Taking on too much at once is a recipe for failure
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. It has a fast lane on which you can get there quicker by trying to do too much too soon.
It’s a temptation we all face whenever things are wrong. The perceived urgency to change everything dramatically and quickly is almost irresistible.
And so we rush in headlong, desperate to escape the bad state that things are in and to enjoy a better life in every way.
But, in truth, we are well aware of the twin pitfalls which turn our desperation into a race to disaster.
For one thing “to fail to plan is to plan to fail”. If we don’t take time to assess the risks and prepare contingencies then it’s going to go wrong. Unforeseen difficulties may overwhelm us, choices informed only by ignorance may tear us away from success and rushed repairs will fall apart.
The other obvious danger is that our ambition will outstrip our abilities. By trying to do do much at once we may fail to achieve anything at all.
The Twelve Steps encourage us not only to to admit that we are powerless over our addiction but also to recognise that we need help to recover. And so with the guide of a mentor and the support of our friends and family we need a plan for manageable progress. The fearless inventory, the recognition of wrongs and the determination to amend defects of character shows us the way forward but, as in every aspect of our progress, we need to proceed a step at a time, setting and achieving realistic goals.
Better to take a successful step than a great leap into failure.
It’s an old saying and a true one, provided you choose the right confidant. Knowing that someone else knows and understands brings a sense of relief and support. You are no longer alone in your troubles and whatever your problem is, you are still accepted.
Every recovering addict knows about the importance of mutual support for relapse prevention.
But it can go further than that.
In the right circumstances and with the right person (and that’s really important), the exchange of mutual support brings additional advantages. The recipient always benefits from care and encouragement and if there is an exchange of both then both are better off.
If you share similar problems then the sense that you are not alone and someone else really understands what you are facing is empowering.
And when you ask someone else for help it boosts their self esteem.
So for both the people involved, helping one another is both supportive and affirming.
It really can be true that “a problem shared is two problems halved”, and maybe even more.
Depression is a horrible affliction, whether it is brought on by particular events or is a chronic condition. Although, in reality, things may not be as bad as they seem, being told that is worse than unhelpful as it just adds to the isolating feeling that no-one understands.
The truth is, however, that there always is a way forward. Whatever has happened to destroy your happiness or health or security or confidence, you are the same person you have always been and what you have learned and achieved throughout your life has not been wiped away.
Somewhere in the darkness are the remains of possibilities and when you find them you can begin to rebuild them.
As so often, the smallest steps are often the most successful and empowering.
Helping a child complete homework becomes a tiny reminder of the mental power and potential still within you. More importantly, perhaps, it recalls and reveals the possibilities within relationships.
The smallest, day one, basic beginner’s task at work can become the reminder of a career of experience and achievement.
Progress, be it almost insignificant, holds out hope.
Seeing what we once were is not only about how far we have fallen but also about what we could be again.
The tiniest viable fragment of a life in pieces, once found, can show us the possibilities for recovery and the need to accept help.
Several of the Twelve Steps, one way or another, require self-examination.
However good our intentions, it is a task that is almost impossible to complete with honesty, integrity and clarity.
Our picture of ourselves is always distorted.
Sometimes we judge ourselves too harshly, convinced that we should have done better whatever the pressures and obstacles that made success impossible.
Sometimes we are too easy on ourselves, justifying our actions by excusing the inexcusable.
Maybe more importantly, the character traits and failings that obsesses us most seem less relevant to others and less of a priority for change.
So, while it is vital that our life and lifestyle needs to come under close scrutiny, we really must get help from someone who can be more objective.
Our family and friends will help us. But even they are too involved. They too will be tempted either to make light of serious issues or else to focus on less important aspects of our behaviour that happen to have caused problems for them.
We really need the help of an experienced, ideally a trained and professional analyst who will ask the right questions and help us see ourselves clearly.