Most people today have some form of negative thinking. It’s seems to be common to have some form of self-criticism or self-judgment. However, these types of feelings, along with other forms of negative thinking can create depression, anxiety, and loss of happiness in life. It can affect relationships and a career. Negativity can be difficult to change, but once it’s transformed to focusing on the positive, life makes a dramatic turnaround.

In fact, sadly, one of the most common reasons why people drink or use drugs is to relieve themselves of the pain they have. This might be physical pain, but frequently it’s emotional and psychological pain. They want to wash away their heavy feelings or escape the thoughts they might be having. A chaotic inner experience can be the primary way for many people to begin and to continue drinking. Another top reason that contributes to drinking and drug use is feeling lonely. Sometimes, it seems that drinking or drug use is the only way to escape these challenging emotions. And this can be especially true if you’ve had negative thinking patterns, beliefs and feelings about your life since childhood.

Despite the years behind thinking in a certain way, once you change that negativity to what’s positive in your life, there can be great change. If you want to create a real change in your life you must stop doing what you’ve always done – and that includes thinking in negative terms. You must do something new, something contrary to what you’ve done in the past. In this case, that new action must be to face your feelings instead of pushing them away or escaping them. Another new action is examining some of your thoughts and choosing to replace the negative ones with optimism and appreciation.

Of course, this is going to be difficult to do if you’re not already sober. Getting sober is a first priority. You can do this by contacting a mental health professional, visiting your doctor, and/or participating in an addiction treatment center. Next, gather support you need around you so that you don’t have to face the first few weeks of sobriety alone.  Lastly, work with a therapist or drug counselor on examining your thoughts. Watch out for negative thinking patterns that you can replace with thoughts that have a more joyful tone to them. For instance, continuing to think that you’re not good at your job is likely going to create feelings of low self-esteem, paranoia, and lack of confidence. Instead, you might focus on what you’re doing right and the value that you bring to your employer.

In fact, finding thoughts that lead to distasteful feelings can help prevent craving for drugs and alcohol. Exploring your thoughts is particularly useful right in the middle of having a craving for a drink or for drug use. Instead of actually fulfilling that desire, you can write down the thoughts you’re having along with your associated feelings. Keep in mind that unhealthy thinking might be evident among the behavior of friends, family members, or others who you knew when drinking. In other words, you might see the evidence of unhealthy thought patterns around you. Certain thinking patterns might also develop because of a need to feel a sense of control or to justify certain behavior. Unhealthy thinking might also develop as a result of not knowing other ways to cope with circumstances and the feelings that those circumstances invoke. Accessing those unhealthy thoughts, regardless of their source, allows you to replace them, preventing any experiences of depression or anxiety.

Changing your thoughts is a powerful way to begin to change your experience of life. However another powerful way is simply exploring what you’re focusing on. When you’re driving, are you focusing on the bad driving on the roads or are you enjoying the scenery around you? When you’re paying your bills, are you focusing on the little money you’ll have at the end of the month or are you grateful for services you’re paying for?

Changing thoughts as well as changing your focus in life can bring dramatic results, including creating a brand new life based upon goodness and gratitude.

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