When it comes to negative behaviors often it may be consequences that can start the process of change in the beginning. For example, someone who is overweight might finally decide to go on a diet when they realize that their clothes no longer fit. Negative things can start the change process but quite often the negative things alone may not be enough to keep motivation going strong on a long term basis. At some point, change is sustained by the positive feelings that often come with experiencing progress over time. For example, the person who decided to go on a diet to lose weight may gain momentum and motivation when he or she starts to feel better about the way how good it feels to be thinner and how good things may start looking in the mirror once the pounds start coming off. In the beginning of the change process exercising and eating salads might start out as a dreadful chore but with time and success, going to the gym and eating healthy can actually start to become a positive, joyful experience. In the long term, it is the people who learn to enjoy lifestyle change that stick with it and stay strong
Of course, this same idea is often true with addiction and other bad habits. Often it is the consequences (arrests, family problems, job loss) that might start someone with the process of getting help. However, the person who sticks with the change process for substance use issues eventually should start to learn to enjoy their new lifestyle without abusing substances over time. Positive progress sustains motivation.
With this concept in mind review some of the following questions for thought and discussion about a substance use issue or other bad habit you may be working on changing:
What consequences got you thinking about making changes?
Even if you are still struggling now, what are some positives you can see about making lifestyle changes?
Looking toward a better future: What do you specifically think you need in your life to really appreciate and to stay with the process of changing for the better?
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