“Don’t give up at half time. Concentrate on winning the second half.” – Paul Bryant
In the sport of football, each game has four quarters with a 12 minute break between the two halves. This break has the not-so-clever, intuitively obvious name of half-time. This mid-game break serves several purposes including rest for the players, a concession break for the attendees, a commercial break for television, and an opportunity to summarize or highlight controversial and key plays of the game. Additionally, it is an opportunity for the coach and players to rethink and make changes to their game plan. Each team can use the time to reassess their opponent and, as necessary, alter their strategy while they are in the locker room; this is one of the main purposes of the half-time break.
Your Half-time Experience
Most people have frequent opportunities to reassess their strategy in life. Going into treatment or making a commitment to recovery can be one such opportunity. It is a chance to rethink your life. For many people battling with mental health and substance use disorders, the strains of life and the consequences of addiction feel as though you are a couple of touchdowns behind. These disappointments can drive feelings of hopelessness and a desire to give in and give up. The good news is that it’s half-time, not the end of the game. You can rethink your life, make a shift in strategy, refine your plan, and get re-inspired to try again.
Rethinking the First Half
This is an opportunity to conduct an honest assessment. This is a chance to take a fierce moral inventory and make a rock-solid commitment to truth. You can rethink your attitude, solidify your beliefs, change your actions and examine future options. Everyone has strengths, gifts, and abilities. Are you satisfied with how you are investing these talents? Perhaps you feel as if you have squandered a few second chances or misplayed several great opportunities. How can you best leverage lessons from the past to make positive changes in the future? What parts of your game plan would you like to keep and what part of your game plan needs to be corrected? Simply stated: keep what works, change what won’t.
Consider Your Opponent
In the beginning of treatment, the onset of recovery can feel like you are at third down with long yardage to cover. Have you dropped the ball or failed to make a critical play? Perhaps you have let down the ones you cared about the most. These missteps can grind away at your confidence and momentum. In your mind, at least for a moment, the fumbles loom large and your talent appears insignificant and insufficient. You feel incapable of success. Every error you make magnifies the size of your opponent. But don’t you see, that isn’t true. Other than a few Twinkies and some Gatorade, your opponent didn’t get any bigger at all. Left unattended, the mind can exaggerate the negative, minimize the positive, and rationalize defeat. Don’t fall for it.
Focusing too much on setbacks, problems, and pitfalls along your course allows hopelessness and discouragement to gain a stronger foothold. Staring at problems makes the difficult appear impossible. Defeat often gains momentum in the heart before the final score is tallied. In recovery, like in most challenges in life, it is necessary to remain confident, believe the best and focus on your strengths. The re-alignment of your game plan at half-time must include an over-haul of your attitude. Let the negativity, regrets from the past, and fear of the future be replaced by optimism and hope. Your future changing destiny is less than 12 minutes away. Walk out of the locker room with drive and confidence determined to win the second half.
Recovery is a journey. Enjoy the ride!