By: Marilyn L. Davis
Changing: Start with the Insides
“I think that the best kind of change is the change that comes from the inside and begins its way out until it emerges on the outside; a change that is born underneath then continues and spreads until it has reached the surface.
That’s a true change. A powerful change. And I have found that while we are emerging, changing into something glorious; it is actually us becoming who we really are.― C. JoyBell C.
In early recovery, we often think of all the things about us that need changing. We know we want something better in our lives, or we have a strong desire to be different from who we were in our addiction. People tend to change when:
- They no longer like their outcomes.
- Courts or agencies mandate it.
- They are tired of their use.
- They see that their lives would improve.
- The family and friends are no longer tolerant of the behaviors and use.
Uncomfortable Feelings and Thoughts
New actions, thoughts, and feelings produce anxiety, worry, and embarrassment because we are not as adept at these new behaviors as our old. And when people feel discouraged, they often stop their changes half-way through the process.
Or they have created such unrealistic expectations for the changes that they can’t possibly make them. Both of these groups tend to make long lists of all the things to change. Unfortunately, the lists would take up an entire page and still not cover all the things that people think need changing, modifying, or improving.
Inside or Outside Changes?
And for many people, that list is about as far as they get – a statement about the need for changes without a plan to carry them out. Most of the time, the list looks something like the following:
- Get a better job and increase my salary by 100 K
- Get healthy and run a marathon
- Go to college and get my Doctorate
- Learn responsibility
- Make amends to everyone tomorrow
- Remain clean for the rest of my life
- Reunite with my estranged and stop the divorce proceedings
- Save money and invest in the stock market
- Sponsor people – I think 10 is a good number
- Take over the company – now that I’m clean I can carry out my ideas
Commenting without Changing Sets up Frustrations
The lists are daunting, overwhelming, challenging, and often unrealistic. Oh sure, they’ve identified a problem area of their life and may even be discussing it with others. But, it’s not enough to talk about change.
It’s often not even motivating to complain about what you want to change. And it’s certainly not going to happen if the changes are not realistic, to begin with; it’s a recipe for disaster and incomplete change.
Only complaining or commenting on a problem can create a lot of frustration, tension, and guilt. Many people stay stuck in the “desire to change” phase of recovery for several reasons. Some of the predictable ones are:
- You want to change but don’t know how to accomplish the changes.
- You do not wish to change badly enough to do the work required to change.
- You think if you say you want to change, that should be enough.
- You think if you do make changes, people might expect more changes from you in the future.
- You think that your changes will never be good enough for some people in your life.
Many people stay stuck in the cycle of complaining about something or avoid doing the work necessary to effect change. Not only are you disappointed in your non-action, but others are also, especially when they attempt to help with solutions that you reject.
So what can you do to make changes that move you towards your goals?
The fundamental question that you need to ask yourself is, do you have both the wish to change and are you willing to make an effort to improve.
Understand that there may still be obstacles even when you’re willing to put forth the effort to change. Some of them are:
- You are unable to think of any productive way to improve the situation
- You do not have a solution for the problem
- You know the answers but are unsure how to put it into action
Changing is Problem Solving
If you do not know how to change something, but genuinely want to change, ask others how they achieved a particular change.
And change is not just about appearances; it can also be:
- An Action
- An Attitude
- Different Wants
- Less Negative Feelings
- More Positive Thinking
- Realistic Needs
Again, change can produce fear but reflect on your life before recovery, and you realize that fear was present there as well, but you overcame it to carry out something. For some of you, it is the fear of the unknown, fear of success or failure, or fear that the “changed you” will not be as attractive as the old you. To quiet your worries, you can safely expect that if you do what other people had done in solving a similar problem that you will receive similar results.
What Do You Need To Do For Change To Occur?
- Acknowledge that a problem exists
- Ask knowledgeable people about changes
- Define what you want to change
- Determine any obstacles
- Honestly want to correct the problem
- Identify the actions and attitudes necessary for the changes
- Know how to change something
- Seek help if you need it
- Willingness to make an effort to improve
Who Are My Resources For Change?
- Family and Friends
- Online Information
- People in recovery supportive meetings
- Sponsors/accountability partners
Looking at the list, you see that you do have many resources to ask.
An Inside Change Might Be Asking Questions and Getting Answers!
And you know that you asked multiple people for solutions if it involved your use, so you have to be just as diligent in asking for help with recovery changes. Not all of them will have an exact solution for your particular change; they may not have had to change that aspect of themselves, or they may not think they know enough to help anyone else.
Now you’ve got the blueprint for change, one issue, one action, one step at a time – and I’m sure you’ll be pleased with your remodeling from the inside out.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart.
From Addict 2 Advocate Guest Posting
- What changes have you made in your recovery?
- Do you have solutions that will work for people struggling in their recovery?
- Know of ways to make changing easier?
- Do you want to write about your recovery and tell a mini story to encourage others?