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7 Insights You Can Use In Recovery From Mental Illness & Addiction

boy-1563004Some of the insights gleaned from treating the disease of addiction can offer benefits for those in recovery from mental health issues, too. I believe that the disease-model of addiction sets some important parameters for treatment, but it is also necessary for issues of personal responsibility, morality, as well as spirituality, to be addressed during addiction treatment in order for there to be full mind-body-soul recovery. (12-step programs help people become aware of and work on these concepts.)

The same often holds true in mental health treatment. Really understanding that mental illness is an illness, yet at the same time, there may be other issues that need to be addressed, lays the groundwork for healthy management of mental illness and recovery.

There are seven concepts, presented in pairs, that can be helpful during therapy or treatment, and beyond.

1. Acceptance/Denial

Denial and to a certain extent, Acceptance, are often unconscious processes. But becoming more aware of your self, your dis-ease, in with conscious awareness, leads to a more mature Acceptance of where you are holding. Once you can accept where “you’re at” you can determine where you’re headed. Acceptance needs to be both intellectual and emotional for the strongest commitment to recovery.

2. Honesty/Dishonesty

These are conscious inward and outward expressions of acceptance and denial. Truth-telling at the most basic level is vital to your recovery process.

3. Authenticity/Inauthenticity

Authenticity, genuineness–this is what the higher self longs for. A way in which to live and express your truest, deepest, brightest essence without denying your flaws and weaknesses (and even accepting them.) Being stuck in Inauthenticity or phoniness limits your ability to rise above unhealthy feelings of shame. (Not all shame is unhealthy.)

4. Humility/Arrogance

True self-esteem requires Humility–the awareness that like everyone else, you have flaws and that’s okay. Humility helps you gain the deep recognition that other people’s perspectives, feelings, and beliefs are as important to them as yours are to you. Humility helps build relationships. Arrogance is a relationship-killer. Arrogance blocks your ability to connect deeply with others and your self. One can’t achieve spiritual growth without humility.

5. Complacency/Enthusiasm

If you don’t care about yourself or your recovery, it will be harder for others to do so. Being Complacent about your situation won’t lead to change. Working on developing Enthusiasm, will help. Enthusiasm is a choice.

6. Patience/Anger

Patience (with yourself, with others, with the Creator/Higher Power), is a sign of maturity. Patience is not to be confused with complacency. Patience means accepting what you can change and accepting that change takes time. Anger (at yourself, at others, at the Creator/Higher Power), disrupts connection.

7. Self-care/Selfishness

Taking care of yourself, respecting yourself, truly valuing yourself leads to behavior that is called “self-care.” Healthy boundaries are vital to self-care. Selfishness can be expressed by not living to your full potential, valuing your desires and wants not your thoughtful-spiritual nature, using others to meet one’s desires, manipulating boundaries so others fulfill your desires, and so on.

How to use these seven concept-pairs? If you are in therapy, you can ask your therapist to discuss each of these with you, to help you see where you’re holding with each pair. You can also meditate on them. Strengthen yourself by starting with focusing on your good points. Then move onto the issues you need to work on.






7 Insights You Can Use In Recovery From Mental Illness & Addiction

Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2016). 7 Insights You Can Use In Recovery From Mental Illness & Addiction. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 16, 2019, from


Last updated: 21 Sep 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Sep 2016
Published on All rights reserved.