Dec 242013

Well, here we are at Week 52. 2013 has come and practically gone. How has it been for you?

I had high hopes for this year and not all of them have been fulfilled, but I still feel far more stable and positive than I usually do in December. I think the big difference is I finally have the sense of having made genuine progress. For so long I’ve been stuck in a strange sort of sleep-walking cycle of making fantasy ‘plans’ that I know will come to nothing (because I’m going to sabotage them), living a few months pretending I believe in them, while making no concrete effort towards them, and sliding into frustration and depression at the end of the year because I’m no further on than I was twelve months ago.

For the first time since about 1994, this year I did things differently. I analysed my fantasies and separated the goals I really wanted from the ones that I’d set up only to sabotage and bring myself down. Then I made realistic action plans and worked towards them. All the while, I was also being very strict with myself in terms of not allowing negative thoughts to pass through my mind unchallenged. Gradually, I’ve changed my outlook and taken more and more control of my own destiny. It works! Turning around a life that had run aground as deeply as mine had is not something that can be achieved overnight but the secret is to cultivate patience and optimism, while making sure you are actually moving and not just sitting there waiting for someone else to rescue you.

Something I’ve found useful is to keep a diary. This helps me to focus my thoughts and feelings, and it also gives me a record of the journey I’m on. I’ve been writing at least a page at the end of every day since 1st January 2008 and, whenever I get disheartened about the slow pace of my recovery, I look back over my entries from a few years ago and I see that, in fact, I’ve come much further than I’d remembered.

Small changes can yield enormous results, given enough time. Recovery is a process, not an event. As we head into 2014, keep your eyes on your destination, the life you want for yourself. I hope you too feel you’ve moved some way towards it during 2013 but, satisfied or not with your progress this year, you can certainly make the next twelve months count. Discipline is crucial – keep up the good work and you’ll thank yourself later – and so is self-nurturing. This may sound contradictory but it isn’t at all. If your goals are good ones, truly your heart’s desire, then keeping yourself on track is obviously in your interest. Equally, loving, valuing and respecting yourself are fundamental both to identifying the right goals and to getting you there. Discipline and self-nurturing combine to form the carrot that I find so much more effective as a motivator than the stick.

So, there we are: the last post in this blog. Thanks for reading and I hope you’ve found something in it to help you. Best wishes for the Christmas season and may 2014 be even more successful and fulfilling for you than 2013 has been.

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