Types of Irrational Thinking Patterns That Accompany Addiction

One of the biggest obstacles to changing one’s life in recovery is certain thinking patterns. A person might have gotten sober but if his or her life continues to be difficult, then certain thoughts might be the problem. This is precisely why one of the treatment methods for addiction is the exploration of one’s thoughts and learning how to replace negative for positive thinking.

However, it’s not just negative thinking that can get in the way of full recovery from addiction. Irrational thinking can often play a role as well. The following is a list of irrational thinking patterns that a person in recovering might recognize in themselves:

All or nothing – This kind of thinking prevents a person from seeing the gray areas of life. This kind of thinking might lead a person to jump to conclusions or catastrophize events that are not too big of a deal.

Personalization – This kind of thinking puts a person in the center of the universe. They tend to believe that everything is taking place because of them. For example, with this type of thinking, a person might feel responsible for events that have nothing to do with them. They might feel guilt or shame or anger for experiences they’ve witnessed even though they were not at all directly involved.

Grandiosity – This describes the kind of thinking that a person has when they’ve exaggerated their own sense of importance. Often, people with grandiosity want to be the center of attention and they might behave pretentiously and without consideration of others.

Magical thinking – Some people develop ideas about their life and who they are that simply aren’t true. For instance, a person might believe that because they’ve been good this year that everything is going to work out for them. Or they might believe that because they’ve gotten a raise they won’t have any other financial problems. The challenge with magical thinking is that it can prevent a person from taking action when they really should.

Delusional thinking – This type of thinking might be similar to magical thinking. It is when a person believes in something despite the evidence that exists to indicate otherwise. One’s thoughts about their drug use can be considered delusional. For instance, if there is significant evidence (such as losing a job, getting drunk every night, experiencing blackouts) indicates addiction but a person continues to believe that they don’t have a problem, this can be considered delusional.

Paranoia – This is an experience of anxiety that something is going to happen. It’s common to experience paranoia with certain types of drugs. However, the experience of paranoia can continue even if someone has gotten sober. In fact, sometimes a person can become so paranoid that they become a danger to themselves or others.

If you’re in recovery and you’re feeling the struggle of life’s demands, perhaps explore the types of thoughts you have. In fact, you might have already experienced a therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is a form of therapy that is often used in addiction treatment because it explores the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. If you recognize the above thought patterns in yourself and you’d like to work on changing them, contact a therapist, drug counselor, or drug treatment center for assistance.

 

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Thinking Patterns That You Can Learn to Change

Thinking Patterns That You Can Learn to Change | Transcend Recovery Community

One of the most significant contributors to our own unhappiness is our thinking. The thoughts that we possess in our minds can add to having a bad day or an unfulfilling experience. Of course, those thoughts also create feelings and those feelings can lead to behaving in a certain way. The thought-feeling-behaving cycle can eventually create a miserable life.

For instance, we might have the thought that we are not good at anything we do. That can lead to unpleasant feelings of shame, embarrassment, lack of confidence, or perhaps guilt. And those uncomfortable feelings might lead to lashing out at someone else or drinking. Those feelings might cause us to behave in a way that we might regret later.

But thought-feeling-behaving cycle can also work positively too. The positive thoughts we have in our minds can lead to fulfilling and joyful feelings, which can lead to behaving in ways that are loving towards ourselves and others. For instance, you might have the thought that you are an excellent mother. You might then having feelings of appreciation towards your children, yourself, and perhaps your husband. You might have feelings of love and affection towards the members of your family.

Because thoughts are such a significant part of our well being, paying attention to them can support staying sober. Unhealthy patterns of thought, although unspoken, might be prevalent both at home and in the workplace. These patterns of thought are:

  • Self-Flawed – I am inadequate, unworthy, or unlovable.
  • Helplessness – There is nothing that I can do to change my life.
  • Pessimistic – Life is chaotic, stressful, and miserable.
  • Catastrophic – Something terrible is going to happen; I need to expect the worst.
  • Resistant –Life is a battle; I must fight to have what I want, resist what I don’t want, and hang onto what I have.
  • Victim – Other people and events are to blame for my life.
  • Telescopic – I forever feel like a failure because I ignore my successes and focus on what is flawed.
  • Co-Dependent – I need another to make me whole; I do not let others close to me or they might not like me.
  • Resentful – I will never forgive others for what they’ve done to me.
  • All or Nothing – I am either the best or the worst at things and there is no in between.
  • Perfectionist – Everything must be perfect for me to be happy; nothing I do is ever good enough.
  • People Pleasing – If I can get others to like me, I’ll feel better about who I am.
  • Wishful – I wish I could have other things because the things that I do have are not of any value.
  • Serious – Playing and having fun is a waste of time because life is too full of problems.
  • Externalized – Happiness and satisfaction can be found outside of myself. Therefore changing the external world will help how I feel inside.

As you notice yourself having thoughts that follow one of the thought patterns above, you can change it. You can switch those negative thoughts into positive ones. Little by little as you continue to notice what you’re thinking and as you continue to keep your thoughts positive, you might see your life change. You might one day realize that you’re happy, healthy, and sober.

 

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Use Thought Records to Curb Your Negative Thinking

Use Thought Records to Curb Your Negative Thinking | Transcend Recovery Community

Frequently it’s a negative thought that leads to drug use. Or it’s a pattern of thinking that continues to encourage drug use. For instance, people frequently end up using drugs or alcohol because they want to escape, relax, or reward themselves. In some way, people use drugs and alcohol to relieve tension.

Yet that tension begins in the mind. Emotional or psychological tension begins within. And for this reason, one of the most significant ways to improve the way you feel is to change your thoughts. In fact, according to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a popular form of therapy in drug treatment, there is a strong relationship between thinking, feeling, and behaving. In short, a thought leads to a feeling and a feeling leads to a thought.

For instance, the thought, “I’m no good at my job” might lead to feeling embarrassment, shame, or disempowerment. Those feelings might lead to calling in sick more often, looking for another job, or even doing things to get fired and go on unemployment. On the other hand, the thought, “I love what I do and I love getting paid for it,” can be empowering. You might begin to feel joyful, more energized, and find yourself volunteering for tasks at work that you might otherwise would have avoided. In other words our thoughts can create our experiences based upon the thought-feeling-behaving cycle.

So, the point here is that by changing your thinking, you can change your feelings and behavior, particularly with respect to drinking or drug use. If you’d like to change your inner experience in order to stay sober, consider using a thought record. It’s a documentation tool for monitoring feelings of anxiety, fear, hurt, anger, shame, guilt, or sadness. Along with noting when and where these feelings were experienced, you would also write down the associated thought you had with that feeling, in a particular situation. Reflecting on the self-talk you had during a specific situation can facilitate finding those thoughts that are harmful and self-defeating. Without this sort of reflection, these damaging thoughts might go unnoticed, and cultivating this sort of awareness is the benefit of CBT.

However, that’s not all. A thought record also invites you to write down an alternative thought – one that is more helpful, realistic, and supportive. For example, instead of “I am worthless”; the new thought might be “I am powerful”. Recovering addicts working with a CBT Therapist would learn that helpful thoughts are those that promote self-acceptance and state preferences versus thoughts that make absolute demands with words like “should” or “must”. Helpful and supportive thoughts are those that promote well being, love, and inner sense of peace.

A recovering addict using a thought record would likely also be encouraged to use their new, alternative thoughts, particularly when in circumstances that typically created negative thoughts. As this process continues and deepens, the next step is to distinguish feelings as well. Just as you become more and more aware of the thoughts that are passing through your mind during particular situations, you can also become more and more aware of your feelings and how they affect your behavior and choices.

For example, emotions such as annoyance, concern, regret, or remorse can be examined to uncover their effects on the choices you’re making. Lastly, a thought record is also used to rate the intensity of emotions, further increasing your awareness of the connection between your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. CBT’s ability to increase your awareness also facilitates the ability to stop making choices unconsciously and start to make decisions that support a healthy self-esteem, which is essential for recovery.

If you can uncover the thoughts that lead you to drinking or drug use, you can stop them in their tracks. You might still have the thought, but you don’t have to let them persuade you to drink. Instead, you can think healthier and more loving thoughts, have happier and more pleasant feelings, and make different choices.

To begin your process of inner investigation and change, here’s a thought record to utilize and continue to use until your happy, healthy, and sober.

 

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Dangers of the Inner Critic

Dangers of the Inner Critic | Transcend Recovery Community

Some men, women, and even teens have a strong inner critic. They can be very self-judging, which leads to challenging feelings. And in turn, those feelings of low self-worth, shame, and self-rejection are difficult to bear and can lead to making choices to help remove oneself from those feelings, such as choosing to use drugs or drink.

For some, these difficult feelings are so strong and the sense of relaxation in the mind that drinking and drug use can offer can be the impetus for an entire addiction. Feeling better about oneself while drinking can be the power behind a lifetime of addiction.

Yet, addiction can be incredibly harmful to oneself and to others, as well as create great destruction in one’s life. Someone who is drinking on a regular basis might lose his or her job, end up divorced, and lose their children.

The inner critic is a part of their mind that tends to be critical and even negative. Sadly, many people who suffer from anxiety and depression experience a strong inner critic, a part of themselves that might make worse the psychological symptoms they experience. This is particularly true with depression. Often, depression is a way of being cut off from who you are, which is frequently a result of having had a destructive life. For instance, the difficult experiences of an abusive childhood, a life of addiction, growing up among strong criticism, living with intense guilt, and/or experiencing abandonment early in life can be situations that destroy the spark of life within. These situations and others can create thought patterns and beliefs like “I’m at fault”, “I’m not loveable”, “I’m not worth being loved”, or “My life isn’t worth anything”.

These kinds of thoughts, and worse, when these thoughts turn into beliefs, life can be very challenging, making drinking and drug use a viable option, regardless of the circumstances. The inner critic is sometimes referred to as having an oppressive ego structure. Yet, whatever you call it, there is a part of the self that is frequently judgmental, critical, and negative,

Interestingly, marijuana seems to be a drug of choice for those who tend to experience a strong inner critic. It seems to soften this part of the self, making it easier to be who one is. However, the transformation is actually illusory and instead might create a dependence on marijuana for feeling at ease with oneself. Of course, this kind of dependence is true for any drug that one uses on a regular basis.

Fortunately, instead of drug use and the possibility of addiction and self-harm, there are proven ways to ease the inner critic and make living a bit softer. The following are ways to quiet the inner critic, or at least challenge some of his or her beliefs.

  1. Examine Your Thoughts – The way one responds in their mind to the circumstances in life can have an influence on mood and feelings and thoughts. The thinking that goes on inside is the cognition domain and refers to all that happens inwardly, such as thoughts, images, memories, dreams, beliefs, attitudes, and where attention goes. All of these can contribute to negative thinking. And these can eventually lead to making choices that are destructive. Whether it’s with a therapist or by yourself, watch the thoughts you’re having and whether or not they are harmful.
  2. Evaluate Your Judgments – When you experience a judgment of yourself or others, take a close look at it. Is it true? Does your judgment have substance? Or is it simply a part of the negative thinking patterns that tend to follow the inner critic? If you can refute it, then it might be easier to let it go and not give it any more power.
  3. Challenge Yourself with Kindness – When you’ve seen that you’re judging yourself or when you notice that the inner critic is alive in your mind, do something kind for yourself. Perhaps go spend time near the ocean or prepare yourself a nurturing meal. Challenge that inner critic with kindness rather than believing in it and doing something later that you might regret.

Don’t let the inner critic ruin your life by propelling the start and growth of an addiction. Turn the volume down on that inner critic by no longer believing in it.

 

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