Thriving Traits Shown in People in Recovery
When people find themselves feeling low or wanting to abuse a substance, the initial thought is usually the same: “I can’t do this.” But fighting for a better way of life doesn’t seem to be something people give up easily. And many people work to make a decision that changes their lives each day.
This decision is not because they are strong and invincible–it’s because of several things, one being Grit. When we understand what traits people in recovery possess that allow them to survive addiction and thrive after addiction, we can identify 5 qualities that makeup Grit: courage, conscientiousness, perseverance, resilience, and passion.
So— “Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals. The passion of striving to make sense of a new direction, foreign feelings, and challenging commitment. The perseverance to actually stick to that challenging commitment. To continue moving forward through mistakes and failures, yet bouncing back regardless.” says Angela Duckworth, the CEO of Character Lab. No amount of intelligence or talent can compare to a person with grit. Without grit, talent may be nothing more than unmet potential. It is only with effort that talent becomes a skill that leads to success (Duckworth 2016).
Duckworth explains, “Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.”
The First Quality is Courage
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The courage to change the things I can implies that what we set out to do would or should be easy, but are afraid. When I think of courage, I think of bravery from the heart and the lion in Wizard of Oz. Courage is following your heart in the face of fear. Fear blocks a lot of things but we do all have courage. The wizard says to the lion, “You’re a victim of disorganized thinking”.
When courage is clouded by our fears and judgments, these more negative traits are what disorganize our thinking. Courage is finding the calm and confidence to stand tall in your convention when you are faced with your biggest fears. Courage requires action. It is having the guts to go against the grain if it is something that drives you — but you do need to drive.
Conscientious is Showing up to do your Best
Strengthening over time, someone who works day and night to get the job done and is more eminently self-controlled and dependable (Perlis, 2021). In the context of success in recovery, it is important to do your best. Bring your best every day. Be careful and vigilant in all your endeavors. Conscientious individuals show up and do their best. They are prepared to face challenges and commit to an intention of victory.
As a person in recovery, I know for myself how important it is to take responsibility for my own life and narrative. We must accept that if we want to change, then we need to show up as best as possible every day and do all that we can. The more conscientiousness developed over time means the better chance at success for recovering individuals who have endured so much already.
Perseverance is the Ability to Keep Going
It takes grit to be able to keep going when faced with adversity. It is a part of every trait that makes up Grit. It’s an ability to see through the nonsense and focus on what matters most. No matter how long it takes or how difficult the task may seem at times. Perseverance requires courage as well as conscientiousness–the two traits making up our foundation for success in recovery are intertwined like strands of DNA. Each one builds upon another until you have created something spectacular. To persevere, we need resilience which comes from dealing with setbacks, disappointment, rejection, criticism, failure—things that happen all day every day in life. The things we all have to face
The Ability to Create Resilience
One of the most powerful traits that people in recovery possess is resilience. Resilience can be defined as “the capacity to rebound from adversity, trauma, or misfortune.” It’s about being able to get back up after we’re knocked down. To keep going when it feels like there is no light at the end of a tunnel. This trait will help us stay strong even on our darkest days.
You won’t have these successes without first experiencing failure though. But this is something people who have suffered from addiction are well-acquainted with. Resilience builds from courage and conscientiousness as well as perseverance which requires us to stay on track while facing adversity, criticism, failure, etc.
Passion is the Driver behind Grit
Finally, Grit is to have passion. It’s the willingness to do something despite knowing that it will be hard or take a long time. Passionate people understand what they are willing to fight for, how much work there may be involved in achieving their goals, but most important of all–they know why. Passion fuels our success.
Passion with a Purpose
Passion drives having grit because it brings a sense of purpose to a person’s goals. It is the ‘why you do what you do’ and is always driving by one’s values and belief systems.
Passion is what fuels who we are, it’s at our core. It can be hidden in all sorts of places. Sometimes you have to dig deep for it but once found, there will never again be a shadow cast on your goals or sense of self-worth. People refer to this state as a Flow State. It’s where passion and creativity live with ease. This is why is it important to define though. If we don’t feel passionate about our work or anything in general then how are we supposed to live?
Passion without the Need for Perfection
With passion comes the drive of excellence. The progression of the drive is the measurement, not perfection. You get better at something with time and hard work, especially when driven by Passion. Hard work can come with joy and excitement when one has the passion to do better. This work can also come with fear when it is out of the ordinary. The excitement is masked by fear of something different. Something uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Having the grit to dig deep and find these more positive feelings is rewarding.
And this doesn’t just go for people in recovery either — anyone can fall into a trap without passion in their lives. Without a driving force pushing us forward through hard times and challenges, even things like getting up each morning become unbearable. We need meaningful reasons to get out of bed and passion is one of them.
“This work shows us that grit is not the only determinant of success,” Duckworth said. She’s also mentioned if you want to lead a happy, healthy, helpful life, you want to cultivate many aspects of your character, like honesty, kindness, and open-mindedness (Perlis, 2021).
It is important to cultivate many aspects of your character to lead a happy and healthy life. Grit alone doesn’t predict every aspect of success in recovery or failure to addiction. There are so many factors that come into play. As Duckworth mentioned honesty and generosity which also help us stick with things when they’re hard. So many traits come into play. It is worth diving into each one to find out where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
The five traits making up Grit are courage, conscientiousness, perseverance, resilience, and passion (Perlis, 2021). So get out there in the world and show up with some grit!
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Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: The power of passion and perseverance. Scribner/Simon & Schuster.
Perlis, M. (2021). 5 Characteristics Of Grit — How Many Do You Have?. Retrieved 12 April 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/margaretperlis/2013/10/29/5-characteristics-of-grit-what-it-is-why-you-need-it-and-do-you-have-it/?sh=2f2a98c34f7b