Coping with Negative Thoughts in Recovery
Everyone makes mistakes. Even good people make mistakes. Sometimes our mistakes have such a deep and profound impact on our lives that we allow them to come back to haunt us for months, or years, after the mistake. Our thought patterns in recovery are an example of how we allow our mistakes to breed negativity that could potentially develop a slippery slope back into addiction. If you&'re suffering from a bout of negative thought patterns that are holding you back in recovery, there is help!
Types of Negative Thinking
You may not even realize you are thinking negatively. In fact, it is possible that the thought patterns you are having are interrupting your ability to succeed and THRIVE in recovery and you don’t even realize it. The most common types of negative thoughts in recovery, and in life in general, include:
Thinking you’re not worth recovery or not worth helping.
You may think this because your loved ones may have gotten so hurt by your addiction that they finally lost hope and told you that you were not worth helping--or you may think it because you simply have had your self-esteem diminished. Either way, this negative pattern is not helping you out now and you must know that you ARE worth recovery and you ARE worth helping. Your family and friends genuinely care about you--and if you need more friends in recovery, reach out to others on Pocket Rehab for help!
Thinking that the only way to recover is all or nothing.
Sometimes we start recovery with small steps--and it may not feel much like recovery, but it is these small steps that take us to the BIG goal. Don’t assume that anything less than perfection is not worthy of celebration. Your recovery is worth celebrating and your accomplishments each day in recovery are GREAT. Instead of an all or nothing attitude, how about an "at least I tried and gave my best effort" attitude? It will get you much further in life and in happiness.
Self-Labeling with Negative Judgements
We are our worst enemy, our hardest critics, the most difficult to please. Stop the negative self-labeling--it is only going to hinder your ability to recover and feel FREE from addiction. We see negative self-labeling a lot in everyday life. For instance, if you miss an appointment and you then decide, I'm horrible at this, I wasn't meant to be there. You aren't horrible--things happen, mistakes happen!
I Can't Do this Attitudes
Do you find yourself responding to challenges with an "I can't do this," attitude? Completing a treatment plan or staying the path to sobriety is not easy--if it were, there would be no harm in addiction. Although you may have days where you think you haven't done enough or you cannot go another day--those are the times when you work for another minute, and before you know it, a minute becomes an hour and an hour becomes 24 hours. You CAN do this!
Negating the Positives
Do you disqualify the positive aspects of your life and your abilities? Are you downplaying your recovery instead of building yourself up? Negative thoughts such as, "I didn't stay sober forever, so I shouldn't have even tried, even though I made it longer than ever before. Or "I didn't win, so why did I bother even though I had my best time ever." These patterns of negating the positive things that have happened because there was a negative in the way will not help you to achieve sobriety and will certainly hinder your recovery.
Everyone Else is Better than Me
Someone is always better off than you--but someone is always worse off too! You can’t go through life negating the positive things in your life just because someone else has more positives. Someone will always have a life better than you do but you can look around, and guarantee, you will find that someone always has a rock bottom that is deeper and scarier than yours too. If you can't see it now, talk to others in recovery through chat in Pocket Rehab--You will certainly find that others are in situations far worse, and far better at the same time.
Coping with Negative Thoughts
These negative thoughts can destroy your recovery. Don’t let them! Coping with these thoughts takes resistance, resilience, and re-framing them into positive models. It begins with developing a positive attitude toward yourself and toward others. In recovery, we learn a lot about being grateful. In fact, we learn that keeping a gratitude journal is one of the first steps we can easily take towards appreciating our progress and what we have done to get here.
Pocket Rehab provides an online, always available option where you can journal about your gratitude and keep track of your emotions. Counteract negative thought patterns by tracking your mood, the things that are going on in your life, and the associated thought patterns you are having in your own, private Pocket Rehab journal.
Next, don't beat yourself up. Remember the very first sentence? We all make mistakes! If you have made a mistake, forgive yourself. Vow to try harder next time. And move on.
Addiction is often rooted in the negative emotions we carry around with us from day-to-day. Leave that baggage at the door and start working on positive affirmations to help you overcome the negative patterns of thoughts and behaviors. Many apps provide affirmations and push-notifications for daily inspiration. If you need more enforcement, seek support through the app.
Learn to recognize the difference between a negative thought and a negative emotion--the two are NOT the same. A negative thought is something that you can give up. For instance, you may think you aren’t good enough, strong enough, or viable enough to recover--those are all negative thoughts that you should get rid of. However, negative emotion is a feeling-- if you genuinely feel like you are inadequate, take a deep inner look and decide what you can do to FEEL better.
Positive Thought Processes
Instead of cultivating a negative thought pattern, how about working toward the positive thoughts that will help you strive in recovery? Positive thought patterns take some work, but soon enough you will be a pro! Here are a few examples of how you can think positively:
- Instead of opting out of cooking at all because you may not be able to make the elaborate meal you had planned, make something smaller and easier--you’ll feel better about still accomplishing the task.
- Instead of saying, “well, I lost the race because I wasn’t good enough,” Say, "I may have lost, but that’s just because those competitors were really fast! At least I beat my time and gave it my best though!"
- Instead of thinking, "I made a mistake on my application, I am never going to get the job now." Think, "I may have made a typo, but hopefully the HR manager will see that mistakes do happen, even to people that put forth their best effort, as I did."
- Instead of saying, "I relapsed, so there's no hope in recovery for me now." Say, "I may have relapsed, but 90% of people do--and I did my best to immediately get back to my recovery support so that I could do my best, I can get sober this time."
Positive thoughts involve acknowledging the negative pattern in life and accepting it by reinforcing a positive pattern. Positive thinkers can understand when a mistake was made, and they will bounce back by providing ways to fix their mistakes. We ALL make mistakes!
Seek Support on Pocket Rehab
Are you a negative thinker? Are you letting negative thought patterns derail your recovery success? Seek support from others on Pocket Rehab by downloading the free app from the Google Play store or Apple App Store today. Start talking to others in recovery and learning how your thought patterns play a key role in how you achieve your recovery goals. Don’t let a negative thought process prevent you from succeeding at what you want the most--Recovery from addiction!
Tags: negative thoughts, recovery, negative emotions, pocket rehab, recovery app, support, sobriety, coping