The life of the addict usually involves shirking responsibilities and hiding from difficulties. The substance abuser believes that the key to life is to avoid problems, and they do this by approaching the world through a cloud of intoxication. When people become sober they need to adopt a new attitude. If they fail to do so they will not find much happiness in their new life. One of the more important mental attributes that the individual will benefit from fostering is a bit of tenacity.
Tenacity can be defined as, the quality of being determined to do or achieve something; firmness of purpose. Other words are used to describe this quality including:
The words stubbornness and tenacity are similar, but they tend to be used to mean slightly different things. To say that a person is stubborn is usually a negative description while tenacity is a positive direction. This is because stubbornness most often refers to not doing something while tenacity is about doing something. This is better understood by comparing actual examples of how the words are used:
* The stubborn child would not obey her parents.
* The tenacious entrepreneur kept working on his dream until he made it a reality.
The opposite of tenacity is irresolution. It refers to a situation where people are unsure about how to proceed and how to act. The individual who is irresolute is not capable of taking determined action. This type of attitude can be particularly dangerous for those who are recovering from an addiction. It can mean that the individual fails to take the steps needed to build a good life away from alcohol and drugs. This irresolution can cost the individual their sobriety or at the very least mean a life in recovery that this less fulfilling than it could be. Those who remain caught in addiction do so because of irresolution and ambivalence towards recovery.
The scientist Louis Pasteur once claimed:
> Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.
A tenacious attitude in recovery is important because:
* In order to build a successful recovery the individual will need to face challenges and overcome these. Those who are easily put off by obstacles in their path will struggle to build a good life away from alcohol and drugs.
* A tenacious attitude will greatly increase the likelihood that the individual will remain sober long term because it will keep them motivated. Some people can begin their recovery feeling highly motivated but they run out of steam after a few months.
* The individual who is tenacious will not settle for just being sober. They will work to create the best possible life for themselves.
* Those who act this way in recovery are inspirations to other people who are still struggling with their sobriety.
* Tenaciousness is an appealing personality trait because the individual will tend to have a can do attitude. This positive attitude tends to attract other people.
* This type of person will find it easier to deal with adversity in life – in fact they are more likely to thrive on it.
* Tenacity can help the individual succeed at almost anything they put their mind to. This means it will be good for their career as well as their personal projects.
* It leads to increased self esteem, and this is important because many addicts suffer from low self esteem. When people do not value themselves highly they tend to sabotage their own goals in life – so increasing self esteem is vital for people in recovery.
Thomas Huxley said:
> Patience and tenacity are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness.
When people first become sober they may be lacking in tenaciousness. However, they can develop this positive attribute:
* Tenacity can become a habit. In the beginning the individual may have to really push themselves to but eventually this spirit of doggedness becomes part of who they are.
* In Alcoholics Anonymous they sometimes suggest that newcomers should fake it to make it. By acting tenacious the person can develop that attitude for real.
* In order to develop tenacity the individual needs to set themselves meaningful goals. If the goals are not really meaningful the person will not put enough effort into achieving them.
* Journaling in recovery is helpful because it reminds the individual of their goals and it allows them to track their progress.
* Humans are strongly influenced by the people they spend their time with. This means that the individual can benefit from being around successful people and limiting contact with those who are constantly negative.
* If people have the right attitude towards challenges in their path it will make things much easier. Rather than seeing obstacles as in the way it is better to view them as an opportunity to grow.
* It is important that people are able to recognize the difference between stubbornness and tenacity.
* People can achieve amazing things in recovery, but it is important to set realistic goals. If the individual sets the bar too high they may be setting themselves up for later disappointment.
* It is better to be processes orientated rather than goal orientated. This is because people spend the bulk of their existence on the path to goals rather than achieving them – if they appreciate the path they can enjoy much more of their life.
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