A new year, a new start, that’s what many of us say. But what if the changes you want to make to your life are so big they are too overwhelming to contemplate? The easy option would be to keep putting off those changes to another day, another year, another lifetime … never.
Change can happen, but it’s never as easy as just saying you want it. Someone who knows that all too well is Renee Davis. Her life was on a downward spiral of depression and self-destruction before she finally decided enough was enough. Facing up to a difficult childhood of bullying and sexual abuse and then dealing with the fallout of depression, alcohol and drug abuse was no easy task. But Renee did it and came out the other side smiling.
For the inspiration that might just help you kick start your own changes, read on…
Renee’s mother had a dysfunctional upbringing and because she was never able to face her own past and deal with her experiences, the cycle repeated itself. This resulted in a miserable childhood for Renee and her intention was to break out of this cycle for good, to spare her own children from going through the same. By recognising what had gone wrong in her own life, facing up to her demons and making peace with herself, she was able to do this.
Change does not happen overnight
The first part of the process is recognising the need to change and then wanting to do it.
‘No matter how bad your earlier life has been or how messed up you think you are, it is down to you and you alone to secure your future happiness. No one else can do this for you.’
Take small steps
Once you have identified what it is you need to change, the best advice is to take a gradual approach. Small daily targets, progressing to weekly and beyond mean that making those vital changes to your life becomes more achievable.
‘Pick the biggest, scariest goal first because you will probably find the rest will naturally follow and things will start falling into place after you have conquered it.’
After realising her drinking and partying was getting out of control, the first thing Renee realised she needed to do was to cut down on the booze. A period of abstinence followed by slow re-introduction allowed her to learn some much-needed self-control. By not going out on drinking binges, Renee also cut out the drugs.
‘Instead I spent a lot of time at home, reading, watching TV and re-connecting with friends.’
Negative people will bring you down
Renee realised that she was spending too much time socialising with people who had a negative effect on her life. When she told them she wasn’t interested in partying with them anymore, they stopped inviting her out and lost interest in her completely.
‘If you know that socialising with certain people always leads to trouble, the next time you are invited out with them politely decline.’
Surround yourself with people who love and support you
One-sided relationships, families demanding too much, people taking advantage, can all make you miserable and lead to low self-esteem. Renee made the tough decision to cut all ties with her mother for the purpose of her own self-preservation. Being the eldest, her mother leant on her for both emotional and financial support. Renee was the parent to her mother, the child.
‘Taking a break from the person who is bringing you down might not be enough. If they themselves are not willing to change, then you may have to face up to the fact that you need to cut ties with them completely. Dealing with the loss and sadness that this brings is tough, but in time, you will come to realise that it is the best decision.’
Part of the process of change is to stop behaving as though you have had a bad lot in life. It is important to let go of the past, learn from mistakes, forgive yourself or others and ask for forgiveness to anyone you have caused hurt or pain. Only then can you move on.
‘Getting to the very root of our problems, even though it will involve dredging up painful memories, is the best way to ensure they are properly dealt with.’
Look after yourself
Renee lived off pre-prepared ready meals and junk having eaten much the same sort of thing when she lived at home. Learning to cook was something she found enjoyable and it gave her a much needed confidence boost.
‘A healthy diet and exercise routine will allow you to have more energy and you won’t feel tired all the time.’
Stay on track
By setting targets that are too high, you risk the possibility of failure. Give yourself and your confidence a boost by recognising all your achievements and rewarding them.
‘Every target you achieve, no matter what the size, takes you a step closer to your overall goal’.
Renee’s book, ‘Be the Best You’, is available from Amazon.