The road to recovery from addiction is long and full of challenges. It can be hard to persevere in the face of setbacks and stay focused on sobriety. One thing that can help is staying focused on the process itself, rather than the outcome. Here’s why.
There are too many elements of recovery you can’t control.
It’s possible to do everything right in recovery and still relapse. Some important things are inevitably beyond your control. For example, consider biology. Scientists have discovered several genes that are more common in people with certain substance use disorders. Recovery is going to be much harder for someone with the genetic deck stacked against him. There’s nothing you can do about your genes–not at the moment, at least.
Or consider relationships. Some people have families that are supportive, willing to participate, and willing to help out after treatment and some people are pretty much on their own. When you are ready to repair your relationships after treatment, you have no control over whether the people you care about are willing to forgive you and let you back into their lives. Finally, life is unpredictable. A major shock like the death of a loved one or a serious accident is a challenge for recovery and not everyone will be able to handle those at whatever stage they happen to be.
You don’t have control over your genes, other people’s opinions of you, or random life events but you do have control over the process. You can commit to engaging with a treatment program and following a recovery plan.
There is no real endpoint.
Goals are often touted as essential for success. And to a certain extent, it seems obvious that having a clear goal focuses your energy. However, there are some real drawbacks to goals too. In the context of recovery, you can’t really set a goal to stay sober, since there is no endpoint. What’s more, when you depend on goals, satisfaction is always in the future. Then, at some point, you may achieve your goal, feel satisfied for a moment, then have to set another goal. If you focus on the process instead of goals, your reward isn’t endlessly deferred. You are less discouraged by setbacks that cause you to miss the deadline for a goal because you know you’re still on the right track.
Focusing on the process keeps you present.
Related to the point above, focusing on the process keeps you present. An end goal is always somewhere in the future but the process is happening now. Achieving a goal may lead to momentary satisfaction at some point in the future but focusing on the process is a way to feel more fulfilled in the present. This also keeps you from feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of staying sober indefinitely and instead focus on what you need to do today. You’re also more engaged when you see the process itself as valuable, rather than just a means to an end. Compare your attitude toward a 12-step meeting when you’re really listening and sharing rather than just waiting for a 30-day chip.
The challenge of sobriety is to stay engaged in a journey that never ends. One way to do this is to enjoy the process. At Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California, we help men fundamentally change the way they live so they can be happier and more fulfilled without needing drugs or alcohol. To learn more about our unique approach to addiction treatment, call us today at 855-202-2138.