When you make the fundamental decision to change a destructive habit there are going to be casualties of war. The bloody mess will be painted over the hearts of your family and your closest friends. You will become a different person. You will feel like you have improved and have become a more advanced model, but this is not a viewpoint that will be shared by those that love you the most.
One of the often cited excuses for not changing a habit, is the fear of loss associated with the change. Some people have the capability of projecting their change process into the future and seeing how relationships will become damaged by their decisions to try and improve their life.
I often wonder if my 12-year old son believes that my decision to stop drinking created a tidal wave of change that eventually destroyed my marriage and his whole world. When he looks around at the environment that he lives in and sees me standing alone as the sole person to refuse to drink alcohol, would he willingly thrust a bottle in my hand for the chance to have his family back?
Would my friends prefer the old me to waltz through the saloon door, click those spurs and start ordering from the top shelf? The bottles would jangle from the ferocity of the cheers as they welcomed their old friend back home.
Let’s not pick on the bush and beat it. If you decide to make a fundamental change in your life in the areas of drugs, alcohol, tobacco and food then there will also need to be a change in your relationships. Take alcohol as a prime example. Once you have made a fundamental decision to change, and have associated a lot of pain with this particular habit, then you will find it extremely difficult to hold a conversation with someone who is drunk. You will avoid this situation like the plague. So what then happens if your husband doesn’t stop drinking? How do you manage the habitual Sunday afternoon sessions you have both been participating in for the past 20-years?
In the beginning of my change process I didn’t pay too much attention to the planning cycle. Instead I filled my head with associated pain, refused to acknowledge any signs of pleasure and just dived straight into taking action. I believe with a little bit more planning I could have saved some of my relationships from destruction.
We should all be involved in some form of relationship improvement plan. Do not wait for your relationships to need one either. Prevention is a much more intelligent plan that trying to fix a problem that has already become broken. Reading books on relationships, seeing therapists and counsellors, checking-in with your partner, and a lot of joint dialogue around management of conflict, are going to be vital if you are going to keep your relationships in tact when you make a fundamental decision to change.
There will be some relationships that you will just know have to fall by the wayside. Pick and choose your fights accordingly. You may not realise it now, but you will have relationships that are built on the foundation of alcohol. Remove the poison and the whole thing comes crashing down. There may be people in your life that you just cannot communicate with unless you are drunk. Remove the alcohol and words stammer instead of flow.
You are the by-product of the people you spend the most time with. You have been your entire life. So search out better role models. Don’t allow sentimentality to hold you back. One of the greatest things about making a fundamental decision to change is you will meet so many new and wonderful people. By moving forward into different stages of your life, you will become exposed to a tribe of people who think and act just like you. These new friends and associates reduce the risk that you will relapse; and will also help you through the process of continual improvement.
Losing relationships is not an excuse to stand still. Your ego will try its very best to tell you otherwise. It will become one of the rocks that stand in your way when you decide to make a fundamental change. It’s scary and difficult to change and easier to accept the status quo. This is why your ego will try and do everything in its power to prevent you from moving on. The world is full of excuses and they are all created by ego.
I am living proof that when you make a fundamental change, your relationships with those you love will also change. You need to learn to understand that people need to accept and love you for who you are. You are not your drink, tobacco, drug or food problem. You are much more than that. If you decide to change then that is who you are. If you feel you are not getting the support you feel you need then move on. There are over seven billion people on this planet. The only person that stops you from finding more love is you.
Life doesn’t end when your relationships end. It just keeps on keeping on and this is what you must also do if you are determined to live life to the fullest.
What relationships have you lost as a result of your life changes, and also what new relationships have you found? Please share your experiences with us.