You don’t have to know anything about twelve-step recovery to use this tool; it applies to everyone. When you are faced with a choice, take the hard choice, and ninety-nine out of one hundred times it will be both the sober choice and the healthy choice. When it comes to addiction, what comes naturally for the addict is his or her sickness—the easy choice. The recovery-supportive choice is always difficult. It should be noted that the easy choice also comes more naturally to people in general; however, addicts are especially vulnerable to it. For a given characteristic, such as how we deal with anger, we tend to gravitate toward one end of the spectrum or the other. We either tend to be too reactive or tend to repress our anger. In either case, the hard choice is to seek the middle ground. Addicts in early recovery should be making as few choices as possible since, when it comes to their addiction, they are the last people to know what is best for them. Try to have no expectations of others, especially family. By having no expectations, we can be just as grateful when good things happen, and yet if there is a bad result, we do not set ourselves up to be more disappointed, hurt, or angry. Typically, most of our expectations are unhealthy, unspoken, and/or unrealistic, and this contributes to the escalating conflict in the addicted home and in relationships overall. Furthermore, when we have no expectations of others we are much less likely to judge them and more likely to be at peace with ourselves, and to recognize that we are the only ones we can change. Understand the relationship between hurt and anger. Remember, as children we learn unconsciously that it is either not okay to be hurt or not okay to be angry, and we develop an internal switch such that if anger is not okay, that switch is flipped and anger is either never expressed or is outwardly expressed as hurt. This basic understanding of the relationship of hurt to anger touches on so many aspects that are critical to recovery from addiction and to living in a broken world. The main thing to recognize as a tool of recovery is that if you have an easier time expressing anger outwardly to others than hurt, then one of your main focuses in recovery should be on bringing to the surface and expressing your repressed hurt. This may be extremely difficult and at times frightening, but with help, it is freeing and crucial to your peace of mind. In the opposite vein, if you have an easier time expressing hurt outwardly to others than anger, it is your repressed anger that needs to be the primary focus. It may require the help of a therapist, psychologist, or other professional to do this, but it is well worth the effort. One simple way of beginning this process is to do this exercise: if anger comes easiest, the next time you become angry, take a step back afterward and ask yourself, “What was going on there that I might have been hurting about?” If you express hurt most frequently, do just the opposite. This blog post is an excerpt from Finding a Purpose in the Pain – A Doctor’s Approach to Addiction Recovery and Healing – by James L. Fenley, Jr., MD; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP).