addiction recovery

Commitment – The Container for Alchemical Transformation

Of the realms of enemies limiting our growth and keeping us stuck in what feel like inescapable scenarios, our aversion to commitment is one of the biggest culprits. 
Commitment is the alchemical container in which transformation can occur. Without it we can find ourselves flailing, at the whim of our environments, easily distracted and chronically disappointed that our attempts to change were yet again fruitless and futile. Wishful thinking and time in and of itself rarely repair wounds or deconstruct habits. 
addiction recovery
Our unfurling requires deliberate tending. A heart-felt dedication to a promise to ourselves. The deepest desire to bend with the wind. We become the tree and the solid ground, the roots and the soil beneath us, anchoring ourselves in our own devotion and longing amidst the inevitable swelling and contracting of life.
But the concept of commitment and accountability create a chasm in our souls and frequently ‘make the nomadic heart quiver with dread’ (Toko-pa Turner). We recoil from restriction, from what we perceive as stifling and smothering, and instead lurch towards immediacy, intoxicated by the illusion of freedom that instant gratification brings. We follow our fluctuating feelings, bowing to them as a barometer of truth, but the Pied Piper they are not.
Instead of becoming free, we often find ourselves lost in the same overgrown maze. Whilst we may associate commitment with limitation and the heaviness of imposition, paradoxically it actually engenders freedom. It allows for profound exploration and the spaciousness for us to bloom, but with the solidity and nurturance of life-affirming roots sustaining us.
So what helps us stick with our resolve, instead of reversing back into the old familiar path?
importance of commitment


The idea of indefinitely or forever can fill us with fear. Our brains can rarely wrap around an undefined seemingly infinite stretch of time. It feels daunting, disheartening, impossible. It sends some of us screaming in the other direction.

But focusing just on one day, just for today, we cease to question our capability and can relax into possibility. Forever feels intolerable, today is achievable.

Keeping a promise to ourselves for just one day allows us to breathe, instead of being buried beneath the burden of indeterminable time. The valve of self-imposed pressure is released and we can dissolve our own overwhelm. We then commit again tomorrow, just for today, and we witness with wonder as the days become weeks and the weeks become months.


Connecting to our intention behind the action we’d like to take or the decision we’re trying to make can also keep us committed. What is it we’d like to feel instead? What is the ‘why’ within our bones propelling us forward?

Intention is incentive, gently amplifying our souls calling when our mind is resisting and fabricating excuses. And excuses it will make! The pull of past patterns so very intoxicating. Persistent reinstating of our intention brings us back from distraction. 

When I got sober, connecting to my ‘why’ was essential for shifting me out my immobilised state. I’d stripped myself of every single survival strategy, every coping mechanism that had kept me alive until that point. Tormented by deafening voices telling me to drink, my inner landscape was utterly brutal. I was raw and vulnerable, teetering on the tightrope between my old self and an unimaginable future. I wanted to jump constantly. I wanted off. I ached for a reprieve, but my desire to get well outweighed my desire to stay the same. Marginally.

So I kept connecting to that desire, that tiny little internal whimper wanting things to be different, wanting to feel different. They said ‘don’t quit before the miracle happens’ and I clasped onto their promise for dear life. Every time the temptation to drink did its little dance, I’d remind myself of this illusory miracle – my intention to transform my suffering into something else, my cavernous desire to get well. It worked. One day at a time.

The same is true for the untangling of all habits, big and small. 


Quite frustratingly, a one time declaration is usually insufficient. Repetition is essential. The prospect of neuroplasticity is tantalisingly real, our incredible capacity to rewire and reorganise our brain connections, but the creation of new pathways doesn’t eradicate the old. Our habitual cortical routes remain intact.

It is only through repeatedly realigning our intentions and our actions, revisiting and renewing our commitment again and again and again that we solidify the changes in our nervous systems. 

But why is commitment so damn difficult? The decision to change something within our internal or external environment invariably leads to many a blockade upon our path.
importance of commitment


We are often unwilling to tolerate the inevitable inner turbulence created when taking intrepid steps in a new direction. Stretching the boundaries of our comfort zone is scary and unsettling. We awaken all sorts of anxiety, depression, fear and fatigue and our aversion to these feelings will redirect us back the way we came. We find ourselves inadvertently rerouted back to familiarity and ‘safety’ – soothed, but slowly slipping into stagnancy.

Our job is to navigate our way in and around these disruptive feelings, not allowing them to deter us from our course – to hold the tension of wanting to quit while remaining committed to the end goal. A little short term pain for long term gain, resisting the allure of short term gain, which only serves to prolong our long term pain. 

With immeasurable amounts of clarity and courage, determination and devotion to our intention, we get to transcend our discomfort and move through it. Witness our internal wailing with love (name it to tame it) and focus far ahead on where we want to be. 


If, like me, you and perfectionism are old friends, the tiniest detour off course can feel like tumbling into a ravine. Never just a stumble, always a powerless plummet into defeat. A day or two off can feel like losing our way entirely and it’s easy to give up. Corrosive inner dialogue cements our decision to quit. Inertia comes to play.

Instead of succumbing to the subtle bewitching tones of perfectionistic tendencies, could you consider this an invitation to recommit? Submerge yourself in compassion. Ease your heart open with softness. Lean into the inevitability of imperfection, embrace the mess, and reconnect with your intention. 


Most of us by now have been suctioned into a vortex of instant gratification, impatient to our core. We’ve lost our ability to sit with uncertainty, to be with not knowing. Fingertips gravitate to google. We crave convenience, efficiency, answers.

But the day we plant the seed is not the day we eat the fruit. Can we instead re-learn the art of endurance? The power in perseverance? And await with the faintest of awe in our eyes at our own unfolding?

Instead of holding the concept of commitment with hostility in our hearts, can we begin to embody the necessity of it? See it as unconditionally intertwined with our deepest yearnings. The vessel for bringing our longings into being. Can we commit to our soul’s whisper, with the tenderest of steps. And don’t quit before the miracle happens.

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