Stages of Change:
If you want to change or break a habit you also have to change the context which encourages and supports the habit. It’s never enough to stop drinking, or stop smoking, or lose weight, or do any of the other things we never seem to get around to.
We all know how it goes. We think about making the change. We do a little research on the net, or pick up a book or two, or we visit a local gym, but we never really get around to actually doing anything. We don’t call the places we found on the web and their spots on “favorite” lists grow old and unused. The books are unread. The gym remains a mystery.
Of course, occasionally we do make a half-hearted stab at change, usually around New Years, but a week or two later we’re back to the same old routines.
What’s the problem? Part of it is that we know what we want to stop, or lose, but not what we want to do. So we try quitting drinking, or losing those pounds, but we don’t alter our lives in ways that support the change and pretty soon we’re right back to doing what we’ve always done.
It’s probably no real surprise that this is not a strategy for success.
What does work?
Researchers into successful change have found that change is a process. We first become aware that change is needed; then we think about changing and perhaps do a little research, read a bit, and/or go to a therapist. These two stages can last just about forever, as most of us know.
Next comes the action stage where we finally get around to doing something. The trouble is, most of us are ill-prepared, take the wrong action, get the wrong help, underestimate the challenges, and fall back into more thinking about the change. We frequently decide it’s impossible, or too much trouble, or that the impact on our lives is worse than what we are trying to change. That’s the reason why we call this stage “contemplation hell.”
So, if you really do want, or need, to change, and the usual ways don’t work, what can you do? You can start by looking at things from a completely different angle. After all, you know what hasn’t worked for you (and remember Einstein who said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”) so how about trying a different approach?
So, please! Give us a call and let’s talk about where you are and what the options are. As always, we answer the phones ourselves, unless we’re with clients, 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Monday – Thursday; 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Friday, Saturday & Sunday.
Just a reminder, a real support group isn’t one that’s focused around alcohol, disease, or powerlessness. These are exactly the ideas that keep people stumbling back to drinking time after time after time.
Real support comes from activities that are unrelated to drinking and, at best, incompatible with drinking. These involve people who neither know nor care about your past alcohol abuse. The gym; The Audubon Society; Habitat For Humanity; The League of Women Voters; Toastmasters; Kiwanis; and so on.
The object is to replace your previous drinking behaviors, and cronies, with activities and people who become part of leading a normal life. As your normal life develops, you’ll be far less inclined to return to drinking knowing that you stand to lose associations and activities which are far healthier and more enjoyable than drinking.
Much as some groups disparage “normies”, you’ll be far better off, and live a much happier life, once you’ve gone back to being one. Many of us live a perfectly normal and happy life, complete with our personal eccentricities, without labeling ourselves and without alcohol abuse or dependence.
And YES, you can get a grip, and get a life. A better life without alcohol abuse. A better life than you have, or have ever had.
Remember to check out Women and Alcohol – What to Consider in Alcohol Treatment.
You can also email either of us directly to schedule an appointment or ask a question:
Mary Ellen at: DrBarnes@non12step.com Ed at: DrWilson@non12step.com
Toll Free From the Lower 48 or Canada: 888-541-6350 In Los Angeles, or from Alaska: 818-466-9258