For the longest time I was my own worst enemy, and I didn’t even know it. My family was too hard on me, my friends didn’t care, and my insurance didn’t pay for enough treatment. As an addict, I chose to numb myself with alcohol rather than deal with any uncomfortable feelings. As an addict in recovery, I blamed everything and everyone else for my relapses when it was me that was poisoning my recovery with negative thinking.
I used to have a ticker-tape of self-depreciating comments running through my head on what seemed like a constant basis. Things like, “I don’t deserve to be happy, because of this…I’ll never get it right, because of that…I’ll never be good enough. Ironically, it was those very thoughts that lead to my addiction in the first place.
At the time, I didn’t realize that these negative thoughts were sending me into a cycle of hopelessness and defeat, and that is what made me feel desperate for that alcohol high that I felt powerless to resist. I learned that I had to love myself before I could stay sober. Now, when those feelings creep in, I recognize them and replace them with positive thinking. For example:
- “I don’t deserve to be happy” is replaced with “I deserve to be happy. Everyone makes mistakes”.
- “I’ll never get it right” becomes “I will call on my higher power to help me get it right”.
- “I’m not good enough” is now “How can I reach this goal?”
When thoughts like “I don’t need any help to stay sober” or “I’m not like these other people” kick in, it may sound like a contradiction when one is suffering from low self-esteem. In actuality, however, it was really a mask for my fears, anxieties, and insecurities that stem from my early childhood.
I had a very serious heart condition when I was just six years old, and I nearly died. After being home from school for six months, I returned a completely different child, bloated from the steroids that saved my life and insecure because I couldn’t keep up with the other children on the playground. Soon, I became a victim of bullying.
When I let my ego hinder my recovery, I found myself focused on competing with others. I was more worried about being better than them than I did about being sober. I had to go through therapy and deal with my issues before I could admit that I am just like every other addict trying to stay sober.
While therapy and 12-step meetings are an important part of recovery, they certainly don’t fill up all the hours in a day I used to spend drinking and partying with my friends. I had to come up with some ways to keep busy so that I wouldn’t be thinking about drinking all the time. These are some of the new activities I chose:
- A House Crawl – It is like a pub crawl without the liquor. Each house provides one course of a meal.
- The YMCA – Visit your local Y. They hold a host of activities for both families and individuals. You might even make a few new sober friends there.
- Something New – Pick a craft, hobby, or something else that you have always wanted to try. I decided to try cake decorating, and I love it.
Once you acknowledge your negative thinking, a host of freedoms will be available to you, turning your inner voice into your best support system.
The Anaheim Lighthouse is a modern and effective addiction treatment center in Southern California. To talk to us about treatment options at our affordable drug and alcohol rehab that fit your needs, call (877) 959-5909.