Why Humility is Important for Recovery from Addiction

by Patrick Meninga

Humility is important for a successful recovery.

Many of us nod our heads and say “yes, of course it is,” but deep down do we really believe it? Almost any person in recovery runs the risk of overconfidence, and it can become easy to secretly believe that we have all the answers.

Long term experience in recovery has shown us that this is a recipe for failure. But why is this case? Can’t recovery from addiction be mastered? Must we forever remain students in the field of recovery?

The answer is an unequivocal yes. We are doomed (blessed, actually) with the need to keep pushing ourselves to learn and grow. Humility is the foundation for this continual learning.

“We’re either working on our recovery, or we’re working on a relapse.” For us, there is no in between. Those who stagnate often pick the drugs or the booze back up. How to deal with this? Push ourselves to grow – spiritually, mentally, socially, and so on. Personal growth is our goal here.

In recovery, we start holding ourselves to a higher standard. This happens naturally as we stay clean and sober. (Or rather if we stay clean and sober.) In active addiction, we all compromised our principles in order to keep up the denial and illusion in our wretched lives. Living clean and sober forces us to re-evaluate those principles and adopt new standards of living. And this is a learning process, in which we will inevitably make some errors. Hence the need to stay humble as we learn a new moral code.

Spiritual growth occurs as a result of our failures, not our successes. Recovery can be a real balancing act. We have to put ourselves out there and take some chances; make some mistakes. Obviously, we don’t want to screw up so badly that we relapse, but we still want to get involved enough and passionate enough about learning that we are never “perfect.” When we struggle with something, we can often look back and see how making it through a tough time was an opportunity for us to grow.

If recovery was a bed of roses, we would no longer be challenged on a personal level and our growth would stagnate. Instead, we need the challenges and the adversity to keep us moving forward and always looking to learn how to deal with new things in our lives. We are learning how to live again. Without this, our recovery loses momentum.

Action items – What you can do:

1) Embrace the lesson in everything. Don’t accept a bitter defeat of any sort without taking away some sort of lesson in it for yourself. See the positive in everything. In any situation, ask yourself: “How can I grow from this?”

2) Always be learning about yourself. “Observe” yourself and your reactions to things. Raise your awareness about yourself without passing judgment.

Reprinted by kind permission of the author. More of his writings on recovery can be found at www.spiritualriver.com.

About the Authors

Renascent Alumni
Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.

One response to “Why Humility is Important for Recovery from Addiction

  1. I like the idea of learning from failure and not being ashamed of it. Certainly we must be careful when we begin to think we have “made it” There is no finish line or checkered flag but always a journey

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