Change Your Playground to Change Your Life

“My friends are all proud of me, but they’re all addicts and
I can’t be around them or I’ll start using.” ~Matt Langley

The sentence played over and over in my mind. Matt Langley is a young man in high school. He had gotten hooked on Xanax. For six months, he used a pill to provide him a high he couldn’t find anywhere else. As with so many highs, it came at a great price — he was addicted. Maybe you can’t relate to an addiction to a drug as ‘simple’ as a painkiller or anxiety medication. I’ll bet you know what it’s like to think you need just one more pair of shoes or a video game or that clean as a whistle kitchen. Maybe your addiction is sugar — one of the worst accepted drugs I can think of. Whatever your addiction, Langley’s words hold true — being around people who continue in the behavior that has caused you trouble is just not a good idea.

I’m not sure when it happened, but I decided that I didn’t want to add any more rabbits to my collection. I have two pretty lamps, several small rabbit figurines, and rabbits in some paintings. It was an addiction for me, as I couldn’t seem to walk away from any rabbit-oriented purchase. The same could be said of my love for sugar. Seven or eight years ago, I made a decision to walk away from it. Sugar was controlling my thoughts (because of the insatiable appetite for it I had developed) and my energy, and it definitely controlled my weight. Being around people who wanted to add to my collection or push sugary items on me became a problem.

Just a bad habit, or is it an addiction? Maybe you are addicted to looking at nude photos, to keeping the weeds in your yard pulled, to technology, or to exercise. Addiction is everywhere.

In Brockton, Massachusetts, students who have dealt with addiction and gotten clean now have a new playground. You see, when you talk to addiction specialists, they’ll tell you that if you don’t change your playground and your playmates, you’ll end up right where you were before. These students want to stay off of drugs, and in order to stand a better chance of succeeding, they now have a school to attend with other kids just like themselves.

Imagine how much better you and I would do if we could be surrounded by people who were trying to find success in the same way we were. We tend to seek friends who won’t question our choices. When we want to make positive changes, it just makes sense to surround ourselves with folks who will support those choices.

Make a plan. We tend to get bogged down in our plan making. We might never overcome anything because we are wanting to do it just right. I’ve been planning lots of things I want to accomplish, but the planning gets to be an addiction of its own.

Find support. Like-minded friends are great, and guides are even better. People who have walked the path you travel can help you understand how to avoid pitfalls. Unfortunately, old friends (playmates) are not easy to be around until you are feeling strong in your new-found freedom.

Get involved. Whatever you want to not be doing, you’ll be more successful if you get involved in a volunteer project of some kind. Get out of your space and out of your head. “Home Alone might have been a funny movie, but being home alone for too long sets us up for failure. A new ‘playground’ is one of the most important pieces of a plan to succeed.

Whether it is you or a friend, overcoming any bad habit or addiction is a serious accomplishment and deserves to be supported and encouraged every single day. One day at a time, friends.

 

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