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Achieving Recovery Success: Willpower vs. Habit


By Nina Laltrello - Posted on 02 February 2016

"Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality."--  Abraham Lincoln



By now the resolutions, that most people had set to enter 2016, have begun to fade.  Goals and New Year’s resolutions are great for vision, but lack the mechanics to get one to successful completion.  

Sustained successful recovery cannot be attained with vision or willpower alone. Willpower is the unwavering strength to carry out one’s wishes. Willpower is instinctual but needs help to be sustained.  This is where mastery of self-control, repeated over time creates sustained successful recovery.  If addiction is “habits to the bad”, successful recovery is “creating habits to the good”.  “Pushing the dark out” is hard.  “Inviting the light in” is so much easier.  

We are social beings innately. If we are not touched, loved, and nurtured we are at risk for dying in a condition known as “failure to thrive”.  Addiction is a disease of isolation.  Connection is the antidote to addiction.  Often at one’s darkest hours in the addictive process one feels completely alone, misunderstood, gripped with fear for being found out for their actions, and afraid if people “knew the real them” they would be rejected.  One knows they cannot continue as they are, but in quandary about how to get out of the disease and never ending cycle of addiction. 

12-Step programs, therapy, therapeutic treatment groups, connection with program and group peers, all help us come out of isolation and gain support for the journey.

Achieving success in recovery is more than self-control. Self-control gets tiring. Self-control is strengthened like a muscle through repeated habits.  Habits help create the innate sense.  Habits help us achieve mastery and override fear. Habits “to the good” help us feel a mastery of control and increased sense of self-esteem.

Additionally, finding others to cheer you on, carry you when you are weak, and cheering others on in a recovery community, help gather sustenance and energy for continued momentum. 

See the vision, have the willpower, do the work to create good habits, and don’t go it alone!

 

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