Living sober is at first living without alcohol or drugs. It’s at first taking the challenging steps towards no longer choosing to get drunk or high. In the beginning, sober living and recovery is all about choosing again and again to stay away from the drug that has created so much destruction. However, over time, living sober takes on so much more, making it much than quitting a bad and destructive habit.
For instance, getting sober is about recognizing the patterns of thought, the deeply embedded beliefs about yourself, and the destructive behaviors that you find yourself doing as a result. Sober living is all about becoming conscious and aware of how you are living your life.
It’s a journey that is filled with challenge. It’s not easy. Not only does it require a willingness to change, it also necessitates your keen attention and making new choices consciously. The challenge stems from changing the patterns in your mind. It’s no different than a ship at sea. When it’s on a certain course, the wind, the waves, the shape of the sails, and the motion of the boat are all in alignment. They are all working together to keep the boat moving in the same direction. When a ship needs to change its course, it’s a big deal. Many hands on deck are required. One person needs to be at the helm. Another person needs to tend to the mainsail, holding its lines taught so that the sail doesn’t tear as it flaps back and forth. The sails will do that while the turning takes place as they find new wind that will fill them. Another person needs to tend to the back sails, also making sure that the lines are taught there too. It takes a lot of energy to change the boat’s direction.
It takes a lot of energy to change direction in life too. The repeated pattern of making old choices in the same way again and again has created an energy groove. You’re used to having certain thoughts and because of those thoughts, you’re used to making certain choices. You’re used to giving your life to the addiction, despite the destructive wake it leaves behind. Over time, connections in the brain have developed that continue to make it easy to make that same choice.
To create a new groove in the brain, to create a new set of choices, and to create a new set of thinking patterns, it’s going to take a lot of energy. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done, but at least you know what you’re up against. Many addicts before you have taken on the challenge!
Once you’ve gotten to a good place in your new life through sober living , that is, you’re no longer drinking or using drugs, the next step is to begin to heal those thoughts that have caused you to drink in the first place. This article and its sequel will explore 13 thinking patterns that can create negative habits in life and hold you back. They are 13 ways that we get stuck, lose motivation, and end up in a swamp of nothingness. The only difference between a sober swamp and one that you got into when were still drinking is that back then you would reach for a drink. Today, when you get into this swamp, you can learn to get yourself out instead of sinking with the weight of alcoholism. You can climb out of that swamp by climbing out of the murky waters of your thinking.
We’ll start out with the first three patterns of swampy thinking in this article. Then, look for the second part to this series for the remaining 10.
Hopelessness: This is when you’ve lost all motivation. You’ve even lost any sense of the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopelessness feels unending and irreversible.
Helplessness: It feels as though your emotions exist because of factors beyond your control. This pattern feels as though you have no power and that everything else – the weather, other people, life’s circumstances, you upbringing has control over your life now, but you don’t.
Overwhelming Yourself: This is the tendency to magnify a task to the point where it becomes unmanageable and you stop even before you’ve begun.
You can easily see that these are all negative patterns of thought. However, the point of learning about them is to be able to recognize them in you. Then, the next time you’re in a swamp, you can say, “Wait a minute; I’ve been here before! And I don’t need to stay here!”
Stay tuned for the remaining 10 patterns of negative thinking in the next article, part two in this series.
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