When I first started recovery my counselor was very clear in the message that in order to create a recovery, I would have to work hard and challenge myself. Recovery was not a “sit back & relax” kind of approach, but rather required a “pull up your boots & get to work” attitude.
Over the years I met several people who influenced my life greatly and they all shared that same message. Change of any kind does not come from any intellectual understanding. Change comes from our intention to modify our behavior. To challenge our emotional conditioning, and create new habits.
One of the biggest problems with anxiety disorders is that they leave us exhausted. Physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. They also leave us helpless and hopeless. With recovery requiring effort, and being in an exhausted state, the task in front of us can be overwhelming. I totally understand how this seems completely unfair.
This is why I also am quick to remind everyone that we create change with “small, manageable steps”. Whatever it is we are trying to do to help facilitate recovery has to be approached with gentle kindness. We are not trying to hurt ourselves, or scare ourselves, or make our anxieties worse in any way. It’s not in how much we can do quickly, but rather a consistent effort over a prolonged duration of time.
Some of my mentors over the years have suggested doing a daily consistent task for 100 days straight. The idea is to challenge ourselves to push through the daily obstacles that we face in order to create change. In a sense create a 100 Day Challenge to help us stay focused and motivated to create change.
Over the years I have attempted several times to do a 100 Day Challenge myself. It is much more difficult than I had originally expected it to be.
You see, over 100 days many things happen. Our moods fluctuate, weather changes, we may not feel well during this time; there are many, many distractions that arise. But for us with anxiety disorders most importantly is that we will be forced to confront our “emotional drifting” conditioning on a daily basis.
Each day our lives are dictated by how we feel. Our emotions influence every single thing in our life. When we live with anxiety disorders, we cater to our emotions. It is impossible for us to make a subconscious decision without emotions playing a role in the process.
I have spoken recently about “emotional ruts”, and various explanations of emotional conditioning. But it is this very reason why in recovery we need to implement intellectual thinking in our decision making. We make certain decisions in our lives based on what is best for us, not what feels good.
This brings us back to self-care. When it comes to eating emotionally I want pizza! Intellectually I know that I cannot eat pizza every meal, every day. Emotionally I will not be able to properly balance my diet. So I have to intellectually plan out my meals and then I have to follow through with action based on those decisions.
This is where a 100 Day Challenge comes in and can be very effective at helping us to see how our lives are run by emotions. And also how at times our lives are dictated by other people or events. We very often put other people/events ahead of our own priority. We do this for a multitude of reasons which I will explain in further detail in a future post. But in terms of recovery, we have to reestablish our own self-worth and self-importance within our own lives and play an active role in how our time is managed.
So here is the challenge that I present to you; pick one of my self-care suggestions, and do try it for 100 days straight.
Self-care suggestions are consuming adequate amounts of water, eating healthy, improved sleeping habits, exercise, meditation; something that you do for YOU that will help improve your health in some way (physically or mentally). Self-care for anxiety disorders is not watching television, eating candy or engaging in a passive activity.
Small, manageable steps. Pick one thing, do your research to see what is a realistic goal, and then create a chart outlining your daily goal. Each day when you complete the task, make a note on the chart that it was completed. If you miss a day, make a note on the chart as to why you missed the day. I know all too well how creative we are with making excuses not to work on our recovery (due to emotional drifting). So be honest with yourself. Let this challenge be an experiment for you to see really how you live your life.
Personally, it took me several attempts before I was able to complete my own 100 Day Challenge. It is much more difficult than people initially believe it would be. So do not become discouraged and stop trying. Whether you miss a day or not, make the note on the chart and continue on.
At the end of the challenge, count how many days you were able to complete the task, and compare to how many days you were not able to complete the task. Then start another 100 Day Challenge.
Remember what I always say; never give up – persistence!
So once you do your first 100 Day Challenge, do it again. Regardless what your results were the first time around, there is a benefit in doing it again. Trying again!
This is not some kind of a test. There is no pass or fail. This is simply an opportunity to get an understanding of how our emotions control us. And at the same time allow us to live intellectually. As well as to proactively engage in the act of recovery.
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