When we were young, our minds were open. We looked in wonder at the world as we made new discoveries on a daily basis. As we get older, we tend to settle into a cocoon of preferences, thoughts, and beliefs that keep us comfortable. We may no longer challenge ourselves to seek out new music genres or food choices. Basically, we shut off our minds to things that are unfamiliar to us.
In recovery, keeping our minds open is essential. This takes some willful effort, as most of us are resistant to change or new ideas. However, it’s critical that we allow ourselves to contemplate new ways of thinking and behaving that can unlock rigid patterns that didn’t serve us well.
Exposing your mind to new perspectives in recovery is a little scary, but it’s equally exciting, too. By developing open-mindedness, you allow wisdom to enter and rattle the cages, shaking those bars loose. This can help you be a better listener, increase your empathy and compassion for others and consider new ways of doing things. Hey, if the old ideas and beliefs weren’t working, why not open your mind to new ones?
Benefits of Open-Mindedness in Recovery
When entering treatment for SUD, you are likely to be introduced to new and unfamiliar concepts. One such example is the 12 Step Program. The themes that run through the 12 steps may feel foreign to you at first, but exposure to these concepts provides you with an excellent opportunity to open your mind and listen to an alternative point of view that can result in real personal growth.
Another chance for developing an open mind is through participation in group therapy sessions. In these small groups, you will hear many different points of view as participants share their take on a given discussion topic. Listening to peers in recovery share different opinions and perspectives from your own can provide fresh insights that you’d never really considered in the past.
Thus, exposing yourself to new ways of seeing the world is beneficial to recovery. It can help you let go of previously held assumptions that might have kept you stuck in bad habits or disordered thought patterns.
How to Remain Open-Minded in Recovery
Letting go of our former ways of thinking isn’t easy. We find comfort in the familiar and may even experience some anxiety when stepping outside that box to consider other ways of doing things. In treatment, this could mean keeping an open mind about therapy and even future living options. You might discover new dietary options you’d never tried before, or try yoga for the first time.
Try these four tips to help you open your mind:
- Assume the Best of Intentions. When someone presents you with a suggestion or idea that is different than your own, try not to dismiss them immediately. Accept that they simply want to present their thoughts with the best of intentions and that there is no agenda other than wanting to share what works for them with you.
- Be an Active Listener. You can’t open your mind to other ways of thinking if you don’t actively listen to what someone is saying. Instead of formulating your defense or rebuttal to their point of view, open your mind and hear them out.
- Critique Your Past Assumptions with an Open Mind. Putting your ego aside allows you to review your beliefs and biases honestly. In recovery, you might discover that the old ways of thinking were actually harmful to you.
- Embrace Letting Go. As hard as it is to do, relinquishing control and allowing yourself to be exposed to novel ways of thinking and behaving is incredibly freeing. You have nothing to lose by opening your mind and considering new ways of doing things.
Maintaining an open mind in recovery allows positive changes to occur in your life. Practice these tips and embrace a sense of curiosity. You might be amazed at the things you will learn in the process.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, and provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle – “everything for recovery” – reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.