When you are no longer able to turn to alcohol or drugs to alter your mood, at times you may feel like you are being swallowed up by bad feelings. In sobriety, negative feelings can quickly grow in intensity and feel like they are consuming you. A negative attitude can show up as road rage or self-pity or a sense of utter hopelessness. Whatever bad feelings you are having, it’s important to learn to get past negativity and become more comfortable. Having a negative attitude in sobriety is not only uncomfortable, but also dangerous. If you don’t find a way to get past a continually bad attitude, you may eventually relapse. Picking up alcohol or drugs has been a habit in the past, and it’s something you may ultimately do again without thinking if you don’t change your sense of negativity.
Seeing Only Bad Things
When a person is perpetually cheerful and optimistic, he or she is sometimes referred to as seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. If you are seeing only bad things, it’s almost like you have put on very dark glasses so that you can’t see life’s wide array of brilliant colors and goodness. Negativity typically breeds more negativity. Looking at the bad side of everything isn’t realistic, because not everything in life is bad any more than everything in life is a single color. If you are seeing only ugliness around you, it’s time to change your perspective.
Anger and Resentment
Anger and resentments are deeply negative emotions that can quickly progress from bad to worse. Whether you are angry at your boss, a loved one or a stranger, you may keep playing bad thoughts over and over in your mind. The more you focus on the person or event that is making you angry, the worse you feel. It isn’t as important to know what is causing your anger as it is to get a handle on it. While you are feeling upset toward someone else, he or she is probably going along not worried about a thing. Your negative feelings are ultimately directed at yourself and aren’t hurting the other person at all.
Processing Bad Feelings
There are a lot of things in life that you won’t be able to change, and very often people, places and things are simply not the way you want them to be. While you may not be able to change your circumstances or a particular situation, you do have control over your own attitude. Frequently negative feelings come about because you are dwelling on things you can’t control. Change your focus, and you may be able to change your attitude. Think of it as changing the channel in your head. The more you stuff negative feelings, the more they may overwhelm you. It’s important to reach out to other people and talk about the things that are bothering you. Talk to a sponsor, counselor or a close friend in recovery. Journaling is another way to process bad feelings that are consuming you. People often don’t know why they are feeling negative. Writing down your feelings is a good way to get in touch with what is really bothering you. Once you sort through your feelings, things may not look quite as bleak.
Using the Tools of the Program
In recovery you learn that there are many tools that can help you stay in emotional balance. One of the most effective tools is gratitude. Remind yourself that no matter how bad life seems right now, you still have a lot to be grateful for. Make a list of the good things and good people in your life. Take the focus off your own bad feelings and reach out to someone else. Is there a newcomer at a meeting who needs someone to talk to? Does someone you know need a ride or other kind of assistance? The slogans are quick reminders of how to cope with life. “Live and let live” is a reminder not to get caught up in what others are saying or doing. Remember to always “keep it simple” and not blow things out of proportion. Whatever is bothering you today will probably not be bothering you tomorrow as long as you are approaching life one day at a time.