If you have relapsed back into an old self-defeating behavior, there are two things you need to remember. First, whatever you accomplished in terms of lifestyle changes before you relapsed are still an important part of your future success. Second, your relapse is also a part of your success. You do not have to start all over again. You have already made gains which are still valuable but you do need to make changes in order to continue succeeding.
It is also important to understand that a relapse is not a failure. In fact, relapsing may well be a necessary part of the change process for some people. A relapse allows the person to re-examine his or her original motives for engaging in problematic behavior.
Some of the strategies for maintaining the change process may need to be revisited and perhaps modified. A relapse gives the person a good opportunity to compare their new lifestyle with the old one and to make a renewed commitment to follow through with the changes.
Some people relapse and then guilt or embarrassment takes hold. They become demoralized and feel that the struggle is not worth continuing. It is not helpful to engage in all-or-nothing thinking when a relapse occurs – that is, you are not either a success or a failure.
It is important for you to understand that only about (20) % of people who try to make a life change actually succeed on their first try. It is unrealistic to think that you’ll get it right the first time around. If a relapse does occur (and we of course try to avoid a relapse, but we are all human), it is the perfect time for you to see a professional therapist for individual therapy or couples counseling so that you can work through the reasons why you went back to the old behavior.
You may find that you were still vulnerable to some of the old triggers that set off the negative behavior. When you work with a therapist, new ways can be devised to deal with these triggers. Or you may need to learn new ways to replace the soothing and comfort that came from the old behavior with new and more effective methods.
Take a lesson from nature. Baby birds do not fly on their first attempt. First, they flutter their tiny wings and build the muscle and coordination they will eventually need to fly. They struggle with one failure after the next – until, one day, off they go. And then they soar.
Please call me at 949-760-7171 or text 949-244-8572 with any questions or to schedule an appointment. Click here to purchase a copy of my book ‘Building Better Relationships – A Guidebook for Men.’