While on a trip recently, I had an opportunity to talk with a young man engaged in his new life of sobriety. He said it was difficult in the beginning, which was only two weeks or so ago, but he is learning new ways to live.
“The hard part wasn’t staying sober, because I was ready to do that. It was figuring out what I do with that sobriety – what do I engage in to keep me from going back to it?”
I used this interaction as inspiration to write this post. It’s not necessarily about sobriety, but that’s the context within it is written. My intent is to share a story of change. The struggle that we all face to do something different from what we are so familiar with.
Be patient with yourself.
“These are the biggest challenges. What do I do instead of drink? What kinds of things am I going to enjoy when I’m like this (sober) all the time? I’m answering those questions, slowly.”
Anytime we change something in our life, it can feel a bit foreign. A new routine. A different schedule. A new friend. A healthier diet.
We are creatures of habit. And so doing things because “that’s how I’ve always done it” is a mainstay. Giving yourself a chance to get used to a change is the norm. Knowing (and even expecting) that you’ll need to work a little more, to practice and become familiar with something new – a new habit – goes a long way.
Give yourself the opportunity.
This young man had always talked about the importance of giving ones self an opportunity to do things, but never applied it to this (sobriety) aspect of his life.
“It took me a long time to realize that tolerating things by using alcohol was the way I got through the week.” “Now, I’m giving myself the opportunity to discover things that I like, and things that I like to DO, so I don’t HAVE to drink.”
“This isn’t the first time I’ve wanted to stop drinking. Each time I learned a little more. I think I was doing it for the wrong reasons.”
As in life, making a change can take some persistence and requires a learning curve. Feeling as if you are “back where you started” fan feel and look like failure. Don’t discount what has been learned from the experience of trying.
“I needed those experiences to get to the next step. Part of me wanted to beat myself up about it, but I just took it in stride and told myself another opportunity will come along. And it did, every time.”
He didn’t force himself to “try again” right away. He thought about it, considered what he learned. And when he arrived at his next conclusion or idea, he would go for it.
“I don’t know how long I’ll not drink this time. I don’t necessarily plan on staying sober for the rest of my life.” “… I just want to do that now. It’s important to me. And because of that, I do things to give me a better chance of staying sober.”
Some may say he’s lucky to have a healthy desire for himself. Sometimes we don’t want to do something even though we know it would be healthier for us.
But if you WANT to want to – that is, if you have the desire to want to do something, but don’t want to do it right now – get some support from trusted friends, family, co-workers, or a professional.
Talk to them about what you’d like to do. Also, be sure to tell them of your low desire to do much about it. Ask them if they would help by helping you figure out how to develop that desire to move forward.