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How to Stay Positive During Recovery

Fear, doubt, depression, and anger are a constant threat during recovery, especially early on. Every day is a new challenge and it’s hard to keep going if you don’t have a positive attitude. Occasionally feeling sad, angry, or hopeless is unavoidable, but with a little practice you can learn to keep these feelings from derailing your recovery. Here are some suggestions for staying positive.

Identify and acknowledge negative feelings.

As simple as this sounds, it’s really important. Most of the time, people never really acknowledge what they feel; they just know they feel bad and try to get away from it. It’s important to take a moment and identify what you’re feeling as specifically as possible. Once you have done that, tell yourself explicitly that it’s only a feeling–not reality–and that it will pass. Negative feelings will almost always go away if you don’t feed them.

Identify the thoughts behind negative feelings.

Once you acknowledge what you’re feeling, see if you can notice what you were thinking. You were probably having some kind of thought like, “I’m such a loser,” or “My parents are such jerks and it’s not fair,” or “This situation is intolerable.” This kind of thinking exaggerates the difficulty of the situation and makes us feel worse. Put another way, these thoughts are distorted and we respond emotionally to the distortion, not to reality. If you challenge these thoughts even a little, they don’t usually hold up. Are you really a total loser? Is there nothing you’ve done well, ever? If you get into the habit of challenging distorted thoughts, most problems won’t bother you as much.

Take some time to acknowledge the good.

We are geared to look for problems and danger and we easily forget about things that are going well. If you have started on recovery, you may have a lot of regrets, but you also have some pretty big things to be proud of. You made a decision to get sober, you stuck it out through detox, you got treatment, maybe you’ve been going to meetings. Don’t underestimate the magnitude of these wins. About 90 percent of people who need treatment for addiction never seek it. If you managed to detox and have any days sober, feel good about that and build on it. If you look around, there are probably some other things in your life that are going pretty well. Write down a few things you’re grateful for once or twice a week.

Spend time with people who lift you up.

If you really want to be positive, spend time around positive people. This may be easier said than done. It might be easier to limit the time you spend around negative people. At the very least, spend time around people who support you and want you to succeed. Good social support lowers stress and reminds you that you don’t have to do everything yourself.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.