While we are still in the middle of the holiday weekend, I thought it might be a good idea to write about getting back on track after a slip. Holidays can be stressful for those of us in recovery and they often bring potentially triggering situations. With 4th of July get-togethers centered around hot dogs, hamburgers, beer, and beach ready bodies it can be easy to stray from the healthy behaviors many of us have spent so long mastering.
Here are a few of my favorite tips for dealing with a slip up:
Usually after I slip, my first reaction is to beat myself up. Thoughts like "I can't believe you just did that," "You know better," and "You are so stupid, Kels," instantly overwhelm my brain. But what if I could change those thoughts into something a little kinder? Next time I get off track, I will try "I am still doing really well regardless of this slip" or "Oh well, it happens. No use beating myself up over it."
I'm not perfect
If I can remind myself that I am not perfect, then making a few mistakes doesn't seem so horrible. I often forget to remind myself that simply putting myself in those triggering situations is progress regardless of the outcome. It's okay to make mistakes. I will never be perfect. My best friend always reminds me that life would be boring if we were all perfect.
Ask a few key questions
What could I have done differently? Could I have prepared myself better ahead of time? Maybe I should have packed my own food or planned out what I was going to eat before I got there to make the situation less overwhelming. Was there a specific event that triggered the slip? How can I avoid this in the future?
Get right back on track
This one is extremely important. If the single slip turns into multiple slips, it becomes more and more difficult to pull yourself out. I have found that if I make a conscious effort to get back on track at the very next meal then it is much easier to move forward in a healthy way.
Most importantly, be honest with yourself about what happened. In my experience, the healing process could not begin until I stopped lying to myself and others (especially my therapist) about what I was feeling. When I do slip, it is crucial that I talk about it with at least one other person. You all know my favorite saying is, "You are as sick as your secrets." Set those secrets free and move on.
Let it out
The worst thing to do after a slip is keep it to yourself. Although it is difficult to admit our shortcomings to others, it is also necessary. By telling a nonjudgmental and trusting friend, we are able to free ourselves from those destructive thoughts. If telling someone is too difficult to start, sometimes I find writing about it helps. Writing allows me to detach myself from those thoughts and eventually think more clearly about the situation. Even if I don't share my writing with anyone, it is still a great way to vent.
"There is no medicine like hope,
No incentive so great,
And no tonic so powerful as
Expectation of something better tomorrow."
Whether you slipped or not this holiday weekend, these are still some great tools to use in the future. Life happens. We all make mistakes. I think I have finally learned that the way in which we deal with our slips afterwards is far more important than the slip itself.