By: Ben Rose
“Free your mind, and your ass will follow” – Funkadelic
Stinking Thinking Gets You Closer to a Relapse
Addictive thinking is a potential sign of relapse. While this isn’t a new concept for those in recovery, we must remember it. Changing addictive thinking and stinking thinking means replacing distorted and irrational thoughts with more accurate and rational thoughts. Irrational thoughts help nothing and exacerbate whatever crisis one is going through.
Changing one’s thought patterns is vital in recovery and instrumental in relapse prevention. Rational and clear thinking helps support the decision to stay clean. But how do we do this, especially while in crisis mode?
Where Do Your Thoughts Come From?
We typically base most of our thoughts and beliefs on prior experiences and how those events played out. These thought patterns start in our formative years and are frequently affected by those important to us. Our parents, siblings, friends, teachers, etc., shape our worldview and thus our critical thinking skills.
Later, if we are in a situation that demands some action, we automatically make decisions based on previous experiences. If “A” worked last time, and every time before that, then “A” will work again.
Addicted Thinking Doesn’t Choose Well
The thinking problem for most addicts is that what worked to handle a situation was not handling it at all. Instead, the addict took a drug or had a drink. That alleviated the crisis for a brief time.
And it is at that point the thinking stops. Take a drink, have a smoke, and table the issue until a later time that never seems to arrive. It’s what addicts know well and do best.
Change the Thinking
There is another way to handle matters, but it takes time, work, and reconditioning. If every time a crisis arises, one was to stop, breathe, and deliberately place a pre-considered thought in their head, eventually the idea would become automatic.
As a hypothetical example: I’m upset because someone at work wasn’t pulling their weight. I had to do more work as a result. Without a pause, I recall my childhood where I had to do extra work because I was the oldest. The other kids never had to work as hard as I did. The anger builds to a crescendo until I decide that I deserve to get drunk and relax.
Instead, I stop and take a few deep breaths and recenter my thinking and attitude with some rational ideas:
- I tell myself that I’m lucky to have a job.
- There are many people unemployed these days, and I’m not.
- Also, wasn’t it last week that this same co-worker did extra work because I was coming down with a cold?
- Does my job even have anything to do with my home life as a youth?
Furthermore, if I drink, I know I won’t stop for a while, if ever. I’m an addict, after all. So perhaps drinking over this isn’t the right solution. Maybe I need some gratitude and consider why my co-worker was having an off day.
Rational Thinking Takes Practice
Changing to the latter, more rational thinking isn’t easy. At first, it takes conscious and deliberate action. However, given time and practicing rational thought, it becomes natural. Instead of thinking about a drink, I am thinking about asking my co-worker if something is the matter. I don’t relapse over this relatively minor situation.
This change in thinking processes works in almost any situation. If we make an effort to dissect the potential problem and consider better reactions, the results will materialize—most of the time. If the obsession remains, then it is time to seek outside help.
Your Resources for Help with Changing
Talking to one’s sponsor should be a natural course of action in any case and is especially critical when thoughts insist on leading us to consideration of using over situations. Talking to a therapist or a counselor is also a solution. There are times when a problem shared is a problem halved. And, when the sponsor, or whomever, helps us find a way forward, we must then start inserting what worked into our thinking when the problems arise. From that point on, the process described earlier still works.
Focus on Changes, so 2022 is Better
Life is fraught with difficulties. The last two years have been anything but easy. If we start working on our thinking processes, we can improve our recovery and life.
Let’s make 2022 a better year in our recovery: Happy Holidays and a Blessed new year.
Bio: Ben Rose
Ben is an Oregon native who currently resides on The Florida Gulf. He has traveled extensively by bus, car, freight train, Amtrak, and foot to see America and find stories to write.
He was born at the end of the turbulent sixties, and much of that is reflected in his writing. In addition, his travels started in his formative years. Early in life, he developed a love of cheap motels, greasy spoons, and great comedians.
He speaks fluent hipster as well as English and a smattering of French. He is an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, a supporter of human rights, and a believer in racial and gender equality. As one with Asperger’s, GAD, and PTSD, he has seen his share of hard traveling, abuse, and bullying, also reflected in his literary works.
He currently resides with his beautiful, better half and their emotional support cat.
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