One of the most feared topics in early recovery is change. Many of us that are new to recovery struggle with change because it can be uncomfortable and it is something that we are not used to. In recovery, we must change or we are destined to go back to our old ways. Putting down the drugs and alcohol is the first step on the road to change, but with that comes much more.
Change can be scary for anyone. When we become comfortable with something it is hard to let it go, especially if it is something that had as much control over us as drugs and alcohol did. In the end, it wasn’t just about the substance. We formed a whole lifestyle around it. It controlled our actions and the way that we thought. Change is necessary and must happen in order to achieve sobriety and recovery. When we are changing, we are growing, and that growth is what keeps us moving forward. It is what moves us further away from where we have been and who we used to be.
In treatment and in other recovery programs, they say we must change people, places, things, and situations. These are the basic fundamentals of change. Starting to make new friends, hanging out in different places, and being a part of a new crowd that enjoys similar hobbies and/or activities is a great starting point. This is a vital part of early recovery and is a good way to slowly disconnect ourselves from the lives we once lived.
Now that we’re in recovery, we have made it past some very big hurdles. We have made huge life changes and we should be proud of our accomplishments. However, recovery does not mean we can stop improving ourselves and our life. Once we are out of treatment and back to so-called real life, it can be easy to slip back into old habits. Even if we avoid relapsing, we may not be living our best life if we go back to our old ways.
Here are some tips on making positive and lasting changes in our lifes:
- Make positive choices. This sounds annoyingly simple, but it is a simple truth. We make changes by making choices, and we have hundreds of opportunities every day. When we wake up in the morning, we get to decide if we roll over and go back to sleep or get up and exercise. We get to choose to be nice to someone at work or take our bad mood out on him. We get to choose to sulk at home feeling bad for ourselves or to go out with our friends. Remember that we have choices and that these are how we make positive changes.
- Set goals. Considering every choice we make every day is important to making changes, but if we don’t know what our goal is, we are making choices blindly. We can achieve any goal as long as we make it specific, reasonable and timely. For example, if we want to lose weight, set a specific number. We want to lose 20 pounds, not just some weight. If we are 20 pounds or more overweight, this is a reasonable goal. We can actually achieve it. Set a time limit and a schedule. We want to lose one pound a week for 20 weeks. Now that we have a goal, every choice we make can be directed toward it.
- Start small. We have made some major life changes already in becoming sober. Now that we are on a roll, we may be tempted to change everything else all at once. This will only be overwhelming and doomed to fail. When we fail, we will find it even more difficult to motivate ourselves to make other changes. Choose one goal at a time to focus on and save others for later.
- Rely on support. Social support is so crucial to everything we do as human beings. In getting sober, we relied on the support of our friends and family, our peers in treatment, and our therapists and other caregivers. Now that we are in recovery and looking to change our life in other positive ways, we can continue that trend. Enlist a friend to work out with you. Go to regular support group meetings. Tell your partner about your goals so he can help keep you accountable.
- Reward yourself. Making changes is not as easy as this list of tips makes it sound. It is incredibly difficult to change our behaviors. When you reach goals or even milestones within our goals, give yourself a reward. Just make sure it’s a positive reward and is in line with your new changes.
Making positive changes isn’t always easy, but it is worth the reward. As you learn to live your life sober, take the lessons you learned from treatment and these tips in order to become a better person with a more fulfilling and satisfying life.