By: Marilyn L. Davis
What Changes Do You Need to Make Today?
“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to made changes; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether to accept our destiny.” ― Paulo Coelho
For some of you, merely knowing what your choices have cost you or the consequences you have gotten is not enough to get you to change. Some people fear both success and failure. These fears will prevent you from moving forward and growing in your recovery. When someone tells you about what or how to change, your attitude can become the stumbling block.
Ask yourself what you hear when someone tells you how or what to change. Some of you hear:
- You’re bad
- Negative descriptions: a loser, idiot, or other negative connotations
- That you aren’t changing enough
- Your changes came too late to salvage something: relationships, jobs, children
Is The Message an Old One?
Negative messages from your past can also prevent you from making changes. And for some, well, they just get stubborn when someone else brings up the subject that they think are necessary. Clearly, if someone you care about has asked you to change, a court has told you to change, treatment is encouraging you to change, and a part of you wants to change, then you can look at the barriers within you that prevent you from fully and completely embracing change.
However, the good news is that the barriers and objections are within you, and that means you can overcome them. It’s just a matter of isolating them, examining them, and then changing what doesn’t work or fit anymore.
Do You Want Better Opportunities?
Even with people or courts telling you to change, you still choose not to change. If you’re not taking advantage of an opportunity to do something different, can you list the obstacles or barriers that prevent you from changing?
There are no right or wrong answers for this, and you should not edit them, thinking some of them are dumb or stupid.
Some barriers and objections to change might include:
- You are more comfortable in your old ways and do not want to be uncomfortable.
- How do you stop participating in life-long habits?
- Are there more important things to change immediately?
- You believe that change is too difficult.
- You disagree with some things you need to change.
- How do these people know what I need to change?
- You feel anxiety, and that’s a trigger to use.
- What if people do not like “a different” you?
When you make your list, use some from above if they describe your barriers and objections, but if they do not, then be honest, and come up with your own, so that it is personal and relevant to you.
Too many people process information from the perspective of, “Well, that didn’t describe me, so, I’m not like them.” It’s a selective viewpoint that may keep you stuck in your addiction.
We Choose What to Change
The ability to change perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, actions, and behaviors is within you. Let me explain the mechanics or mechanism of change.
Think about a typical day; you changed your mind about many things:
- What to wear
- Where to eat
- Which binge show will we watch
- Buy the newest book or not
- Out to dinner or stay in
Those happen in our use as well as our recovery. You had no problem making other choices about the things mentioned. You decided that the other available options would be more pleasant or enjoyable, so you had no problem changing.
However, the point is that we change daily.
Selective Changing Causes Conflict
Because our ability to change is always there, however, our choice of what to change is often selective. We change what we want to change. It is often when we cannot see the opportunity to improve our lives, or that we will feel better because of the change, we often balk, resist, or create barriers and objections to change.
Will the Outcomes Always Be Better?
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees. The changes will not bring about circumstances where you win the lottery since you spent the money on a ticket instead of drugs; that you will become witty, debonair and get the prom queen because you are now showering daily, or that your mothering instincts will magically kick in because you are not drunk.
What can happen is that these changes allow you to learn something new, that you might just experience a non-using relationship, and that you can now take a parenting class without the fear of nodding off. Drug dealers and high-end prostitutes have a hard time changing their perception of “making money.”
If they were successful, money was not the issue. Still, the threat of incarceration for both, the paranoia of the activity for both, the physical dangers of the occupations would have been present for both. Besides the money, the ego and control over others are hard to give up. So what, if anything, would make changing their occupations appealing to them? It certainly would not be the minimum wage job that their other skills qualify them for in the workforce. Therefore, income or lack of it could be an objection to recover.
I Hope These Changes Create a Better Life
They would have to find something that had enough personal appeal to change their attitude about their economic future in recovery.
- The dealer may have business savvy and skills that could help him in running another, legal business.
- The escort has learned a lot about people, and those skills could translate to customer services, marketing, and sales.
Granted, these are not necessarily high paying jobs, but they are a start towards legitimacy for both.
Start with Baby Steps
Some people think that the “change” has to come all at once, or that the first changes will be perfect. Rarely does this happen about the ideas, behaviors, and actions that you have operated from for years. However, you can make headway on the significant change by doing little things about it daily.
Many people don’t make changes because they procrastinate, or they spend hours thinking about changing. Then the project has gotten so large that it seems impossible. This happens for many of us in early recovery. We view the past and see all of our missed opportunities, wasted time, and damaged relationships. We don’t think we can ever repair any of it.
See what self-defeating behaviors cost you the opportunity, and then change them so that you won’t miss another.
From Hope to History that Recovery Works
Pick up the phone and call, make amends, or do something nice for those who support you. When you make that much headway, you’re often pleased with your progress and will spend a little more time on resolving some of your other issues.
You’ll probably feel a sense of relief that you’ve made progress, and you might even be encouraged to do a little more tomorrow. This attitude about change will work for cleaning your house, detailing your car, or removing barriers and objections to change, and all of them will improve your life and your recovery.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart