5 Minute Recovery: Self Assessment

Categories: General

The first post this month said, “Recovery is for Everyone.” I am taking a broad view of the subject because many many things in our lives take a costly toll on us. Failing to bounce back leaves us more and more diminished over time. And this state puts us at risk. If we are to win the fight of our lives, then we must recover from whatever takes a toll on us. To accomplish this we need a 5 minute recovery self assessment.

What do recovering people do?

This question hits a soft spot for me. I have compassion for people who are starting their second chance and find themselves feeling overwhelmed, disoriented, and confused. The number of things people are told they MUST DO is ridiculous. They even say recovery is a full time job. I find these kinds of messages confusing.

Let me explain, most people have a full time job and they can’t quit that to spend all day recovering from doing hard stuff. So, does recovery literally take all day or not? After being in many of these tight spots and hearing other people talk about these catch 22’s, I started to make things simple. I started coming up with 5 minute recovery tasks that make a practical difference.

These are things we might talk about over an extended period of time but as a practice they are cultivated consistently in about 5 minutes. With daily discipline these “do something strategies” change the way we think, feel, and act.

People in Recovery Practice Self Assessment

Has anyone ever asked you how you’re doing? If so, then you were just asked to complete a self assessment.

This is not a straight forward question and the answer is not always easy to come up with. Before you can answer this aloud, you must first do some reflecting on your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, attitudes, relationships, stress levels, vulnerabilities, risks, threats, etc. to determine what is going on with you and then you must decide if you want to tell the person asking this information. So now what seems like 5 minutes have gone by, the moment is super awkward, and you say, “fine” and go on with life.

If “fine” has become your standard answer then you are not alone. The problem with this is it disconnects you to vital information. You have an internal dashboard that gives you up to date information for managing your life. If you don’t look at the gauges then you won’t know if you are overheating or running out of gas. Checking your gauges can be very helpful and practical when it comes to avoiding a roadside emergency.

People in recovery learn to take a personal assessment by checking their
internal systems and making necessary adjustments or corrections.

Self assessment is like reading gauges on dashboard
Check Your Gauges

5 Minute Recovery Self Assessment

This simple 5 minute recovery self assessment has been done with thousands of people and it is a great way to practice personal awareness, mindfulness, or self reflection. The idea is to ask yourself a question and then to observe what follows. Each question will get 100 seconds of observation. With practice, you will become good at noticing things. You will see patterns emerge in your thoughts, feelings, and impulses to do something. In time, you will notice so much more.

Question #1: What is Going on Around Me?

By noticing what is going on around you, you can become aware of the way you experience life right now. This is a grounding exercise that can help you become aware of the world as it is and how that impacts you. For the next 100 seconds focus on the following fill in the blank sentence.

I am noticing ______________ is going on around me.

Question #2: What is Going on Because of Me?

We are initiators of action and our choices influence the events of our lives. By examining the outcomes from our behaviors we increase the opportunities to be responsible in the midst of daily life. This is not limited to behaviors, our feelings and attitudes can also influence choices and outcomes. This exercise can increase our sense of control and influence over the things in our lives. For the next 100 seconds, focus on the following fill in the blank sentence.

I am noticing because of my _______________ that _______________ happened.

Question #3: What is Going on Inside of Me?

As we turn our observation inward, through spiritual eyes, we see our inner experience of thoughts, feelings, and imperatives. This helps us connect to our true spiritual self. In time, we become aware of being. This connection is deeply regenerative as we notice our being in the midst of the whirlwind of daily life. For the next 100 seconds, turn your focus inward as you attempt to finish the sentence.

I am noticing _______________ is going on inside of me.


An honest assessment gives you the data necessary to make the best choices you can under the circumstances you face. Many people in recovery do some form of assessment. This 5 minute recovery self assessment is one my clients and I find easy and effective. Don’t just read this and think you know about it. Take 5 minutes and check in with yourself.

Author: Todd Davis, PhD, MFT, LADC

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