Most adults have watched a baby pull themselves up on the edge of a sofa and take those first wobbly, unsure steps. Inevitably, the baby will topple over and quickly look to the adult to be reassured of their safety. Soon, however, they will be cruising from one piece of furniture to another and will take great glee in their independence and newly learned skill. They tried something new, fell many times, and used the last toddling attempt to build their confidence and abilities. Many of us have had this experience; try something new, fail, and begin again. We never really have to start over, as we’ve got past triumphs and failures to build upon. We can apply this resiliency practice to nearly anything we are striving for.
Okay, sounds great, but what does that look like with our work commitments, family time, social obligations, and all that comes with “adulting”.
First, let’s pause for a moment, and take a deep breath to get recentered after that last sentence. INHALE. EXHALE.
Alright, let’s break this down with a few scenarios.
You want to add a meditation or mindfulness practice to your day. You download a free meditation app to your phone, take five minutes in a quiet space (could be the bathroom if needed), and your mind goes into spirals within the first few seconds of the meditation. Failed meditation? Not at all, that is what brains are supposed to do, begin again friend. In the next meditation session (or the 80th), can you identify when your brain wanders off and bring it back to the session? Win! That is the meditation, it is a consistent, gentle redirection of your “monkey mind” to the breath or your defined anchor point. But why? Mindfulness brings a sense of calm, balance in mind and body, and can help with anxiety, which many of us experience. We can practice beginning, again and again. (I’ve been practicing daily meditation for two years and I’m still figuring it out, but feel much more centered.)
What if you want to begin a walking routine in your week. You’ve got everything you need to begin this new habit. You’ve got walking shoes, a buddy to go with you, and you’re ready to get going. Will you start out with a 5k race? Probably not, but as you practice beginning again, each time you go for a walk, you build your confidence and probably your distance. You will encounter days you do not want to go, and that’s okay. The weather will not always cooperate, and sickness will happen, also okay. Just begin again on the next day you can. You may discover you can walk further; stretching is helpful for those sore shins; sunscreen is handy on sunny days; new walking shoes are worth the investment in foot care; location of the nearest bathroom is important; rest days are vital even if they don’t feel like it at the time.
What if you want to quit smoking? What if you’ve tried a jillion times before and you slipped and started smoking again? Okay, no judgment here, let’s talk through it.
Cravings are going to happen, it is a part of the quitting process. Remember the last time you practiced quitting tobacco? What were your successes? Did you shift a daily smoking location? Knowing when and where you typically smoke is a great start. Those routine shifts can help disassociate cigarettes with a certain activity or location. For example, if you go outside with your coffee and first cigarette in the morning, you could have your coffee on the sofa or backyard swing.
What tactics did you try that didn’t work out so great? Stopping at the drive-thru for tacos seemed like a good idea to avoid the craving, until your gurgling belly told you otherwise. All of those habits and routine changes you tried before, are coming along with you in this attempt. Congratulations on continuing to show up for yourself!
There are many ways to gather support for your next quit attempt. You can ask a friend to an accountability partner, ask on social media for support, or reach out to the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline for a free Quit Coach who will be with you along the way.
There are several ways to get a free Tobacco Quit Coach - website https://okhelpline.com/, calling 1-800-QUIT NOW, or texting Text QUIT to IQUIT (47848). You don’t have to do it alone, and you’re not starting over, just beginning again.
At some point, many of us have gone from a toddling child to a walking or even running adult. We’ve built resilience over time, practiced skills, grown our knowledge base, and gained confidence in ourselves. It’s okay to fall down, it is a part of the process of beginning again. Keep going friend, you can do hard things, just not in a hard way.
If you would like additional support to “begin again” or navigate the next steps of your recovery journey, Gateway is here to help you. Call our Shawnee Treatment Office at 273-1170 x0 and let’s do it together.
Holly Gordon is the Healthy Living Program Coordinator for Gateway to Prevention and Recovery. She uses her love of community and connection to come alongside folks to support their wellness efforts in a sustainable way.