11 Negative Thoughts to Avoid in Recovery

How to Avoid Negative Thoughts

You’ve heard of “opposite attracts”, right? But when it comes to positive thinking, that statement really doesn’t hold up. Positive thoughts result in positive outcomes. But the same is also true for negative thoughts.

Negative thoughts and negative feelings eventually turn into negative outcomes. This oftentimes influences addiction and can even throw someone into relapse if they aren’t careful.

While it takes time to turn positive thinking into an everyday pattern you don’t even have to think about, there are 11 negative thoughts to avoid that can make positive thinking a little bit easier.

1. All-or-Nothing Thinking

This means seeing things as all good or all bad and allowing for no middle ground.

Examples: If I can’t be the best, it’s pointless to try. If I don’t succeed in this job, I’m a total failure. I’ve tried, and it didn’t work, so I’ll just give up.

2. Over-Generalizing

This is when you reach a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. This negative thinking may also mean you create assumptions about events or outcomes solely because of past experience.

Examples: I relapsed after I stopped five years ago; I’ll never be able to stop drinking or using. I’ve seen people go back to drinking after attending AA meetings, so I don’t think those meetings would help me.

3. Filtering

Focusing only on the negative aspects of people or situations while filtering out all the positive aspects.

Examples: I’ll never forget the way they let me down that time. I know someone who stopped drinking; he seems bored and miserable.

4. Converting Positives Into Negatives

Rejecting your achievements and other positive experiences by insisting that they do not count. You maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experience.

Examples: He only complimented me because he knows how bad I feel. I only stayed sober because there wasn’t a lot of pressure to drink.

5. Jumping to Negative Conclusions

This is when you draw a negative conclusion when there is little or no evidence to support it. You anticipate that things will turn out badly and are convinced that your prediction is an established fact. These negative expectations can be self-fulfilling.

Examples: My friend has interrupted me twice. I must be really boring. They won’t like me, so why even participate? I’ll never be able to change my drinking.

6. Catastrophizing

When you exaggerate the impact of events and convince yourself that if something goes wrong, it will be intolerable and you will relapse.

Example: If I get a craving, I won’t be able to resist, and I’ll relapse. Without alcohol, I won’t be able to handle my nervousness and work stress.

7. Mistaking Feelings for Facts

This is when you confuse facts with feelings or beliefs. No matter how strong a feeling, it is not a fact.

Examples: I feel like a failure, therefore I am a failure. My addiction makes me feel worthless; I really am a worthless person.

8. Personalizing

Blaming yourself for anything unpleasant and thinking that everything people say or do is a reaction to you. You take too much responsibility for other people’s feelings and behavior.

Examples: My girlfriend, wife, roommate came home in a bad mood; it must be something I did. I know the picnic was cancelled because no one wanted to be around me.

9. Self Put-Down

This is when you undervalue yourself and put yourself down. These actions can result from an overreaction to a situation, such as making a mistake.

Examples: I don’t deserve any better. I’m weak, stupid or ugly. I’m an idiot.

10. Using “Should” Statements

Using “should,” “ought” and “must” leads to guilt and disappointment. Directing these statements toward others causes frustration, anger and resentment.

Examples: I shouldn’t get angry. He ought to always be on time.

11. Magnifying and Minimizing

Unreasonably exaggerating the negatives and shrinking the positives when evaluating yourself, others or a situation.

Examples: Getting a mediocre evaluation proves my inadequacy. Getting high marks doesn’t mean I’m smart. Going into the liquor store proves that I can never recover.

Get Addiction Treatment at Spirit Mountain Recovery

If your loved one is struggling with addiction, Spirit Mountain Recovery is the place for him. Nestled on the side of a mountain in Northern Utah, our beautiful location, clinical staff and fun, experiential activities work together to give your loved one the positive, effective addiction treatment he deserves.

If your loved one needs addiction treatment, contact us today to speak to an admissions counselor.