Preparation: The Secret Ingredient To Lasting Change. Guest Blog from Beverly Sartain M.A. CADCII

preparation

Preparation: The Secret Ingredient To Lasting Change
By Beverly Sartain M.A. CADCII
Let’s face it, most people think that change is hard. Why is that? If we get to decide how we go
through the change, why do so many of us go through kicking and screaming. A difficult process
is not a requirement of the change process.
What if change could be easy, graceful and dare I say, fun?
I’ve been studying the change process for a while now and going through it myself for the past
10 years. Compared to most, I had a pretty effortless recovery. I’ve never relapsed, didn’t go to
AA and didn’t do any inpatient treatment.
Yes, it did take me awhile to decide to change. In fact, it’s the best thing that has ever happened
for me. However, when I made the choice, it was lasting.
My secret ingredient was thorough preparation. Preparation is the one of the stages of change
identified in Prochaska and DiClement’s Transtheoretical Model.
I fluctuated between contemplation of my issues and preparing to take action on changing them.
It took time for me to connect a better feeling experience to living a sober life than staying status
quo. Though my substance abuse was emotionally painful, it was survivable. I knew how to
survive the vicious cycle of saying I wouldn’t use and then finding myself using hours later.
How did I prepare to change?
1. Got feedback from a helping professional: I found a helping professional who met me
where I was at. I mean that my therapist gave me the dignity of my own process which was
tremendously helpful to me.. It had to be my decision. My therapist did say that he thought I
needed to stop drinking for a year to address my emotional and mental well-being. I took the
feedback in and let myself start to imagine a different life for myself.
2. Got clear on goals: I wanted to go back to school for a Master’s Degree. However, every
time I started to complete an application, I would get so overwhelmed with the process. It
wasn’t really the process that was overwhelming, but it highlighted my instability and would
send me into a tailspin. Getting my Master’s Degree was an important goal for me. I had to
get real about my substance use and its effect on my potential and goals. Did I believe that I
could continue my use, work full time and get my degree all at the same time? The answer
was no. So I had to do something different to reach my goal.
3. Started to surrender denial: I’d love to tell you that I committed to my therapist’s
suggestions right away. Not so. It took a good 3 months of continued consequences for me to
get to the place of surrender. It’s a process not an event. There is a part of me that thought it
could figure it out and go it alone. I had to stop listening to this part of me and trust a process
that was completely unknown.
4. Connected a better feeling experience with sobriety than using: My use got so bad that I
become suicidal. I started to think of ending my life because the emotional suffering was so
strong. I, of course, didn’t want to die. I just wanted the pain to go away. My way wasn’t
working. It makes sense that I was looking for any other solution. I remember how relieved I
felt after that first session with my therapist. I felt better. I started to attribute a better feeling
experience to not using. In fact, I connected spiritual evolution to NOT using and that became
my inspiration.
5. Went all in: I told myself that I would go all in for a year and make a decision from there. I
wanted to give myself an opportunity to get better, make necessary changes and then decide
about my use from a healthy place. Since that time, my life has improved so much that I
made a choice to continue to abstain from substances.
Everyone’s preparation process will look differently. What’s important to note is that there is a
preparation process involved that requires thoughtful attention. Through the preparation
process, I became ripe for change. I became so ripe that change was inevitable for me.
Many people contemplate change but are ineffective in their preparation. We have to prepare to
change. Preparation may be short or long, but preparation is an essential part of lasting change.
In preparation, we are enthusiastic, becoming ready, researching and thinking things through.
We’ve told our friends and family of your intention to stop using. We have gone through our car,
our home and our office space and cleared out any paraphernalia that could lead back to use.
We’ve picked a date that use will stop and we’ve thought through implementation and what that
would look like. We’ve really connected with something positive that will come from living
substance-free and we commit to that positive experience.
Get curious about your own preparation to change. Find the support and accountability that will
help propel you to the next level in your life. We are all capable of changing and evolving in our
lives. You are certainly worth the effort!
Beverly Sartain shows people how to use spiritual tools and techniques to make conscious
change. If you are ready to make a change in your life but need a guide, check out
www.createachangeplan.com. You will find a free change plan workbook that will take you
through 7 parts of the plan including preparation. Beverly Sartain has a Master’s Degree in
Spiritual Psychology, is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor as well as a Life Coach. She
specializes in spirituality, personal mastery and recovery. Beverly loves creating conscious
community. Join in at www.recoverylifemanagement.com