Everyone has been there, and many celebrities live there: You're doing a great job establishing a new healthy habit or quitting an unhealthy one. Suddenly, something throws you off track and whammo, there you are, back in rehab, er, I mean skipping the workout, eating the cupcake (or four), lighting the cigarette.
It feels awful, doesn't it? And it's really tempting to just junk the whole idea of changing. After all, if you failed once, you'll fail again and again and again, won't you?
Honestly, you might ... but experts are finding that's not a bad thing. Relapsing is more of a necessary step on the path to success instead of something that torpedoes it.
According to this Psychology Today article, relapses are the rule, not the exception. As many as 90 percent of smokers will enjoy sweet, sweet, horrible cigarettes again within a year of quitting (six years this month since the last one for me, and as you might have gathered I still sometimes miss it). Alcoholics and gambling addicts face similarly crappy odds.
That doesn't mean there's no hope, either. Ex-smokers, sanctimonious bunch we are, now outnumber smokers. Most alcoholics and even cocaine addicts eventually quit too. Addictions are now looked at more as chronic illnesses, where sometimes you are just fine and sometimes you backslide. It takes time for the brain to lose the reward patterns that addictions reinforce and create new ones.
The trick is to turn a relapse into a chance to learn what triggers the urge to slip, and how to deal with those urges. Rather than being evidence you can't do it, relapses are actually key to overcoming any bad habit, from your 3 p.m. candy bar jones to full-blown addictions like smoking or alcoholism.
Image via Conanil/Flickr