To succeed in recovery from a substance use disorder requires a toolbox of handy new coping skills. It isn’t enough to just identify triggers that could lead to a relapse, although that is useful in developing your relapse prevention strategy. Indeed, a solid, sustained recovery will depend heavily on maintaining a positive mindset.
The internal dialogue we have with ourselves is very powerful. If your self-messaging is filled with negative thoughts, such as “I can’t do this anymore,” or “I am too weak to fight the cravings,” you will not be able to muster the resolve to power through. However, if you are able to cultivate daily positive self-talk, with affirmations such as “Each day is an opportunity to thrive in sobriety,” the resulting positive energy can propel you toward long-term recovery success.
Cultivating positive self-talk is therefore an important recovery tool. It takes some practice for it to become a daily habit, but the rewards of the positivity will seep into every aspect of your life. Read on to learn about how important positive self-talk is to your recovery success.
Benefits of Positivity
There is no arguing that rebuilding your life in recovery can be challenging. The first year of recovery is all about discarding the people or things that have kept you trapped in a harmful cycle of substance use, and then creating a new life that centers on a healthy sober lifestyle. This isn’t as easy as some might think.
Developing new healthy habits takes time. Making new sober friendships takes time. Along the way unseen challenges as well as foreseen triggers pop up and threaten to disrupt the recovery process. This is where positivity becomes an essential recovery tool.
Consider the benefits a positive mindset in recovery:
- Glass Half Full. It is as simple as the meaning behind the ubiquitous question, “Is your glass half empty or half full?” How we view the world and life’s daily events really does shape our entire attitude. Having a “glass half full” positive attitude points to such attributes as gratitude and hope.
- Fights Off Depression. Early recovery is not only stressful, but it can also lead to depression. Some may miss their old friends and lifestyle to a certain degree, or have difficulty overcoming some of the fallout from the substance use days, and become depressed. Maintaining a sense of positivity in recovery helps ward off depression.
- Builds Self-Confidence. A positive mindset helps you cultivate self-confidence. Keeping your thoughts forward moving and positive can elevate a sense of self-worth, along with a can-do attitude. Instead of defeatist thinking that sinks confidence, positive thinking inspires self-empowerment.
- Motivates Healthy Change. When you convince yourself that you have a bright future ahead through exercising positive thinking you are more prone to make healthy changes. Feeling inspired about the future leads you to take better care of your health and to actively participate in recovery actions.
What is Self-Talk?
All day long we are sending messages to ourselves. We might not even be aware of this reflexive habit, but pretty much everything we experience, every stimulus, conversation, news report, and encounter, causes us to send a message to ourselves. This is called self-talk.
Self-talk is rarely neutral. We absorb various stimuli and it gets filtered through our worldview, personality inclinations, and opinions. To nurture positive self-talk it takes intention, or a mindful effort to shift any negative reflexive thoughts toward a positive take on the situation at hand. This is aided through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques. CBT helps us identify negative self-messaging that leads to unhealthy behavioral responses, and to shift them.
Keeping it Positive
To help maintain a positive mindset in recovery it helps to make use of some helpful strategies. These include:
- Continue with outpatient therapy. Ongoing CBT sessions help to hone your positive thinking skills. Group sessions are another source for peers to help you see the positive in a given situation.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Sometimes you need to actually take note of the positive things that happen in your daily life. Keeping a gratitude journal trains your mind to consider all of the blessings you have enjoyed.
- Develop your spirituality. Many find that having a spiritual life, or a deeper connection with their Higher Power, helps them cultivate a more positive way of thinking about life.
- Make a list of daily affirmations. Keep a list handy of positive affirmations that you can recite aloud or silently at any time of the day. Attach one to your fridge, place one at your desk, or add one to the home screen of your smartphone.
Positive self-talk is a powerful engine for moving forward in recovery. Access its power to increase your feelings of self-worth, hope, and confidence because your amazing future is only just beginning.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.