Will Power

This year is the 20th anniversary of me stopping gambling and drinking. I didn’t stop overnight. I tried and failed many times to cut these two destructive forces from my life. I knew I had a problem by the time I was twenty. It took another five years to make stopping a reality. That was five years of failed attempts. Five years of anger and upset. Five years of lying and deceit. Five years of self-punishment and recriminations.

Looking back over those destructive years leading up to me stopping, I realise I was making an impossible request of myself. I was trying to use will-power to change my behaviour. My drinking and gambling were out of control. I was out of control. I knew I needed to stop. So why didn’t I?

After each blackout or sickening loss in the casino, I would chastise myself and vow never to do it again. I would be determined to stop, to change, to become a good man, a trustworthy honest man. I willed myself to stop. I implored myself. I looked in the mirror dreaming of change, wanting to be stronger, wanting to be like everyone else, wanting to have their mental strength, their easy normality. I wanted the power to control myself; I felt disgusted self-pity and hatred looking in the mirror. My weakness burned like a knife.

Do you recognise these feelings? Are you in the darkness, searching for light, seeking to make a change in your life? Have you been relying on will power to come to your aid? Are you having any more luck than me?

The lesson I learnt through the dark days and the long journey of recovery that followed is that will power is never enough. It doesn’t matter how hard you fight, how much you try or how much your friends and family encourage you; the outcome is likely to be the same.

If you are using will power to make a change in your life, it will generally fail. Maybe you are strong, and you can hold onto the change for a week, a month maybe even a year. But in the end, life catches up with you, and your demons will come running back.

Change comes when you accept that the “bad” behaviour is a coping response to significant emotional feelings. The solution lies in changing the way you see yourself; you begin the process when the narrative in your mind changes; it starts to happen when you connect and understand your WHY.

Why do you want to change, why is life going to be better when you change, why is it important, why do you want to do it. Write down you’re why. Paint a very clear picture of it in your mind. You need to create a mental image of the kind of person you want to become.

Then make a commitment to become the kind of person who behaves with this purpose each day. Own the change. Then each day take tiny steps towards living life as the kind of person you want to be. Own your journey. Own your dreams and goals. Forget about will-power. Create small daily habits that you are proud of. Celebrate them each day. Mark each one of these successes as a good day. These good days will turn into weeks, then months and finally years. Long before others believe, you must believe it’s possible.

Remember, we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.

Hi, I'm Luke Bream, the author of this blog, and one of the co-founders of Valentte. Thanks for taking the time to read about our journey.

We are small business based in Nantwich on an old dairy farm. We make affordable, luxurious home fragrance and natural skincare. It smells amazing, works like a treat and comes beautifully wrapped.

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15 thoughts on “Will Power”

  1. hi that was a lovely heartwarming story to read first time in the morning i know the pain of addiction to alcohol only too well. anyway i wish you all the best on your road to recovery as that is what it is daily sometimes even by minutes,to recover good luck you are an inspiration,keep doing what youre doing it seems to work for you and that is the important thing love quanah

  2. Well done on getting rid of your demons
    I managed to give up smoking last March after being a smoker for most of my life apart from when I became pregnant with my only child and I gave it up for 4 years then
    This time it was all thanks to my supervisor who passed on her flu type thing to me because if it hadn’t been for that I’d probably still be smoking
    I didn’t need patches or vapours or the chewing gum they do or whatever. I just went cold turkey and I haven’t looked back since then so I feel a sense of achievement too

    • HI Barbara

      Well done and good for you. I’m so pleased to hear that you have stopped smoking. Keep reminding yourself of how well you have done, it is so important to celebrate your success.

      Best Wishes

      Luke x

  3. You write beautifully… it perfectly describes the struggle. It resonates with me to the core. Thank you for sharing. I only hope I learn to love myself before it’s too late.

  4. Thank you for sharing – it’s always appreciated. And massive congratulations on reaching such a significant milestone 🙂

  5. Thank you for sharing your struggle and your wisdom Luke. I needed to read that today, as I too have been struggling with my abstinence.

    Making a commitment to be the person I want to be and write down the why’s is a fantastic piece of advice. I will start on this today and hopefully I too can one day share a 20th anniversary.

    Best wishes for clean and serene life.

    Jo x

    • Hi Jo

      Thank you for sharing your story. I know how hard the path is. Please remember you are not alone. Be kind to yourself and take care of yourself. Celebrate each tiny success and mark its progress. I believe it’s this progress that builds your strength and courage. If I can help in any way please reach out. You can contact me using luke@valentte.com

      Best Wishes

      Luke x

  6. Hi Luke

    I never thought that when I purchased your box of hand cream, candle and diffuser at the Ideal Home Expo in March I would also receive such heartfelt blogs.

    Doing things is one thing but actually writing about your experiences and helping others, uplifting and sharing is magical. I love reading them and I’m in love with the products ??

  7. I have and still am battling my own demons, but today having read your blog I believe there is a way forward. Thank you Luke for sharing your journey.

  8. Thank you for your words of wisdom Luke and for being open honest and real about your struggles, well done for overcoming the obstacles and not going back,
    Your blogs are very encouraging and inspirational, I look forward to reading them may be one day you will write a book ,
    kind Regards

  9. I have been catching up on reading the newsletters that I get from you and I have got so many good insights from them. I, however, have also had some things come back to me that I prefer not remembering. Things that remind me of people who like to live in my long distant past. Things that were said that never should have been said. I have had a very hard life because of the things that other people have said about me, things that were not true, just so that they could get what they wanted. I have struggled for years to change my life and my health has suffered because of it. I am not just blaming others for my life, I have made my share of mistakes, but that did not give those people the right to do what they did to destroy my life. You can never know the hell that I have lived through, just because people wanted what they wanted and did not care who was hurt in the process.

    Thank you,
    Linda Clift


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