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Gaining Perspective Through Outdoor Exploration

“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”
-Ansel Adams

People in recovery from addiction, trauma, and mental illness often hear about gaining perspective, but what does that mean? More importantly, what steps can one take to gain perspective?

When using outdoor exploration as a form of therapy, the steps to gain perspective are quite simple: get out into nature and see the true beauty the world has to offer. The experience of wilderness therapy and outdoor exploration can be transformative.

Embarking on an outdoor trek requires mental courage similar to that necessary for recovery. Both necessitate preparation, planning, endurance, sacrifice, strength, and resilience. Outdoor exploration also allows us to exist simply and purely, which helps us get back in touch with ourselves in our natural states.

Our Experiences are a Form of Exploration

American photographer and wilderness advocate, Ansel Adams, captured the American landscape’s raw beauty in his famous black and white photos. Wilderness photographers capture the perspective of their experiences through the pictures they produce. However, we do not see the work put into gaining such a view.

We do not see the hours spent learning to use photography equipment or the miles of hiking and time spent waiting for the light to be “just right.” All we see is the final product of their explorations and the collective hours of their expertise.

The photograph represents the result of a perspective gained –or more accurately—earned. Most of our recovery journey is private, and most others will not see the hard work that it takes. However, they will see the result of our hard work and commitment.

When you begin your recovery journey, ask yourself this: “How do I want to see myself at the end of this journey?” Meditate on questions like “Who do I hope to become through time and dedication to my recovery?”

The Recovery Journey and Wilderness Exploration

The recovery journey is much like setting out on an exploration of the wilderness. First, you plan the trip. Where are you going? How will you get there? Are you ready to start now, or do you need more knowledge first? Recovery is a personal experience. Only you can determine your readiness.

Everyone begins with a different level of preparedness and a different set of strengths. What skills, knowledge, and characteristics do you already possess? What do you need to know before setting off into the unknown challenges of recovery? Much like a wilderness explorer, you will face unanticipated obstacles, so be prepared for the journey!

Next, we determine what we need and what we can carry throughout the process. In your recovery journey, what will you need to support you? What will have to be left behind? As you go through the process, ask yourself, “Did I bring something that is beginning to weigh me down?”

Much like a wilderness explorer, we often overpack or under-pack on our first journey. These oversights and mistakes contribute to obtaining an improved perspective. What negative thoughts are weighing you down? What support do you need to make it through to the end? Then, we get out there!

We have determined our readiness, packed up our bags, and planned our destination, so let’s go! This is where you will learn the most – by getting out and doing something. In recovery, this could mean a few different things, like going to therapy, attending a group session, starting medications, or going to a rehabilitation center.

This could also be the act of literally getting out into the wilderness. Like an explorer, you will face challenges and unforeseen obstacles on your journey to recovery. You will have to learn to be flexible, to re-evaluate, and make adjustments as you go.

Chances are that you may even get lost and need to ask for additional help or support! When setting out on an outdoor adventure, an explorer learns about their resiliency, their strengths, and what they truly need to achieve their objectives. Be ready and willing to learn!

Reflection After the Journey

Once your exploration of the outdoors has been completed, you enter the final step: reflection. What did you learn? What worked for you and what didn’t? Did you “overpack” or “under-pack”? Are you now more ready for future challenges in your life due to the knowledge you have gained?

What perspective have you earned from this process? How do you see yourself now that you have explored the great outdoors and proved to yourself that you can climb a mountain or live with less baggage? Reflect on your experiences by journaling or reviewing pictures you may have taken on your journey and be proud of your accomplishments!

Any explorer worth their salt knows they can’t set off into the wilderness on their own; you need companionship, guidance, and a roadmap. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find a sober living community ready to provide you with the tools you’ll need on the journey to sobriety. If you’re ready to get sober, it’s time to lean on the experience and strength of others who have come before you. Sobriety is not as uncharted as it may seem. Through a holistic recovery program, you can heal spiritually, mentally, and physically – you just need the time to do so. At Camelback Recovery, you’ll find the community you’re looking for and the experienced guidance you need. Give us a call at (602) 466-9880. Getting sober isn’t easy, but it can be an exciting period of your life, filled with transformational experiences and incredible growth.