“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but
tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”
Lyndon B. Johnson
There are many, many elements that are required for a successful recovery from addiction, but there is one that can fundamentally change your approach to it in ways you may not even realise – positive thinking.
A myriad of Pinterest proverbs are there to remind us each and every day that “it’s not what happens, but how we react to what happens.” A mind focused on thinking in a strong and positive way is pretty much most of the battle when it comes to that one. If you are in recovery, your reactions to virtually everything in your life become vital.
However, for many newly-detoxed addicts who are tentatively beginning their own journey to recovery, positive thinking may be a lot easier said than done. Many of these hopeful addicts describe detoxing from alcohol and drugs as being “stripped bare” and “cut right back to the bone.” In other words, the mainstay of their previous lives has been removed, and they are now learning exactly what has been left behind for them to work with.
So what exactly can someone who has spent their existence at the mercy of a substance addiction do to establish their own positive mindset, their own unshakeable positive thinking? And what benefits could it bring to them and their chance of leading a clean and sober life?
Here are your 3 Ways Positive Thinking Drives Your Addiction Recovery:
Self-Efficacy: The Confidence to Achieve
For the first time in a long time, you’ve woken up sober. Your body is now devoid of the substances that have led you here. However, detox is a physical process, and your mindset will be virtually the same as it was before. In other words, you will still have a whole host of conflicting thoughts, confused feelings and a hint of desperation about where you find yourself today. Yes, mentally, you’ve probably had better days.
It’s time to begin, and we begin with self-efficacy. For those who don’t know, self-efficacy is “the belief we have in our own abilities, specifically our ability to meet the challenges ahead of us and complete a task successfully” Devised by eminent U.S.-Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura in 1997, it is fundamental to the success of any task or challenge presented to us. It’s also known as confidence.
So how do we achieve self-efficacy? Recovering addicts need to set themselves a particular goal in their recovery. They need to analyse what needs to change to get their goal and what they need to do. Understanding this will help them to devise a game plan – a strategy to succeed in their objective. Recovering addicts need to adopt this process for all the tasks and challenges that recovery will bring. An increasingly stronger sense of self-efficacy will follow naturally.
Those with strong self-efficacy bear the following traits, all of which will help to drive their recovery and create the positive mindset they need to succeed:
- Organize challenges into manageable steps
- Be deeply interested in what they are doing
- Be firmly committed to their recovery
- Learn to recover quickly from disappointments, and move on positively
Positivity & The Power of Intention
A little more of the psychology class for you. The Law of Attraction is defined by psychologists as “a “universal,” perfect law that dictates, “like always attracts like.” In other words, positive always attracts positive and negative always attracts negative.” Put another way, you don’t attract what you want, but what you are.
Whether you believe in the Laws of the Universe or not, there is a part of this particular law that’s known as the “Power of Intention,” and that’s what we’re interested in. This surmises that it is intention that drives success in attracting what you want. All of our experiences in life begin with a basic intention to do so.
In terms of addiction recovery, the intention to lead a clean and sober life is paramount. If you don’t have the intention, it’s not going to happen. End of story.
Intention can result in both positive and negative outcomes. By becoming acutely aware of what your intentions may be, you will be able to maneuver them in the right, positive direction, heading towards a positive outcome of your choosing. In the context of recovery, if it is your strong intention to become and remain clean and sober, you will consciously make the right decisions in achieving this.
The Power of Focus
Once the seeds of positive thinking have been planted and are starting to establish themselves by following the above advice about self-efficacy and intention, there remains one important question… How exactly can you stay thinking positively, day in, day out, throughout your recovery?
One word – focus.
To achieve your ultimate level of focus, you first need to look upon your mind as a muscle. The more it is exercised, the stronger it becomes. By following the mental exercises given below, you’ll feel sharper, more alert and concentrated than you have in years (and certainly far, far better than in your addicted days).
- Increase Focus Slowly: By completing short, then longer and longer tasks
- Distraction To-Do List: To remain focused on a task, if you think of something else, write it down quickly and then continue with the original task
- Strengthen Your Willpower: Change your habits and stick to the new ones
- Meditation: An absolute must for anyone in recovery – take a class. Not only does meditation Mindfulness: Learn about and then practice mindfulness daily
- Exercise Your Body: Naturally make your mind a healthier place (and don’t forget to stay fully hydrated)
- Memorizing: Memorize a poem, a book passage or a song lyric every week
- Don’t Skip The Long Stuff: Read a couple of very long articles every week (sadly, around 95% of you won’t even finish this article…)
- Be Curious: Challenge everything (within reason)
- Attentive Listening: Spend time really listening to someone face-to-face
- Concentration Exercises: Look online for these – there are hundreds! Then try to remember them all…
Addiction recovery is one of the hardest, most personal journeys you will ever embark upon. It’s more than just the process of actually recovering from the substance abuse that has brought you here. A successful recovery is about battling your demons without your supposed safety net. There will be many days when the journey seems too hard, too difficult. Yet…
How has positive thinking helped you? What advice would you give to recovering addicts borne from your own experiences? Please share your thoughts with a comment below. All are gratefully received.
You are not alone in your struggle. There is a mountain of support out there to help you, just waiting. And in those days when it feels like the dark skies are gathering above your head, your positive mindset will get you through, and keep driving you on to the successful recovery that all addicts fully deserve.