A universal part of the human experience, whether or not we’re living with addiction and mental illness, is the existential crisis of not knowing our purpose in life. When we’re recovering from addiction, we often feel an acute sense of overwhelm and pressure when we experience this kind of crisis. We already feel like failures because of our addictions and all the mistakes and regrets that come along with them, so when we have uncertainty about our life purpose, we feel even more down on ourselves. Rather than being patient and encouraging with ourselves, we think and speak about ourselves in such disparaging and self-loathing ways. We become increasingly frustrated that we haven’t found our unique gifts and strengths. We feel worthless and useless. We feel we don’t have anything to contribute to the world, to our families and communities, to the lives of our loved ones. We feel as though our experiences have been full of meaningless suffering, and our struggles are just further examples of our failure.
Living a life in recovery means finding the fulfillment and purpose we need in order to be happy, to feel grounded in who we are and in our lives. Without purpose, we may always feel unsatisfied and aimless, seeking but never finding who we are meant to be and what we’re meant to do. How do we find our purpose? The process of self-exploration requires that we go deep within ourselves, past the expectations we’ve placed on ourselves, past the expectations our society has placed on us. To find our purpose, we have to stop thinking that we should be at a certain point by a certain age, that we should have completed a certain level of education or solidified a certain career path by a certain time. Our life journey is unfolding exactly as it’s meant to. We’re not behind, we’re not in competition with anyone else, and we’re precisely where we’re supposed to be. With that in mind, let’s free ourselves of all the limitations we’re feeling, the pressure of what we think we should be doing with our lives, the stress of feeling as though we’re running out of time.
Let’s instead open our hearts to the truth of who we are. We are special, unique, and powerfully different. Our path is our own. No one can live it for us, no one can replace us. We are incomparable and irreplaceable. We are beautiful and powerful beyond measure. When we believe in ourselves, we know that finding our life purpose is about creating a life of meaning for ourselves, in a way that feels healthy and good for us. It’s not seeking some external source of validation, or achieving something that will temporarily make us feel better about ourselves. It’s about finding the light within us that we can’t extinguish no matter how hard we try. No amount of substance use or addictive behaviors can take our gifts away from us. They are always there within us, even when they’re dim and we can’t see them, even when we have no idea what they are. When we look inward and start the process of self-exploration and reflection, it is only a matter of time before we find them, and when we do, giving them our mindful energy and awareness will allow them to grow and strengthen once again.
What were you passionate about, before addiction took hold of your life? What did you wake up excited to do? What were you inspired to learn more about? What motivated you to get out of bed, or go back to school, or pursue a certain life path? What lights you up and makes you feel free? Your gifts and strengths are your inner guiding light. When we travel beneath the surface layers of all the fear and pain that have been holding us back, we’re able to access the guidance of our innate talents and passions.
For some of us, we have yet to experience the inspiration and motivation that come from knowing our gifts. We may have yet to discover them for the first time. This means that we’re essentially starting with a blank canvas. We can design our lives how we want them to be and find new, exciting passions to fulfill us. We can look to the future with optimism and excitement, rather than anxiety and trepidation. Uncertainty and the unknown can be scary, but we can open our hearts and minds to all the wondrous possibilities that lay ahead for us. Start observing the world around you. Does anything spark curiosity in you? Is there anything you find yourself wanting to learn more about? Is there a class, group or activity you might want to try? Use this opportunity to explore, not necessarily to find something that’s been missing, but to create something new and enlightening, that brings the light and life back into your days.
Finding our purpose, and creating meaningful lives centered around that purpose, is a major key to our transformation in recovery. Without purpose, we’re susceptible to walking the same path of addiction and lack of fulfillment that we’ve become all too familiar with, that has been leading us to pain rather than to self-discovery and joy.
Established in 1939, High Watch is the world’s first 12-Step treatment center. Every individual who walks through our doors joins a definitive culture of compassion, dignity, and respect from a genuinely caring staff dedicated to seeing the disease of addiction find remission. Providing proven therapeutic approaches and comprehensive 12-Step education, patients leave High Watch with the confidence to maintain abstinence and live a healthy, happy, sober life. Start your journey today by calling 860.927.3772.