Motivation is often thought of as enthusiasm or a strong drive to do something. Sometimes motivation works that way, but usually, it’s more subtle and is more thought-based than emotion-based. The word “motivation” comes from the word “motive,” and its most basic definition is simply the reason we do what we do.
Here are some tips on staying motivated in recovery.
Don’t wait for a sense of drive or passion. When that’s our model, we can often fail to act at all. Sometimes we have to think our way into doing what needs to be done, and when we do, the sense of satisfaction that comes from that may increase our emotional drive.
As one psychologist who helps people who are overcoming addiction notes, “While you’re waiting on motivation, motivation is waiting on you. Because committed action comes first, and motivation comes second.”
Find a way to reward yourself for your successes. You’re more likely to feel motivated by your victories if you take time to savor and enjoy them. Be creative in finding what works for you.
Perhaps it’s having a favorite meal or calling a friend who’ll share your excitement. Maybe you’ll want to recreate a fun ritual from your childhood, like putting gold stars on a chart. Don’t take your progress for granted.
Find a way to remind yourself of your values and long-term goals continually. Do you value health? Good relationships with your family members? Succeeding in a career?
Keep those goals in mind when you have decisions to make about whether to do things like meditate, exercise or write in your journal. You may want to make a poster or keep a list easily accessible on your phone.
Pay attention to who you spend time with. Substance abuse treatment research shows that interactions with family, friends and community support groups can change motivation. Spend time with sober friends and family members who support your journey and attend support groups, either in person or online.
Don’t expect the motivation to remain sober to feel like the motivation to take drugs or drink alcohol. Substance addiction often has both a psychological and a physical component. The physical part is based on the tolerance the body develops for the substance.
Tolerance leads to physical dependence, and when you’ve become dependent, you experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t regularly consume your drug leading to a powerful biological drive. The drive to remain sober isn’t based on a similar mechanism and won’t feel the same.
If you’re going to use visualization to help yourself succeed, don’t just visualize yourself at the finish line. Visualize yourself completing the tasks needed to get there. Research shows that if you imagine yourself having already reached your goal, it may reduce your motivation to do what’s required to get there. You may want to visualize yourself getting addiction help, leaving a triggering situation or saying no to someone who offers you a drink.
Building motivation takes consistency and focus, but the rewards are worth the effort. Residential treatment can help by giving you the tools you need to discover the rewards of success. If you or your loved one need help, call us today at 1.844.675.1022.