The first step towards recovery is admitting that you have a problem. However, for many people in addiction, the door to recovery remains closed because they refuse to accept the fact that their habits have become problematic. Their addiction has imposed on them irrational thinking and behavioral patterns that cause them to believe that alcohol has been nothing but a reliable longtime friend.
More often than not, such thoughts sprout out of one’s false pride. It’s this hubris that leave many of us addicts unable to admit that we are powerless over a substance, weak if we succumb to symptoms of depression or that we should be able to overcome our struggles on our own. In the end, it keeps us from identifying the truth: the high will never last, asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak and the recovery journey is much easier when traveled with company.
Alcoholic Thinking vs. Recovery Thinking
When it comes to recovery, you will come to recognize two distinct types of thinking patterns throughout your journey. The first one is “alcoholic thinking.” It’s the voice inside of you that acts much like our primitive fight-or-flight response, telling you to escape at any point you perceive possible danger. Alcoholic thinking wants to protect your physical and mental state by keeping any foreseeable stress or anguish at bay. It prefers that you fall back into the familiarity of your inebriated comfort zone and, quite strategically, escape the uncomfortable and unknown feelings associated with sobriety. This, of course, comes at a major price; the more you avoid having to confront the problem, the less likely you’ll be able to move forward in your life.
On the other hand, there is “recovery thinking.” It’s the voice that has your best interest at heart even though it may not always seem like the easy or desirable choice. Think of it as the voice of your Wise Mind—the concept of balanced emotional and rational thinking. With a recovery mindset, you make Wise Mind decisions that don’t always feel good and often put you outside of your comfort zone. However, you find that you’re more willing to sit with those uncomfortable emotions in order to keep moving forward. Albeit frightening at times, practicing your recovery thinking can yield the much bigger payoff of a happier, more fulfilled life.
Recognizing the Difference
It’s not difficult to spot when it’s your alcoholism talking. For example, if someone asks if you feel like you have a problem with alcohol, alcoholic thinking may lead you to vehemently deny it. The voice in your head may say something like, “This person can’t judge me. I can get right back to drinking or using if I want to. I don’t have to face the reality of why I use. I’d rather not think about it anyway.” Recovery thinking, however, carries an air of acceptance and is ready to do what needs to be done. Perhaps your inner voice may say, “Although this is hard to admit, telling the truth will allow me to address my demons and free me from the chains of alcohol addiction. Although this is scary, telling the truth is the only way to break the cycle. The high never lasts and I want to find more sustainable ways to be happy. Yes, I truly do feel I have a problem with addiction.”
You may have recognized both of these thought processes in the past or still struggle between them. To break the vicious cycle, the key is to bog down false pride and accept the truth of your current situation. Once you’ve opened yourself up to the difficult decisions, you will then have reached a new level of self-awareness that is conducive to your recovery.