Adopting a Growth Mindset for Addiction Recovery
Making the decision to get sober requires rethinking every aspect of your daily routine, as well as your own personal beliefs.
Shifting your perspective to promote a growth mindset is one key way you can help build the foundation for sobriety.
Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset
The concept of a fixed mindset vs. a growth mindset was developed by Carol S. Dweck, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. She believes success in any given task can be largely attributed to whether someone has developed a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
A fixed mindset says that change is impossible. Someone with a fixed mindset believes in addiction stigma, thinking that they deserve continued suffering because of their previous actions while they were intoxicated. They blame a lack of willpower, a traumatic childhood, a stressful job, or friends who drink heavily for their substance abuse.
A growth mindset says that we all have the power to make positive life changes. Someone with a growth mindset believes they have the potential to grow and learn new skills, no matter what has happened in the past. They acknowledge the mistakes made due to the influence of drugs and alcohol, but remain committed to moving forward with their efforts to build a sober life. They know change won’t be easy, but they keep working towards their goal despite facing challenges and obstacles along the way.
Benefits of a Growth Mindset
Trevor Ragan, motivational speaker and founder of Train Ugly, uses the story of the zoo tiger and the jungle tiger to explain the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. The zoo tiger’s needs are technically being met, but his cage keeps him from enjoying all the world has to offer. The jungle tiger has to work a little harder, but he has the freedom to choose his own path and learn new things each day. Switching places with the zoo tiger would give him a more comfortable life on the surface, but he wouldn’t be truly happy without the opportunity to grow.
When you’re in recovery, a growth mindset prevents you from getting stuck in a victim mentality. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and powerless to confront your substance abuse, you know that you can take sobriety one day at a time and work towards creating a better future for yourself. Instead of being stuck in the cage of addiction, you have the freedom to fully explore the world around you.
How to Develop a Growth Mindset
Although some people naturally gravitate towards a growth mindset, anyone can change their perspective when faced with a difficult task. Here’s how:
- Reflect on your past. Think about a time when you wanted to learn a new skill or make a change in your life. This could something as simple as learning how to ride a bike, cook a favorite meal, shoot hoops, or play a musical instrument. The details don’t matter as much as the process you used to reach your goal. When you failed the first time, did you give up? No! You picked yourself up, thought about what you could do differently, and tried again. Eventually, you succeeded in doing what you set out to accomplish.
- Set short-term goals. Another way to help change your perspective to a growth mindset is to set short-term goals that support your long-term goal of staying sober. Your short-term goals might be completing a 30-day residential treatment program, finding a 12-Step sponsor, writing in your journal daily for the next month, applying for at least one job per week, or going to yoga class at least twice per week for the next six months. Breaking down your primary goal of staying sober into smaller steps helps you celebrate the progress you’ve already made instead of feeling discouraged by the work you still need to do.
- Find a role model with a growth mindset. A sober role model who has worked to manage triggers, overcome cravings, and develop a new identity free from substance abuse provides a constant reminder that change is possible. Role models who are willing to share their successes, as well as the times when they’ve slipped or relapsed, show you that one mistake doesn’t make you a “failure” at recovery.
How Waypoint Recovery Center Can Help
Of course, simply having a growth mindset isn’t enough. Believing you can change is an important first step, but you also need to work with your care providers to find the treatment options that are right for you. This might include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Medication assisted treatment
- Experiential therapy such as art, music, and drama therapy
- Holistic treatments such us massage, chiropractic care, and acupuncture
Waypoint Recovery Center’s treatment services are customized to fit individual needs, providing a full continuum of care that supports clients throughout the recovery process. If you’re ready to make a change, our evidence-based treatment options can give you the tools you need to regain control of your life.