Meghan Brink: Drastic changes never seem to stick, so start small

·2 min read
Meghan Brink
Meghan Brink

The start of a new year has people talking about making resolutions to better themselves, whether it be physically, financially, socially or even spiritually.

The business of personal growth and transformation is nothing new for those who are in recovery. When you decide that you are done with the substances, you make a resolution to change. Change your people, change your places and change your things. This is something that must be focused on day in and day out, especially in early recovery.

Those are some dramatic lifestyle changes to make in a relatively short period of time. So why do people so often fall short of accomplishing their New Year's resolutions and what can recovery teach us about changing?

Self-love. In order to make lasting changes, we have to believe we can change and we deserve to change. We deserve to live a healthier lifestyle. When we start to see the benefits of our changes and our self-worth grows making continuing that change easier.

The way you think, it goes way beyond the holiday season. It is making that conscious effort that starts with your thoughts day in and day out. If our negative thoughts and shame are screaming at us to make changes, such as lose weight, we need to reframe that into something more positive. Instead of saying, “I need to lose weight” say, "I would like to focus on my health over this next year” or “I would like to learn how to integrate one new mindfulness practice each week and have one balanced meal every day." Changing our language to positive language can really affect our ability to make our changes.

No need to make it drastic. Drastic changes never seem to stick. Why? Because we may have set unrealistic goals for ourselves. If someone who struggles with a substance use disorder stays, ‘I’m never going to drink/use drugs again,” and then have a slip, the self-love they have worked towards giving themselves can quickly go out the window.

Try starting small. Setting and practicing a new habit every day. We are only asked to focus on today and to take accountability for our mistakes, which happen because we are human.

So if you are setting a resolution for this year, take it one day at a time. Set a goal for today. Live mindfully, just for today. Be positive and give yourself grace. Then do the same thing tomorrow.

Meghan Brink is a licensed addictions counselor at the at the Human Service Agency in Watertown.

This article originally appeared on Watertown Public Opinion: Making personal changes takes time, so start small

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