If you took a running tally of all the negative thoughts that pass through your mind in a few minutes, would they outnumber the positive or neutral ones? If you did this several times during the day, what would you notice? You might be surprised by what you find.
If you are in addiction recovery, a lot of negativity could be a sign of trouble.
The mental side of addiction recovery is just as important as the physical side. Negativity and black-and-white thinking are hallmarks of addiction. During drug rehab or alcohol treatment, you really take notice of what’s going on in your mind. After you finish rehab, you’ll need to stay aware of anything that could put your sobriety at risk.
Negative Thinking in Addiction Recovery
Everyone has negative thoughts at one time or another. It’s not realistic to assume you won’t have negative thoughts at all. Everybody has those at times, especially when in a bad mood or just after a bad experience. But consider this – are your negative thoughts just passing through, or do they color your perspective most of the time? That’s the difference between having some negative thoughts and having a surplus of negativity.
So what does the negativity have to do with addiction recovery? You may be less likely to relapse if you are able to stay calm and shake off your emotional upsets fairly quickly. While no one can avoid bad situations, everyone can add coping skills to get through even tough moments. Even when things don’t go right for a while, you can see better opportunities in the future or acknowledge that “this too shall pass”. You feel it, you come out of it, and you keep moving forward.
If you feel it and stay stuck in negative emotions, you aren’t going to feel that hope for tomorrow. Your feelings of despair and emptiness will only grow, and the temptation to drown them in drugs or alcohol will escalate. When you learn how to stay away from the negativity trap, you greatly improve your chances of staying sober longer.
Black and White Thinking in Addiction Recovery
Now, let’s focus on black-and-white thinking, also known as “all or nothing” thinking. This is like looking at a distorted mirror in a funhouse. Your head gets squished all the way to the top and your feet are spread out on the bottom. Everything in-between is skinnier than a stick, almost invisible. Your perception of the world can become like this if you don’t catch yourself. Mistakes become unacceptable. Things need to either be all going right or it’s not worth putting in the effort.
Sure, anyone in addiction recovery would love to have things roll along smoothly from one step to the next. But in real life, bumps happen. Setbacks happen. Temptations happen.
Sometimes people give in to them and sometimes they don’t. But that doesn’t mean it’s pointless to stay sober just because you feel a difficult craving one day. When you can learn to accept some of the gray areas in life, you can learn how to see the bigger picture. You can avoid getting trapped in all the ups and downs.
The Mental Battle of Addiction
Negativity and black-and-white thinking are two roadblocks that most recovering addicts or alcoholics face. They are part of reality, but they don’t have to bring you down. Reach out, stay in touch with your support network, and always be aware of negativity and black-and-white thinking in your daily life.
No one is born with perfect coping skills. If we don’t learn good coping skills early in life, it can be possible to learn them later in life. It never hurts to make improvements.
The good news is that you don’t have to make improvements on your own. There are millions of people who seek positive change in the world, and many of those people would help support your journey to wellness.
The staff at Michael’s House have dedicated their lives to helping people reach brighter futures. Our experienced and educated staff can help you and your family overcome the difficulties of addiction to build a more positive future. Give us a call at 760.548.4032 to find out how we can help you today.