It is generally accepted that addicts usually fail if they are only staying sober to please other people. Unless they are fully committed to sobriety it will just be too tempting for them to return to their old ways. This does not mean that the efforts of other people are without value. In fact their encouragement can be hugely important for those who are trying to stay sober. There may be days when it makes all the difference. The most vital encouragement in recovery though, has to come from within. To get the most of sobriety the individual needs to be their own cheerleader and motivational coach.
Encouragement can be defined as inspiring with courage, spirit, or hope. It can also be described as giving support to another person who is trying to achieve something. Encouragement can come from other people or it is even possible for the individual to inspire themselves by an inner dialogue – this is referred to as self encouragement.
The words encouragement and praise are often used interchangeably, but they refer to differing things. To praise somebody means to congratulate them on a job well done, but to encourage them is to positively acknowledge their efforts to achieve something. Even if the individual ultimately fails in their endeavor they can still benefit from encouragement. If the individual feels that the praise they are being given is undeserved they can feel patronized but encouragement is almost always welcome.
Encouragement is hugely important for people in recovery because:
* Even the most motivated individual in recovery will have days when they feel a bit low. The right encouragement can help them make it through these difficult times.
* Most addicts suffer from low self esteem, and this means that they can lack confidence in their ability to achieve things. Self esteem can be increased through encouragement.
* People perform better when they have other individuals supporting them. This is why professional sport teams perform much better in front of their fans.
* Negative thinking can be a dangerous trap for people in recovery, and people can fall into it without noticing. A bit of encouragement can help the individual overcome any negativity they might be experiencing.
* In order to build a successful recovery the individual will need to face some difficult challenges. A bit of encouragement will give them the extra motivation they need to achieve their goal.
* Most people underestimate their own abilities. It is only through encouragement that they become willing to go that extra mile.
Low self esteem can be a real problem for people who are trying to make a new life in sobriety. This refers to a situation where the individual evaluates themselves poorly – in other words they have low self worth. The individual may not only view themselves as a substandard human, but they also feel that this is their own fault. The dangers of low self esteem for people in recovery include:
* The individual may not believe that they deserve to get better. This is like admitting defeat before they have even started.
* If the individual does not put a high value on their own life they will not be willing to put much effort into improving it.
* People with low self esteem find it difficult to trust other people. This can mean that they struggle to find any support in recovery.
* If the individual believes that they are going to fail in recovery then it is highly likely that this will turn out to be the case. This is because people won’t put sufficient effort into a project that they believe is doomed.
* Such people bow easily to any type of peer pressure. This means that their former drinking and drugging friends will easily be able to tempt them back to substance abuse.
* The person with low self esteem finds it difficult to make any friends. This means that they will feel lonely and may use this as an excuse to relapse.
* It is common for people with low self esteem to try to hide this by being arrogant and opinionated. This can further alienate them from other people.
It is vital that when people become sober they work to increase their own self esteem. One effective way of doing this is through encouragement. As well as getting encouragement from other people the individual can also use self encouragement to keep them motivated.
Most addicts will know what it is like to self criticize. They have likely spent a great deal of time mulling over their inadequacies and failures. This type of negative internal dialogue can be highly destructive, and it can keep the individual trapped in their misery. Self encouragement is like changing the record. Instead of talking themselves down the individual decides to talk themselves up. The individual can benefit from self encouragement by:
* Focusing more on their own successes and using these as a springboard to further success. The fact that the individual has decided to live a better life can definitely be categorized as one of their great successes in life.
* The individual can become their own cheerleader. When they are faced with a difficult problem they can rely on their internal monologue to cheer them on.
* It is important that people in recovery believe that doing the right things will lead to positive results. By regularly reminding themselves of this fact the individual will be gaining encouragement.
* Sometimes when faced with pain on the path the individual can be tempted to give up. The person who relies on self encouragement can remind themselves that the pain of discipline is less severe than the pain of regret.
* The time when most people need encouragement is when they are facing failure. This is something that everyone in recovery will need to face at one time or another – they have to remind themselves that the only real failure is the person who gives up.
* Self encouragement does not mean ignoring faults or bad decisions. It just means that the individual learns from these and doesn’t waste time on unnecessary self flagellation – they accept that humans make mistakes but the goal is to try better next time.
* Techniques such as loving kindness meditation are wonderful for encouraging self motivation. The individual not only learns how to have compassion for other people but also for themselves.
There are many ways that people can find encouragement in recovery such as:
* Making use of inspirational recovery material such as books, audio talks, or even YouTube videos. A regular dose of inspirational material is as important in recovery as a good diet and exercise.
* Spending time with a therapist can encourage the individual to more fully explore their potential and stay motivated.
* Those individuals who belong to a support group are likely to find that this is a great source of encouragement. Other people in the group will be walking the same path into sobriety and they can cheer each other along.
* Self encouragement is hugely important for people in recovery because they cannot always rely on it coming from other sources.
* Those people who keep a journal in recovery are likely to find that this acts as a wonderful tool for fostering motivation. The individual can look back on their journey and be inspired by their own progress – this encourages them to keep on going.
* Achieving small things in recovery encourages the individual to tackle bigger challenges. It is a type of snowball effect that helps to increase self esteem and motivation.
* Those individuals who follow a spiritual path in recovery may find that this proves to be a wonderful source of encouragement. It is common for people who are on such paths to claim that some higher force is helping them along.
* Helping other people can also be a wonderful motivator for people. It is often the case that the individual who is offering to help is the one that ultimately benefits most from encounter.
* Talking to friends and family can be another important source of encouragement. These individuals will have at least an emotional investment in the success of the attempt at building a life in recovery.
* It is unreasonable to expect that other people are always going to be offering a steady stream of encouragement. Sometimes the individual will need to admit that they are feeling down before others will feel it is time to offer a pep talk.
* Some people find that certain types of music can act as an encouragement to work harder. A classic example of this would be runners who listen to the theme from Rocky on their mp3 player – this can motivate them to increase their pace.