For many recovering addicts, unhealthy thought patterns contribute to the development of addiction. These patterns are often unconscious for many people and usually began early in life. They can become a source of deep internal turmoil , requiring one to turn to drinking or drugs for solace.
Yet, even in aftercare sobriety, these patterns of thought may continue to exist. In fact, they are often still in full swing. This is precisely why Alcoholics Anonymous developed the term – the dry drunk. The negative connotation to this phrase comes from the fact that a recovering addict may still possess some of the traits that make alcoholics and addicts difficult to be around. Although the substance abuse has come to an end, the destructive thinking might still be present. For this reason, changing your thinking can be a pivotal way to change your life.
Thought patterns that have existed for years, perhaps decades, don’t change overnight. Because of this, learning to become more aware of yourself in recovery is paramount. With a greater sense of awareness of their internal experience, recovering addicts can more readily identify their negative and distorted thinking patterns. Then, once negative or unhealthy thoughts are identified, they can be replaced with healthier, more compassionate, and more self-accepting thoughts. And in turn, one’s feelings and behavior will also begin to change.
Slowly as you witness your life changing through become more self-aware while changing thoughts, you will also have to stretch yourself in recovery. Developing awareness is the beginning and most primary task in recovery but that only goes so far. Once you’re aware that you’re afraid of moving out on your own, for example, it will take courage to actually face that fear and doing it. In other words, once a person has identified certain thoughts through a greater sense of self-awareness, they must still have the courage to make new choices and behave in new ways.
Aftercare sobriety requires behavior that is both healthy (versus the unhealthy behavior you might have engaged in during addiction) as well as courageous. In order to create change, you’ve got to step out of your comfort zone. You’ve got to stretch yourself. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about going back to school, forming an intimate relationship, or returning to work, but feel intimated by those experiences. If you’re feel the desire and feel that you’re ready, perhaps seek out support so that you can face that fear and overcome it. You can begin to take the steps you need to break through your protective bubble to create the change you want. Behaving in new ways can create change.
In recovery, it’s becoming more aware of the old thinking and behavioral patterns that empower you to create change. Once you’re aware of how you’ve always been, you’re more empowered to create the person you want to be. You can increase your awareness by attending therapy, support groups, or 12-step meetings can help you with recognizing your triggers, emotional red flags, cravings, and other risky internal experiences. Awareness is the primary task in recovery, from which new thoughts, behaviors, and choices can be born.
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