As a rule, do you think of yourself as a positive person? Do you tend to focus on the good things in your life, expect the best of others, and look back on your past with happiness and pride? If you answered “yes” to those questions, we congratulate you. If, however, you answered “no” to those questions, you are far from alone, especially if you are in search of sobriety.
Staying positive in the face of life’s various and ongoing challenges can seem to be nothing short of impossible. For many people, disappointments, regrets, and setbacks seem to set the overall tone of life. Sure, they might smile and laugh throughout each day, but in quiet times, they may really struggle to find reasons to be satisfied with the way their lives are going.
That may be especially true for people in recovery from a substance use disorder. Their use of drugs or alcohol likely had serious consequences—for their health, their relationships, their careers, their reputation, and more. Once they have regained their sobriety and have begun their recovery journey, they may quickly get overwhelmed by the challenges they still have to overcome, and their history of drug use may well haunt them.
Does that sound like you? Are you struggling each day to maintain a positive and hopeful outlook—even though you are proud to have reclaimed your sobriety? We understand. And we have a recommendation.
Be Proactively and Purposefully Positive
Perhaps you have heard of “positive psychology,” which this article notes differs from other forms of psychology in that “its primary interest [is] in identifying and building mental assets, as opposed to addressing weaknesses and problems.”
One way to build mental assets is to get into the habit of using personal affirmations to interrupt negative thought patterns and to remind yourself to keep looking forward with hope and energy.
Now, we know that many people struggle to take affirmations seriously—and we admit that sometimes they might seem a bit out there. For example, you might not feel comfortable saying, “I am connected to the abundance of the universe,” even in your head when you are all by yourself.
But you could probably remind yourself, “I am open to opportunities.” Or perhaps you would be comfortable with the notion, “I choose to live in the present.” Or maybe, “I will not give up.”
(All of the above affirmations—including the one about the abundance of the universe—and many more can be found here.)
“Sure,” you may be saying to yourself, “I could probably think those positive thoughts. But is there any evidence that doing so is helpful in any meaningful way?”
Happily, the answer to that question is yes.
Are Affirmations Actually Effective?
Again, you might be thinking that affirmations sound perfectly nice, but are unlikely to make any real difference in your experience of life.
The scientific evidence suggests otherwise. In an article titled “Positive Daily Affirmations: Is There Science Behind It?” we read:
“The good news is that the practice and popularity of positive affirmations are based on widely accepted and well-established psychological theory.”
If you want to take a deeper dive into the details of the research, the article (written by psychologist Catherine Moore and scientifically reviewed by Jo Nash, Ph.D.) has what you are looking for. But for our purposes here, suffice it to say that the science behind affirmations suggests that they can be an effective way to nudge your internal narrative in an increasingly positive direction. That, in turn, supports your sobriety.
Affirmations won’t, of course, put an end to all negative thinking or all difficult emotions. But positive statements you make to yourself are one of a number of tools and strategies you can use to firm up the foundation of your sobriety.
Here is an Important Affirmation: “I Will Get Help and Work Toward Sobriety Today”
When you are under the ongoing influence of drugs or alcohol, the voice in your head is probably not giving you great advice. It might be denying you have a problem. It might be suggesting that you can get sober on your own any time you want. It could be arguing that drugs or alcohol make your life better rather than worse.
None of that is likely true, and so you need to send yourself a different message. That message is that you should get help getting sober right now. At French Creek Recovery Center in Meadville, PA, we can affirm that we are committed to compassionate, personalized care that is grounded in evidence, expertise, and experience. Our message to you is simple: We can help you get and stay sober.