Recovery and Improvement in Life

Do you ever feel like you are trying to make positive changes in your life, like eating habits/exercise/giving up a crutch/making a positive change in your thought process, only to find yourself back in your old habit? It can feel like you’ve undone all your hard work, and you may feel like throwing up your hands in defeat. “What’s the point?”, you might think.


Just for a minute, let’s look at the concept of “recovery.” People can recover from alcohol and substance abuse (including caffeine, tobacco, sugar and others because those things have similar effects on some people), they can also recover from old unhealthy mental and psychological habits, too. Unhealthy relationships, not having clear boundaries for taking care of your own needs, and other types of self-sabotaging behaviors are also habits that people can also overcome.


Some days it feels like one step ahead and two steps back. But no matter what change you are trying to undertake, don’t stop trying. It is perfectionism that makes us think if we can’t achieve this goal completely and perfectly this time (because we’re making the effort) that we should just give up all together. Here’s an example of how letting go of perfectionism will help you, because the very effort is what matters, even more than a perfect smooth ride to success:


Very few people quit smoking cold turkey. Sure, we hear about those cases. But what we don’t often hear about is the average number of times it takes for a person to quit smoking. I knew it was a higher number than we would expect; years ago as a medical student I heard a few attendings say that the average number of attempts to quit smoking was 14. Statistically speaking, that means that for every person that quit cold turkey on their first try, there was someone who tried 28 times before they quit! When I decided to write this blog post I checked some research and here is the most recent information I found:

“Understanding that for many smokers it may take 30 or more quit attempts before being successful may assist with clinical expectations.” (1)


Guess what that means? When it comes to quitting smoking:  Don’t Quit Quitting! Keep quitting as many times as you need to quit until it finally happens for you. The same can be said for other types of recovery: Don’t quit making the effort to change. Be open minded to approaching the problem from a different way sometimes. And sometimes you can re-try a way that’s been successful (even temporarily) in the past.


I’m committed to helping patients make positive changes in their lives, and I have many “tools in the toolbox” to help make that happen. Make an appointment to find out more.  Be Well!