Step 1–DEFINE IT

Thus begins a series of articles to help you overcome a negative, controlling influence in your life.   While I am writing from personal experience, I am trying to be as non-specific as I can about a specific substance or behavior because my point is, only YOU can define that thing in your life that is controlling you with our without your expressed permission.  It could be a substance, a relationship, a behavior, a place or an object.  Anything that leaves you feeling you are out of control and negatively impacts your life–as you define it–is what I am talking about.  There is no check list.  There is no report card.  There is nothing outside yourself that can tell you what is right for you and what is wrong for you.  Whether the substance or controlling thing in your life is legal, illegal, socially acceptable, socially condemned, healthy or unhealthy is irrelevant.  This is about control and what has control over you that you recognize is causing a problem in your life.  At this point I am not asking you to change a single thing.  Labels, diagnoses or validation is not necessary.  There are so many things we use addictively in our life that it would really be impossible to name them all.  Some use religion addictively.  Others use food.  Some use shopping.  Others use sex.  Some use work.  Others use television.  The only definition is that it’s something you know in your heart you are using in a way that’s not good for you in the long run although it serves a purpose in the moment.  It’s possible you are using this thing to avoid something else.  Most likely you are.  You don’t have to figure any of this out or even know for sure why you are doing something you know is harmful to you.  All you need to do today is define the one thing you do that you wish you didn’t.  No actual change or effort is needed.  You may come up with several things.  I suggest you pick just one (the easiest to address, the hardest to address or somewhere in the middle).  Step one in the process is simply this: you decide what’s a problem for you and recognize it as such.  You don’t have to stop doing it.  Just be honest with yourself enough to recognize this thing has control over you in a bad way.  You don’t have to tell anyone else and you don’t have to change–just tip your hat to it and say, “I see what I’m doing and acknowledge this thing every day for as many days as you want–weeks, months or years.  Never let an incident go by without looking it square in the eyes.  Don’t shame yourself.  Don’t put yourself down.  Just keep looking at it.  Know what it is and when you are doing it.  When you feel like it’s time(and you will know) move on to another step–no particular order is needed and you can always jump back to this step one as wanted.  There is no failure.  If you are on a later step and jump back to this first one–no big deal.  You are still on a step in the process to healing, to overcoming and to keeping control over yourself and your actions.  As long as you are on a step then you are making progress.   You are successful.  This step one is your safe zone.  This step one is your retreat, your respite and your default location.  Come back to this step as many times as you need to and stay as long as you want.  This step is simply recognizing the problem and not doing one single thing about it!  Just seeing the thing for what it is.  If I chose to use a substance or behavior to escape and I recognize I’m doing so then ultimately it’s my decision.  I’m an adult and I do, in fact, decide what I want to do on any given day.  Part of deciding means I can also decide to do things that are not necessarily good for me.  When I engage in an addictive or so-called maladaptive behavior to cope with a bad day, a bad memory or a bad feeling then I know that I am doing it.  I have made the decision and therefore I am responsible–I am in control of what I do and when I do it.  October 2016

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