Over the years, I have had a lot of people ask me what FINALLY made the difference for me. After so many treatment centers, jails, and dashed hopes, what was it that finally clicked for me? I think the biggest step in actually getting the strength to pursue a change, was finally becoming sick and tired of being sick and tired. I didn’t think I could go on any longer with the way that I was living. This doesn’t necessarily apply only to drug addiction. There are so many different kinds of addiction in this life, and each and every one of us has to overcome the natural man in some way. When we get to the point where we have just had enough of whatever behavior is consuming our lives, and we say that we will NEVER engage in this behavior again, only to find ourselves doing it again the next day, we know there is a problem. Of course, I am speaking from my own experience. I am not a therapist (I feel like I could be after so much time spent in therapy though LOL!). However, in my opinion, experience can be one of the greatest teachers. With that being said, I found the beginning of my recovery when I finally hit rock bottom. Tony Robbins said:
“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”
And I am here to say that Tony hit the nail on the head. That is how I began my path towards recovery. However, deciding to change, abstinence from the behavior, and a true change of heart, are totally different things. I know this from all of my failed attempts at sobriety. This is why I wanted to share what it was that helped me experience a true change of heart.
1- Find a New Purpose
Addictions, bad habits, whatever you want to call the negative behaviors that consume our lives, become a part of us. It is our every day. Whether it be negative self talk, lack of willpower, food, work, gossiping- these behaviors become part of who we are, and how we see ourselves. When I got sober, I was left with a huge gaping hole in my life. I was stripped of all of the superficial things that I filled my life with. I believe one of the reasons that it took me so long to have a change of heart, was because I was trying to continue my life with the hole in my heart. I didn’t understand the concept of finding a new purpose. Something positive, that I was passionate about, that could help fill the hole. For some people, this new purpose is AA/NA/OA. For some people it is school. For me- it was the gospel. I found that I belonged in church. When they called me to be on the fireside activities committee in the singles ward, I felt responsible for something. I felt needed. It gave me the little nudge I needed to keep going.
2- Setting Goals
This is HUGE. In the book “The Power of Habit”, it talks about a women name Lisa Allen who smokes and drinks. A lot. Her husband leaves her for another women, and Lisa hits rock bottom. She goes on an alcohol and food binge, and ends up in a hotel in Cairo. She feels like her world is crashing down on her. Lisa had always wanted to see the pyramids, so she decides to set a goal to come back in one year and trek through Egypt. Lisa knows that in order to complete this trek in Egypt, she will have to make some major changes in her lifestyle, starting with giving up smoking. It was like a domino effect. Over the next 6 months Lisa replaced smoking with running. To continue running she needed a better diet to fuel her body. All of a sudden her entire life was starting to have balance. She ate better, slept better, worked better. She went back to school. And she also went on her trek in Egypt. It has been years since i’ve read this book, but the story of Lisa Allen has always stuck with me, because my story is so incredibly similar.
I had two separate goals in the beginning stages of my recovery. One was a specific, measurable goal. To get my temple recommend. It required that I do things like quit smoking & drinking coffee, start paying tithing, stay sober, and go through the repentance process. My other goal was to get married to an amazing guy that could take me through the temple, and have a family of my own. I knew that if I ever wanted this dream to happen, I would have to be the kind of girl my dream man would want to be with. The thought of my future husband seeing me engaging in my negative habits, was enough to make me quit. These goals stayed in my mind every day. My dream of having a family of my own became more desirable then drinking and using drugs. I started actually taking care of myself. Working out, eating healthy food, reading books, studying the scriptures, attending church. And throughout this process, my heart was changing.
3. An Example
Jim Rohn said- “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with”. The last few years of my recovery, I have found some incredible people that have inspired me to be better. I spent my first summer out of treatment doing a sales job in California. It was me and 2 other boys that spent every waking moment together. The job was ROUGH. Door to door sales is not for the faint of heart, and we became really good friends that summer. They were good guys, with good values. They taught me what it was like to have friends that were just genuinely good people. We went to church together every Sunday, had the missionaries over for dinner together, listened to motivational talks in the car on the way to work. They helped me realize my value despite the bad choices i’d made in the past.
Jesse, my husband, who has an almost identical past as mine, started working for a new company in his early days of recovery. The CEO of the company lived down the street, and Jesse spent a lot of time working alongside him. When I started dating Jesse, he would ALWAYS talk about his boss and how amazing he was. His unshakeable testimony of the gospel was so inspiring to Jesse. Now the CEO is a bishop, and one of Jesses best friends. If you would have asked Jesse 7 years ago if he thought one of his best buds would be a bishop, he would have laughed. Now Jesse is a different person because of the example of his boss.
These are three principals that I hold dear to my heart because they paved the way for me to change my life. In the middle of my struggle to change, I didn’t always have hope that things would get better. But holding to these principals kept my sites on the end goal, and kept me holding on hope even though I didn’t know for sure if I was really capable of creating a different life for myself. I am grateful that I was able to overcome a drug addiction that took every ounce of happiness out of my life. I have different struggles today, and new goals for my future. I know that challenges will always be there, and I hope to always remember my purpose and goals. ❤