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12 Tips for Finding Your Sense of Purpose in Recovery


recoveryFear can be an effective short-term motivation for keeping you sober. If you are in a lot of mental or physical pain, you may be willing to change your behaviour in order to escape this suffering. The problem is that this type of motivation is probably not enough to keep you sober long-term. You are likely to forget your pain and fear as your life starts to improve. Unless you have a strong sense of purpose in recovery, you will be at high risk of relapse.

If your new life does not have a strong sense of purpose, even the fear of death might not be enough to keep you away from alcohol or drugs. You are going to have days when you think what the point is, but if you do not have a good answer to this then you might not be able to summon up the motivation to keep going. Having a sense of purpose in recovery is vital so, in light of this, here are 12 tips for how you go about finding it.

1. Stop People-Pleasing

If you try to live your life based on the expectations of others, you will not be following your own path. Being a people-pleaser can open some doors for you in life, but you actually end up losing more opportunities than you ever gain. In order to find your purpose in life, you need to be willing to go your own way.

2. Start a Daily Gratitude List

It does not matter how much good stuff enters your life if you just take it all for granted. The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh once wrote, “so many conditions of happiness are available – more than enough for you to be happy right now.” The purpose of committing to a gratitude list practice is one of you always being aware of the good things in your life – this only needs to take a couple of minutes each day. The fact that you are able to see how good your life is fills you with a sense of purpose, giving you the energy to obtain even more, as well.

3. Learn to Listen to Your Intuition

Your intuition is made up of a lot of unconscious information that would probably not make sense to your thinking brain. It contains everything you have ever seen, experienced, or read. This inner voice can lead you in the right direction once you learn how to listen to it. Following your gut means your life is sure to feel full of purpose, allowing you to tap into your hidden potential.

4. Choose to Believe that You Have a Purpose in Life

The idea that you have a purpose in life might sound a bit new age, but this claim can also be found in Humanist psychology. Abraham Maslow is famous for his ‘hierarch of needs’; one of these needs is self-actualisation. If you are living below your abilities and have not tapped into your potential, you are likely to feel dissatisfied with your life. It is as if people have an in-built need to blossom and reveal all they are capable of, but a feeling of lack of purpose arises when individuals are not actively doing this.

5. Be Flexible with Your Goals

Things are never going to work out exactly as you plan them, but this is actually one of the great things about life. You could likely achieve more in sobriety than you ever believed possible, so whatever goals you have will be self-limiting if you hold onto them too tightly. You need to be willing to deal with the unexpected twists and turns that are almost certainly going to be part of your future. You should set yourself goals, but there are going to be times when you need to change course. As long as you know that you are on the right path, you do not have to worry about the destination too much.

6. Be Willing to Leave Your Comfort Zone

Developing routines is a good thing to do in early recovery as it gives you a solid foundation that keeps you safe. The danger is that if you become too attached to your routines, it can actually start to limit your life. This is because you get used to staying in your comfort zone, which is bad because in order to reach your potential you will need to regularly push yourself and try unfamiliar things.

7. Keep the Faith

There are going to be times when life feels unfair and the future looks bleak and uncertain. At these times, you need to have faith that you are still on your path and that something good will come of this current dose of pain. The reality is that these periods of suffering can be when you do most of your growing, and they will be easier for you to deal with if you treat them this way.

8. Keep an Open Mind

One of the lessons you should have learned due to your years lost to addiction is that you do not always know what is best for you. If your automatic response to new things is to just resist them, you will likely be pushing away important stuff that could benefit your life. Finding your purpose may involve activities that have little appeal to you at this moment, so you need to keep an open mind and be willing to try new things.

9. How Mindfulness Can Help You Find Your Sense of Purpose

Mindfulness can help you find your sense of purpose as it allows you to break free of your habitual thought patterns and behaviours. It also stills your mind enough so that good things can rise to the surface to where you are better able to see it. In order to benefit from mindfulness, you need to make this a part of your daily life – this could include practices such as meditation or Tai Chi.

10. Spend Time with People Who Seem to Have Found Their Purpose

Real success is not about wealth or how obsessed a person is about their job – it is all about a life full of joy and purpose. If you spend time around those who have this type of inner-wealth, it will inspire you as well. The things that give your life purpose may be completely different from the activities these individuals engage in, but you can still be inspired and motivated by their energy.

11. View Your Life as a Gift

It should never to be too hard to find a purpose in life once you stop taking things for granted. Being alive is an amazing gift once we stop taking it for granted. The opportunity to experience the wild ride that we call life can be enough to give it meaning and purpose – what else do you need?

12. Find Purpose by Helping Others

Devoting some time to helping others is one of the most powerful things you can do to give your life purpose. There is no higher achievement in life than being of service to other people – the incredible thing is that the more you focus on the need of others, the happier you become. This is not the same as people-pleasing because you are not doing it to try to manipulate others into liking you (or at least you shouldn’t be), you are instead doing it out of a sense of compassion.

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