It’s hard to overestimate the importance of staying positive in addiction recovery. A positive, optimistic attitude promotes happiness and persistence, while a negative, pessimistic attitude promotes depression and resignation. There will always be challenges in recovery and a positive attitude will help you stick with it even when you feel like you’re struggling. Pessimism and cynicism are often the first symptoms of backsliding. Staying positive can be a challenge though, especially at first. Here are some tips to make it easier.

Challenge negative thinking.

An important part of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is recognizing and challenging negative thoughts. CBT is the most popular form of psychotherapy and is used in most treatment programs today. You probably learned several CBT techniques for dealing with challenging thought, emotions, and situations, but it’s easy to forget to use them in the heat of the moment. When you’re in the grip of a pessimistic mood, take a few minutes to analyze your thinking. It might help to write it out. Ask yourself why you feel so bad, then dissect the answer. It typically comes down to a cognitive distortion such as overgeneralizing, catastrophizing, or discounting positive information. When you force yourself to take a more objective look at the situation, it usually won’t seem so bad.

Spend time with positive people.

The attitudes of your family, friends, peers, and colleagues affect your own attitude, often in ways you don’t notice. If you mostly spend time with negative people, you will eventually adopt their way of thinking. However, if you spend time with more positive people, you will eventually become more positive too. Your friends will influence you no matter what, so try to be friends with optimists rather than complainers and critics.

Be careful what you expose yourself to.

Just as your friends can influence your attitude, what you watch and listen to can as well. It’s easy to dismiss violent or stressful movies and TV shows as mere entertainment, but your subconscious mind doesn’t really distinguish reality from fiction. Seeing violence and suffering all the time on screen will stress you out and wear you down. This is especially true of the news. Although the world is getting safer and more peaceful overall, the news is full crime, violence, and suffering in addition to partisan commentary specifically designed to make you scared and angry. On the other hand, watching positive, uplifting, or funny content can actually help you relax and feel better.

Look to inspiring examples.

Many people have faced challenges similar to yours and come out stronger for the experience. Some of these people may be famous, and some may be fairly ordinary people who turned their lives around after a long period of darkness. None of them knew how things would turn out for them, but they kept trying. Allow yourself to learn from their examples and become inspired.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.