As a person who abused alcohol or drugs, you have been in the habit of running from your feelings. Now that you are sober and in addiction recovery, you may be experiencing a lot of intense feelings that you wish you didn’t have to feel.
For many people, negativity is an attitude that can become a habit. You may have used negative emotions such as anger, sadness, grief or discouragement as an excuse to drink or drug. You may even believe that difficulties you have experienced gave you a good reason to drown your sorrows and turn to mind-altering substances. You might believe that anyone who had your boss, your spouse or your experiences would drink or drug, too.
The truth is that life is full of a wide variety of experiences both good and bad. No matter what personal difficulties you are going through, there are no experiences that will get better when you pick up a drink or a drug. Whatever is bothering you won’t get better by you wallowing in negativity through self-pity.
Learning to Look on the Bright Side
On any given day, if you look around you, what do you see? Do you see a cruel and ugly world that isn’t likely to improve anytime soon? Do you see people all around whose lives are easier than yours? Or do you wake up each day grateful to be alive and excited about the possibilities that you might discover that day? Do you typically feel hopeful or gloomy?
Whichever attitude you have, it is your choice. Make a conscious effort to notice what is in your life that you should be thankful for and happy about. The fact that you found your way to addiction recovery is a great reason to be hopeful that tomorrow just might be better than yesterday. A gratitude list can be a powerful tool for developing a better attitude.
Learning to Accept Other People
Relationships with other people can cause a variety of negative feelings at times. Your boss may have unrealistic expectations that leave you feeling stressed, annoyed or angry. Your significant other may pick a fight with you and cause your mood to take a nosedive. Your children may misbehave, leaving you feeling overwhelmed or agitated. You may have unpleasant encounters with strangers, such as rudeness or road rage. Sometimes you might even feel like you could be happy if only you didn’t have other people ruining your mood.
Maintaining a positive attitude when interacting with other people depends on accepting people exactly as they are. You don’t have to be offended when someone criticizes you. When someone is rude to you, don’t dwell on the hurt or to be rude in return. Maybe that person was simply having a bad day or is having problems at home. Think about how else you might have reacted to people who upset you.
Practice looking for the good in other people. Find something to praise about everyone who crosses your path today. Nobody is perfect, but nobody is all bad either. Remember that just because other people are grumpy or rude doesn’t mean you have to be grumpy or rude, too.
The Power of Shifting Your Attitude
Life can be very difficult and is sometimes full of loss and disappointment. There are many things and people in life that you can’t control. You truly are powerless over people, places and things. But there is one thing you can control: your attitude.
Changing your attitude will take time and work. It won’t be like flipping a switch and living happily ever after. You need to recognize that you do have control over your own attitude. Work at improving it one day at a time. You also need to recognize that a habit of negativity can slowly but surely lead you back to a drink or a drug.
Work on getting in the habit of choosing to be grateful. Choose to be hopeful. Choose to be sober and enjoy the journey one day at a time to the best of your ability.