The Lighthouse: What is the Purpose for Your Recovery?
Recovery can often feel like a roller coaster. The hard work of recovery – recovery of any kind – often takes the form of high drama. It is filled with “good” days and “bad” days, confessions, and reparations – personal, professional, familial, health-related, and so on. Recovery is filled with times when you feel like you’re on “safe” ground from your former addiction, only to be sideswiped by an unexpected event which makes you want to run for the food, drink, and/or drug of choice from your past.
The vicissitudes of recovery are undeniable.
Anyone who has been through it knows the journey only too well. So how do you ride it out? How do you stick with a process that often feels so grueling, difficult, and filled with moments of humiliation and defeat?
…a person who has a ‘why’ can bear almost any ‘how.’-Dr. Victor Frankl
This is when I fall back on the teachings of one of my favorite writer-philosophers, Dr. Victor Frankl. Frankl was an Austrian psychoanalyst who survived Auschwitz and recounted his experiences in a book titled Man’s Search for Meaning. He chronicled his experiences and those around him who survived the Nazi concentration camps and studied what it was that kept these hostages going, even amidst unspeakable horror and suffering.
Frankl concluded that a person who has a “why” can bear almost any “how.” What did he mean by this? In essence, if a person sees a purpose in his or her own existence (i.e., a personal “why” for existing), then he or she can bear almost any circumstance, no matter how difficult (the “how”).
This message – of finding meaning in suffering – is highly applicable to the recovery process and can make a life changing difference in the course of one’s own recovery.
Personally, I have found this principle to be a very helpful and important tool for my clients. Identifying a purpose for your recovery can help you stick with the process, no matter how difficult it can and does become. If you have a vision for your life, if you can imagine what it will look and feel like when you are recovered, you have motivation and inspiration to work through the difficulties that are part of the process, rather than simply giving up and returning to the addiction when times get tough.
The key is to use those moments as opportunities for learning, not as signs of total defeat. Each slip-up has something to teach you…-Joy Jacobs
To be sure, even with purpose and commitment, there will inevitably be moments where things don’t go as planned, where you find yourself slipping into old patterns, or seeking out old ways of coping. The key is to use those moments as opportunities for learning, not as signs of total defeat. Each slip-up has something to teach you; you need only look for the lessons to be learned.
Identifying the purpose for your recovery – those things that make you know there must be and is a better way to live – are your beacons for recovery. These are the things you must turn your gaze to when defeat is feeling near. The key to successful recovery is not avoiding all slip-ups. It is about getting back on track as soon as you can after a slip up has occurred.
Identifying your purpose and your passion will carry you through.
So, if you have not yet identified the purpose of your recovery, do so today. It will become your lighthouse, even on the darkest of days or nights. That beacon of light – your vision for the future – will help you tap into the light within you as you progress on your journey back to health.
Keep shining on! The world needs YOUR light.
Related Reading: What Does ‘Fully Recovered’ Look Like for You?