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Why Humility Matters in Recovery

No one likes to admit she’s made a mistake or that she doesn’t know what to do. Even when things are clearly going badly, many people prefer to save face than ask for help. That can be a huge impediment to getting better. Here are some ways embracing humility can improve your recovery from addiction or mental illness.

You’re more willing to admit you have a problem.

We like to think the best of ourselves and that we don’t make any really huge mistakes. Other people may be depressed or have problems with addiction, but not us. In reality, everyone gets into some kind of a mess he can’t find his way out of. Assuming you’re somehow immune to these problems is unrealistic. If you are having a problem with mental health or addiction, nothing will change until you own up to it.

You’re more willing to ask for help.

We like to feel like we can take care of ourselves, that we’re self-reliant. In reality, everyone needs help all the time. You needed daily help just to survive into adulthood. When you accept that we’re a cooperative species and you sometimes need help just like everyone else, asking for help isn’t such a big deal. When you can’t find your way out of a problem,  asking for help is the rational thing to do.

You can accept what you’re doing hasn’t worked.

Anyone who has struggled with addiction or mental illness has felt like she can’t possibly go on living the same way, but it’s also hard to change. Often, addiction and mental illness are rooted in irrational beliefs that seem perfectly reasonable to the person who believes them. Sometimes it’s because these beliefs have served her well in the past or are a result of some traumatic experience. Either way, it can be really hard to let go of what you think you know. However, that’s often exactly what you have to do. Much of therapy has to do with changing maladaptive beliefs and you can’t do that until you understand that your best thinking is what got you into this mess to begin with.

You meet people on their level.

When you feel like things are going great, it’s easy to look down on people who are having a hard time. Sometimes we do this while seeming oblivious to our own problems. When you accept that you are flawed like everyone else, and that everyone has inherent value despite his flaws, you can relate to others with more empathy and compassion. You realize we’re all in the same boat. This is good in itself and it also strengthens social bonds. People who feel more connected feel less anxious and depressed and they are less likely to relapse.

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