Changing Our Negative Thinking to Positive
Changing our negative thinking seems so easy, just do it right? Wrong. For those of us who suffer from addiction and mental health problems change is very scary. We like things to stay the same because it’s what we know and the unkown is scary. We also know that it’s unhealthy to live like that or so we’re told by counselors and people in recovery. For those of us who have been through hell the safer the better. Stepping outside our safety zones is painful, fearful and terrifying. Unfortunately we have to in order to heal.
A counselor once told me, “If you aren’t uncomfortable through the healing process then you aren’t changing and you aren’t healing.” I hear those words daily. Every time I step outside my house to go to the store for milk. Every time I build up the strength and courage to go to a meeting. I remember that if I don’t and I stay in my room nothing will change.
Life is change, life is constant change which leads to learning and growth. We make mistakes, we fall down, we get up, we go through painful experiences and we turn to those we love for support and we move on. It sounds easier on paper but for those of us who have lived lives of addiction, pain, despair, hopelessness and other severe mental health problems this is not easy, in fact it’s incredible odd and strange. We have spent our lives living and coping in unhealthy ways. The expectations to just get up every day and start living like “normal” people do is unrealistic. We must take the baby steps towards healthy living carefully and with support and courage. It will not happen overnight and those who are reading this that know what I”m talking about, instant gratification applies in all areas of our lives even after we’ve put the drugs down. We want everything to be perfect immediately just because we stopped using. We don’t understand why people aren’t patting us on the back, why the sun isn’t shining and our bills are paid and everything is wonderful.
Life is a wonderful variety of ups and downs, gain and loss, happiness, sadness, storms and sunshine. I can promise you that the sun will rise tomorrow and it will set again at night. What I can’t promise is that when the sun rises you will feel the warmth on your face, you will smile and you will be grateful that you are standing under the warmth of the rays right here and right now. That is up to you and it begins by changing negative thinking and the power of gratitude and positive thinking. As you focus on those positive feelings and thoughts they will grow, the negative will shrink. We will always have negative and positive but our thinking naturally drawn to the negative and it has to change. The change will take time and hopefully I will be able to write more articles on helping people change these thought patterns with brief descriptions of the science behind it and why it is possible, physically, mentally possible to change your thinking.
For today think of three aspects of your life you are grateful for. Three things that you have, traits you have, people you have in your life, things that bring you joy; and focus on them. When things begin to get tough, upsetting news perhaps, don’t fall apart, don’t use, don’t run to unhealthy ways of coping. Today, take that negative thinking and replace it with one of the three things that you are grateful for, focus on it and hold onto it with your eyes close. Once the intense feelings settle down write down the negative problem or thinking and come up with some positive solutions, ideas and thoughts about that problem and why it is not the end of the world. An example would be you get an eviction notice. At that moment it’s the end of the world. Where will you go? How will you get the money for a new place? What’s gonna happen? Instead focus on your positive aspects in your life. Push the eviction out of your mind and only focus on your positives. Once you’ve calmed down, take out a piece of paper and brainstorm some positive ideas, fresh start, a more affordable place, a better neighborhood, nicer neighbors, getting out of a lease that’s been holding you back. There are many ways of dealing with an overwhelming problem that seems like the end of the world at the moment but then, once you see all the positives you’ve come up with, it’s not so bad is it?
Life on life’s terms is hard but we learn and we grow by stepping out into the world and experiencing it clean, sometimes for the first time. We can all live the lives we want to, one day at a time, one problem at a time and one success at a time.