At Herren Wellness, we talk about finding your ‘why’ a lot, but what does that mean and why is it important?
Each day we live, most people seek purpose. If we can’t identify or understand what drives us to try – what gives us passion and purpose – we can fall into disillusionment, distraction, and feel a sense of failure. When we don’t know our ‘why’ it can put us at risk of seeking out unhealthy, distracting behaviors which may include substance use.
‘Why’ is a Gatekeeper
In early recovery, the ‘why’ serves more than one purpose. The ‘why’ is a gatekeeper between the past and the present. In order to move forward, you need to identify and understand what led you to numb and escape through substances.
This involves a time of intense focus on the history of your substance use to examine its origins, nature, and consequences. This is necessary to reach a better understanding of what lies behind substance use – the circumstances, situations, and relationships that fed it, and how these manifested. Understanding your past, and what you can change, gives you the tools and insights needed to lay the foundation for a sustainable recovery.
Nobody can repair what isn’t understood, so digging into the history of substance use is a catalyst for change. When you are aware of past patterns, triggers, and behaviors, you are less inclined to follow the same patterns again.
The journey into ‘why’ is about uncovering and identifying unhealthy patterns and behaviors to make necessary changes. This puts you on the path to living authentically, honestly, and with conscious purpose.
Why is the Way Forward
Recovery is about more than ceasing the use of substances. It’s true that living with purpose and being fully present aren’t possible when actively using substances, so abstaining from drug and/or alcohol use is a necessary first step.
The next step involves healing your spirit and uncovering what makes you experience joy and purpose.
When you discover and nurture the things that fill you up and make you want to be fully present in your life, you are laying the groundwork for a meaningful and sustainable recovery.
How to Discover Your ‘Why’
Many people feel a sense of loss, or emptiness, when they stop using substances. If you have spent years numbing, the absence of drugs and/or alcohol can feel like a hole that you don’t know how to fill. The time and energy spent on substance use leaves many people wondering: What now? Who am I without drugs/alcohol? What will I do? Who will I be?
While this can be an uneasy feeling, the amazing part of a new beginning is you get to carve your own path. Free from the restraints of substance use, you can be fully present, look deep within yourself, and live the life you want to lead.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help discover your ‘why’:
1) What do I love? Active substance use usually involves feelings of shame, remorse, and guilt, so it may have been a while since you asked yourself this question. In early recovery, you have an opportunity to focus on your strengths, what lights you up, and what you have always wanted to try but somehow never had the chance (or perhaps the intention). You can think back to before substance use to the things you used to love to do. You can look at how you fill your days and ask yourself: Do I love my job? Do I have hobbies and/or projects that bring me joy? Am I surrounded by loving, supportive people? Sometimes, changes are necessary to live your ‘why’. You may need to change jobs or leave a toxic relationship to unclutter your path and allow your ‘why’ to fully manifest itself.
2) How do I define fulfillment? To live authentically, which is essential to living your ‘why’, you need to understand how you define success and fulfillment. If you haven’t been living true to your purpose, it may be because you have been living someone else’s idea for how your life should look. Living authentically requires a degree of courage – it can be hard to make changes – but as you uncover and understand what you need to be fulfilled, it’s important to look at everything. In recovery, you have the chance to live life as you define fulfillment and success and live true to your purpose. .
3) What are my values? Substance use often takes people away from their values, not towards them. When you are compromised by substances, you have put the substance in charge. In recovery, we regain the ability to live by our value system. Living your ‘why’ requires you to identify and understand your core values and make every effort to live true to them. Even if you don’t fully understand everything about your ‘why’ yet, by living true to your values the right opportunities will come into your life.
4) What are my dreams? This may sound like something right out of a Disney movie, but when was the last time you asked yourself what your dreams are? It’s never too late to dream. Maybe you always wanted to travel somewhere, or try fly fishing, or reconnect with an old friend. Maybe you’ve secretly always wanted to own your own business or try a new profession. Maybe you dream of having a life that isn’t too hectic so you can have more time for yourself and your family. The ‘why’ lies in the heart of what makes you feel a sense of hope and purpose. Even if these things can’t be accomplished right away, working towards a life of your dreams is at the very heart of discovering your ‘why’.
Discovering ‘Why’ and Herren Wellness
Working with guests to discover their ‘why’ is at the very core of what we do at Herren Wellness. Helping people stop using substances is the first – and essential – step, but we believe that a meaningful recovery and discovering ‘why’ go hand-in-hand.
We walk with our guests as they dig into the ‘why’ behind their substance use, and uncover the circumstances, situations, and relationships that no longer serve them.
We stand side-by-side with them as they do the hard work of looking at unhealthy patterns and behaviors and help them build the tools and skills they need to change.
We work with guests to rediscover their purpose, passions, and strengths. We build self-care and mindfulness skills to help guests become aware, live fully present in their lives, and treat themselves with loving-kindness. We also provide the tools needed to establish healthy habits and patterns like fitness, healthy sleep hygiene, and proper nutrition. We help guests uncover and experience the things that bring joy, meaning, and purpose to their lives.