It happens to us all. We get burnt out and quit. But when it comes to addiction, we cannot afford to give up. It has a heavy price tag, and costs many their lives. How to stay out of the fukk-it zone, and get out if you get in it.
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”
— Lance Armstrong
We all know how that story turned out with Lance.
When you find yourself in the ruts, you may think that all is lost. It isn’t. This is only a temporary space. Sure, you hate that saying, “This too shall pass,” but that’s reality. Nothing is forever.
Change is the 4th constant, like taxes, death, and laundry. Everything changes (except for my high school boyfriend). We never stand still. We age, we move, we get different jobs, find new friends. Nothing is permanent.
Change can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes it is welcome, when it is for the better. When for the worst, several negative events in a row can lead you to feeling down, depressed, or hopeless. This may inspire you to quit. But giving up is not the answer, especially when you are an addict or alcoholic. As Lance said, quitting is permanent. And if you quit recovery, that permanency means death, jail, or institutionalization.
If you find yourself on the edge of giving in, examine the reasons you wanted to do what you wanted to do in the first place. What was your goal, and what motivated you to get to that point to incite change? There was a tipping point-go back to that.
Change does not happen until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of doing something different.
As those in recovery from any addiction have come to realize, we have excellent “forgetters” in our brains. We certainly remember the good times we had, but forget all the misery and pain we caused not only to ourselves, but to others. We hurt our loved ones, coworkers, strangers. We burned bridges. We likely put others’ lives in danger (like driving under the influence). Our lives became unmanageable. All of this gets quickly forgotten when enough time has passed and our brains take over, unchecked.
At the point of getting the fukkits, find a way to reignite that motivation. Find that thing that pushed you to the direction of making a change.
1. Write down those reasons for that change
Did you lose a close relationship, push everybody you love away, set someone’s house on fire? Maybe you lost jobs or went to jail for something you did under the influence. How bad did it get? Keep it near a place you visit regularly, so that when you begin to experience stagnation, you can remind yourself just why you began a different path in the first place. You weren’t who you wanted to be, so you made the first step of a courageous journey to learn, expand, and grow.
And, not everyone is in recovery from substance abuse- for everyone else, you can do the same thing. Did you lose someone you love? Set yourself up for a series of toxic relationships, or get into such bad physical shape you couldn’t walk up 2 stairs? Recall what it was it that made you do what you wanted to do in the first place and re-evaluate that motivation.
2. Evaluate the progress you made
Assess how much effort you put into this life modification so far.
You may have given so much to the cause that you became exhausted and overwhelmed. Or, you might have put too little into it and not experienced any noticeable benefits. You might have taken the wrong path to making that change. For instance, if you wanted to lose weight but you started to lift weights at the gym, you will have bulked up on muscle rather than slimming down your pounds. Find the point you wanted to be, where you went, and how you can get back on track.
Don’t do too little or too much. There is such a thing as balance. You cannot exhaust your resources in one place. You must adhere to self care and put in as much as necessary to achieve results. But, if you get to the breaking point to which you begin to think, “This is not worth it,” dial it back a notch. Your body and your brain are telling you that it is too much.
3. Consult the experts.
It doesn’t matter what it is. There is always someone that knows more about something than you do. (hint: if you don’t believe that- that is an actual diagnoseable disorder).
Find out who has been successful in this same area. If it is in recovery, seek a counselor, recovery buddy in a 12-Step program, recovery coach, or any of the experts that work in the field. There are millions of passionate, non-judgemental people out there that will help you in any way possible.
Likewise, for any goal- whether you want to build a mega-business, retire at 25, or lose 100 lbs, there are people out there that have done it already*. There is likely a plethora of YouTube videos, podcasts, books, and blogs that talk about this topic. Educate yourself.
*However, if it is for controlling your children- just give up now. That is not possible. (I’ve already tried).
The main point is: don’t stop. Change direction, change strategy, change underwear. But, don’t stop. You will fail. You will feel hopeless. You might cry, but you are human. All of this is a part of the journey- bad feels at all.
The great news is that you feel them! That means you’re not a psychopath or sociopath!
So, pick yourself up, dust off your britches, move on, and move up.