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Crystallization of Desire

The Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) is focused upon awareness of the existence of a problem, in an attempt to introduce you to a concept the professionals call the “crystallization of discontent,” which is what happens when person considering change realizes that the negative consequences of continuing a behavior outweigh the positive benefits gained from the behavior. This is, admittedly, a “problem avoidance” approach to motivation, rather than an approach that’s geared more to the desires of the person considering change. In other words, focusing upon reasons for running from rather than moving towards.

This second approach (moving towards) is sometimes called the Crystallization of Desire, and refers to what happens when the person considering change realizes that the positive benefits of changing a behavior outweigh the negatives of continuing the old behavior. In other words, knowing what you want rather than what you don’t want.

Both approaches are equally valid, and both can work, it depends upon the person, and what works best for them. It’s important to delineate the reasons that we want to cease old behaviors, and it’s important to do it in writing, because once it’s “out there,” it becomes almost impossible to ignore. With many people it’s of equal importance to do the same for the carrot as we have just done for the stick. The CBA does address some aspects of this approach, but now we are going to focus on what we want.

Take out a piece of paper, and answer the following three questions:

  1. The changes I want to make are:
  2. The most important reasons I want to make these changes are:
  3. How I envision my life in five years:

The first question will be fairly easy for you, once you have completed the CBA, but the second question isn’t what you might think it is. I’m not looking for answers like “it will keep me out of jail,” I’m looking for what staying out of jail will allow you to accomplish. In other words, if you quit drinking, or smoking, for instance, what will you do with all that extra time? What will the differences be in your quality of life? Have you ever considered that?

The last question is really the hardest of all, if you do it right. Where do you think you’ll be in five years without your addictive behavior? What will you be doing? Where will you be going? What will your daily life be like? Will you go to school, learn a new profession, move to another part of the country or world? Let your mind open up and roam freely through the many possibilities.

I dreamed all the time, when I was drinking, of all the wonderful things I was going to do, but of course I never did any of them — until I quit. Look at your dreams, and realize that you may be on the threshold of realizing them, whatever they may be. I’ll guarantee you one thing, and this is based upon many years of observing recovering people, if you do it right, your dreams won’t even come close to what you’ll actually achieve.


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