How To Avoid Relapse

Why do we self destruct when trying to create positive new habits?

Typical scenario: we give up or cut down drinking, smoking or any other destructive habitual activity. Be begin to feel better and stronger. So much better and stronger, in fact, that we then start drinking, smoking or engaging in other destructive habitual activities again.

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Why? Because we felt so much better and stronger we thought we could handle it?

The results were there for us to see. There was an improvement. It was slow to come, imperceptible at first. But there was an improvement.

Say you give up drinking alcohol after a period of life spent regularly abusing. You certainly won’t feel better immediately. You will probably feel worse. But after a few days there is an undeniable improvement.

OK, you don’t spring out of bed in the morning singing the praises of a brand new day. But you don’t wake up feeling dreadful either. And you know you’d be feeling a lot worse if you’d been drinking.

So, you’re feeling better and you know what has caused this improvement, and yet you relapse. Again and again!

Here I’m talking about any bad habit, not just the “traditional” addictions of drink and drugs, but “normal” bad habits like being angry, not exercising, bullying, being down, etc.

Why do people relapse?

There is never one answer to this question because the path to recovery and improvement is different for everyone. There are, however, reasons for relapsing and they are usually close to the reasons for engaging in the bad habit in the first place.

Loneliness, fear, depression, boredom, lack of self-worth, bad memories … life’s struggles. We all know what they are, we all know that they result in negative actions. They can come back to haunt us at every stage through our life and cause us to return to negative actions – even when we thought we were “cured”.

So, it is important to always be on our guard against negativity … And positivity! Because complacency can come into it as well.

How can we stop relapsing?

So here is what we need to be on guard against:

  • Stress
  • Spending time with people who aren’t supportive
  • Bottling up feelings inside
  • Complacency
  • Boredom
  • Loneliness/depression
  • Refusal to change/lack of flexibility
  • Lack of motivation

Quite a list! You could argue these are things that every human being should guard against. Maybe. Maybe we’re all prone to bad habits and addictions in some way.

What to do if we have relapsed?

It’s important not to beat yourself up about a relapse. Yes, it’s disappointing. Especially as you told yourself you’d never do that again and you really meant it. But getting down on yourself serves no purpose.

What you can do

View each day as the first day of the rest of your life. Each moment as the most important moment ever. Feel gratitude in this moment that you are alive as if nothing else matters.

Other things matter of course – two of the most important being family life and working life – but if you can appreciate the beauty of the present moment once in a while it will help you on your journey.

Good luck!

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