“Indefinitely” or even worse, “forever” is where habit change becomes unnerving. Often, with our good habits, there is no finish line. We can imagine taking those first steps but become overwhelmed at the prospect of never stopping.
………………………………………but to trudge along with a good habit forever, can feel too demanding. It requires surrender – an acceptance of the way we must live to abide by our own values. – Persisting with a habit can be particularly hard when the habit doesn’t yield flashy results. While there’s the satisfaction of knowing that I’m doing what’s good for me and holding myself to my intentions, rarely do I achieve glorious outcomes. I’ve found, however, that if I can get through this dry period, the habit truly takes over and proves itself by making my life better than before.
Excerpt from the book “Better Than Before” by Gretchen Rubin
The above paragraphs are taken from the book I am currently reading [one of which I recommend] and which stood out clearly for me as encapsulating nicely how my sober journey began and includes right up to now – 441 days later.
I never actually saw my decision to stop drinking as changing a habit. But through reading this book [I probably should note here that I am only 1/3 of the way through but it’s teaching me a lot, making me think] I understand that it is. After all my practice of drinking daily was indeed very habitual and one habit which just wasn’t working for me. And it’s kind of cool to think I have the ability to take a bad habit and flip it over making it into a good one.
Making the decision to stop drinking was easy, even actually stopping drinking was easy but acknowledging the forever part, the never ever again part was definitely not easy. It invoked such intense heights of anguish coupled with quick sand sucking fear that at times the simple act of breathing became a struggle. At times I felt I was drowning in the forever-ness of it all. Forever was way too big, way too unfathomable, just way too much. Whenever I looked ahead to forever it threatened to completely unbalance me. How was it possible to do this sober state with feelings so overwhelmingly smothering.
But I did. I now get why the saying “one day at a time” came about. If I made it to the end of today without a drink then I had done it, I was a success, I’d kicked arse. I’d made it.
And so this was how my new habit was made, day by day I built it up. Each day no glorious reward, just more of the same, just more struggle and angst but each day I was a success meant that each day my new habit, the one that served me well, grew.
The old saying that “old habits are hard to break” has a definite ring of truth about it. But note here that it doesn’t say it’s impossible or that it can’t ever be done, it only says it’s hard. And so it was. And so it sometimes still is. Sometimes my old habit comes knocking at my door asking do I want to come out and play but my new habit is now securely entrenched that it’s easy for me to say no thanks. Not now, not today and it’s even easier to say not ever. I’m not saying that I don’t have to be vigilant at times or that at times my foundations don’t get a little rocky but I am saying it’s definitely possible to change that habit for the better and to stick to it.
And it’s so true, I do feel an immense sense of satisfaction in knowing I am doing what is good for me. I feel immense pride that I am living by my values and that I have stuck to and stuck by my intentions.
And yes for a long while there were no obvious glorious outcomes, no clear rewards for my “sacrifice”. It seemed all that was available was struggle combined with a confusing aching sense of loss.
And then suddenly there it was, a miracle so unexpected and so wondrous. I had no idea that giving up drinking would bring so much more to me, that without a doubt on so many levels my life was so much better than before.
It’s a beautiful thing and it really is worth the struggle to arrive here. Without that struggle I don’t know if I would be here or if I would truly understand the gifts that have been given to me, that I have given to myself.
Ride the tough out, look only at today and arrive at the day’s end having kicked arse. Allow all the crap feelings, they won’t be there forever. Face the tough and know no matter how tough that day may have been you made it through and you are a success. That is all you need to know for now, for today that is enough.
And one day, most likely when you aren’t actually looking you will suddenly notice and you will be amazed and you will know in the depth of your soul that this is worth it.
You will feel so much better than before.
And I for one can’t wait to hear all about it.
Together in Strength