As an alcoholic or addict, you probably know that your own choices and thinking got you in a lot of trouble and, eventually, to the halls of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Recovering from active addiction requires changing the unhealthy thoughts that led you to drink, drug and make other bad choices. It requires that you let go of old ideas. Ideas that you have lived with for all or most of your life don’t go away just because you stop drinking or drugging. Many of your beliefs are deeply embedded in your subconscious and require focus and dedication to replace. The ideas that you carry around with you may not even be true, and they may not be helpful to you as you lead a sober life. How do you let go of old ideas?
Recognizing Unhealthy Thought Patterns
Before you can let go of old ideas, you have to be aware of which thoughts or ideas might be hampering your recovery. The disease of addiction can be insidious, and you may not even be aware that your thoughts may be harmful or unhealthy. Hanging onto unhealthy thought patterns can get in the way of your growth and possibly even set you up for a relapse. Negative thinking is an example of an old idea that has given you an excuse to drink or drug in the past. When you believe that things are never going to get better, that you are a failure or that other people are better than you or more important than you, these negative thoughts can eventually trigger the urge to pick up. Many addicts and alcoholics are self-abusive. If you have been in the habit of putting yourself down and believing you are worthless, you will need to learn how to stop these self-abusive thoughts and learn to love and care for yourself. If you compare yourself or what you have to others, you may find that you frequently come up short. You may have high expectations of others and yourself. Let go of the idea that others are responsible for your life or what happens to you. Let go of the idea that you will ever be perfect.
Becoming Open to New People and New Ideas
Many old behaviors, including thought patterns, are nothing more than habits, and just because you have always thought and acted in certain ways doesn’t mean you always should. Habits can be hard to change, but it can be done. Letting go of what’s familiar can be scary and painful. It’s human nature to cling to what you know, even if it’s unhealthy and destructive. For any kind of change to take place, you have to first become willing to change. Be open to allowing new people into your life, people who have healthier habits and a more positive outlook. By going to meetings and talking to other sober people, you can learn new ideas that can change your perspective on life and give you a renewed sense of hope and enthusiasm for life. Learning to have a more positive attitude can make a huge difference in your recovery. Practice looking for the good in others and in your daily experiences. Negative thinking is a habit that probably developed over the course of many years, so replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts will take practice.
Addiction Recovery Takes Time
You won’t be able to change bad habits or bad thoughts instantly. Recovery takes time, maybe a lot of time. During active addiction, you probably developed coping skills and even survival skills that got you through life. It’s painful to realize that what helped you survive in the past isn’t going to work anymore. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll probably keep getting what you’ve always gotten. Changing your habits, thoughts and maybe even friends and acquaintances can be scary, but it’s a necessary step toward opening the door to a better future. To get better, you have to let go of old ideas and replace them with new ones and healthier ones. This won’t happen instantly, but it will happen if you are truly committed to recovery.