Sorry. It can happen that way but it rarely does. Usually if things change they do so very gradually. That’s why I find the AA system of breaking habits to often be so tense and difficult for people to achieve. Every time they have a drink or do their drug they have failed. That seems so big and final. It presents so many opportunities for failure. Sure: quitting suddenly and cold turkey is one legitimate way to quit. But so is slowly quitting something. Even if that something isn’t a drug or a drink—even if that something’s a someone.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Yes you have to walk uphill for a while as you acquire new habits. But don’t berate yourself while you climb. It only makes the hill steeper. You’re not supposed to go from blue to red. If you’re blue, then go trade some blue for some red and turn yourself aubergine. Then keep doing that. Because with that simple action you will move from blue to aubergine to purple to mauve to rose and only then will you get to red. That is more often how change happens, so do not be critical of yourself for being purple when you simply have to pass through purple to get to red.
You don’t stop drinking. You don’t stop taking drugs. You don’t stop an unhealthy behaviour or relationship. You replace them. You don’t need to throw your old life out, you need to start building your new one. Because dot by dot, molecule by molecule, experience by experience you will ultimately change your world by changing yourself.
The way to change is not through making a proclamation or an announcement—it’s not by pinning some date on a calendar, having a ceremony, or through some grandiose gesture. The way to change is to simply decide what colour you want to be and then grab some of that colour whenever it’s available.
To make room for the new colour you’ll have to leave behind some of the old. Before you know it, you’ll look back and realize that you’ve become someone new. And you will realize that you did it one step at a time. And you will also realize that not every single step was forward. And that’s entirely okay. Do not define yourself. Simply movie in a direction. You will be fine.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.