You’re good. “I’m good,” you say. We see this man come into treatment all the time. Usually he’s present, masquerading for the insecurity that hides behind the mask of someone freshly out of addiction. This man doesn’t have to learn. He’s good. Addiction is a thing that just happened and now that it isn’t happening anymore, he has no reason to change anything else. In order to stop being addicted he had to quit drugs and alcohol? Done, he thinks. What’s next?
Then, there is the other man, who isn’t sure what “good” is supposed to mean. Rather than approach everything with an air of knowingness, he approaches with a humble curiosity. He realizes that the reality of his addiction indicates there is much he doesn’t know about himself and clearly there are some critical truths he needs to uncover. He can recognize his accomplishments and stand, bearing them proudly. Most importantly, he can acknowledge his mistakes and realize there is always room to grow. If you asked him how he was, he might say “I’m growing”.
When a man’s mindset is fixed, like the first man, there is no room to grow. All of the growing has been done, to the satisfaction of the individual, so there is no need to continue. For the fixed mindset, there is little willingness to change. In recovery, an unwillingness to change, to be humble, to have humility, and to learn, is fatal. We cannot ever know everything. Tibetan Buddhist monk and author Pema Chodron calls the Buddhist idea of the Bodhisattva “Warriors in Training”. Similar to the belief of the Tao “When you have found The Way, you have lost The Way”, Chodron describes that when we believe we have become The Warrior, we have our greatest indication there is more to learn.
The problem with being “good” all the time in a fixed mindset is that the effort you refuse to put into growing you end up putting into defending your position. It takes much more strenuous work to be “good” than it does to admit that you are not “entirely” good and accept that not being perfectly “good” is normal. Perfectionism is a lost cause, a hopeless mission, an unreachable goal. Being perfect is not realistic. However, being controlled and directed through life by the idea of perfection is real. Men can be stubborn and fixed their whole lives for the sake of seeming like they have it together, living in slavery to the idea of being something that they are not. Growth is not a failure. Not being perfect is not a failure. The growth mindset sets you free, free from the bondages of perfection, free from the bondages of addiction.
Teaching men how to find freedom from addiction is what we do at Tree House Recovery in Portland, Oregon. Creating sustainable recovery through sustainable change, our residential treatment programs help men build a new life in mind, body, and spirit. Call us today for information: (503) 850-2474