Overcoming Negative Thinking in Recovery
Negative thinking, negative self talk, and thought distortions can be major barriers in the recovery process, as they lead you to be believe that you are less capable and less worthy of recovery than you actually are. Part of what we do at Pomarri is help our clients recognize their own thought distortions—and then enable them to break free of these distortions.
Here are some of the most common distorted thoughts that people in recovery struggle with, along with why they are absolutely false.
“I made a mistake and therefore I cannot do anything right.”
Making mistakes is part of being human, and you should never underestimate your capabilities based on any one mistake. One mistake does not make a failure, and remember—no matter your past, your future is a clean slate.
“I’ve relapsed before, and therefore I cannot have a successful recovery.”
Even if you have had unsuccessful recoveries in the past, that in no way indicates that you cannot have a successful recovery now. In fact, your chances of having a successful recovery can be made better this time around, as you have seen in the past what your weaknesses in recovery are.
“I feel inadequate and therefore I must be inadequate.”
Stress can climb to such heights that we forget what we are truly capable of. You should never judge yourself based on your current feelings because feelings are always fleeting. While emotions come and go, your strengths and abilities remain consistent.
“There is no way I will ever be able to compare to that person.”
So often we compare ourselves to other people, only to feel negatively about ourselves as a result. At those times, it’s important to take a step back and assess just how unrealistic your comparisons are. We have a tendency, for example, to compare our “blooper reel” to someone else’s “highlights reel.” Not only that, but we have a tendency to measure our weaknesses against the strengths of several people at once.
One important thing to remember as you begin pinpointing your own negative thoughts is that you should not feel shameful because of them. Most people struggle with negative, untrue thoughts about themselves at least at one point or another, and often these thoughts are a result of the unrealistic comparisons we make with other people. Stop seeing negative thoughts as a character flaw, and instead focus on what your strengths really are. Doing so will help you build the self-esteem you are worthy of and, in turn, progress in your recovery from addiction.