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8 Thoughts That Can Weaken Your Sobriety


negative thoughtsThe way you think will have a huge impact on the way you interact with the world. Everyone has unhelpful or even crazy thoughts at least a few times every day, which isn’t such a bit deal; we are talking about patterns of thinking here. If there are certain negative thoughts that repeatedly arise in your mind and you allow these to impact your behaviour, it is likely to be weakening your sobriety. Here are just eight thoughts that you will want to be careful of as they can put your recovery in jeopardy.

1. Self-Handicapping Thoughts

It can come as a real blow to your ego to try your best yet still fail. Self-handicapping is an attempt to avoid this type of pain. It means that you deliberately underperform so that you will always have the excuse that you did not try you best. There are actually two types of self-handicapping behaviour. Claimed self-handicapping can be described as when you make excuses for your behaviour even before attempting something (for example, you could explain that you have recently been sick so you would not be able to give you best). Behavioural self-handicapping occurs when your thoughts lead you to deliberately sabotaging your own efforts (for example, staying up late before an important presentation).

The danger with self-handicapping is it means you are never going to be giving 100 per cent, so you will struggle to achieve anything more than mediocre results in life. This unwillingness to do your best can also put your sobriety in jeopardy because anything less than full commitment might not be enough.

2. Terminal Uniqueness Thoughts

It is true that you are a unique person and that your individuality needs to be recognised, especially when it comes to developing a path to free you from addiction. The problem with terminal uniqueness is that you can become deluded into believing that you are such a special case that normal rules do not apply to you. It is called ‘terminal’ uniqueness because thinking this way could easily get you killed.

Terminal uniqueness is a common way of thinking; if it were not, hardly anyone would engage in risky behaviours like smoking cigarettes. There is this tendency to believe that bad things always happen to others, but this is just type of delusional thinking. It is vital that you are willing to learn from the mistakes and successes of other people. Do not just dismiss warnings because you believe that you are some type of special case because the chances are that you are deceiving yourself.

3. I’m Worse than Other People

It can be a mistake to judge people by outward appearances. Even those individuals who appear successful and well-adjusted will have their dark days, likely having plenty of skeletons in their cupboard. Some people are just talented when it comes to putting on a good show for the public; they are better at hiding their problems. There is no way that you can really know if you are worse than others are, so why would you want to assume this? It makes more sense to just assume that you are just like everyone else, this way you will not be sabotaging your recovery by fuelling the flames of self-loathing. The understanding that all humans are in the same boat can also improve your ability to emphasise and develop compassion.

4. I’m Better than Others

You are the hero of your story, but all you do by thinking that you are better than others is to isolate yourself. Every human feels like they are the centre of the universe, but it is important to understand that this belief is just immature. The feeling of being ‘better than everyone else’ is usually a sign of low self-esteem. Deep down you suspect that you are inferior, but you try to make up for this with thoughts of superiority. This type of thinking would not only lead to isolation, but it would also mean that you do not enjoy the support and advice from those who are further along the path than you are.

5. Thoughts that Keep You Trapped in Your Comfort Zone

The way to improve your life is to regularly leave your comfort zone. If you do not do this, you will become stuck in recovery, meaning that you will be at high risk of relapse. Staying in your comfort zone means that you always look for the easy life, giving up on things when there is any type of discomfort. Living like this means that you are never going to reach your potential, and you will always feel unfulfilled.

6. Romancing the Drink or Drug Thoughts

Was it really that bad? This is a common thought that those in recovery have in the days before a relapse. Romancing the drink or drug means you begin to think back on those times when alcohol seemed to be a positive force in your life. You may remember summer days sipping a pint in a picturesque beer garden, or wild parties when you felt euphoric due to the drugs you were taking. These memories can be deceiving because you are probably going to remember things as being much better than they actually were at the time.

Romancing the drink or drug weakens your resolve as well as your commitment to recovery. If you allow these thoughts to continue unchallenged then it is likely to lead you back to where you started. It is important that you remember all the reasons you quit addiction and the days when substance abuse caused you so much suffering.

7. Blaming Others

Other people will do things that negatively affect your life, but the problem with blaming is that it does not lead to any productive outcome. It is also likely that once you are in the habit of blaming others, you will start to do this to excuse your own mistakes. If others have messed up then it may be important to mention this to them so they can learn from the experience, but your focus should always be the part you played in the mess. You need to find out how you can change your behaviour in order to prevent similar mistakes in the future. This is the only way of thinking that is likely to keep your recovery strong and moving forward.

8. I Don’t Need Any Help

If you feel that you need to do everything yourself then it is unlikely that you will achieve much in life. Maybe your heroes are self-made entrepreneurs. Maybe you think that these people got where they are purely by their own efforts. The problem with this type of thinking is that it is just wrong. Entrepreneurs are usually just the public face of a group of talented people. You will be skilled at some things but not at others. By trying to do everything yourself, the best you can possibly achieve is amateurish results. If you are determined to go it alone in recovery, you are probably going to suffer more than you need to and you will be at higher risk of relapse. There is nothing shameful about asking for help when you need it – the real shame is trying to do everything alone.

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