It’s never easy to bid adieu to habits, whether those habits are harmful or not. We thrive on the familiar and feel comfort in repetition. Breaking habits that can cause harm and consume a person’s life, can be tough. It takes mindful decision making, and repetition of beneficial routines to finally get on track to a healthier future. I’ve watched a number of friends struggle with poor habits and addictions. I too have battled an eating disorder. It is unlikely that there is a person on the planet that has not come up against an addiction of sorts. I am now healthier, but it takes making the right choices daily to continue down this road of healing and happiness. The root was realizing that I have flaws and have made mistakes, but that this is OK. It has taken me heeding advice of those around me and talking about what really was driving my negative views of myself.
This same awareness, mindfulness and admission are key to moving forward and down the healthy path. Healing and recovery do not happen overnight. There are stages that everyone struggling with an addiction needs to go through.
Pre-contemplation is the first of a few during which a person who is still willingly giving in to the addiction, does not yet see that there is a problem, and therefore, is not yet swayed to make any kind of change. At times, I’ve witnessed friends and acquaintances admit after a night they’ve given in to a habit or two, that maybe they are ready to kick it to the curb. A day or two later, I see them indulging once again, laughing off the idea that they even have an addiction. Precontemplation is just this.
Contemplation involves beginning to admit there may be a problem, but being not quite at the stage of breaking the negative cycle. A person who speaks about their habits to a close friend, beginning to indicate that they realize they may be ready to move past the hold of their addiction, is likely in the contemplation phase.
Preparation is the stage that a person has finally acknowledged that they need to make a change and seek assistance to start making a healthier choice. Setting out to attend group meetings, seeing a counsellor and/or speaking with friends and family about habits and addictions, are all signs that a person is preparing to make breaking the cycle their goal.
Action comes next and means that an individual has fully embraced the need for change and has set his/her sights on curbing the addiction.
Maintenance is the final and ongoing stage. It is easy to revert back to previous routines and negative habits. A person needs to commit to making daily and ongoing positive decisions to ensure that there are no setbacks.
No man or woman is an island and we all need a bit of support on our journey. The stages of mindfulness and breaking free of addictions become even more possible to work through when we support those struggling in ways that benefit their recovery. Understanding, not passing judgement and simply being there for a person to talk to can have a crucial impact on someone trying to turn their life around. Support the change.