An Unsuspected Trap in Your Recovery That Might Be Keeping You Stuck

“This is literally the last cigarette I’ll ever have, I swear.”

We all rolled our eyes. Our friend, Daniel, was a habitual quitter. I mean, he was really good at it because he quit smoking almost every day! The problem is that he was no good at actually getting better.

Most of us can relate, though. There’s that thing in our lives that we’ve wanted to kick for like…ever. Smoking, drinking, porn, procrastinating, blaming others, selfishness, anger, depression, self-harm, eating disorder, anxiety—we all have our “thing”. And while most of us feel like we have what it takes to overcome it, we’ve been stuck longer than we’d have liked to be.

So, if we really believe we can break our habits, why don’t we?


“Daniel, you realize you’ve said that to us for the past three weeks now, right?”

Daniel took a deep toke and exhaled. He squinted through the smoke and replied, “Today’s just been a rough day, Rich. I just needed a second to be ok. You gunna be a dick about it?”

I chuckled. But I also realized that Daniel said something profound that shed some light on why he—and why a lot of us—stays stuck.

What we really think to ourselves is that we could be free from our habits whenever we want. We believe that as soon as we set our minds to it, we can kick this thing and be done with it. So when we face stress in this moment and want to use our habit to decompress, we believe that we can get our release now and our freedom later. So, we get our fix and think we’ll fix the rest tomorrow.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Sometimes our belief that we “can” recover is what keeps us from actually recovering.” quote=”Sometimes our belief that we “can” recover is what keeps us from actually recovering.”]

The problem with our “potential” to recover is that it can get us trapped into thinking that being able to do something is enough. It becomes our go-to excuse when we are confronted with the fact that we haven’t done anything. We hide in our potential because, I mean, if I really wanted to, I could, right? It gives us permission to not actually do the thing we imagine we could do or become the person we imagine we could be. We get stuck believing that our imagination holds equal weight to our reality.

But when you boil it down, all that counts in life is action. Your imagination will never buy you a Ferrari. Your dreams will never feed your family. Your potential will never show up on life’s scoreboard. But when you act on your imagination, when you do work to make your dreams a reality, when you activate your potential, that’s what will count.

And life’s scoreboard won’t BS you. You are where you are because that’s all of the action you’ve taken to get yourself there. If you aren’t where you want to be in life, the cold truth is that it’s not because you can’t be where you want to be, but you just haven’t done enough to get yourself there.

Your thoughts, imagination, and potential won’t get you there. In fact, without action, those things are worthless. This isn’t to say stop believing in yourself. It’s actually the contrary. It’s a call to act on your belief in yourself. When we take ourselves out of the clouds and put our thoughts to the test in action, our lives actually begin to transform the ways we envision they can.

The bottom line is that your recovery will always fail if you don’t do something about it. Daniel still smokes today because he believes he can break free tomorrow. And he can, but the reason he’s still stuck is because he doesn’t. Everyone has the potential necessary to be free, even Daniel. But the ones who actually are free are the ones who did something about it today.

Activate your potential. Do whatever it takes to be free today. Take action on the belief you have in yourself because being free is far better in reality than it is in imagination.


  • AndrewTL7

    On point Nate. I’d say a lot of times we don’t actually give our 100% because there’s a little bit of us that still wants to hold on to the habit/addiction or perhaps we’re afraid of the cost of giving it up.

Leave a Comment


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.