We’ve all been there: You decide to make a change, break a habit, fend off an addiction-driven behavior and then, just when you’re feeling all “I can do this!” about it, that little negative voice creeps in with its taunts and whispers. Like a pin jabbed into a balloon, the needle of doubt pricks your mojo. Suddenly, your strength, conviction, hope and self-belief all deflate faster than you can say, “I’m worth it!”
In moments like these you’ve got two choices. First, you can lay down your recovery dreams and let defeat define you. Second, you can see that you’re being faced with an opportunity and rise to the challenge.
You know that the first option would be easier. But if you’re really dedicated to recovery, then learning how to work the second option will bring you closer to your endgame. It all has to do with learning how to use self-criticism in a way that helps you rather than holds you back.
Hear the message: Worrying that you’ll fail is a normal process of change. The real message behind this thought is, What will it take to succeed? Once you start exploring the answers to this question you’ll begin identifying what you lack, plus what you need so that you feel more secure about next steps.
Explore the meaning: Investigating what it will take to succeed illuminates fears about who and/or what might stop you from achieving what you have decided to do. Ask yourself, What or who might prevent my success? Explore all the answers you can imagine. For each one, determine a solution for the problem it represents.
Take an action: The real road to success is discovered by putting one foot in front of the other. From the first two steps you’ll have many ideas for things that need to be done before making that change or taking that recovery step that’s on your mind. Share these ideas with a trusted friend and decide the order in which to do them and then … take that first action!
Actor, motivational speaker and former U.S. Army soldier J.R. Martinez says, “I’ve learned in my life that it’s important to be able to step outside your comfort zone and be challenged with something you’re not familiar with or accustomed to. That challenge will allow you to see what you can do.” This is true for you, too.
Self-criticism will always be a part of daily life; it’s how you learn and also how you motivate yourself to do better. You can let that mean inner voice taunt you into submission or you can stand up, say, “I deserve the life I want!” and use that energy to start going outside your comfort zone by making small changes that lead to the big alterations you desire and imagine.