It’s Thanksgiving season, and for most families that means enjoying a delicious meal of turkey and assorted side dishes. Regardless of whether you’re making a trip across the country or hosting a dinner yourself, it’s time to be with family (or friends). But before we go off and indulge in all our favorite recipes, it’s important to remember what this American tradition is all about: giving thanks. For some, that may mean something as simple as being thankful for their family and friends, but for many they are thankful for recovery this season.
In The Spirit Of The Season
Centuries ago, the Pilgrims moved from England across to a foreign continent, in hopes of escaping to a world where they could practice their faith freely and own property. However, life for early European settlers was far from easy. On a land they didn’t know, dealing with crops they had never grown, living was hard.
It was through many tenuous truces and very little trust that both the Pilgrims and natives began to work together – and through the generosity and knowledge of their neighbors, the Pilgrims managed their first successful harvest. This trust endured 50 years, one of the only examples of peace between early European settlers and the Native Americans.
To give thanks, a historic feast was ordered – one that lasted several days, and involved more venison than bird.
Thanksgiving as a national holiday didn’t become an idea until centuries later, under Abraham Lincoln – but the intrinsic idea behind the holiday is giving thanks to the land, to God, and to the generosity of one’s neighbor for their kindness and humanity. The Pilgrims were immigrants, foreign in a new land, confronted by new challenges and forced to deal with new hardships. They worked hard to survive, endured these challenges, and went on to live peacefully alongside their neighbors for half a century.
In recovery, challenge becomes a daily fact of life. Escaping addiction is a life-long marathon, with days when the jog feels more like a sprint for your life. It can be exhausting, disheartening, and at times, it’ll catch up to you and set you back. But through the help of your family, your friends, and everyone else who has brought light to the darkest days of your recovery, you’ve made it this far.
And there’s no limit to how much farther you can go. Be thankful for recovery this season.
Why Gratitude And Thankfulness Make A Difference
Gratitude and thankfulness are far more than empty platitudes on a cheap Hallmark card. They’re essential to the development of an effective long-term recovery plan, for the simple reason that if you don’t feel good about the progress you’ve been making, then sooner or later you’ll find yourself disillusioned and unmotivated instead of thankful for recovery.
A lack of motivation will kill any journey, regardless of what the end goal may be. But staying motivated over weeks, months and years is very, very hard. You’re bound to doubt yourself, question your progress, and beat yourself over the head for what ultimately amounts to minor mistakes.
Being thankful for recovery won’t make those thoughts go away, they’re part and parcel of life. But it will give you the strength necessary to overcome them.
This is important: life will always seem heavy. But if you ignore the fact that it has its joyful moments, if you only focus on the dark parts and the negative thoughts, then they will consume you. The people around you can only do so much to help you out – it’s ultimately your perspective that decides how you feel about your life, and what you’ve done. There’s no way to go back and change things, so focus on all the better parts of the past and look forward with the intent of creating more of those positive moments and be thankful for recovery.
How Your Way Of Thinking Can Affect Recovery
Since psychotherapy and talk therapy have become viable tools in psychiatric medicine to help evaluate patients, diagnose problems and even create treatment plans, we’ve come a long way in understanding how our thoughts shape our behavior.
Drug use isn’t solely a mental issue – but it has a massive impact upon people’s mental states. Patients struggling with addiction tend to struggle with depressive thoughts and anxieties. They worry, fear, and expect the worst. On top of that, the guilt and shame of bearing the stigma of drug use makes it harder and harder to get out from under it all – and this contributes to a cycle of using, stopping, experiencing withdrawal, and using again.
But every now and again, through the help of loved ones and medical experts, the cycle can be broken. The person makes the conscious decision to stop, takes the necessary measures to fight back against their doubts, and makes it long enough to feel hope again. These moments don’t always last months and years – sometimes, relapse kicks in anyway – but it’s important to hold on to them.
In Short: Be Happier & Thankful for Recovery
This is where therapy tools like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy really help people who struggle with the emotional and mental aspects of drug addiction. And these tools provide insight into why a positive, thankful way of thinking can create such a massive difference in someone fighting against their addiction.
CBT is a method of therapy that reinforces positive thinking and a good mood to push back against depressive thoughts and anxiety. It doesn’t guarantee a cure to these thoughts, but instead arms patients with the line of thinking they need to live above them and be thankful for recovery.
That’s what thankfulness and gratitude can bring you: the ability to live above the demons of your addiction.