In a recent study, sports psychologists researched several elite athletes who were afflicted with some type of adversity or serious injury. Initially, each athlete reported feeling isolated, emotionally unstable, and had doubts about their athletic ability. But afterward – after healing – those same athletes reported gaining a desire to help others through their adversities and injuries; gleaning new insight; and they developed an understanding of their own true strengths. In other words, every fear and doubt they felt during the adversity or injury turned into greater abilities, greater growth, in those exact areas after recovering.
In psychology, this is called “adversarial growth,” or “post-traumatic growth.” And it’s the in-built natural process of life.
“That which does not kill me only makes me stronger” is not a mere cliché, but a fact of science and can be easily learned in the school of life, if only we’re paying attention!
As a personal trainer for over 15 years, I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that lifting weights doesn’t really build muscle. Did you know this?
No, lifting weights actually destroys muscle fibers. It tears and breaks them down. It is the period of recovery and restoration following the weight lifting in which the muscles are rebuilt stronger and better. It is the sleep and nutrition that really does the work of building muscle. The resistance of the weight causes the muscle to break down; the rest, recovery, and nourishment afterward allows them to heal, growing stronger.
Do you see the parallel between muscular growth and personal growth?
Adversity (resistance) may break us down for a while. But if we persist, allowing ourselves a period for rest, recovery, and healing, we will get stronger and better. This is a universal truth in addiction recovery as well. There isn’t a single recovered addict that will say life isn’t better on the other side or that they aren’t stronger for haven’t gone through what they did.
Just like the athletes in the study mentioned above, recovering addicts who have had time to heal and grow – who went through all the isolation, pain, suffering, emotional turmoil, financial ruin, and doubt about their worth in life – ALL came out on the other side stronger, better and with new insights and a newfound ability to help others through their healing and recovery.
There is ALWAYS hope. Never give up, even though the road to recovery may seem arduous, slow, and daunting. It’s a road worth traveling. The more clean time you gain, the better off you’ll be and the stronger you will get. Not just for yourself, but for others. I believe there is purpose to life, but it’s up to us to discover and live that purpose.
Recovering addicts all share a common purpose: to help others through their addiction and into the light of recovery and healing.