Everyone’s heard the Mark Twain quip about how easy it was for him to quit smoking: “I’ve done it dozens of times.” Twain’s tongue in cheek comment points to the difficulty human beings have in effecting permanent change at various times in their lives. They say that 80% of people will abandon their New Year’s resolutions in less than two months. The validity of this statistic is questionable, but what is certain is that most people’s willpower is at times insufficient, despite their stubborn insistence that they pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Though I certainly do not have a magic formula turning resolutions into realities, I know that for me, I have made far more progress by approaching the New Year and each day with an attitude of commitment, rather than resolve.
While some may believe that the difference between resolve and commitment is a mere matter of semantics, in my experience the two are very different. When people make a resolution, they are making a statement of purpose, when they make a commitment they are dedicating themselves to a course of actions and attitudes. Anyone who has battled or witnessed addiction knows that anyone faced with the consequences of their use has no problem verbalizing their intention of stopping their drug and alcohol use. Some of these declarations are made with the utmost sincerity, often with emotional fervor and zeal. But the problem is that the resolve melts away when faced with the effort that recovery requires. I knew I was an alcoholic when I was seventeen years old, but it took ten years before I was willing to commit to a course of action that would arrest the disease and eradicate the craving for alcohol. Seventeen years later, my belief in people’s ability to change is based in my own experience, as well as the experience of those I have counseled and been exposed to in the world of recovery. the
The wisdom of good 12 Step meetings is that members are asked to commit to their recovery on a daily basis, not once a year. Change must be a living, breathing part of you, not a statement written on a piece of paper. Those who are committed to their recovery continually do things like going to meetings, going to therapy, taking medications, monitoring their emotions and reactions, and striving for spiritual growth. Anyone who is looking for a quick fix will be sorely discouraged when presented with a program of action, usually offering a slew of excuses about why they don’t have time to do the things that successful recovering people make time for. It is a true pleasure to watch the growth and change that occurs in people who are willing to meet their intentions with action. Those who do this, claim the life that they want instead of pining away for what they think they deserve.
So instead of an empty resolution, here are the things I am committing and recommitting to for 2018, knowing that I will not be perfect, just purposeful:
1.) I commit myself to my marriage and my wife, striving to be the partner to her that I promised to be on our wedding day ten years ago.
2.) I commit to my family, being there when they need me, and supporting them in their lives.
3.) I commit to showing up for my clients each day, being fully present with them and helping them along their journey for as long as they need me.
4.) I commit to my own recovery, rejecting the use of intoxicating drugs and alcohol which add to the suffering of mankind.
5.) I commit to treating all people with respect and dignity, especially those on the margins of our society.
6.) I commit to eschewing violence in all its forms, including verbal attacks, either written or spoken.
Though there are other areas where I can and will improve, these are the most important to me at the moment. Happy New Year to all friends and family, those seen or unseen, known or unknown.