Some things don’t have an expiry date!

We are well into that period of the year when a lot of people go full-throttle into making the changes that they want to make. Usually, the same ones as last year, and the year before that. Rinse and repeat: lose weight, get fitter, save money, curb the drinking, the list is endless. All the while people go in ever-decreasing circles.

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That person who has labelled themselves (or some other bugger has) as an alcoholic/addict knows they need to sort it out and are at risk of losing everything, possibly their life (this stuff is real folks). Many of my clients come to me with: “I need to stop drinking”. However, when we explore this further, and find out what it is that they want and not what others have imposed on them, we come to the: “I just want to control it”. 

Usually, people smash it for a period, start feeling better, get their life back on track a bit, and earn some of that trust back with people. Then that little voice, the “I’m sorted now” the “I’m fixed” one starts, you know, the one grounded in complacency and ego.  

Your thinking got you up to your neck in trouble before, so there is a pretty good chance your thinking may get you there again: the wrong kind of thinking.  What do I mean by wrong thinking? The kind that is going take you back down that path, and you know it will, while you are holding delusion’s hand on the way. You may have to learn the lesson the hard way a few times because of course you always know best. 

Having a recovery mindset of ‘it is ongoing, there's no timescale, it does not have an end date’, has saved many people from having a pitfall, or falling off a cliff.  Yes, it gets easier over time, just as life continues to present good and different challenges. Let me give you an example: when I first came into recovery, it was about giving me time to re-group, start healing, getting to know myself again (oh and not following my own thinking).

The further I got into my recovery, putting my life back together, the things I gave more/different relevance to changed. Looking for a job, having money in my pocket, and venturing out and about. However, knowing that recovery doesn’t have an expiry date helped to keep my head in the game.  

Think of it as starting to play an instrument, you start with the basics, practice, accomplish then progress. With each step forward a higher technical ability is needed, however, the basics are well-rooted (and well-practised) so need less attention. Even if you want to become the new Liberace (the younglings will have to Google him) you still must practice and learn new music. It is an ongoing process. Life tends to be a bit more complex, though. But I think you get the idea. Slow and steady wins the race. 

If weight loss is your goal, great. Instead of torturing yourself on the latest fad diet that, yes may help for a short period of time, but it doesn’t have longevity, it’s a short-term thing and it is sold like that “lose x lbs in 12 weeks” they tend to miss out the bit about what happens after 12 weeks. You hit your goal, pat yourself on your back, and the next thing you know you are digging around in the back of the wardrobe hoping to find those bigger-sized undies and realise that the underwear fairies have not paid a visit. It is a marketer's paradise for gyms and sports shops. Plug a diet this year, next year there’ll be another, and so on.  Rinse and repeat.

Whereas finding something that works for you, food intake, exercise that lets you live, that in time becomes part of your routine and creates a fitness foundation.  Control, that's what it is about, you being in control, knowing your boundaries, safe/unsafe people places, and things help you stay in control as you move forward, things are going to change, and you can and will adjust to that, on your terms.

If the mere thought of looking at a chocolate bourbon fills you with panic requiring you to break out the emergency crucifix and back-up holy water then you may be in for a few falls. A mindset of ‘I’m in this for the long haul’ might just let you look at a bourbon and maybe even let you dunk one in. 

Full disclosure, I'll be completely honest and open – is having the odd drink here or there an option for me? Yes, yes, it is, but that doesn’t mean I have to. I still consider myself in recovery, and I most definitely must keep working at it. In some respects, maybe more. I am at the point in life that I am open to starting a relationship, does that person have to be in recovery or not, if not and they like a drink does that mean they are off limits?

I can go out or stay in with friends that drink while I’m on softies (I actually prefer that) and still have a good night. Is there a risk attached to this option, hell yes there is, I am very aware of that. Do I think I am any different from others? Hell no.

I have done a lot of work on the subconscious/underlying level; I have an amazing support network around me but more importantly, I have too much to lose and have worked damn hard to get it. Am I still in recovery? Yes. I still work at it daily, albeit in a different way of working at it than in the past, and almost certainly it is different from how I will need to work it in the future. However, I know I will be working at it for the rest of my life – and that’s alright.  

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Huddersfield, HD3 3HR
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Written by Thomas McGowan, Addiction and Mental Health Therapist
Huddersfield, HD3 3HR

I have experienced my own personal issues with drink and drugs in the past and thankfully have come out the other side.

I have been working for the last five years as a therapist, mostly helping people with addiction issues. I am based in Huddersfield, where I have an office to see people face-to-face, and I also offer online sessions.

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