Lessons in Recovery: The Seven Most Essential Qualities Needed For Healing to Begin

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Everyone who seeks help is suffering and feeling inner pain to an extent. It’s often the driving force behind asking for help.

People finally get sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. If truth be told, most are also terrified of their life continuing as it is.

They have run out of ideas. They have reached rock bottom.

This is true whether they’ve been suffering from an addiction (including alcoholism), or such as anxiety or depression.

Of course, there might be some exceptions but overwhelmingly it’s this pain – and the fear of life relentlessly continuing as it is – that provides the greatest incentive for people to reach out for help.

Resistance is the main problem 

One thing I’ve seen repeatedly, sadly and sometimes tragically, is that some people do not start recovery because they think things will just improve on their own in time. Others still believe they can fix themselves, which is overwhelmingly not the case.

Nearly always, mental health problems, including addictions, will just get progressively worse if left untreated. Resistance to facing the reality of the problem is one of the main reasons why this happens.

Frequently, it is the shame of how someone’s life has become that gives them enough humility to ask for help. If they find a counselor, therapist, or coach – or join 12-Steps meetings, a support group, or a recovery center – they can get the help they need from people who understand their problems.

This is the start of the journey. 

From this very first step, recovery needs a willingness to embrace certain traits that are essential for healing to begin.

The seven most essential qualities needed for healing to begin


Humility involves realizing our limitations, admitting we have a problem, and then being open to asking for and accepting help. 

By being humble like this, we become willing to hear new perspectives, try out new suggestions, and are more open to possibilities for change.

This enables us to self-reflect and start making the changes that are much needed – and to begin growing mentally, emotionally and spiritually.


Being honest with ourselves and others, and admitting there’s a problem, is a key aspect of recovery. We cannot find a solution for anything until we admit there’s a problem in the first place. This is why the first two words of the 12 Steps recovery programme are: “We admitted… .”

This isn’t easy – it really takes courage to admit there’s a problem. Even more so, to admit that it’s a problem we don’t know how to (or cannot) fix ourselves.

Denial stops or hinders us from making any changes that are necessary. So, rigorous honesty is the foundation on which recovery is built.

We must always be thoroughly honest – not only to anyone who we’ve trusted to help us but also to ourselves. For some people it’s the first time they’ve ever done this, and it will feel uncomfortable, but the results will be fully positive and worth it.


When someone reaches a point of real desperation and desire for everything to be different, they will become driven to take the steps towards healing. It’s a strong desire for change that really starts the recovery journey.

However, it is essential that this desire is maintained. It’s a burning motivation to leave behind old ways and patterns, and to embrace a new all-round healthy way of living.

Everyone can clearly see how this sort of desire needs to be maintained with our physical fitness. For instance, if someone went to the gym and ate healthily for six months they’d get fitter and be able to see the positive results.

But then if they stopped exercising and started to eat unhealthily, everything that they’d worked so hard for would gradually start to slip away. Fairly swiftly, they could even become more unhealthy than they were before they started.

It’s exactly the same with our emotional, spiritual and mental health. We have to keep on doing what we’ve discovered to work in order to keep on seeing the positive results.

In my experience, it really doesn’t take much time or effort once you get started. Without doubt, it is far less time consuming and requires far less effort than struggling on in the old way.

Having to keep that desire and continuous effort is a real positive though because it means we will keep on growing. Just as mental health problems get progressively worse unless looked at, so recovery gets progressively better if we keep on working it.

As is said at the end of many 12 Steps meetings: “It works if you work it, so work it, you’re worth it.”


Courage is a vital quality needed to start and continue with any recovery journey. People need to face their fears as well as find it in themselves to embrace change.

Courage is the ability to step into the unknown and to challenge unhealthy patterns. These might be patterns that have been in a family for generations.

So courage and bravery are needed to break these habitual cycles. This can be done with love for your family, but also an understanding that certain ways are not working for you in your life.

Courage is also needed in order to be vulnerable, which is an integral aspect of recovery. As professor, author, and podcast host Brené Brown says: “Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”


Open-mindedness means someone will listen to and then explore solutions they may not have previously considered – or that they have previously considered but dismissed.

This is even more important when a suggested solution seems to be the complete opposite of what they were thinking or have been trying. That’s my experience: in recovery there are many paradoxes.

One that comes to mind is that I was advised by the person I’d asked for help to get up half an hour earlier, to meditate and write a gratitude list. I’d already told him that I was feeling tired all the time – but I was open to trying it as I was so beaten in life at that time that I was willing to try anything.

I discovered that waking up the way he suggested gave me positive energy for the morning and throughout the day. This was instead of my old way of sleeping for longer but waking up to a bombardment of worries, despair, demands and frustrations: all things that stole positive energy.

So, getting into successful recovery means being able to set aside preconceived ideas and judgments – and then becoming willing to try different approaches, even if they challenge our current beliefs. This is the way that people will find new recovery paths that lead to lasting, positive transformations.

Self-discipline and dedication

young woman sitting on couch in therapy

Self-discipline and dedication are vital for recovery and emotional well-being. They are needed from the very beginning and then ongoing as well.

This means making consistent choices aligned with the recovery path, following recommended practices, and staying committed to personal growth. This includes everything from writing positive affirmations or gratitude lists to getting to 12-Steps meetings or seeing your therapist every week… without fail.

It’s worth remembering that the word “discipline” derives from a Latin word meaning “knowledge” – so when we are disciplined it means we are increasingly gaining knowledge. Through this knowledge, people in recovery develop the resilience and determination needed to get over any problems and to keep making progress.

Dedication really sits alongside desire. It’s the total commitment to maintain recovery, while navigating life’s many ups and downs. Dedication ensures that people always put their recovery at the top of the priority list and turn up every day to do the work.

As the axiom goes: anything we put above recovery, we’ll end up losing anyway.

It’s so much better not to learn this the hard way.

Treatment at Tikvah Lake Recovery Center

Recovery is a transformative journey that really needs these seven essential qualities to be successful and lasting. The good news is that everyone has them, even if at first it seems difficult to believe this. 

However, sticking at it, with support and guidance along the way, means that people will soon know this is the right and only way they can live their life – and become the person they are truly meant to be.

At Tikvah Lake, our compassionate team has extensive expertise and experience in treating all emotional and mental health problems, including addiction. We offer a variety of effective and long-lasting proven treatment options, along with aftercare plans and support to help you transition back into everyday life.

Situated in a breathtaking natural environment, our secluded luxurious campus is thoughtfully designed for your recovery and well-being, to guarantee the best possible outcome. 

Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one in finding the support and care you need.

David Hurst - Tikvah Lake Recovery

About David Hurst

David Hurst has four books published on mental health recovery, including 12 Steps To 1 Hero, The Anxiety Conversation and Words To Change Your Life. He has written for national newspapers and magazines around the world for 30 years including The Guardian, Psychologies, GQ, Esquire, Marie Claire and The Times. He has been in successful continual recovery since January 2002.

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