By Sandy Baker
It’s clear – you’re battling addiction because you made some bad decisions. To some degree, everyone has to deal with the difficult thoughts and emotions that led to their addiction. However, problems arise when an honest evaluation of your situation leads to overly negative thinking patterns, focusing on guilt, shame, and fear.
The Trap of Negative Thinking
While you may think you deserve the negative thoughts and feelings–or are unable to escape them–the truth is that negative thinking won’t help your recovery; in fact, the more you focus on the negative, the more likely you are to relapse. Why is this? When you are trapped in negativity, you feel down, depressed, and ready to give up. It feels impossible to gain perspective or feel hopeful about the future.
When you are able to push negative thoughts out of your mind, you clear the way for a recovery mentality: the belief that you have the power to change your life and the desire and energy to pursue those paths that will lead to wellbeing.
What Thoughts Are Limiting Your Recovery?
During your drug and alcohol treatment, you’ll learn more about how to work through negative thought patterns and establish a firm recovery mentality. Some of this is done in cognitive behavioral therapy. Let’s look at some of the most common negative thought patterns many people in recovery experience from time to time.
“What’s Wrong With Me?”
You can’t stay sober on your own. You have a problem that no one else seems to have. Therefore, there must be something wrong with you, right? This type of negative thinking often leads to statements about why you will fail in therapy. You may think, “Why bother? I’m just going to screw up again.”
If you’re feeling this way, it’s time to look a bit deeper at why you have an addiction and what that means to you going forward. You can work through it no matter where you are right now.
“Treatment Won’t Work for Me”
Perhaps your friend couldn’t make it through addiction treatment, or your brother failed to stay sober. Their experiences lead you to a hopeless outlook. If it didn’t work for them, why should it work for you? You may find yourself thinking that it’s a waste of time and money to even try getting sober.
This type of negative thought process isn’t accurate. Anyone–no matter their background or present situation–can be successful at treatment if they put the work into it.
“I’m So Stupid.”
Some people in treatment focus on the small mistakes they make, chalking them up to being stupid. Perhaps you forgot an appointment or failed to meet with your counselor. If you truly forgot, don’t beat yourself up about it. If you’re using forgetfulness as a reason to avoid the help you need, figure out why that is. You’re not stupid, so what are the real reasons you’re resisting treatment?
“Nobody Cares to Help Me”
It is easy to feel this way, especially if most of your relationships are struggling. You may even feel this way because people in your life can see what a rough time you’re having but aren’t doing anything to help. It’s okay to feel the pain of problematic relationships–but that doesn’t have to keep you from seeking treatment.
“I Don’t Deserve to Get Help”
Another common statement is this one, “I don’t deserve your forgiveness.” It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are in your recovery: you deserve an opportunity to prove to yourself that you deserve something better. Don’t feel as though you’re not good enough for help. You are. You may even find yourself overcoming shame in the process.
How Do You Stop Negative Thoughts?
Perhaps the hardest part of having negative thoughts is turning them off. It’s not easy to do, especially when the day is difficult. Cognitive behavioral therapy will teach you to recognize when you are having these negative thoughts and how to change those thought patterns into something positive.
While you work on this type of treatment, consider these tips to make the process of managing these thoughts easier.
- Ask yourself if what you are thinking is really true. Dig deep here.
- Does this thought really matter? Is it important to you getting help and remaining sober?
- Is this thought process helping you in any way to deal with what’s happening in the moment?
Your next step is to seek out help from someone that you trust. Choose a person who can be honest with you and who is not afraid to tell you like it is. Ask them what’s real and what’s just your subconscious mind pulling you back.
We Can Help
It’s also important to seek out help from your therapist when you are dealing with these experiences. They can give you one-on-one help to allow you to overcome much of the frustration and pain that you feel. Our professional therapists at Ranch at Dove Tree can help you learn cognitive behavioral strategies to turn your negative thoughts into a positive outlook for your recovery and your future.