Being Mindful of Positive Thinking

Happy couple

Most people would agree that the way we think not only affects our behavior but also our efficiency in achieving goals. The less we believe in our capability to achieve what we set out to do, the greater the chance we have of throwing in the towel when we hit an obstacle or experience a set-back.

Of course, this is not meant to minimize the challenges we have when experiencing substance addiction, reducing difficulties into positive thinking platitudes. However, whenever we view life through a negative lens, we are more likely to set ourselves up for failure in the future.

The stress brought on by constant set-backs or the anticipation of a perceived failure can steer us onto a path rigged with trigger moments and relapses, risking our health and mental wellbeing.

Cognitively Speaking

Consider positive thinking as an arm connected to the body of cognitive psychology, the thought-based approach to challenging negative and unhelpful thought patterns. While there are several cognitive psychology approaches, the focus on problem-solving, information processing, and perception all seek to undo the idea of personal failure that stalls our attempt at personal growth and change.

Positive thinking works on mindfully thinking ourselves into success in a way that supports our mental resilience. In other words, when we feel good or positive about a goal or a behavior change, we have a greater chance of weathering the inevitable set-backs, viewing them as learning opportunities rather than threats and personal indictments.

This is where our self-efficacy comes into play. We have already looked at how self-efficacy affects our belief in the ability to accomplish whatever we set our mind to, but it is also important because:

  • When we achieve our goals, it reinforces the belief we can achieve more.
  • Believing in our abilities reduces stress when we encounter problems.
  • Having increased energy can lead to positive changes. Positive thinking promotes energy, whereas negative thinking sucks the life out of our physical selves.

Without energy, we feel lacking in both mental and physical strength to accomplish much.  

Get Rid of Negative Thoughts

As we develop positive thinking styles, we need to think about how environmental influences affect our life. In this case, “environment” refers to our personal space: the people we choose to be around, the media we absorb, and the material we read. In some cases, this relates to reading social media posts and magazine articles. Language is important. The language we use to describe our abilities in a negative light or continually engage in argument and hostility just to get our point across will influence the health of our bodies and minds.

When we come across hostile and harmful messaging in social media, we often become engaged in pointless arguments with people we don’t even know. This kind of engagement puts a drain on our mental state as our stress levels increase, draining healthy energy that could fuel the changes we are trying to make in our life.

Think about it, would you take a perfectly good light bulb and smash it on the floor? Every time we engage in harmful or hostile discourse, we risk taking the light that exists within ourselves and crushing it.

Committing to Change 

Committing to change can be challenging, particularly if those around us continue doing the same things we are trying to stop doing. Therefore, continued attendance at support groups is crucial. You can begin to deal with real-world issues in constructive, non-damaging ways.

To reinforce or strengthen the cognitive changes we are making, we need to become highly selective of everything that enters our thoughts. Just as we learn to develop improved nutritional habits following detox, we need to think about our thoughts and what goes into them as emotional nutrition.

The occasional hamburger is great as a treat, but after eating hamburgers and fries for a whole week, we start to feel sluggish and barely want to get out of bed! In a similar way, a constant stream of negative conversations and messages pouring into our heads becomes fast food for our emotions. 

Develop an awareness of your emotional energies after being exposed to negative conversations or media. Think about how it affects your outlook, your energy levels, and your stress levels. Do you feel positive about yourself and the world in general? Or do you feel like life is so bad there isn’t any point in trying to do anything?

Remember, it is impossible to control the world around you and the people that cross your path; however, you can control what you listen to and what you allow into your emotional bank. 

Filling the Closet

Thinking about what we want out of life and how we want to live our lives following addiction treatment can be an exciting time in rehabilitation. Aside from the discomfort and stress of going through detox, rehabilitation offers a wonderful opportunity to think about how we want our lives to look going forward. It can be exciting when we think of the space ahead of us that we can fill with new experiences, new attitudes, and new achievements.

Rather than thinking about what you want, which can sometimes be a little vague, think about your future as a closet and ask yourself how you would like to fill it. Like the food we choose to nourish our cells, think about the good things you would like to see in that closet.

This is no ordinary closet with barely any hanging space. This space has shelves, mirrors, a spot for all your accessories, shoes, purses, and everything from jeans to fancy outfits. The shelves are all dovetailed and smooth. The mirrors are perfectly lit. Inside the closet is a dressing table: the perfect spot to prepare yourself for the day.

Are you going to fill this closet with worn-out clothes? Will you place your shoes, muddy and worn down at the heel onto the perfectly smooth cedar shelves? Will you crumple your favorite outfit and toss it to the back wall? 

When you take the garbage out in the evening, will you instead empty it all over the dressing table, making it stink of old junk so that you never want to go in there again? Probably not, right?

Chances are, you imagine that space beautifully laid out with everything you could imagine. The finest things you can think of going into a space worthy of them. Now think of your mind as that closet.

Dressing Up

You deserve and should expect to place the very best of everything inside that closet of yours. The closet is your body and your mind. Just as you would not throw any old thing into the closet we’ve described, you should set the same standard for yourself, refusing to allow just anything across the threshold of your mind.

Imagine yourself as that closet, but instead of clothes and fine shoes, think about your life. Right now, you may only have one or two things on a couple of shelves. You might be dealing with fractured family relationships. On one of those shelves, you might want a better relationship with your children, your parents, or your partner. Because this is a beautiful closet, it stands to reason you want to create the best relationships you can place in there.

Over time, we can revisit the closet and think about what else we would like on the shelves. We know we don’t want smelly garbage! We know we need to cultivate an environment for our mind that encourages and nurtures positive thinking and self-awareness.

Positive Action

Positive thinking requires action. Anyone can sit on the sofa or on the edge of the bed with paper and a pen, dreaming of the wonderful things they would like to have. That’s a great start, but it isn’t taking action. Some people confuse positive thinking with the idea that if they think positively all day long, the thing they desire will simply manifest. This is not what positive thinking is about.

Manifestations occur when the work is done. For you, that may mean completing a case plan, working to get your children back into your custody, and attending support meetings during rehabilitation and aftercare. It might involve finding a new place to live following intensive treatment. None of those things will happen just by thinking about it. Those things only occur through action.

What positive thinking can do is build the energy within you. By putting in work, you can begin to believe that you are capable of achieving whatever you need to do and more. While others sit and dream of getting their lives in order, you get out there and do it.

It takes energy for something to manifest; using energy from healthy thinking creates more energy and enthusiasm for action. This action then produces the results.  

Positive thinking works on mindfully thinking ourselves into success in a way that supports our mental resilience. Consider positive thinking as an arm connected to the body of cognitive psychology, the thought-based approach to challenging negative and unhelpful thought patterns. What positive thinking can do is build the energy within you. By putting in work, you can begin to believe that you are capable of achieving whatever you need to do and more. Surrounded by the sublime landscape of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, the Detox Center of Colorado offers a solution-based transitional residence program aimed at accountability and recovery. Against a backdrop of clean, mountain air, your substance abuse or mental health recovery is supported by a range of treatment and aftercare options developed with your needs in mind. Call the Detox Center of Colorado at (303) 952-5035 today!

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