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Recovery Growth: 4 Character Traits That Foster Change

How many times have you told yourself that you were going to stop a behavior, only to find yourself back at it in no time? Often, our well-meaning intention to abstain quickly turns out to be nothing more than that – an intention. For the millions who have suffered with an addiction, this is an all too familiar place. It is a place you want to leave in your past, but can you?

With the right mindset, you absolutely can.

Taking Inventory

For those who continue to do the inner-work, taking an honest inventory over thoughts and behaviors, patterns begin to emerge. These patterns are the external constructs of our inner-world, and they clue us in on whether or not we need to go back to the basics.

You see, I am a firm believer in sticking to what works. This does not mean people shouldn’t evolve and grow into new methods of healing and transformation. Some will even graduate into new ways of dealing with their challenges. But more often than not, if you find a new area of challenge, by applying the same principles that helped you emerge from primary addiction, you will reap a great reward. After all, there is a reason it worked in the first place, right?

Admitting that you have a propensity toward addictive behaviors is recovery 101, yet it’s always a little uncomfortable to get real about our patterns. It means we have to check our pride at the door. I have seen, with myself and with others, that specific mindsets create transformation. I have also learned there are ways of dealing with things that keep us perpetually stuck. This “stuckness” is the nature of addiction. It is also the nature of the human mind itself. We choose to stay stuck, rather than admit we are losing our power to something.

Change comes from being willing to remain a beginner. It requires that we are teachable – a student as opposed to the teacher. This is a mindset. A choice. People who continue to expand and grow are not only successfully transforming their outer-worlds, they also know that the secret lies in focusing on their inner-worlds.  If you are in the 12-steps or SMART Recovery, this is not new information. It’s a vital component of your recovery process.

Character Traits

So, what are the character traits of those who continue to transform into a deeper and deeper level of recovery?

  • Dedication:  They dedicate themselves to succeeding.  They may not know how and they may not even end up doing it gracefully, but inside, they have an inner-resolve.
  • Willingness: They are willing to admit they need help and are open to receive guidance. That guidance may come from an external source or from their Higher Power. Either way, they recognize that answer is not going to come from their own mind and they never “arrive.” They are always willing to keep looking at their stuff.
  • Humility: They are completely aware that they are not the doer. There is something bigger that is going to get them through whatever lies ahead and they submit themselves to this understanding.
  • Radical honesty:  They are able to be continually honest about where they are struggling and it doesn’t leave room for their mind to generate sabotage.

If you are currently in recovery, you may notice that these four character traits were required of you to get sober in the first place. You realized that you couldn’t carry yourself through. You certainly had to be radically honest with yourself, and you dedicated yourself to a new path. All of this together forms the willingness that brought you to where you are today.

So, it only seems logical that these traits would also work in other areas of your life – be it another addictive tendency or needing to grow your business. The thing about transformation is that the basic building blocks are applicable across the board. If you are looking at the places you’d like to be living life differently, ask yourself how much you have integrated these principles into that specific area of your life. Are you willing? Are you being honest with yourself? Are you remaining humble? And are you dedicated to stay the course?

In essence, these qualities of transformation are spiritual truths that have been passed down from the ancient sages and teachers. When embodied, the actions become clear and grace can come in to help us. There is a saying that God helps those who help themselves. In the spirit of humility, I am not going to say that I know this to be true. How could I ever know what God knows? What I do know, however, is that I haven’t met anyone who made zero effort and then, all of a sudden, everything just lifted. Some sort of effort always came before the grace.

…these qualities of transformation are spiritual truths that have been passed down from the ancient sages and teachers. When embodied, the actions become clear and grace can come in to help us.-Lesley Wirth

The Best Version of Ourselves

Although I wish there was an arrival point, apparently there isn’t one. We are always being asked to grow and stretch into the next best version of ourselves.  The good news is, there is always time to reap the rewards. We evolve and get to rest in that new place for a while. We get to remain here until things get uncomfortable again, and then we are being asked to evolve a little more.

Discomfort is like a signal, beckoning us to do the work that brings us closer to our Higher Power, to our hearts, and to peace. I invite you (and me) to remember that that this is the ultimate goal. We are not being punished; we are being invited to get closer to our true selves. The part of us that is free from all bondage.


Images Courtesy of iStock




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