Living with addiction can rob us of our joy, our hopefulness, our optimism, even our will to live. We are hesitant to believe in positive thinking and at times find exercises such as repeating affirmations empty and meaningless. Finding gratitude in our daily lives can feel impossible. When we talk about gratitude pertaining to mental health, and depression in particular, it’s often described as being a practice. Having a gratitude practice is just that – a practice. It is something that we have to commit time and energy to practicing on a regular basis. Feeling grateful won’t necessarily come to us easily or automatically, especially if we’re struggling with acute mental and emotional issues. When we do make the conscious choice to practice gratitude, its power can extend to everything in our lives. With our recovery program in particular, gratitude can mean the difference between going through the motions of the emotional work and actually experiencing real, transformative shifts in how we think and feel.
Sometimes when we are feeling low, depressed and defeated, we associate gratitude and positive thinking with having unrealistic expectations around our circumstances. We know that things won’t magically change for us overnight. We’ve often given up hope that we can actually make any real difference in our lives. What we may not have learned yet is that our thought patterns, our fears and our beliefs are only as strong as they are because we’ve been reinforcing them by giving them our mental and emotional energy, repeatedly, for years. They can actually be changed with concerted effort and practice. A gratitude practice helps us to change our thought patterns to find the good in everything we see. With practice, we start to more quickly find the silver lining, even in very difficult situations. We can take a negative issue or circumstance and uncover all the different things within it that we have to be grateful for, and there are usually many. Gratitude helps us to start thinking more positively, naturally and organically, without forcing ourselves to repeat affirmations we don’t necessarily believe in. The more we practice, the more our minds become trained to find even more things to be grateful for, and soon our perspective has totally shifted to one of appreciation, positivity and optimism. We find ourselves feeling uplifted and pleased by even the smallest things.
When it comes to our recovery program, we could easily let ourselves become so overwhelmed with all the hard work we’re doing, any setbacks we’ve experienced, the challenges we will inevitably face. We can very easily find ourselves slipping into a depression, especially if we are finding sobriety harder than we expected it to be. Many of us were already coping with depression, and sobriety adds new challenges to an already difficult set of problems. Focusing on gratitude helps us to keep ourselves on track with our recovery and stay positive amidst any challenges, so that we can move forward with our healing progress and manifest success for ourselves.
There is much to be grateful for in our recovery. We can find gratitude in all the people who’ve helped and supported us along the way. We can take time to appreciate the people who’ve set powerful examples for us with their own sobriety. We can be grateful for our loved ones who stood by our side even when we pushed them away or treated them unkindly. We can find gratitude in the people who challenged us, even the people who hurt us, for all the lessons we’ve learned and wisdom we’ve accumulated that we can apply to our recovery.
We learn so much from our painful experiences, and we can find gratitude even in our darkest moments. We can be grateful for all our mistakes, regrets, shortcomings and wrongdoings, because they’ve brought us enlightenment, about ourselves and our addictions, about human nature and the world around us. Every experience, no matter how difficult, adds to our growth and expansion. Without making mistakes, we would stay stagnant and wouldn’t make progress. We wouldn’t push ourselves out of our comfort zones or reach new heights. We would stay stuck in the same recurring cycles, perpetuating the same patterns. When we learn, we have the opportunity to move in new directions and access new parts of our consciousness. We get to know ourselves on a deeper level and connect with our inner selves more intimately. Gratitude helps us to grow and learn about ourselves, especially in our challenging times.
Living with addiction, we tend to be extremely hard on ourselves. We often will focus on everything we feel ashamed about, all the embarrassing moments, everything we wish we could go back and undo. We can choose to be disappointed in ourselves, to be filled with shame and regret, or we can choose to be grateful for everything we’ve learned that has helped shape us into the people we’ve become. Our growth is an evolution, from the suffering addict to the truest, highest, most authentic version of ourselves. The growth process inevitably brings with it difficult growing pains. When we focus our attention on gratitude, we see the beauty in our growth. We see the light in our pain. We see our strengths rather than our weaknesses. We see the ways in which we’ve changed, how we are prevailing over our addictions, all our successes and accomplishments, both large and small.
As you’re doing your work to recover, try incorporating a gratitude practice into your daily routine. It will help you regain your sense of self, your self-confidence and your self-assuredness. It will help you to naturally think more positively and optimistically, allowing you to have faith in yourself and your recovery. Believing in ourselves, and being grateful for who we are, can make all the difference in our chances for success.
Hired Power was founded with a deep and personal understanding for addiction and recovery. We are here to support you in your journey, every step of the way. Call us today: (714) 559-3919.