilities. It encourages us to “break out of the old and rigid patterns of thought” (Paranjape 2007) and opens us to nerw possibilities. The act of forgiveness yields a future undetermined by the past, granting us the wherewithal to access our innate greater goodness.


Forgiveness is a virtue that must be embraced in order to promote a homeostasis within our Beingness complex. Forgiveness is imperative, even for those acts deemed unforgivable; recovery is severely inhibited when we allow past transgressions to overwhelm our capacity to transform. Forgiving is purification; forgiveness of others cleanses the forgiver more than the offender. Forgiveness does not excuse or forget the act but absolve us from fixating on the perpetrator. Forgiving is the overriding of bitterness with positive feelings, thoughts, and behavior. We forgive in order to promote change within our self; the act of forgiveness falls to the forgiver and, as forgiver we reap the benefits. It is not an easy task―to forgive. Our innate drive for vengeance can be formidable, and even offenses unremembered, subconsciously cry out for retribution. That is why, when we forgive, the rewards are considerable. Forgiving is the disposition of the bitterness and anger that permeates the mind-body-spirit complex, freeing up space for things beneficial to our transformation.

The act of self-forgiveness is more demanding than forgiving others because we treat our own perceived abominations more rigorously. An important aspect of the self-forgiveness process is experiencing the grief that accompanies the loss of an obsession that has, for so long, permeated our being.

Self-forgiving is the letting go of our guilt and the abandoning of the things that fill us with so much negativity, we leave little room for possibility. Our psyches are splintered by the internal clash between the self that wants to change, the consciousness that innately realizes its evolutionary potential, and the self that impedes and obstructs. (Mullen 2016)

In efforts to facilitate recovery, we must initiate inner-discourse by pitting our self as interrogator against our self as responder until we reach a unifying consensus. Self-forgiveness begins when we reach the conclusion that the disconnectedness, brought on by our unwillingness to confront our condition, becomes so fundamentally discomforting that resolution is essential for emotional survival.

It is imperative to realize that we are not alone nor are we bad; we are lonely, fractured, and ignorant. Acceptance of our condition and commitment to remedy initiates reparation. “Everything that is good, then, is good to the extent that it is unified in a balanced and harmonious way, and its being good is explained by its unification” (Kraut 2010). Errors in judgment are merely experiences when we commit to rectification. Vitz and Meade (2011) propose the following, inherent to the “healing aspects to self-forgiving which are said to explain its effectiveness”: Accessing our innate ability (a) to make self-reparation to atone “for that crime’s bad effect on the self”; (b) to reintegrate after splitting; in other words, to incorporate the core integrated person that results from the collaboration of our gain of our good self with the loss of our bad self; and (c) to self-transcend, which is the purpose of forgiveness and subsequent transformation.


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© 2017 ReChanneling
Dr. Robert F. Mullen