Persistence: Recovery Skill #6

  • The second to last recovery skill in this series is persistence, which is a skill that benefits everyone in all areas of life. You don't know unless you stick with it how something will turn out. Two things are at play: the result could seem so big you feel overwhelmed and you're immobilized before you even begin. Remember the wise words of Martin Luther King, "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."


    The key is to take the first step, and the next, and keep going. Break each goal or project into smaller, more manageable parts-take each step as it comes. It is possible to succeed even if you lack confidence in yourself or in ever achieving an objective. You do this by repeatedly taking action. The very act of doing something increases your confidence. So you don't have to be a naturally self-assured person; you develop it by doing one thing each day to move closer to the change you want to create.

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    If you're not convinced things will work out, I urge you not to give up hope. Hope is a competency when it comes to recovery. It enables us to keep taking action in the direction of our future even when we can't see the outcome and don't know if we'll ever get there. Hope enables us to persist. We can persist with hope even when the odds aren't good.

     

    Visualize a positive result in your head.  Imagine, even write down, what it will be like in your life when you've reached your destination, down to the details of where you're living, who's in your life, and what you're doing.  A faulty cognitive behavior is writing the end of the story before it's even begun, and too often we envision a negative outcome not based on facts or reality but on our emotions and feelings about what could happen.  Be aware of how you feel and listen to the thoughts in your head, and understand that they are neither good nor bad yet can influence the outcome.  Strive to be optimistic.  It is a trait you can learn.

     

    A corollary to persistence is getting involved: to break through barriers by expecting to be accepted. You should do what other people do out in the world: join clubs, serve on boards, travel, whatever you've decided you want to do, take that risk. Persistence is as simple as doing one thing each day to benefit you in recovery. Before long, you'll have turned a corner without knowing exactly when that happened.


    I read somewhere that salespeople who quit their careers early on would have succeeded had they just stuck it out. You never know what you can do until you try. It could take ten no's to get to a yes, and in this way it could take repeated tries before you succeed. The whole of success lies in persisting, even when you don't have the confidence that things will change, even when others don't respect you. You wake up every day and do what you have to do and fight for your right to be taken seriously. Nobody gives you anything; you claim it as your own. Recovery is your right.


    I want to end this SharePost by talking about the need to educate others who don't have SZ about what it's like to live with this medical condition. Of course if you risk disclosure it's possible other people are going to resist including you in their lives. However, I believe we should seek common ground with people who don't have MIs instead of isolating amongst ourselves. I'm reminded of a different kind of ignorance Nikki Giovanni talks about in her book, Racism 101, and how she urges college students faced with prejudice to set people straight. People with SZ who at best face ignorance and at worst are ignored also need to challenge others who perpetuate stereotypes. We need to persist in speaking up and getting involved.

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    That's why I recommend that as best you can you do the things other people do.


    In the last entry in this series, I'll talk about patience and why that recovery skill also matters.

     

Published On: March 08, 2009