One Necessary Belief

I sat nervously at a front table in the hotel ballroom. I watched my daughter entertain my granddaughter. Elizabeth perched on Mary’s lap and chattered away while she colored enthusiastically. She paid no attention to my wife Sandy at the podium, or her Uncle Joshua or her Uncle Matt-Matt.

But I did. My wife and sons spoke about my role in their lives. They said nice stuff. I felt like I witnessed my funeral.

Then Matthew mentioned, “my dad believes in people”.  Yoly, (my colleague for the last 17 years), said that too.

Through all the noise of that evening, those words stuck.  I had not considered that about me. Sometimes people see traits in others that they don’t see. Ever happen to you?  I turned it over and over in my mind the next several days. Ultimately, I agreed with Matthew. I do believe in people. Previously, I phrased it this way.

“I trust people until they give me a reason not to.”

Others only trust people once they have earned it. Both perspectives are valid. Which one do you hold?

I brought this topic up at the CCAR weekly leadership team meeting. I asked a couple questions.

Who believed in you when you were young?

Who do you believe in now? 

The depth of their answers moved me.  With emotion I affirmed my deep, deep belief that Yoly, Rebecca, Stacy and Michael are highly capable of performing their jobs; jobs that grow in responsibility as CCAR thrives.  Furthermore, I believe in all 32 CCAR staff members. I trust them to perform their job duties well.  We all share this belief

I asked another question.

Is there one belief every recovery coach must possess?

We drew a conclusion. Yes. A recovery coach must hold one absolute truth or they could not possibly do the job.

A recovery coach MUST believe that recovery is possible for anyone.

Simple. Right? Yet do you know people who don’t believe this?

On one extreme, some people believe that we’d all be better off if the addicted person dies. Some say it publicly, but not many. Do you think many people might harbor that belief, but never speak of it? That’s one reason that when CCAR advocates for recovery, we move beyond saving lives.  We move to redeeming lives… or restoring lives… or transforming lives.

Think about the addicted person in the emergency department, or the police station, or on the street. When was the last time anyone believed that recovery was possible for him or her?

Therein lies the power; the magic of connection; the instillation of hope.

Belief in recovery for anyone– necessary and vital for a recovery coach.

Phil Valentine
Phil Valentine

In 2015, I finished a thruhike of the entire Appalachian Trail, a trek of 2,189.2 miles. It took 189 days and 6 pairs of boots.  During that sacred time, my purpose in life became more precisely defined.  I am, simply, to coach recovery.  Recovery saved me from an early demise and brought purpose to my tattered life.  I have learned that I’m a coach to my very core. I am blessed to put the two together. I started work at the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) in January 1999.  I became the Executive Director of this recovery community organization in 2004.  I have trained the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© dozens of times and have a hand in modifying, improving and adapting various recovery coach curricula.  I’m old enough now to start considering my legacy. This is one way for me to share lessons learned in my recovery, in my role as Executive Director and a trainer. When I engage with others, I present the same messages repeatedly.  It’s time to write them down.

Phil “Right Click” Valentine
Recovery established 12.28.87

5 thoughts on “One Necessary Belief”

  1. We may sail on different ships, but we’re all in the same boat.

    Recovery is possible…for anyone.

    Good write Phil-


  2. I particularly love this blog! I love the message – we MUST believe that recovery is possible for everyone we come across. What the hell else are we doing out there?

    I also see what you did there with the opening scene. Nice! 🙂

    See you soon!

  3. richard pacukonas

    Interesting. We must be walking along the same recovery wavelength. Today’s proverb: “Thought+action= thaction, and good thactions change the world.”
    Belief alone is valuable but non-sustainable. Embraced beliefs need the courage of change – than all things are possible for those who trust God.
    PS: that’s not you.
    PPS: believe it or not I DO believe in you. Stay teachable.

  4. I am always inspired by your blogs – Yes recovery is possible for anyone!
    And that phrase “I trust people until they give me a reason not to.” – that is real helpful for me today as I try to ally with a young nephew who was raised in foster homes and seems to be stuck in depression and of course started using : (
    Thank you

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