Some times I get people who ask me how I changed my life. How did I quit drinking and using cocaine? Why did I quit? There must have been something absolutely terrible that happened to make me undergo such a drastic transformation.
Sure, I had my fair share of regrets, bad decisions and less than good experiences such as overdosing, but I was very fortunate to not have anything too traumatic happen.
The desire to change was more of a tug on my heart that I kept feeling. I knew, deep down, the life I was living had to evolve.
The truth of it is that “I” didn’t change my life. Although I’d love to take the credit, I can’t. I simply prayed for help and God did the rest. I just agreed to do the work laid out before me and said yes to making the change.
It was the most miraculous experience of my entire life. The day he helped me decide that life was no longer a fit for me was the best day of my life as you can probably see from the before and after photo. The one on the left is my hot mess exactly 6 years ago at the height of my partying career. The one on the right is from this past New Year’s Eve.
Miracles happen. I’m living proof.
It took an open heart, open mind and determination coupled with the most loyal commitment I’ve made in my lifetime.
Sometimes I look back in awe of how long it has been, how far he has carried me and how incredibly different my life is today. It’s been a complete life, heart and mind overhaul. When I finally allowed God to get involved and to start being in control, major transformation was set into motion.
This type of transformation is available to everyone. It is an equal playing field. We just have to suit up for the game and invite THE coach in to help us call the plays.
The root of significant and lasting change is found much deeper than the problem we are trying to cure or the issue we are trying to fix.
It is not just because I said I needed help with my addictions that change was created.
It wasn’t just because I had grown to be exhausted, depressed and anxious all the time.
It was more than a bad hangover or come down.
The change was deeper than the decision and stretched beyond the commitment.
God helped me to see the things I truly needed to work on from the inside and then gave me the tools to follow through to become a new version of me. Looking back, I’m able to reflect on some key lessons I have learned and will share in honor of Transformation Tuesday.
15 Lessons Of Transformation
1) Fulfillment from empty sources will never make us full.
I was looking for happiness in all the wrong places, doing the wrong things with the wrong people. I was never going to find true joy in a bottle or any drug of choice. It took me a long time to realize that everything I was searching for in outside affairs was already inside me. I’ve come to learn that the only source capable of filling us with real joy is having a spiritual life and a relationship with God.
2) Escaping reality doesn’t change it.
The nights out and the blackouts did not change the somber truth of what my life had become. I could get high or get drunk and forget momentarily, but as soon as the ride was over, I was right back to where I started. And in fact, it’s almost as if I was traveling backwards. When we accept reality for what it is, then and only then can we begin to create something new.
3) When fun isn’t fun anymore that is a sign change is seeking to occur.
Just like the high wears off, so does the fun. Eventually, it becomes an empty chase. No matter what we do, the false sense of happiness we once may have felt turns into a hole in our heart. This is a clear indication that we are evolving. Move with it instead of against it by repeating the habit.
4) Spending time doing things that don’t bring us closer to who we truly want to be is ultimately just wasted time.
For me, while drinking and partying was fun, it was keeping me from the highest version of myself. It wasn’t supporting my productivity or contributing to a healthy mindset, body or well-being. I didn’t have goals or dreams and I certainty wasn’t working to attain them. One thing we can never get back is time. Spend it doing things that support your best you.
5) What fuels our bad habits from the core is what we need to focus on instead of run from.
Heartbreak, shame and disappointment were fueling my drug use. I was running from those feelings and emotions. When I stopped to focus on them and actually took the time to feel them, there was no need to keep running. When we focus on the root of the habit, we are able to break the cycle.
6) Change is a deep commitment and does not happen overnight.
Substantial life change requires a commitment that helps us move through days where we have lost motivation. There were many times I wanted to throw in the towel and go back to my old ways. We get motivated and excited in the beginning, but once we start to do the work, we realize it isn’t as easy as we thought it was going to be and we easily retreat or fall off track. Instead, when we make the commitment, we also need to plan for those days where we want to give up so that the commitment and plan carry us through without having to rely solely on the initial motivation. One day at a time turns in to months, years and then a lifetime.
7) Don’t ignore what you hunger and thirst for more of.
I knew there was a better me inside somewhere with grand visions of a better life. I ignored them for so long thinking they were unattainable or I was unworthy. When we have visions of things we want to do or be, do not ignore them. They are put there for a reason. We are never given a dream that we don’t also have the corresponding ability to make it come true. Listen to your inner intelligence. We have to shift our focus from why we can’t into why we CAN.
8) What we think we are missing is actually keeping us from so much more.
I used to think I was missing out on the fun by not going out. The only thing I was missing out on was ME. The version of me that wanted to drink and do massive amounts of cocaine was keeping me from the version of me that no longer needed those crutches to enjoy life or enjoy myself. We often don’t realize that we miss out on the opportunity to evolve by remaining the same.
9) Contentment is found in slowing down and stillness.
I talk to a lot of people who do not like to be alone. I used to be one of them. Most of us think it is because we are social, but what we don’t realize is what we are afraid of being alone with are our thoughts. When we want to work on ourselves, we have to get comfortable being with ourselves. I’ve had some of my most profound realizations in perfect quietness. When we can find contentment in slowing down and stillness, it’s in those moments that we begin to shake hands with lasting change because we no longer need the busyness or noise to drown us out from ourselves.
10) Change cannot occur until we are ready to face with brutal honesty where we are currently.
Eyes to see the devastation of the problem is one of the most powerful parts of changing. Most of us are not able to look ourselves in the face and admit where we are falling short. I never wanted to admit that I had a problem. I justified it with various excuses until one day I finally mustered up the courage to shine the light on it and look in the mirror with a long hard look. We can’t get where we truly want to go without authentically acknowledging our current location.
11) Willpower isn’t anything until it’s truly put to the test.
Willpower is like a muscle – it has to be worked to gain strength. It can’t get stronger without exercise which only comes by putting it to the test. I never knew my strength until I started receiving it from God and I had no choice but to rely on it. Willpower, in my opinion, is a frame of mind that backs up our determination to do something. And not just some of the time, but all of the time. Willpower must be fed by positive thinking and action so that when it is challenged it can confidently flex.
12) Surrender. Total and complete.
I didn’t have all the answers. And I still don’t for that matter. I was horrible at managing my life. Doing things my way was only perpetuating the merry go round of one bad decision after the other. I had to submit to the fact that my ways of thinking and behaving were not moving me forward. I literally got on my knees and prayed for the help I needed because I finally realized it would take surrendering to something higher and mightier than me to actually stand a chance. When we surrender to our old ways by turning our lives over to a powerful God, it is only then that we can give birth to new ways.
13) Who we are on the inside, at our core, is a much more beautiful person than we allow to be shown when we cover it up and bury it with bad habits.
That version of us deserves to be loved and to be happy. There is always a more beautiful and graceful person desperately wanting to emerge from the wreckage. When we get out of our own way, we allow a more true version of ourselves to step forward. I hope my Transformation Tuesday picture speaks volumes to this.
14) What we learn by overcoming a substantial life change is what allows us to impact others with.
Realizing that we all have a bigger role to play in this world than the one we are settling for is HUGE. I’d much rather be a writer than an addict. I would rather be a positive influence by fighting my battles than being a negative influence to others with my destructiveness. The shift in roles can only happen after we shift from playing small with our crutches to building a solid lifestyle by learning to walk without them.
15) When you are ready for the lesson, the teacher & supporters will appear.
People come into our lives for reasons, seasons, lessons and examples. God sent me an angel to help me in that time that wanted to live a healthy lifestyle right along with me. He also sent me someone to challenge me by saying I couldn’t do it, which is exactly what I needed. I was also sent a mentor and example to follow to model my change after and to call on when I felt I might fail. I had to be ready for the lesson and the change in order for God to deliver me when the resources to succeed. When we are ready for the lesson, the teacher appears. Never fails. Take the leap. Your wings and support will appear on the jump.