Learning to quit a bad habit is not as easy as people think. Especially in recovery, it can feel like a person is dropping everything they knew all at once and following an entirely new path for themselves. If they quit using substances, they now have to also leave toxic friends, relationships, and maybe even their jobs. They may also abandon their homes and community. Don’t go back to old habits just because they are more comfortable. Use these tools to give up bad habits and work to form new, more positive ways of being in the world.
Just Do It
As hard as it may be, it is freeing to let go of a way of life that doesn’t work. Women can especially attach emotion to a person, place, or thing, which makes it harder to detach and let go. Women, for instance, are typically hoarders more frequently than men because they attach emotion to objects. Holding onto long relationships, items, or ideas can only serve to hold a person back in recovery. Learn to mentally check in about whether this person, place, or thing is serving the best interests of sobriety and recovery. If it does not, make a mental or physical note to get rid of it. It may take time for the brain to catch up to the action, so don’t let phrases like ‘well, maybe in time…’ or ‘maybe next month…’ get in the way of quitting social media, giving up toxic friends, or stopping bad behavior if it is time to just let go.
Make it Stick
Prepare yourself mentally to give something up by saying, “I am” statements and retrain the brain to change your self-perception. “I am courageous” can replace “I feel vulnerable” and help a person feel supported and healthy. Replace the old habit with a new desire, like “I want to express my feelings better” or “I will not lash out in anger.” Attaching an action to the idea will also be helpful. Try, “I will listen before I respond in anger,” for example, to provide a replacement activity rather than just stopping old behaviors. The brain and body have to be in agreement for new ideas to take hold. It will take patience, but recovery is a great time to work on principles and habits that bring healing and hope.
Today is the only day that counts. Don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow. Quitting a bad habit is part of life. It is about letting go of the old to pick up the new. Think about how recovery began. It was a decision before it was an action. Focus on that and then recognize the choices you make each day to continue your recovery journey. The power to heal and take back life builds upon the foundation of your initial surrender. All the other decisions become that much more comfortable in comparison. Everything in life is about making choices, so consider the weight of every decision you make.
Get Rid of Evidence
Sometimes the only way to be sure something is gone is to destroy the evidence. You may have to get rid of the physical reminders of past behaviors and decisions. Quitting substances is hard work. Giving up something you used to value for something better is a challenge. Still, so is completely breaking up with something by actually destroying the tangible reminders. For example, if old diaries and journals are taking up physical and emotional space but don’t serve a healthy purpose anymore, they’ve got to go. It might be healing to have a little ritual of shredding, recycling, or having a campfire with the paper as fuel. It may feel cathartic for the soul to get rid of what no longer serves you.
Habits are powerful things. The brain gets used to one way of doing things and continues to do it, sometimes to the detriment of other things. This is a habit loop. Such a pattern often includes addictive substances. The brain chemically changes during your addiction. Memories also form habit loops, which remind you of people from the past. Overwriting habits is a healthy way to change behavior. Identify a new way to behave, work on doing it every day for about a month, and see if it sticks. Start with social media. Give up one platform that you don’t often use and see how long it takes for this to stick. If you are successful, try moving on to other platforms and behaviors.
Find the Good
It is easy to focus on things changing in recovery while forgetting that both good and positive things happen in life. Don’t hyper-focus on the negative thoughts, consider the good stuff, too. See the positive changes that have happened in just a short amount of time. Look back at your life and see all the changes you have made that have improved your life. There is much to be thankful for, so don’t forget to practice gratitude. It can make all the difference in the world.
Casa Capri is designed for women who are struggling with addiction to find hope and healing. We are here to help you make better decisions to be healthy and leave bad habits in the past. If you are ready for a new future, call Casa Capri today: 844-593-8020
Melissa Holmes Goodmon, Founder & CEO of Casa Capri Recovery, obtained her BA in Psychology and is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor (LAADC) specializing in women’s core issues. She is recognized as a leader in the field of mental health and substance abuse recovery where she has been an advocate since 2006.