How to Go from Heartless Thoughts to Healthy Ones in Recovery


Gaining a Positive Mind

Most addicts have a negative mind. The thoughts that forever emerge are heartless ones about oneself, others, or the world. An addict’s mind is like standing in the middle of a battlefield: gun shots are being fired and it’s chaos everywhere. An addict’s mind might come with debilitating thoughts about oneself, ruining one’s self esteem.

It might include judgmental thoughts about others, undermining healthy relationships. And it might contain distorted thoughts about the world, leading to poor decision making. No wonder a person might turn to drinking or drug use. Substance use might bring some order, positive feelings, and at last, a sense of calm.

If Negative Thoughts Still Remain After Detox

However, when detox and sobriety kick in, those thoughts might still remain. The battlefield that calmed down during addiction becomes alive again with sobriety. Because of this, one of the necessary steps in recovery is learning how to train the brain and transform thoughts into healthy ones.

In fact, if you’ve had a taste of addiction treatment, you might know that many treatment centers include working with a cognitive-behavioral therapist.

How This Therapy Can Help You

This kind of therapy explores the connection between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You might have already noticed in yourself that when you have a particular thought, it can trigger a feeling. And, in turn, that feeling can trigger a behavior.

For instance, let’s say your older brother comes into town. Your parents praise him for having a successful career, a loving family, and a financial stability – none of which you have. Hearing your parents praise of your brother you think to yourself, “I’m such a loser.” That might trigger feelings of shame and guilt. “Why didn’t you finish college?” you ask yourself. “Why didn’t I follow the straight and narrow path like he did?”

The initial thought of being a loser and the continued questions you’re asking yourself along with the shame you’re feeling lead you to drive to the grocery store and get a six pack. “I might as well get drunk again,” you say to yourself, “at least I’ll feel better.”

This example might reveal the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Working with a cognitive-behavioral therapist in recovery invites you to become aware of your thoughts. Once you become more and more aware of the way your thinking, you have the opportunity to change your thoughts.

Changing Negative Thoughts

For instance, when you find yourself thinking, “I’m such a loser,” you can immediately change it to, “I might not have everything together right now, but I’m on the right track.” Or you might change it to “I’ve succeeded at many things in my life. Even they don’t meet up to the standards of my parents, I’m happy with who I am.”

The thoughts you choose to have to replace your old unhealthy and heartless thoughts are completely up to you!

One thing to note is that it’s hard to do this sort of work on your own. Whether you’re in recovery or not, contact a mental health provider to help sustain healthy thoughts and long-term sobriety in your life.

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