There is only one sane reason to be in recovery, to work on your emotional and behavioral struggles: to feel better.
Not to please somebody else. Not because you “should.”
The truth is, nobody HAS to be in recovery.
Yeah, sometimes we’re pressured to work on our issues by an external situation— we want to keep our job, or we want to save a relationship, or we want to avoid a legal consequence.
But the real reason any of those things are meaningful to us in the first place is because we want to feel good, and we want to avoid feeling bad.
A lot of the stuff recovery asks of us is a huge pain in the ass.
It asks us to not do stuff we want to do in the moment.
It asks us to develop coping skills and tools that are often lame compared to what we REALLY want to do.
Recovery asks us to set goals and make plans— and goal-setting and planning can often be intimidating or boring.
When we get into recovery, some of the spontaneity is necessary sucked out of life. We have to think ahead, which we often don’t like to do— and we often kind of resent doing.
Why bother with any of this “recovery” nonsense at all?
There’s only one good reason: because working a recovery program will help us feel and function better.
Feeling better has to be a realistic goal of recovery.
If realistically feeling better isn’t on the table, recovery’s not gonna work. Our brain will reject it.
Not only does feeling better have to be an explicit goal of recovery, the PATH to feeling better through our recovery plan has to be straightforward and believable.
We can’t be like, “I’ll do all this stuff, change my behavior, direct my mental focus, make changes to my social circe and daily routines, and then…somehow…things will get better? I guess?”
The stuff recovery asks of us is too difficult to NOT have a clear path to feeling better laid out.
Then, when that path IS laid out, we need to remind ourselves, as many times as necessary, where that path will lead us.
Recovery is not just about giving things up. It’s about gaining things we really want.
Recovery is not just about working hard. It’s about enjoying— what a concept!— the rewards of our hard work.
The temptation is going to be, when we’re designing and working a recovery program, to focus on all the things that need to change— which necessarily means focusing on a lot of work.
In order to realistically recover from depression, anxiety, addiction, or trauma, we need to change a lot of our mental and behavioral habits— and those habits have been over rehearsed for a long time.
We have literal grooves in our brain because we’ve been doing and thinking and feeling the same stuff, year after year, for decades.
Changing our lives means changing our brain— and our brain does not WANT to change.
Our brain specifically makes habit change painful, because it wants us to keep on keeping on.
This is why recovery is such a pain.
It’s also why we need to remember and focus on— intentionally, vividly, emphatically— the upside of why we are doing this.
We need that new movie— the movie of what our better feeling, better functioning life will look and feel like— playing on the movie screen inside our head.
We need to make that movie exciting and dramatic.
We deserve to feel and function better.
Which is why we deserve recovery.
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