Building A Better You: Are You Ready To Change?

Are You Ready to Change?

As I was driving to work one morning, the thought, "It Doesn't Just Happen" popped into my head. All too often, the statement, "Why don't they just quit?" is what I hear and/or read from individuals, when referring to those who have found their lives plagued by substance abuse.

Each time I hear or read such a statement, I find myself fighting the urge to respond. This would lead to a rant about how substance abuse and the process of recovery isn't something that you can just turn off and on like a water faucet. Recovery is not an event, but more of a process, just like everything else in our lives. Have you ever found yourself trying to quit something and the task was much harder than you imagined?

Why is it that we look down on those who battle with a disease that does not discriminate between the young, old, rich and/or poor? We are so quick to judge those whose lives we precieve to be useless. We think the individual is worthless because that person has a struggle in their own life that needs addressing. You may be thinking that I'm only looking at this from a counselor's perspective. But what most people don't know about me is that I am the adult child (daughter) of an alcoholic.

I have seen the recovery process firsthand with my father for over 20 years. My drive and passion for working with such a unique, often ridiculed and stigmatized, population comes from experience. A desire to give back to others what I was given back when I was just nine years old, my father. My father's story is one that inspires me daily and motivates me to continue to do the work that I do.

In life, however, alcohol and drugs are not the only things that we find ourselves recovering from. We all have bad habits (drinking to many sodas, eating unhealthy, watching to much TV, listening to too much music, abusive relationships, negative peer associations, anger problems, etc.) that we have identified as problems that we need to let go of.

Yet, we find ourselves tourtured because those bad habits have become comfortable. Within the process of recovery, we find that we have to make changes in order to be successful. However, those changes cause us to experience fear, fear of the unknown. How will my life be different if I change this behavior? Will I be able to deal with the all the changes I have to make? These questions lead us to have self-defeating thoughts and sabotage our recovery.

Ultimately, your recovery depends on your motivation to change. Identifying your reasons for changing is a vital part of the overall process and your level of success. 

Changing to appease others, to prove yourself or because you've been told you need to change (external motivation) will only take you so far in your recovery. You need to become internally motivated. This involves changing your behavior, your bad habits or your negative thoughts because they have negative consequences in your life. This relaization will bring you much more success and happiness.

That is when you can begin to put forth the time, effort and energy making those changes. You have begun to work the Stages of Change. Identifying that you have a problem and it needs to be changed is the first step. Now, you must take steps and/or make plans to change and be willing to work towards the new you. Now, I have to admit, this process is not going to be easy. To be honest, this process will be very hard, daunting and stressful. Yet, I can promise that it will all be worth it in the end.

What do you need to change in your life? Are you ready to experience the recovery process? When the time comes, I want you to remember—

It dosen't just happen. You have to make it happen.