Skip to content

How to Change Both Your Heart and Mind in Recovery

How to Change Both Your Heart and Mind in Recovery

As you begin to develop new and non-addictive habits, you give your brain the opportunity to stop making a choice and simply act

Your logical and emotional selves are often at odds with one another, and this is especially true in the midst of a crisis like recovery. Your mind may be able to logically understand that an addiction is robbing you of healthy family relationships and better life choices in Des Moines, not to mention the actual financial cost of the drugs. Your emotions, too, might be shattered because of the shame you carry every time you look at your child and feel like a failure.

These two sides rarely seem to be in agreement naturally, and you need your full self engaged for a successful recovery. But there is definitely a way to bring your heart and mind into alignment. By applying certain steps and approaches, you can move forward and build anew on a foundation of clean living.

Habits Minimize the Role of Emotions in a Decision

While it feels contradictory, your emotions can be trained to follow your actions, given the right set of circumstances and approach toward goals and habits. The first step to making this truth actionable is to understand the way habits are formed from a neuroscientific perspective.

Think for a moment about when you first started driving. It would require your full attention, and you were intently focused on checking your mirrors and monitoring your speed along with staying within the lanes of the road. Let’s not forget actually paying attention to where you are going as well, but as an experienced driver, you can carry on a conversation or adjust the radio while still driving. Note we are not condoning distracted driving but rather giving a classic example of how a task can move into a habit.

Every habit begins with a first time. When an individual does some task for the first time in Des Moines, whether it be driving a stick shift vehicle or dribbling a basketball, it is a manual process. There is conscious thought involved in the mechanics of accomplishing the task, and it takes a level of concentration to accomplish the task. Over time, this task begins to feel easier and more natural, and eventually it takes little mental effort to complete that same task.

The brain has a habit loop that facilitates this shift. The end result is that you are literally not making a conscious choice because a separate part of the brain manages habits. Instead of thinking and choosing, your brain allows you to use a nearly automatic response system to accomplish a habitual task.

The habit loop is incredibly powerful in the context of recovery. As you begin to develop new and non-addictive habits, you give your brain the opportunity to stop making a choice and simply act. The beauty of the habit loop is that emotions are not involved. You don’t agonize over the process of brushing your teeth because the way you brush your teeth is a habit. In the same way, you can remove the emotional component of recovery by developing habits of sobriety.

Short Term Goals Create Motivation

But it’s not always realistic to try to avoid the emotional component of recovery, and on some level it may be a recipe for a different type of poor health. Another equally valuable approach that will unite your heart and mind toward recovery is the development of short-term but meaningful goals. A good goal follows the pattern as follows:

  • Specific – A goal should address who, what, when, where, which and why. If it does not, it is a hope, not a goal.
  • Measurable – This type of goal allows a person to establish concrete criteria for measuring progress against it.
  • Attainable – An attainable goal is as much about self-image as anything else. An individual must believe they can reach the goal.
  • Realistic – A goal must be grounded in reality. As a simple example, the morbidly obese man who never exercises should not set a six-week goal to run in a marathon.
  • Time-bound – A goal without a deadline is a dream.

Many individuals make an unintentional mistake at the outset of recovery by setting a poor goal. The most common goal of recovery is “to never use drugs again.” This is a personally meaningful statement, and certainly is the ultimate idea behind recovery, but it’s a terrible goal.

It is not specific enough to hold weight. There is no way to measure this goal except by failure, meaning you only know you haven’t achieved it when you use drugs. It may or may not be attainable at the outset of recovery as stumbling back into drugs is a common occurrence during recovery in Des Moines. There is no time component to it.

An unmet goal—whether it’s a SMART goal or not—creates emotional barriers to trying to accomplish the same goal again. It is far too common to start buying the emotional lies of presumptive failure and worthlessness when an unmet goal sits as supposed proof.

Applying the SMART goal methodology will allow you to use your mind to develop realistic short-term goals related to your recovery. Once you begin to experience success in these goals, your emotions will be engaged in a positive way. You will enjoy the flush of victory and seek more out. In this way, your mind and emotions become united toward the goal of recovery.

If you are ready for a change, you don’t have to make it alone, but there is support available. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admission counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about your substance abuse. They can help you find your way in Des Moines. Please call now.