Have you ever started a new diet to lose a few pounds? You know how it goes. Every day you wake up with a firm resolution, “I’m not going to eat junk food today. I’m not going to eat junk food today. I’m not going to eat junk food today.” Then what happens… your coworker brings in a box of donuts and absolutely nothing stands in your way of enjoying the creme-filled delight topped with rainbow sprinkles. You sit at your desk satisfied but disheartened. I thought I told myself no junk food! What if we told you the problem was not in your resolve, but in your self-talk? And what if we mentioned the same principle can be applied for positive thoughts in addiction recovery?
Let’s start with this: why did you eat the donut when you firmly reminded yourself not to eat junk food? Were the sprinkles just too mesmerizing? Was the frosting still warm and gooey from the oven? Could be.
Actually, the problem centers in the self-talk you that played on repeat as you walked out the door. When you tell yourself, I’m not going to eat junk food, your subconscious mind completely neglects the negative, and only focuses on the action. So, in all reality, as you exhaustingly remind yourself, I’m not going to eat junk food today, by the time you arrive to the office and take a whiff of the chocolate-glazed delights, your mind is adamantly telling you to eat junk food today.
Instead, consider changing the phrase for yourself. Instead of, I am not going to eat junk food today, try, I am going to eat healthy today, or, I am going to eat the breakfast that I packed for myself, or I got this. It may sound simple, but anyone who struggles with negative self-talk knows how difficult this can be. The key is practice. Not saying I am going to practice. But actually trying to regain control of your thoughts and spin them in a positive way.
Let’s look at another example. At Surfside, you know that we are big fans of CrossFit and physical activity. Many of our guys have never done a CrossFit workout, or a power clean and jerk, or a burpee box jump. As they arrive to a workout for the first time, we hear many of them say, I am not going to quit, or I am not going to be mentally weak. Unfortunately, they have beaten themselves before the workout has even started. Their minds are cemented on quitting and being mentally weak.
We quickly readjust their self-talk in a way that is much more conducive for the task ahead. We coach them to give it all they got, or one more rep, or keep working at it and you will improve. We have seen many of our guys, with little to no athletic experience upon arrival to Surfside, start to enjoy and flourish in the varying CrossFit workouts or physical endeavors. As a Surfside staff, we are mindful of the verbiage we use when encouraging our guys.
Consider Positive Thoughts in Addiction Recovery
If you or a loved one has experienced early recovery, it is quite probable you have heard the mantra, I am not going to drink today. The determination is there, but based on our previous discussion, do you see how that phrase could be problematic?
A young mind, detoxed after years of alcohol and drug abuse, completely raw and vulnerable, can be in great danger if it vehemently tells itself, I am not going to drink today. Remember, the subconscious mind wants to neglect the negative and focus on the action. Inevitably, that young person will experience a part of life that makes him/her uncomfortable, unsatisfied, or discontent, and they will rely on their mind to make a decision and react. Unfortunately, there is a high probability they will listen to their mind and respond with action: I am going to drink today.
Here are some suggestions to help control your mind and channel positive thoughts in addiction recovery:
- I am going to have a great day today.
- I am going to help someone today.
- I am going to be the best person I can be today.
- I am going to be open and accepting to everyone and all situations today.
- I am going to take care of my responsibilities to the best of my ability today.
Notice, none of these suggestions mention drinking or drugging. Instead, each mantra epitomizes the spirit of addiction recovery and mentions certain actionable steps in order to grow as a person. In times of hardship throughout the day, we hope that your subconscious mind will revert you back to the solution, instead of the problem.
Keep in mind, these are simply our suggestions to practice positive thoughts in addiction recovery. We hope you give them a try!
As always, if you or a loved one are struggling, please reach out to our Executive Director, who can point you in the direction of appropriate treatment services.