Resolving to restore – one day at a time!
The beginning of the year always feels like a time for transformation. The media is saturated with “new year, new you” messages. But for many of us who live with family with substance abuse problems, or who grew up with parents who are addicts in homes with substance abuse … getting through the holidays is just a stressful reminder of how so many things stay the same. The alcoholic may still be drinking, the addict may still be using, the crazy family dynamic is not getting any better, everyone has the same fight at Christmas dinner that they have every year, and on and on. The New Year can end up feeling like a depressing rut of hopelessness, rather than an opportunity to put a stake in the ground and really make a change!
Regardless of what the other people in your life are doing the New Year is a great time to make a commitment to restoring yourself to happiness, serenity, and gratitude in your own life. The opportunities and the impacts that will flow from that are boundless and truly transforming! So, instead of concentrating on how to cope with addiction in the family … dig in and concentrate on building the life that you want for yourself. Here’s how.
Be the person you want to be
We all came into the world ready to be our best selves and many of us got pulled off course in a variety of ways throughout our lives to this moment. But if you are ready to be the person you want to be, and if you are ready to live your life fully these four tips that you can work on through the year will start moving you in the direction you want to go. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and transformation does not take place over night. These tips are designed for you to practice in succession, and building on each other as you take the time to make each one a new habit.
1. Give Up!
If you want to change anything you have to start by stopping: stopping the behavior that doesn’t work so that you create room for behavior that does. This can be incredibly hard because all of our regular behaviors are habits and habits are hard to stop. Instead of thinking of this in the negative as something that you have to stop doing, instead we think of this as creating room for positivity by doing more positive things. When we add positives we often find that the negative don’t have room to stick around.
Pick two things that you want to add to your life; more gratitude, more time with friends, exercise, reading, etc. Pick two and only two; habits are hard to build, if you start with too many at once it is very hard to succeed at any.
2. Own Up!
Now that you have your two picks make a list for each one: three reasons why you want to add this thing to your life. If any of the reasons are for another person cross it off your list. If you are not doing this for you, it means that is not for you and you won’t have the motivation to succeed long-term.
3. Make Up!
Schedule your new habits. Do it at the same time every day or on whatever schedule you have set. If you have a smart phone set a reminder, if this is a first thing in the morning habit write yourself a note and put it up where you will see it first thing. Don’t rely on your memory, you are going to need help to build a new behavior and you can start by helping yourself.
4. Keep Up!
Check in with yourself every day for the first week of success to see how you are doing. If you missed your goal that’s okay, acknowledge it, think about why without any negative language. Just state the facts, observe what happened and start again the next day. After seven consecutive days of success for a daily habit or seven weeks for a weekly habit shift to checking in once a week. If you don’t get to seven days of seven weeks the first time, that’s okay, just start the counting over and know that you’ll get there eventually, even if it takes all year! The key is to do this for consecutive days or consecutive weeks and not get dejected if you miss. You can start over, over and over and over.
Focus on something important every day
The reason that most resolutions fail is because we go in with an all or nothing attitude. We expect to transform over night just by saying this is something we want to do, but doing something different is really about learning something new. The goal for this year is to start one day at a time, focusing on something important to ourselves (perhaps as an alternative to obsessing about addiction and the family) and caring about ourselves enough to keep that focus, enthusiasm, support and attention as long as we need it through the whole year!