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Mental health recovery can be a long and exhausting process. Mental illness and addiction often result in a loss of identity and self. It can be hard enough to find purpose in your life without experiencing mental illness or addiction, and it may only become more challenging when the additional elements play a factor. It can be difficult to know who you want to become or find meaning for your own recovery

Although this is common and frustrating, it may help to know that you are not alone. Most people will experience times in their life when they feel lost or confused with their own existence. It’s important to remember that life is a journey in itself. There are steps you can take to create and identify your own purpose—whether that be finding purpose in your recovery or in your life. 

What Does It Mean to Find Purpose?

Society today stresses the eat, sleep, work, and repeat schedule. Unless we are exposed to other ways of life, we fall into our society’s conditioning. Often people work in careers merely for money, which is understandable, as the world runs on money. A more meaningful existence might mean working for a job that makes you excited to get up in the morning because you are impacting someone else’s life in a positive way. This is one example of what is meant by finding purpose. 

In mental health and addiction recovery, purpose can mean something different for each person. Typically, purpose is something that drives an individual to be an active participant in their recovery, finding enjoyment in daily life. Purpose motivates others to have passion in the things that they do or for the people that they are around. Although purpose may be more goal-oriented for some, it generally involves identifying meaningful reasons to be engaged in your present life experience. 

If Purpose Is Different for Everyone, How Can I Find My Purpose?

Before you are able to find or identify your own purpose, it is important to reflect on your own life and discover who you are. You could try to ask close family members and friends for their opinions, although you are likely to find that each person will give you very different answers. Here are some questions you can reflect upon to find out who you are:

  • What are some activities that I enjoy?
  • What do I like to learn about?
  • What do I dislike talking about?
  • What brings meaning to my life?
  • What relationships make me feel whole?
  • What characteristics do I favor in others?
  • What characteristics do I have that I am proud of?
  • What have I done that I am proud of?
  • What do I want to change?
  • What kind of person do I want to be?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What are my weaknesses?

You may find yourself coming up with new answers to these questions as you ask them to yourself repeatedly over the weeks or months ahead. You are constantly changing and evolving, which will be reflected in your answers. After some time of reflection, you may uncover where some of your passions lie. If you get stuck, you could try to ask yourself more specific questions to narrow down your answers, such as:

  • Do I have a connection to animals?
  • Am I passionate about any particular social justice topic(s)?
  • How do I feel when I serve others?
  • Am I religiously or spiritually moved?
  • Do I enjoy creative expression?
  • Do I enjoy educating others?
  • Am I good at playing any particular instrument?
  • Do I enjoy traveling or adventure?

These only scratch the surface of topics that you may be passionate about. The key to finding your purpose is to identify and explore different opportunities that life presents your way. Especially in recovery, healing is a lifelong process. It is essential to note that life is a temporary experience that everyone deserves to find joy within. 

Be Present in the Moment

During the moments that you find yourself struggling to understand your purpose, focus on what you can appreciate and be grateful for in the present moment. You may find that your purpose might be to just enjoy the process and life experience in itself—which is perfectly okay. Mindfulness is a powerful tool for people in and outside of mental health recovery, as it helps to focus on the present moment. The present moment is all that we ever have; tomorrow is not promised and neither is your very next breath. Being present can help you enjoy the gift of life while bringing awareness to all of the components that make life what it is! 

Finding your purpose can be an overwhelming challenge, however, it can foster deeper meaning for your recovery as well as your well-being. Purpose is anything that drives motivation to get up in the morning or be excited to experience the day. Purpose is subjective for everyone. It is essential to practice self-reflection to understand personal values, strengths, weaknesses, and passions. Self-reflection can help you to discover the things that bring joy and meaning to your life, which could potentially turn into a career later on. In the moments you feel overwhelmed or discouraged, turn to mindfulness. Mindfulness can remind you that the present moment is all you ever have, teaching you to appreciate and enjoy it. West Coast Recovery Centers values the importance of discovering purpose for recovery and for life. Through the combination of traditional and holistic treatment approaches, we will help you on your journey of self-discovery. Call us at (760) 492-6509

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