How do we change? Chip and Veronica talk about the cycle of change and the ‘dance’ we go through when we need to change something. We discuss the three phases of change, and how we sabotage ourselves and stay in this cycle until we get to the ‘maintenance’ phase and the ‘change’ becomes our normal life.
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I hope you’re keeping your spirits up during this time.
I know for me we’re 8 weeks in and all our days and nights are blurring into one. We take the social interaction that we can, while social distancing, but it’s not the same as having friends over or going out to dinner with the people we love.
I’m concerned about our collective mental health. I get it, we’re all in something we’ve never witnessed before and it’s worrying seeing no end in sight.
But this is when we need to pull each other closer, we communicate in so many ways other than physically. Maybe we can use this time as a blessing to start flexing those other muscles and gain a deeper emotional vocabulary with one another.
This episode is about the process of change. We’re talking about the cycle of change and how to realize what part of the process we’re in.
“If you could have done it on your own, you would have.” – Veronica Valli
We’re always in a state of change. We’re aging, maturing, taking on new habits, losing old habits, outgrowing friends, etc. For the most part, we accept those as a part of life.
But when we’re faced with a conscious realization of change – like giving up alcohol – it’s a bit harder to accept.
We can teeter between acceptance and being in denial. Sort of like a 2 step dance. We start in the pre-contemplation phase of the dance, where we’re doing our thing, no problems or awareness about the negative effects of our drinking.
Then we’re faced with a realization: we get into a car accident while under the influence, or we cause some irreparable damage when we’re blacked out. And we’re made painfully aware than something has got to give.
Then we go into the planning phase. How do we make this change happen? That could feel like staring down the barrel of a .45. You’re facing the concept that the life you once had is over, and your best thinking and best decisions brought you to this point. It’s potentially devastating and a lot to deal with.
“The people who have a long-term recovery, have it because they maintained the plan they made in the first place.” – Chip Somers
Which is exactly when the dance changes feet. Many don’t make it to the next phase. When facing the finality of the change, out of fear many people begin to deny the severity of their drinking, or bargain with themselves.
“See, I went a whole month without drinking, I don’t have a problem.”
Even still, many people make it through, take action, and stay sober for decades. We’re talking more about the phase, what comes next after planning, and how to make it all the way through and keep your sanity intact.
If you’re committed to making a change, this is the best episode to listen to right now.
Admitting that things have to change is the hardest step
It means you’re accepting that you’re flawed, in your thinking and actions up to this point. It’s hard to make it over that threshold and it can sometimes feel devastating because it’s a lot of responsibility to take on all at once. You’re acknowledging that you – with your best thinking and best decisions – got into the state you’re in that now needs to change. But once you accept and take the next step, the healing change can begin.
Remember to keep the change going
When you make a plan to change, remember it’s not a one-off. Or rather, after you’ve executed the plan to quit drinking, you need a plan to maintain your abstinence. It’s at this stage that most people fall down. You have to keep doing the things that are in your plan. The actions will become easier and easier and easier, but you have to keep it going.
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