When a person enters treatment, they might be focused entirely on the end goal: addiction recovery. However, this mindset ignores the entire process of getting to that point. Treatment itself is a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. The journey itself is the most important part. It’s essential to recognize how to make the most of that journey by staying present and active through the treatment process.
Why We Focus on the Endgame
Entering a treatment program can be both exciting and nerve-racking. You might either want to get treatment over with, or you can’t help but fantasize about how amazing everything will be once you get better. It’s normal to think about how your future will play out. Thinking about the future helps you plan things out, set goals, and envision what you want things to look like for you. Spending too much time focusing on the future can take away from experiencing the present. Instead of spending time focusing on where you’re going, it’s better to focus on how you to get there.
The Drawbacks of Focusing on the Destination
While it’s understandable that you may want to focus on your life in recovery, it’s important to stay present in your treatment and the many things to be gained during the experience. There are several reasons why focusing only on the future can derail your success in treatment.
Unrealistic Expectations of the Future
When you fantasize about the destination, you might be disappointed by the outcome. People tend to have enormous expectations for the futures they think about. You might imagine the end of treatment to be this exciting moment where everything clicks together and is easy. However, this fantasy can’t be further from the truth. How difficult or easy life is after treatment depends on the individual, how well they adjust after treatment, and whether or not they’ve mastered the skills they learned. It’s more likely for recovery to be just as difficult as treatment, but for different reasons. Instead, it’s better to focus on the process of addiction treatment, and experience recovery when the time comes.
The Future Can Change
If you spend too much time focusing on the destination, you aren’t accepting that the future that you’re imagining might not be reality. Things change, and a lot can happen between now and the end of treatment. The biggest changes will most likely happen internally. The things you wanted at the beginning of treatment might not be the same once you’ve finished treatment.
Before, you might have thought about returning to your job after treatment, but during treatment, you find that you didn’t like your job, or that the workload was contributing to the stress that fueled your addiction. You might have thought about continuing friendships you had before treatment, but now you’ve realized that some of those friendships were toxic or enabled your addiction. Focusing on the present allows you to adapt to those changes instead of resisting them.
Feeling Impatient About Progress
Focusing on the destination might make you feel as if you’re not moving through treatment fast enough. You might dislike where you’re at or believe you aren’t hitting the milestones quickly enough. There isn’t a set time that it takes to complete steps or master skills in treatment. There isn’t a standard for progress. It depends on your individual needs. You can’t rush through this process and be successful. You need to take it one day at a time.
Staying Present in Treatment
There are many benefits to staying present in the treatment phase. Below are a few suggestions on how to commit to staying present so you can get the most out of it.
Mindfulness is a common skill taught to clients in addiction treatment. Mindfulness is the act of staying present and intentional with everything that you do. Mindfulness allows you to slow down and experience everything without getting lost in thoughts about the past or the future. In treatment, mindfulness allows you to really take in your experience and the skills you learn. It gives each action meaning. You can practice mindfulness while eating, doing chores, or talking with other people. It isn’t a skill that you’ll learn overnight, but with some practice, it can become second nature.
Be Intentional About Your Actions
During treatment, direct your attention to the how and why, instead of the when and later. Think about how you’re doing things, and why you are doing them. If you’re cooking meals with other people in treatment, focus on the meal that you’re cooking and why you’re cooking it. This helps you recognize the purpose of your actions and how they contribute to getting better.
For example, while you’re eating nutritious food, you might think, “I’m eating this food because it’s good for my body.” While you’re cleaning, you might think, “I’m cleaning because a clean home improves my mental health and makes me feel better.”
While you’re in treatment, you will continue learning and mastering new coping skills as well as life skills. Focusing your energy on the treatment phase and committing to the process will ensure that you set yourself up for the best results in recovery.
It’s normal to feel excited about the future, but where you end up isn’t as important as how you got there. You won’t experience this same journey again, so you might as well make the most of it. Stay present during your addiction treatment experience and feel it fully. Don’t worry so much about the outcome, but rather the process. The outcome of your treatment experience might not fit your original expectations. Taking it in day by day and moment by moment is much better than focusing solely on where you think you’ll end up. At Bella Monte, we believe that the journey is more important than the destination. What you’re doing here and now is more important than what might be. If you would like to learn more about what to expect in treatment, or what Bella Monte has to offer, contact us today at (800) 974-1938.