Keep Your Beginner’s Mind 

Keep Your Beginner’s Mind 

In Recovery by Tree House Recovery

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” — Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice1

For better or worse, those who have walked the path of addiction sometimes have the feeling they are wiser in the ways of the world than their “normie” counterparts. That they have lived hard and come through the other side is proof enough that addicts develop an identity around having been “through it all.”  

The thing is, you haven’t been through it all. Not by a long shot. Addiction does not impart life wisdom except in the nature of what you should release. Here’s some more news you may not like. Chances are good that if you began your addictive behavior in the critical adolescent development period, your emotional maturity and cognition have likely not developed at the same rate as that of your peers.

Hanging with the same groups of people and leaving behind any ambition for acquiring, using, and recovering from substance abuse tends to leave people a little immature. So, do does the lack of white matter volume that has appeared in deep scans of the brains of addicts and those in recovery2. Abnormalities were found in those who began using at adolescence that validated research into stalled brain development due to substance abuse.

This information is not to break your confidence or smack down the real wisdom and insight you have gained during both addiction and sobriety. It’s to express what Shunryu Suzuki was referring to in the quote that began this blog. Let it free you! Keeping things simple and observing your thoughts and feelings like a kid can develop your curiosity, preventing you from shutting down. Only with an open mind and heart can both be healed. 

Though it might take some time to become vulnerable and see life as a child would, remember that everything you have achieved was preceded by time as a beginner. When you are a beginner, you go for things—REALLY go for things—and your passion comes out. It can be frustrating to not have expertise (or presumed expertise) in just about any undertaking. The thing is, when you approach life eye-to-eye and with the joy of a newbie, anything is possible.


Everyone who takes refuge at Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon is a beginner with endless possibilities. We use cutting-edge techniques and individualized programs to help men and their families achieve freedom from addiction and triggering behaviors. Taking a sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently. No one is beyond help; our Admissions Counselors are available 24/7 at (503) 850-2474