Self-efficacy is not a term we often hear in daily conversation. The term self-efficacy refers to a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in specific situations, to complete tasks, confront challenges, and achieve objectives. Self-efficacy is important I everyone’s life, but highly important in the life of someone in recovery. Think about it. An addict has probably spent a good amount of time under the weight of addiction. In active addiction one cannot always be successful in specific tasks. Use alcoholism for an example. A functional alcoholic may be able to go to work daily and even accomplish some of the tasks. But the alcohol is keeping him or her from doing their best. Take an extreme example, a heroin addict may be able to get up during the day, but the cravings will keep this person from accomplishing anything useful during most days. Even addictions such as gambling or to something such as sleeping pills can affect daily activities because the need for that fix will consume energy that could be used on more productive tasks. This is why self-efficacy is so important to the recovering addict.
A word that may be more familiar and is synonymous with self-efficacy is self-confidence. Self-efficacy means you have confidence in your own abilities. This can be a difficult concept for those who have come out of addiction. You may see yourself as not able to accomplish anything because of how far down you have fallen or feel that some dreams are out of reach because of all the hurdles that lie in the way, but this is not true. However, self-esteem and self-respect are part of moving past these fears to start your new life. In fact, underlying all of these things is the fundamental concept of self-discovery. So this leaves you with a very important question to answer: Who I am? Finding the answer to this is very important in recovery.
When someone is in recovery they need perseverance on a given course. You cannot begin to set that course without first knowing who you are in life. This defining moment will help you stay in recovery long term. Addicts have had an active addiction, if this ability to not stop doing something can be turned toward recovery then it will last long term. This drive that was once used to get to the next fix can be redirected into building a new life that does not include addiction. Additionally, addicts tend to have sublimation or the tendency to persist and obsess. If this tendency can be put in the right direction than a former addict could be unstoppable.
Just imagine the energy you put into finding your next fix used to find a job or start a new hobby or even building a whole new life. This can all be accomplished with a positive orientation.
This may all be difficult to imagine because thinking positive is something not usually something an addict does naturally. So self-efficacy must be built from the ground up which is also difficult. Do not lose hope though because it is possible. The first step is getting rid of bad influences. This may mean that some friends and family members must be removed from your life or in the least, strong boundaries set. The next step is to not lie or keep secrets. Secrets and lies are part of addiction, but will have no place in your new life. Life is much simpler if you do not have to keep up with several untrue stories.
Finally, avoid labeling. Do not label yourself or others as failures or bad people, accept people where they are and move forward with your own life. You cannot change others, it is a personal decision. To start this process use self-affirmations in order to start believing you can succeed if you do your best and align yourself with supportive, positive people. This is the way to long term success.
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