Joe has been sober for a while now. He still struggles daily with the urge to drink. He doesn’t want to give in, but doesn’t know if he can continue to resist. He believes his willpower simply isn’t strong enough. He has very little self discipline, and fears the day will soon come when he gives in to his cravings.
Do these struggles sound familiar? If you have faced similar circumstances, it is important to develop self-discipline to overcome these struggles.
Once developed in your life, these positive disciplines will provide healthy alternatives to your old ways. As the urge arises to fall back into old habits of drug and alcohol use, you can turn to these activities instead.
Your first two steps in this process are:
- Plan Ahead
Decide what you’re going to do ahead of time. “If I get the urge to drink, I’m going to go for a walk instead.” “If I suddenly want a a drink, I will call my friend.” “When I want to use drugs, I will write about it.”
Don’t wait for the moment to arrive. Once you are in the midst of the struggle, it will be hard to think clearly, develop a plan of action, and act. Similar to planning a fire evacuation route or practicing what to do if a twister appears, this emergency response will be ready for you. Your pre-planned action will protect you from disaster.
- Stick with the Winners
This AA slogan is a great tip for those struggling with self-discipline. The winners are those who have demonstrated victory in your area of struggle. Developing relationships with those on whom you can call during daily struggles will provide you with the support you need to overcome.
In contrast, don’t hang with the losers. Those who would encourage you to return to old habits will be of no help creating new healthy disciplines.
By resolving to change the company you keep, you develop the discipline of positive peers. These winners have developed and maintained strong self-discipline, and their influence will encourage you in your own journey.
Find Healthy Alternatives
Once you have surrounded yourself with healthy peers and have decided to plan an “evacuation route,” begin to establish some healthy activities in your life. These will be your healthy alternatives to turn to in moments of temptation.
Discipline yourself to keep these healthy habits up and you’ll soon be overcoming daily struggles.
- Get Active – Physical activity – exercising daily, taking walks, playing a sport, martial arts – all help you stay disciplined, keeping both your mind and body healthy.
- Get a Journal – Writing out your struggle is cathartic. Simply admitting, even on paper, that you are struggling can be beneficial. The discipline of processing your emotions in a journal can help you deal with your struggle and provide a healthy alternative to giving in to it.
- Get New Thoughts – Developing healthy self-talk is an important self-discipline. When faced with the urge to drink or use, remind yourself why you stopped. Review the negative consequences of giving in to temptation and the benefits of not doing so. Remind yourself you won’t feel better and that you have a lot to lose. It can be helpful to write the benefits and consequences on a card that you carry with you.
- Get a Friend – This is when your “winners” come into play. Be sure to call someone who has a positive influence on you. Talk, get together, enjoy a shared hobby.
- Get a Hobby – Your old hobby was probably drinking or doing drugs. Try new things. Discover something else to do with your time. Build something. Get crafty. Study your favorite animals. Start a blog. Take up rock climbing. Try photography. The possibilities are endless.
Learn more about treatment options for alcohol abuse and addiction
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