By: Aaron Lebold
“It’s important, what thoughts you are feeding into your mind because your thoughts create your belief and experiences. You have positive thoughts and you have negative ones too. Nurture your mind with positive thoughts: kindness, empathy, compassion, peace, love, joy, humility, generosity, etc. The more you feed your mind with positive thoughts, the more you can attract great things into your life.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
Where Do Your Thoughts Take You?
How often do you pay attention to your thoughts? Have you ever sat back and taken a close look at how your thoughts influence the way you feel, and behave? Have you recognized how you tend to think about your life situations; are you positive or negative about them? Thoughts are a very powerful thing, and influence your life in unimaginable ways.
I once read a quote, from Peace Pilgrim, that said “If you understood the power of one negative thought, you would never have another one again.”
Thoughts are a lot like habits, over time we train ourselves to think a certain way, and develop a natural response to each type of situation we meet.
When we are talking about recovery, sometimes, our thought process leads us back to substance use. Because a relapse has such a negative impact on your life, it’s important to start challenging some of your thoughts, and developing a new perspective on the world.
Change the Way You Think about Thinking
Say, for instance, you lose your job. This could be devastating, and a lot of us will assume the victim role, just looking at the negative aspects of the situation. Thoughts like “Now I will have no way to pay my bills” or “How am I going to survive?” These thoughts may have some validity, but if you begin with negative thinking, those assumptions can snowball into something bigger, which may result in the feeling of giving up. In recovery, this could easily translate into relapse.
Challenging your thoughts can often be difficult, especially during a stressful time in your life, but consider looking at the same situation with more positive and constructive thinking.
“This is going to push me to find a job that I find more fulfilling” or “Now I have nothing stopping me from going back to school.” These could be some examples of how a different way of thinking may open new doors, and make you feel motivated instead of discouraged.
When things in your life happen on a smaller scale, like someone cuts you off in traffic, or someone is rude to you, you can still practice the same skill. You can practice empathy, or imagine why you might have behaved in a like manner. Some other ways to think about what happened might be:
- “Maybe that person who cut me off is a new driver, and still learning.”
- “Maybe that person who was rude to me is having a tough day.”
- “Maybe that person got bad news today, and didn’t mean to take it out on me.”
Trying to alter your thoughts with empathy is a great way to process the actions of others. Granted, the reasons that you may come up with might not be the other person’s real motives, but finding one that you can relate to will often mean that you don’t get a resentment.
What Can I Learn When I Examine my Thoughts?
Looking at each challenge in your life as a learning experience is another positive way to challenge your thoughts. Getting through something emotional allows us to practice the skills we have learned in recovery.
Try to remember that if you’re facing a challenge, the results and outcomes of that challenge are often opportunities.
Losing your job may feel like the end of the world, but maybe a month down the road, when you find something better, you will be able to look back and be grateful for the turn of events.
I understand that this process is not easy. Like our habits, our thoughts have developed into the norm over the years. I have found that being open to the idea of challenging thoughts, combined with self-awareness and daily practice is the best way to begin the process.
Practicing New Thinking is Like any Skill
Just like most things in recovery, it is a process, and will take time and effort.
A skill is a skill, no matter how or where you apply it. If you can start with the small things in your life, such as practicing empathy, or looking at each situation as a learning experience, you’re then working on that skill. Once you have developed and practiced that skill, it will be easier to quickly choose these new thoughts, actions, or feelings in other situations, or when something major happens in your life that is out of your control.
Recovery is ongoing, and during your journey you will always need to challenge yourself, expand your comfort zone, and be open-minded. If you are able to do that, you will begin to experience the magic that is recovery.
About Aaron Lebold
(Brad McLeod Recovery)
I have been in the recovery field for over seven years, I find a great deal of purpose by helping others, and I have great passion for recovery. I work as a Recovery Coach with Brad McLeod Recovery, and do my best to support people struggling with addiction over the internet.
I am really enjoying the experience, and reflecting on my past has been very beneficial for me, even after nearly nine years of recovery.
I appreciate you taking the time to check out my work.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart