Keep Open Mind in Recovery

Open-mindedness means being receptive to new ideas and different ways of seeing the world. It is rooted in humility and wisdom, and in awareness that you don’t have all the answers and so must be receptive to learning from others. In recovery, being open minded is an absolutely essential mental state that can make a huge difference in your ability to succeed.

A common expression among addicts in recovery is “My best thinking got me here.” By that they mean, believing that you had all the answers and do not need anyone else’s help leads directly to falling into the traps of addicted behavior. To undergo the radical change from addiction to recovery, you’ve got to posses the open-mindedness to try to think in new ways.

1. Being open-minded is an act of surrendering control, and surrendering control is the first step towards recovery

Opening up your mind means you are free from having to control your every thought. New ideas, experiences, and perspectives are brought in, and old ideas are challenged.  Under the throws of addiction, it’s easy to get caught up in the thoughts of your own head.

You may realize that your addiction is very harmful and beyond your control, but you have biases and mental roadblocks preventing you from taking the step towards recovery.  Open-mindedness allows you to escape these mental traps, by learning how to hold on to your thoughts more loosely and freely.

2. Addiction distorts your thinking, and so you need to think in new ways.

Addiction is built upon harmful mental blocks of denial, or not realizing you have a problem or thinking you can control it, and obsession, where your perspective disappears and the only thing that matters to you is finding your next fix.

These two distorted ways of thinking trap you into continuing with addictive patterns, and you need an outside perspective to recognize and challenge when you are falling into these patterns. The perspective of someone else can help you realize that is it possible to go one day without your drug, and can help you see how you deeply you are failing to keep your life under control.  It is only by being open-minded that you are able to listen to the outsider.

3. It is only by being totally present to discovering the truth that you are able to have a successful recovery

Yet it’s not enough to always be dependent on other people to tell you the truth about yourself. The most important part of recovery is learning how to change your own thinking, and to raise your self-awareness to see past your own self-deception.

Open-mindedness goes beyond simply listening to other people, but it also means having the willingness to reexamine your own thoughts and challenge yourself to think differently.  This is an important step to make, because it is only by making your recovery your own that it will truly stick.

4. Some things about recovery may be hard to grasp or practice at first, but are ultimately the key to your survival.

You are not alone in facing the powerful dragon of your addiction. You are part of a large community of people who have struggled, and discovered certain things that work in building a successful recovery.  A lot of what you hear from other people might not make that much intuitive sense at first, particularly if your brain is distorted by addictive habits.

By being open-minded, you open yourself up to a someone else’s experiences, and allow their story to teach you.  Simply going off your own ideas will not be as effective as learning from other people who might have had to learn things the hard way.

5. A Personalized and Flexible Program

Yet at the same time, everyone’s story is different.  What is incredibly effective for one person may not resonate with you as much.  That is why there is such a variety of programs, theories, and ideas about recovery out there. No one’s path to wholeness and recovery is exactly the same, and so you need to be open to things from a variety of sources, open to seeing whatever will work.

photo credit: Kyle Richner via Unsplash