By: Marilyn L. Davis
“Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different. Life would undergo a change of appearance because we had undergone a change of attitude.” ― Katherine Mansfield
What Happened to Your Attitude of Gratitude?
For some of us, the positive attitude and level of commitment begin to wane or lessen after withdrawal has subsided. The immediate consequences got our attention, but now we realize:
- Our families aren’t as upset with us.
- We aren’t going to jail.
- We’re starting to feel better physically.
Some people are just relieved to be out of the vicious cycle of addiction:
- Where will I find drugs?
- How will I pay for them?
- Can I use and not get caught?
Unfortunately, this first relief, enthusiasm, and gratitude wanes if we are not making other changes, see favorable outcomes from our changes, or find value from being in recovery.
There Goes the Gratitude
Instead of remaining grateful though, we get angry that people are suggesting that we give up friends who still use; give us directions for changes, and expect us to be happy, joyous, and free.
Other times, we get complacent and think we’ve done enough. Some of us start resenting the people who are trying to help us. Rather than hearing their stories of change and awareness, we start filtering what they are saying as a lecture on how great they are and how we’re less than them.
Defining my Attitude
All of those positions are our attitudes. Our actions are the result of those attitudes and whether we follow through on our commitment to our recovery. We usually throw out that a person has a bad attitude or that people are afraid of commitment, but beyond these pat sayings what are we talking about when we use these words? So that we are clear, here are the definitions:
- Attitude is the way, mood, feeling, or ideas about a person, object, or situation. In other words, what you think and feel about something or someone.
- Commitment is a state of intellectual and emotional attachment to a particular action, practice or person. When you commit to something, you are making a promise to do or not to do something. When you commit to someone, you pledge to him or her also. When you make a commitment, you are pledging to do or not do something.
Good Attitudes Are Not Always Grins and Giggles
Having a positive attitude towards your recovery and making a commitment to your recovery are both vital to the process. Some people think that having a positive attitude means that you have to like what is happening to you at this point.
The reality is that most people, who are successful in their recovery, would tell you that they were scared and distrustful when they first got into recovery but were willing to cooperate to change their lives.
No one wants to see false grins and giggles, but an interest in making your life better, and acknowledging that you need some help to carry that out. A positive attitude is as much about being optimistic and hopeful as it is cheerful.
For The Recovery Process to Work
“Being grateful does not mean that everything is necessarily good. It just means that you can accept it as a gift.” ― Roy T. Bennett. When you have a positive attitude and commitment to recover, there are other aspects that will help you carry out your goal of recovery:
- Actions that Promote Change
When you entered into the program or called inquiring about help, your attitude and commitment was important. You probably had a positive attitude—perhaps scared, but willing to make an effort. You may even have stated that you would do “anything” to become and stay clean.
People will not ask you to do anything counterproductive to your recovery; however, they may ask you to do something that you have never tried before. They might ask you to:
- Write about your past life
- Examine your old belief systems
- Identify your self-defeating behaviors
- Recognize your strengths, talents, and limitations
- Change aspects of yourself that cause you problems
You may not like this advice. However, if you are going to change, you have to find those things that create barriers for you. You cannot expect your future to be different from your present if you do not review the past and make changes.
Who Gives Faulty Directions?
You will need to look at your attitude and commitment when you get directions or suggestions from others about how to recover. For example, repeatedly arguing about whether something has value before you complete the assignment is both arrogant and foolish.
If you have never done anything, you have no reason for the argument. You do not know the outcome as you have never even tried the directions.
Please try what has worked for countless others before you decide whether something will work for you or whether something is “stupid” or wrong.
If you think about this logically, why would someone give you directions or solutions that did not have a history of working for others? Providers of treatment, families, judges, sponsors, accountability partners and others in recovery all have reputations. Do you think that any of them wants the reputation as the ones that give “stupid assignments” or directions? How much sense would it make to give inadequate explanations or directions?
Yes, they will make some mistakes in giving directions, sometimes because you did not give them all the facts about the situation. In general, they are not going to give directions that will make them look inadequate, or directions that they do not think will help to improve your life.
Therefore, your attitude about what people suggest for you do to change your life needs to be as positive as it can be. Even if your attitude is one of questioning how a suggestion or solution might help your situation, do them and then assess the results. You may be genuinely surprised at the outcomes for you.
Attitude and Commitment: Ongoing Issues
“A positive attitude leads to a positive action, which then yields a positive result. That’s how the cycle always goes. Nothing seems to be too difficult for people blessed with positive mindsets.” ― Kevin J. Donaldson
Early recovery is not the only time that an individual’s attitude and commitment becomes the focus; some people become complacent or unconcerned later in their recovery.
If this happens to you, recommit to remaining chemically free and find that positive attitude again. To have and enjoy long-term recovery, a positive attitude along with an authentic commitment to recovery should give you better outcomes.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart.
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