It’s easy to think of relapse as failure, however relapse is a very useful tool in the discovery of what works for you as an individual and what your triggers for relapsing are. A relapse can enable you to explore what triggered the change in your recovery journey, and how you might adapt your new skills to get back on track with your recovery with your new skills.
Imagine relapse as ‘two steps forward, one step back’.
Each time you slip back a step, it is usually still a step forward from where you started. Looking back on your journey so far is equally as important as taking baby steps forward and setting future goals. A good way to do this, especially when you are fresh from a relapse and may feel like you are getting nowhere fast, is to remember what your thoughts and behaviours were like last Christmas, or your last birthday. Any memorable day will do, as long as you can recall how you felt around food, what your anxieties were leading up to the event, how you managed socially etc. Once you have done this, compare it to now. Are you in the same place or have you in fact, moved forward?
At first, your past thoughts around fear of failure may get in the way. You may feel like recovery is a lost cause because you regressed. This is a vital time in the recovery process, and we urge you to look for the things that moved you forward (they obviously worked) and see what changed to make them less effective.
Use your support networks to brainstorm alternative outcomes to manage similar triggers in the future. Each time you make the choice to breakdown the unhelpful beliefs around ‘failure’, and instead assess the situation in terms of ‘what is working for me or what has worked for me’, you take one more step forward to making this way of thinking the new ‘normal’ for you.
Embrace relapse. After all, how do you know what your triggers are if you don’t experience them, and how do you find the skills to manage these triggers without discovering them first?