By Scott Swanezy
Every year in January, people have goals they want to achieve in the coming year. They call these goals, “New Year’s Resolutions”. The reality is that few of them achieve their goals by the end of the year. The majority get side tracked, lose strength, or just give up.
Do you want to begin a new year with new life, new energy or new hopes? What you need to know is that there are certain blockers that make these new resolutions short lived. In fact, every time that you make a new commitment, it will be challenged. But the good news is that you can make lasting positive changes in your life, whether you are still using or drinking.
Where is the breakdown, where do things go wrong? For me, I have good excuses. I also didn’t have anyone who I knew that was doing the right thing or living a new life. More to the point, I did not care about helping anyone. I was selfish for the majority of my life.
What did I do right that you can also do? When you are absolutely tired of the results you are getting you should do something different. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. No one has to talk you into it, bribe you, or force you. You are convinced you are not doing life that way anymore. Right?
Consider the following 3 ways to have a new life:
1. When we desire change, we need to put a plan together. Lots of times there are loop holes for failure. That way we aren’t forced to change. We leave ourselves a way out.
Planning is great, but execution is better. A lot of people talk but very few follow through. If you could have done it on your own, you would have done it by now. When I start planning, I put accountability first (ie, reporting to someone about progress or setbacks), evaluation second and victory last. This makes it hard to hide when I slip up. My accountability would call me seeing if I was still on the path to success.
Here are some examples of accountability:
If you want to lower your drinking amount or stop binge drinking, tell someone about it. Then, you should set clear limitations for alcohol moderation. Clearly define for yourself HOW MUCH is too much. Finally, seek medical help if that’s not working for you.
If you suspect your recreational drug use is getting out of control, first talk to your doctor. Or seek help from a trusted friend or family member. Then, research withdrawal and know what symptoms to expect. Finally, check in a detox clinic in your area to make the first step towards recovery.
We tend to leave room for failure in our planning. No boundaries. No accountability.. No victory plan. Change your plan and change your life!
2. Most people think change is just on the inside. Reality is: change is from the inside out. New life is not kept by living in old environments. What we see, smell, taste, and feel affects our lives positively or negatively. For example, if your goal is not to do drugs, then you will definitely need to stop hanging out around the friends that are still comfortable doing drugs.
Or consider this: if you vow to stop binge drinking you can no longer visit the drinking parties or go hang out at the club. Most would say. “Well, I’m not drinking”, just as most of us have said to ourselves. But, 99% of the people will be drinking in excess. So you would be the 1% without an alcoholic drink in hand. But, eventually, there is a risk that you will cave to the surrounding. To stand a chance at succeeding in the 1%, I found that surrounding myself with a support system made the difficult possible. Support systems make the unbearable, bearable. I am able to vulnerable in a safe environment, while also getting validation for my commitment to my goals.
3. The moment you make up your mind about something is the moment change begins. New life starts in the heart, then the mind, then your body does what your mind and heart tell it to do. Your life is the result of this process.
So, if you want a new life, what should your thought processes be like? There is a belief that after 21 days your thoughts or actions become habits. Most of us that have been in an addictive cycle have done bad things over and over again. My addictions were a direct result of my thought life. I would have a thought to use a substance, and I would act upon that thought. So, my advice to you is to to stop it at the thought stage.
Don’t let it linger.
Don’t entertain it.
The longer hou let a thought sit the mmore power it builds in your mind.
Scott Swanezy LCSW is an addiction and substance abuse counselor in Westchester County. He can be reached at 914-434-9945 and visit outofthefog.info for more information.