This is the second article in a two part series on the quality of one’s thoughts. It’s common for recovering addicts to have been through trauma and other difficult experiences that can tend to create certain thought patterns. If you recognize that you have unhealthy thoughts, you might be pleased to know that you’re not alone. Many other men and women, regardless of whether they have struggled with addiction, can have any one of the following thought patterns.
The following is the second half of a list that began with the first article. Consider whether any of the following patterns are familiar:
1. Predicting the Future
This is common among those who have depression or anxiety. When there are unpleasant or anxious feelings about an upcoming event, it’s common to rehearse that event in your mind and foresee all the negative circumstances. This, of course, takes away from the ability to enjoy that event while it’s happening and also make the most of the experience. This can also take the fun out of other experiences similar to the one imagined in a negative light.
2. Mind Reading
This pattern of thought is the tendency to conclude that someone is reacting negatively toward you without bothering to determine if your assumption is correct. It can begin with a belief about others, especially if you’ve experienced others to treat you in a particular negative way and you expect for them to continue to do in the future.
3. Emotional Reasoning
This is the tendency to assume that your negative emotions reflect the way things are. For instance, if you feel it, then it must be true. You might tend to frequently feel sad and therefore be convinced that everyone else is sad or that a situation is a sorrowful one, without seeing anything else.
4. Negative Labeling of Yourself
Labeling yourself as “no good” can cause low self-esteem and take away any motivation or energy you might have. It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy if given enough energy and attention. You end up not trying anything that might promote success, achievement, or feeling accomplished. By not trying you end up adding to your feelings of failure and low self-esteem.
5. Negative Labeling Others
When you see others as “no good” or “unpleasant”, you begin to resent and/or feel anger towards them. For instance, if you read about older men who were abusing young children, you might feel angry or hostile towards older men.
As mentioned above, these unhealthy thinking patterns can exist for someone whether they’ve struggled with addiction or not. However, sadly, they can in fact contribute to the cycle of addiction. In fact, it is because of these thought patterns that experts recommend a person participate in some form of behavioral therapy while in addiction treatment. Behavioral therapy addresses the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. If a person can change their negative thinking, they have a greater chance of feeling better, and avoiding drug using behavior.
If you recognize any of these patterns in yourself, and especially if you notice that they are contributing to drug use or drinking, contact a mental health professional for help.