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Your Future Self: The #1 Ally in Addiction Recovery

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

Some of us remember when the Law of Attraction stormed the world and people started mantras of "I want to be rich. I want to be rich." Great marketing, huh? If you just told yourself you are going to get $1,000,000, you would get $1,000,000. The funny thing is the depths of this practice can have positive effects. It's just not as easy as saying it a couple of times. Now, what can create real-world advantages in a person's life is believing. Seriously, believing in life and existence far into the future that exists as a wealthy individual. Two things are different about the latter scenario as opposed to the redundant mantra. First, the depth of the belief. You see affirmations are simple phrases pumped out into the universe. Sure, they are positive and reassuring. They are also a hell of a lot better than complaining or thinking the world is out to get you. But we are talking about deep-down beliefs about your future. Knowing what your life will be like before it has happened. The second element is when you believe in who you are in the future, your present-day behaviors will change. It creates a pull from the desired future rather than a push toward your goal. How is this relevant to addiction recovery? If you can believe and see yourself past the addiction and well into recovery, you will have decision-making power in the present and more power behind your sobriety attempts.


Perception of Time and How It Effects Addiction Recovery

Don't underestimate what you can accomplish in ten years.  Addiction recovery is possible when you believe in who you will become.
Your Future Self Has Potential

The common perception of a person's life is that it, meaning life, happens to you. This happens then that is how you are. What if this was just a shitty way of doing it. Reactive and remaining stuck in a victim's mindset of being pushed around by circumstances you very well have no control over. "My parents were alcoholics. So, I will most likely be an alcoholic too." Your current self is behind the influence and approaching decisions made in the present with the formula and inputs of a less-than-ideal past.


It might be constructive to consider your life a math equation. 1+3-2x4=8. We constantly reference the left side of the equation and think that we are stuck with the right side of the equation. Even worse than that, we can't change what is on the left side of the equation, which is our history and circumstances, then we feel hopeless. Knock, knock, knock!! Who shows up at the door then? Depression, anxiety, desolate mental states, and substance abuse. Mental health experts and clinicians have been trying to develop healthy strategies for approaching the left side of the equation since Sigmund Freud. He was on to something no doubt.


Sigmund Freud, the renowned psychoanalyst, believed that the challenges and difficulties we face in the present day are intricately intertwined with our past experiences. According to Freud, the complex web of our subconscious mind, shaped by early childhood experiences and repressed memories, holds the key to understanding our present-day struggles. He argued that unresolved conflicts and unhealed wounds from the past can manifest in various forms, influencing our behaviors, emotions, and relationships. Freud's perspective highlights the profound impact of our personal history on shaping who we are today, urging us to delve into the depths of our past to unravel the intricacies of our present struggles and pave the way toward growth and healing. Appropriately framing someone's past can help cope with present-day problems.


However, the problem is still the "this then that," mentality. "This happened to me, and I'm like that now as a result." It is much more advantageous to consider "that is what I desire and believe. Hence, this is what I will do now." People can focus on the desired belief of their future to influence behavior in the current moment. You see, it's flipped around.


The Formula

Going back to our formula. What if we were to focus on the right side of the = sign? Equations can become a constant state of values and outcomes. A person focusing on what they want the equation to come out to, or equal, will then decide which variables to manipulate on the left side of the equation to make it happen.


Attention + Honest self-observation + Habits = Fantastic Life!!


Where does all of your attention go to? The left side of the equation. That's natural not because of your perception of time but because that is how we read in English. However, it's also how we perceive the linear relationship of time.


In recovery, we often use the phrase, "one day at a time." This is also linear. We barrel through the following hours and days attempting to not use substances. I know addiction changes the perception of time severely. The scope of vision into the future rarely stretches past the next hit or trip to the liquor store. The following exercise is more simple than it is easy. In fact, it's not easy at all. Think of your future self no longer shackled to substances. The bond your mind has with the use of a substance is directly linked to the ease or difficulty of this vision of your future self. Seeing yourself without using will be harder if you haven't made a conscious and deliberate decision to attempt quitting. Imagining yourself and believing that it's possible to live without using will immediately help you to make decisions in the present that will steer you away from the self destructive behavior you're engaging in. Easier said than done, right?


Okay, start with this. Look around for someone you still admire that is abstinent from alcohol or drugs. Someone you admire and think well of. There it is! Proof that a life worth having exists without drugs and alcohol. Don't necessarily attempt to be them. Simply imagine yourself if you were without alcohol or drugs for an extended number of years. Once you understand it's possible. Then envision yourself and identify with that version of yourself that is on the way. If you believe it is on the way your immediate decisions in the here and now will be altered.


The Power to Change is Directly Linked to the Belief You Can


Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich, developed methods for linking belief in your future self with decisions made in our present lives. Hill's methods allowed people to think long term and this is important for someone stuck in a four-hour addiction cycle. "People overestimate what they can accomplish in one year and outrageously underestimate what can happen in ten," Bill Gates has so famously stated. Developing your identity as far down the road as possible will help you realize the most amount of progress in the longest amount of time.


"People overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can accomplish in ten"
- Bill Gates

Hill's approach to the perception of time was rooted in the understanding that our thoughts and beliefs shape our reality. He emphasized the power of a positive mindset and the role it plays in time management. According to Hill, by cultivating a positive attitude towards time, one can overcome procrastination, eliminate distractions, and focus on tasks that contribute to their long-term goals. He advocated for setting clear objectives, creating action plans, and maintaining a sense of urgency in the pursuit of those goals. Hill believed that by consciously shaping our perception of time, we can transcend the limitations of the clock and tap into a timeless state of flow where productivity and creativity thrive. His approach serves as a reminder that our relationship with time is not fixed, but rather a reflection of our mindset and intentional efforts to make the most of each moment.

Depending on where you might be in your fight for sobriety, this may seem rather difficult to comprehend tackling. However, some of Hill's techniques can't hurt. Try writing a check to yourself for a seemingly large amount of money you would like to earn in the future. Make the check out to yourself, fold it, and place it in your wallet. Every once in and while take a look to remind yourself about your goal. This money won't magically appear in your account. What's important is that you stay oriented in the right direction and continue to know that it's possible.


Create the belief of what is possible and that is a version of you successful in addiction recovery. A version of you that is exponentially better off than you are now. This is how you can pull yourself into the place in the future where you can realize your full potential.


Conclusion

In conclusion, the journey toward personal transformation and addiction recovery is deeply intertwined with our beliefs and perceptions. While the Law of Attraction may have initially captivated our attention with its simplistic approach, the true power lies in the depth of our beliefs and our ability to envision a better future. Affirmations, though helpful, are merely the tip of the iceberg when compared to the profound impact of believing in and visualizing our desired future selves.


By delving into the depths of our subconscious and understanding the influence of our past experiences, as highlighted by Sigmund Freud, we can gain valuable insights into our present struggles. However, it is crucial to shift our mindset from a victim's mentality to one of empowerment, where we acknowledge that our past does not define us and instead focus on what we desire and believe. By embracing the equation of our lives and recognizing that we have the power to manipulate the variables on the left side to achieve the desired outcomes on the right, we can take control of our journey towards a fantastic life.


The formula for personal growth and transformation requires our attention, honest self-observation, and the cultivation of positive habits. While it may seem natural for our attention to be fixated on the past, we must redirect it towards our envisioned future. This shift in focus challenges the linear perception of time, allowing us to break free from the shackles of addiction. Though the path may be difficult, visualizing ourselves free from substance abuse and identifying with that future self grants us the decision-making power in the present to steer away from self-destructive behaviors.


Napoleon Hill's teachings further reinforce the significance of long-term thinking and the power of belief in shaping our reality. By developing a positive mindset and setting clear objectives, we can transcend the limitations of time and make substantial progress towards our goals. Hill's methods remind us that our relationship with time is not fixed, but rather a reflection of our mindset and intentional efforts.


While the journey towards sobriety and personal growth may appear daunting, adopting some of Hill's techniques, such as visualizing success and reinforcing belief through symbolic gestures, can contribute to our overall progress. The key is to create a strong belief in what is possible—a future version of ourselves that is successful in addiction recovery and exponentially better off than our present selves. By aligning our beliefs, thoughts, and actions, we can pull ourselves toward this envisioned future and unlock our full potential.


In the pursuit of a transformed life, remember that the power to change lies within you. Embrace the depth of your beliefs, cultivate a positive mindset, and stay oriented toward the possibilities that lie ahead. With perseverance, self-belief, and a willingness to challenge the limitations of time, you can embark on a remarkable journey of recovery, growth, and personal fulfillment.


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