One of the hardest parts of being addicted and recovering is retraining our brain. If you are actively working a solid program, you will come to find the obsession to drink or drug gets removed pretty quickly. Now all we have left to deal with is our own minds. Easier said than done, right? Yes and No. First of all, it’s healthy to realize that we as people are entirely controlled by our thoughts. Our feelings are temporary, but our thinking is what shapes and creates our world around us. This is why some people always seem so happy, and others always seem to have a chip on their shoulder. It is absolutely possible to become addicted to negative thinking, and on the contrary, it is also possible to become addicted to positive thinking. Which one sounds better to you?
Obviously, no one wants to be a debbie downer. However, for many of us, having a negative first instinct is a trait that we have unknowingly cultivated over our entire lives. We are influenced by our parents, our friends, the media, literally everything around us. The trick is realizing why and how we react negatively to this stimuli, and practice retraining ourselves to perceive everything in a positive light. Otherwise, we are just self-sabotaging our recovery.
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Why do we Become Addicted to Negative Thinking
It seems silly that as we grow older, it’s so common for us to slowly start to focus on the negative in our lives. Some of us focus so much on it in fact, that we become almost addicted to that type of thinking. As we’ve already covered, we are brought into this world hearing “Yes” and “No” and “Don’t Do That” and “Good Job!” Very simply, these minuscule guidelines along the way shape us into who we become as we grow older. So obviously, each person reacts differently to life, depending on how they were raised.
If you were raised in a strict household that is primarily focused on having stern diligence and discipline, then you most likely heard “No” a lot growing up. However, if you grew up in a loosely ruled household with not a lot of structure, chances are you were on the opposite end of the spectrum.
As we age and make our own way in life, we shape ourselves based on the morals and ideals that we learned when we were children. For example, if you grow up with dreams of being an astronaut but end up as a grown alcoholic who’s never been on an airplane, chances are you might have a bit of a negative concept of yourself and where your life is at. Realizing that you are not who you originally thought you would be can be a cause for a negative image of yourself. But it is possible to retrain your brain to focus on the positive.
How to Retrain Your Brain
- Set an intention for yourself: Absolutely refuse to focus on the negative. Hold yourself accountable to it.
- Separate your feelings from your thoughts: Try to remember that what you are feeling and what you are thinking are not the same thing. Your feelings are real and concrete, but your thoughts, are able to be changed and controlled. What you are feeling is the unconscious action, but how you perceive the emotion and what you do about it are your thoughts.
- Keep practicing: Any time you feel yourself focusing on negativity, immediately turn it around. Say something positive about yourself, your situation, someone in your life, etc. This will take practice and a lot of inward mindfulness, but when you start to notice that you are focusing on the negative, it will be easier to stop the cycle.
It really helps to have a mantra in the morning. For example, something short and meaningful to you. Use it when you need a pick me up or when you’re stuck in traffic or when your boss is annoying. The serenity prayer is a good example of a longer mantra. Find one that works for you that can be drawn upon in times of stress. for example, “I am a light of my Higher Power” or “My life has meaning” are two quick ones that always work in a bind.
Like the great Yoda said, “There is no Try, there is only Do.” We need to be vigilant in our journey towards positive thinking. We need to practice, and we need to be forgiving when we are not perfect. That is a struggle for many addicts and alcoholics. I’m not sure why this is, but a lot of people in the rooms would describe themselves as perfectionists, people who are all or nothing. It seems to be a common thread among us. Imagine if we took that initiative, the same one we used to get drunk or high, and focused it on recreating ourselves and how we see the world. It would be astounding.
Okay so now that we have the general idea of what we need to do, let’s talk about how we can relate it to everyday life. Try to relate to some of these common themes of thought that go through the mind of many alcoholics.
- “I’m only a few weeks sober but I still want to get high. I can’t do this.” Listen, I work in treatment, and I hear this almost every day. Switching our way of living takes hard work and dedication. A way to replace thinking like this is with a phrase like, “I already have a few weeks sober, I can be of service to people with less time.”
- “I really effed up my life, I don’t deserve God’s love.” Listen, we’ve all done bad things. We’ve all acted out of fear. Try to stop yourself when you have thoughts like that, and instead say, “I am not proud of who I was, but I am proud of who I am. All of my experiences will help me to help someone else some day.”
- “I will never be normal.” I get it, it’s a scary thought at first. Try this instead, “I am grateful for who I am. I am grateful to still be alive.”
Being addicted to negative thinking is something common that many of us don’t even realize that we do. We do it because we thrive on chaos, and after a while, it feels comfortable for us to think that way. However, when we do finally start to change our thinking, we will realize that it CAN be done and that we ARE capable of retraining our brains.
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Freedom From Addiction
If you have found yourself suffering in addiction, you are not alone! If you are ready to change your life and live free of addiction, then FindAddictionRehabs.com can help. We give you the jump start to recovery as well as teach relapse prevention including learning healthy outlets in sobriety . Our program is unique in that it doesn’t just treat the addiction, it treats the whole person. For more information on our program, call 1-877-959-7271 today.