“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” – Winston Churchill
When someone is in recovery from substance abuse, addiction, major depression or other mental health disorder, or a medical condition resulting from surgery, an accident, or disease, they’ve got a lot of challenges to face. A hard truth to accept is that not all of those challenges will result in successful outcomes – at least, initially. But that should never dissuade a person from giving their best effort in all instances, for it is only through perseverance and diligence that dreams can be achieved.
Yet, it is also true that most people find that it’s just too easy to become disheartened when things don’t go as planned or anticipated. That is human nature. Frankly, it doesn’t matter if the individual is in recovery or not. Human beings are subject to making mistakes, having clouded judgment at times, often being overly emotional about things when making decisions, and a litany of other contributing factors.
The tendency may be to blame time and place or say that it is just bad luck when it comes to success. But that’s an excuse, a rationalization employed instead of owning up to the truth: We didn’t keep at it, or gave up too soon.
There are good reasons to get discouraged, to be sure. These include attempting a goal without being ready for it, insufficient training, lack of knowledge or experience, and fear of succeeding or failing.
However, that’s all the more ammunition to keep plugging away at plans, going step by step until there is an achievement, at least some measure of success, such as progress along the way that can serve as the reassurance of being on the right track. This serves as motivation when perhaps nothing else will. How else can we explain the success of others who, by all outward appearances, have nothing going for them and seem doomed to failure? Yet, it happens every day that individuals do achieve tremendous success, reach what appears to be lofty goals, perhaps because of or despite the disadvantaged backgrounds they come from or have overcome.
What about those of us who have nothing positive in our history to point to? What if we are convinced that we messed up everything we’ve ever attempted or that we’ve made more mistakes than wise decisions for a long time? We can blame it all on someone else, our preoccupation with making money, an obsessive focus on relationships, or one or more addictions. To the extent that we took our eye off the ball and let our lives slipped into such disarray, or that we ignored symptoms that were evident to others, there may be some valid basis to such explanation. But it is still not owning up to our responsibility for what’s happened. After all, no one forced us to drink or do drugs. No one made us the way we’ve become. We did that. Granted, we may have a biological marker that is a contributing factor, say, to alcoholism that runs back generations in the family. Yet there are thousands of individuals with such markers who do not become alcoholics, so that explanation isn’t universal.
Suffice to say that if we have a bleak history concerning success, it is time to change that. Start working today to achieve small successes. It is necessary to start somewhere. Be sure, however, to make these reasonable goals that have a realistic chance of success. And some things qualify in this area. Take, for example, the goal to treat ourselves better, to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, to eat regular and well-balanced meals, and get some type of physical exercise each day. These are not tough goals. They should be ones that we can do and be successful in the attempt.
Little accomplishments will begin to add up. Here’s how it works. When we are properly nourished, well-rested, and have increasing amounts of energy because we are getting physical exercise to jumpstart our system, there are multiple physical, emotional, and psychological benefits. There’s no reliance on substances for a jolt or to numb reality. Therefore, welcome the opportunity to live clear-headed and free of alcohol and drugs. This is the path of healing from addictions. This is also an example of taking the first steps in a personal path of recovery from any medical condition, disease, tragedy, or emotional disturbance or illness.
Be sure too to make use of the support and encouragement that’s readily available to us from our family members and loved ones. Only those who are committed to our recovery can offer the kind of unflagging support that’s so crucial to ongoing progress.
Knowing that we have allies in our corner will go a long way toward easing our mind and allaying some of the fears about tackling goals, especially difficult goals and those that require an expenditure of time. Everyone who ever started recovery began from uncertainty and fear. Not knowing the future can be truly frightening.
Know that it is possible to get through this with perseverance and determination. It may not always be easy. It probably won’t be. But it isn’t out of the question, either. Life is precious. It is also short. Isn’t it better to live with the hope and expectation of doing the best to be happy and productive and fulfilled? One of the most positive aspects of perseverance is that it is self-renewing. The more we persevere, the more we want to continue, and the clearer the goal or objective becomes. Should obstacles arise, having a strong commitment to perseverance can sometimes lead to the discovery of alternative ways to achieve desired goals or different paths to the result.
Be comforted that millions of individuals now in recovery have been down this road and have found hope, comfort, peace, happiness, and love. We can too, as long as we persevere, never give in, and never give up.
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This article was originally published on Psych Central.
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