The Power of Acceptance: Embracing Change for a Brighter Future
If you are reading this that means you made it through the holidays. Congratulations! — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are finally over and you can get back to your normal life. But, oh, those nagging New Year's resolutions!
If you are like most people though, you don’t exactly want to go back to the same old same old. You want to start off this year by living better, healthier, fuller, so you made a New Year’s resolution or two. At least that’s the way it started out. Now that we are several days into this brand new year, reality has set in and those resolutions are slowly fading away. You should not feel bad about that though. It’s quite normal. In fact, only 8% of Americans say they follow through with their New Year's resolution, and more than 25% fail within the first week. That’s not so surprising considering that many of the top ten New Year's Resolutions involve quitting addictive behaviors like smoking, drinking, gambling, or sexual acting out.
The problem with this type of New Year's resolution is that they cannot be resolved by you alone. If you have made resolutions like this, then you have probably broken them year after year and beat yourself up — and probably became depressed — all over something that is out of your control.
Wait a minute! Out of my control!?!?
Yes, that's right. You see, the very fact that you are making a New Years Resolution to stop doing or using drugs like nicotine, alcohol, benzodiazepines, cocaine or heroin, shows that you are struggling with a problem that has become too much for you to handle. The very act of setting the New Year's resolution is an indication that it has become a problem for you. Why do you think you continue to break these resolutions?
When you make a New Year's resolution or any other type of swearing off, you are essentially admitting to yourself that you need help controlling the issue. You are signaling your brain to focus on something and then acknowledging you need help with it. However, instead of looking for professional help such as an affordable rehab, addiction counselor, or treatment specialist, you tried to rely on setting an intention on an arbitrary date. A January 1st New Year's resolution is not a magic date that will make all your troubles go away. This tradition of setting goals for ourselves is great, as long as those goals are realistic, achievable and attainable. If you are suffering with addiction or alcoholism, setting a goal like this and trying to tackle it yourself will actually do more harm than good.
You cannot simply pick a date and say “I’ll stop drinking on this day”. Your addiction didn’t start in one day and the desire to continue using won’t end in one day. There was a series of factors, nature and nurture, that led you to a drink here, a smoke there, until suddenly you became dependent. Stopping by a resolution on a particular date for a day, a week, or a month only reinforces the mistaken belief that you have it 'under control'. "See", you say to yourself, "I can stop just by setting a resolution". If you are able to stay stopped and live with peace and contentment, that is wonderful! Goal achieved. However, if staying stopped is much more of a problem, you may be facing the challenge of addiction.
If you want to stop addictive behaviors, then you will have to do more than pick a date and try to stop — you will have to change many aspects of your life.
Here’s an Example:
When you are ready to face your nicotine addiction, and quit smoking, you may need to change your commuting routine in order to avoid convenient stores where the temptation to buy a pack of cigarettes is overwhelming. You can’t just decide to stop visiting that store, you have to figure out the steps that will make that an actual possibility.
What other reasons do you stop at that store? Morning coffee? Gas? If so, make your own coffee at home (it’s much better anyway), and use a credit/debit card to pay for your gas at the pump so you can avoid going inside the store. This is an over simplification, but serves to illustrate that many changes in all aspects of one's life is necessary in order to effect transformational change. In the first months of sobriety, you have to change your playmates and your playgrounds. In recovery we say you only have to change one thing, but that is everything!
If you made a New Year's resolution this year to stop drinking or quit other addictive substances or behaviors, there is still plenty of time to make that resolution a real possibility. But you cannot do it alone, no one can. The recovery slogan is:
You alone can do it, but you can't do it alone.
Try setting goals rather than making resolutions. Resolutions tend to be 'how' oriented. Such as 'I am going to go to the gym every day', where the 'what' is really something like: "I set a goal of being healthy'. Goals can be positive affirmations. Affirm the good. Set goals. Then, do your best, and let go of the outcome.
Maybe you need the accountability of a self help group setting, or the structure of a step by step program — like the Twelve Steps of AA, NA or Nicotine Anonymous— or maybe you need a full immersion, intensive, transformational, holistic approach. Whatever your needs may be, the counselors here at Serenity Vista will help you with your new design for living clean and sober, and help you stick to it by giving you the knowledge and tools you need to do so. Next year you could be setting a very different type of New Year's resolution…but it’s all about what you choose to do now. If you are ready to pay more than lip service to wanting to quit, then make the real decision to get the quality help you deserve.
Serenity Vista in Panama is unique in helping people become who they really are, by letting go of the things they are not. Honest, authentic, whole, clean, giving, loving, forgiving and forgiven, these are the qualities people walk out of their retreat with. Learn more, visit the website, or call us. We would love to chat with you about your options, not just for a new year's resolution, but for a whole, new, you! Don't just change one aspect of your life, transform it to one your love!
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