One of the hardest thoughts to deal with in recovery is “why bother.” 

Of all the distorted thoughts that kick our ass in recovery, “why bother” is one of the toughest ones for me to shake. 

It seems such a simple thought. Surely a smart, committed person “should” be able to put it in its place pretty easily, no? 

Not so much, as it turns out. 

“Why bother” particularly decimates me when I’ve been struggling to follow through on my recovery commitments. 

This will sound familiar to many people also in recovery: I will come through a bad patch, having made series of decisions or commitments about what I will or won’t do going forward. 

Then— life will happen. Stress will happen. Bad days will happen. Interpersonal difficulties will happen. 

Triggers will happen. 

Consequently my resolve to follow through on those decisions and commitments will weaken or dissipate— and I’ll cave. 

It won’t be a relapse, exactly— but I’ll find my streak of bad days extended, when I thought I was at a turning point. 

It’s an enormously discouraging experience. 

That’s when the “why bother” monster shows up and does the most damage. 

When I’m picking myself up and trying to dust myself off, having NOT bounced back from a streak of bad days…that deceptively simple thought will occur to me. 

“Why bother?” 

It’ll invariably be followed by other thoughts that make me progressively more discouraged. 

Why bother? You’re already on a bad streak, what’s another day? 

Why bother? You know you’re going to hit another bad streak eventually. 

Why bother? The day is almost over anyway, doesn’t it make more sense to start fresh tomorrow? 

My depression, addiction, or trauma will USE that simple, intrusive “why bother” question to insert more of their BS (Belief Systems) into my head. 

And the worst part is, when the conversation in my head had led off with “why bother,” my ability to argue back is ENORMOUSLY weakened. 

The only way I’ve found to effectively push back against why bother is the single word: “because.” 

“Why bother?” “Because.” 

Yes. I know the word “because” doesn’t ACTUALLY answer the question “why bother?” 

But here’s the thing: “why bother” doesn’t actually HAVE a great answer. 

It’s not an honest, good faith question. 

“Why bother” is never anything more than your— my— depression, anxiety, or trauma trying to get its foot in the door. 

Consequently, engaging the “why bother” monster with good faith dialogue is pointless. 

It’s not asking in good faith. It will not argue in good faith. 

“Because” is absolutely a dismissive answer— and “why bother” DESERVES a dismissive answer. 

It may not be a particularly motivating answer— but in recovery, we cannot let our decisions be made solely by how motivated we do or don’t feel in any given moment. 

We all have our individual reasons for even making the effort to be in recovery— but the “why bother” monster doesn’t care. ANY substantive answer we give to “why bother” will be met with a shrug and yet another disingenuous question. 

Do not engage the “why bother” monster.

Just get in the habit of responding with, “because.” 

“Why bother?” “Because.” 

“Why bother?” “Because.” 

“Why bother?” “You know why. Because.” 

“Why bother” will derail our recovery if we seriously engage it. “Because” isn’t supposed to answer its question— it’s supposed to set aside the entire conversation while you take the teeny, tiny, realistic baby step you need to take RIGHT NOW to get back on track. 

One thought on ““Why bother?”

  1. It’s especially bad when other people encourage the “why bother” attitude about the things I need to do to progress. “You’ve made it this far without trying to recover, why bother going through all this pain trying to make things better?” “It’s stupid to put yourself through all this at your age.” “Just relax and do what you enjoy. Recovery is for young people.”

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