Three Things

Part 2: A Change in Lifestyle

By Jim (GJBXVI) Braastad

jogging on beachScientific research shows that people who have recovered successfully (regardless of the method used) all have three things in common, those being: 

  • A commitment to sobriety; 
  • A change in lifestyle; and 
  • They prepare and plan for urges.

In a previous post, I wrote about the first of the “Three Things”, a commitment to sobriety. The second trait shared by those who have successfully recovered is a change in lifestyle.

Change is a word we hear often, especially here at SMART Recovery®. To change something in one’s life—no matter what it may be—requires awareness, motivation, commitment and WORK. (You can throw in the 3 Ps as well… Practice, Patience, and Persistence.)

The results achieved are in direct proportion to the work and effort put in. There are no magic wands to wave or any magical pills, spells, cures or potions to take. There are no “good fairies” or “magical elves” either! If that were so, not one of us would be here! No… the work is up to each one of us individually.

There are, however, tools available to help! And with those tools come a lot of SMART Recovery volunteers willing to offer a helping hand along the way. But there are limits to what anyone can do to help. They can certainly point you in the direction of the tools. They can certainly make suggestions on which tool may be helpful in a given situation. They can also offer suggestions or their experiences with the application of a certain tool for a particular situation or scenario. They cannot, however, make you use the tools. That, my friends, is entirely up to you… you get to “Discover the Power of Choice”. It is important to realize that for any change to take place, you need to be the proactive leader in your recovery, as no one else can do it for you.

Previously, I provided my thoughts regarding the importance of the first of the “Three Things” being a commitment to sobriety. Once there is that commitment is in place, we move on to the next point to make a change in lifestyle.

One’s initial thought or reaction might be, “WHAT??? A CHANGE IN LIFESTYLE?!?!?! Isn’t quitting drinking (or whatever the addictive behavior is) ENOUGH of a change in lifestyle????”

Yes, quitting something IS a big change in lifestyle, but it’s not quite enough. To maintain that change, other changes are needed as well. The extent of those changes will vary between individuals; what may be necessary for one may not be for to another. Some people may need to make some pretty drastic changes, while others to a much lesser extent.

There is, however, one change everyone will need to make—finding something to take the place of the one being given up. This replacement activity will need to do at least two things:

  • Fill or occupy the time which was spent drinking (or drugging, smoking, gambling, etc.)
  • Provide the “benefits” that were received from the activity.

Dig out your Cost/Benefit Analysis (CBA) worksheet and take a look at the “Benefits” you’ve got listed there. Those are the things you want your new replacement activity to provide. (This is just another example why the CBA worksheet is such a helpful and useful tool—it often provides the answer to questions that come up.)

This, or any other change in lifestyle is for the long term and needs to be “doable” for you. Perhaps you’ll need to re-acquaint yourself with things from your past. Are there hobbies or other activities you once enjoyed that ended up being put on the wayside because of drinking? Places you used to go? People you used to see? Things you use to do? Or maybe there are things you’ve always wanted to do but never got around to it. Look for and search out other activities you might enjoy. There are all kinds of them out there that will provide you the benefits you want, but in a new, different and non-destructive way.

Making a “change in lifestyle” has been a good thing for me… a VERY GOOD thing! It can be a good thing for you, too! You just have to do it!

What do you think? Make any sense?

Jim has been active in SMART since 2009 in various volunteer roles. He’s currently the Program Coordinator for the SMART Recovery Distance Training Program.

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