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Willingness: A Condition of Recovery

By March 18, 2014June 16th, 2024No Comments

Willingness means: “The quality or state of being prepared to do something.”


Finding willingness to take a leap into the unknown is a feat that is often met with great resistance. Early on, one is asked how willing they are to change their behaviors, their circle of friends, or their reactions to difficulty. They are asked to find the willingness to take that first step toward healing, because the truth is, no one can make you take that step—you have to do it yourself. It takes the willingness of the person seeking change. And it’s scary. There is a perceived safety in our dysfunction but what that really is, is familiarity.


How often have we found ourselves doing the same thing over and over again even though we know we shouldn’t? Where is our resolve? For starters, that resolve is wrapped up in the dysfunction of addiction and untreated mental health. However, it is our willingness to seek out our resolve, which ultimately invites real change to occur.


Someone who shows a lack of willingness does so by perpetually making excuses, redirecting themselves to something more familiar and less uncomfortable, and fundamentally getting in their own way. Often, the message received is that one needs to be ready to recover, but readiness is not synonymous with willingness.  For example, imagine your family member has just completed detox, and they are now clear headed enough to begin the healing process. Essentially, they are ready. But instead of taking action, they start making excuses: “I’m good now. I will go to a meeting tomorrow,” or “What do you mean you don’t trust me, I’m clean now!” And in cases where mental health is the issue, we hear,” I feel fine. I’m taking my meds. I can see my therapist next week.” Or, “I am good! I don’t need my meds today.” Readiness is a moot point; in these scenarios, its willingness that is absent.


What does it take?


  • Take contrary action – Go to a meeting, even when you don’t want to. Take a commitment. No one wants to clean up after a meeting, but we do it anyway.
  • Ask for help – Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated? Call someone! Reach out. And keep those therapy appointments. They are there to help you, regardless of how uncomfortable they can be at times.
  • It is ok not to be ok – At some point, we learn that feeling our feelings is part of the recovery process – accepting that is another story. However, when we move against our feelings in an attempt to run away from them, we suffer more.

Willingness is action, and it is the key to the door of recovery.

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