Whether or not we’ve been sober for 30 years or 30 days, some of us begin to come to the realization that we were using alcohol or other drugs to cover up emotional stressors, traumas, and negative beliefs about ourselves. A self-perpetuating cycle it seemed. Once we put the booze and other substances down, all seemed well – until our emotions came running in rampant like a thief in the night – trading a moment of hope for emotional chaos, instability, and unrealistic beliefs about ourselves. Beliefs that have embedded themselves into our thinking overtime – thinking that has become almost second nature. We found ourself off to the races again – repeating the cycle until something had to give.
Sober and Stagnant
When we finally get sober we must deal with these issues and create emotional rearrangements within ourselves. We eventually learn that the judgements we have are negative, demeaning, and just plain mean. Overtime these thoughts we’ve had about our realities become reinforced by actions – maybe we went through a tumultuous relationship, didn’t perform well in school, got let go from a job, or were told by a parent at a young age that we could have done better in that soccer game.
Whatever the case may be, these beliefs embedded themselves into our thinking with a reinforced series of actions and we grew up with a filtered outlook because of them.
So now here we are, sober – or finally getting sober. We’re doing what we need to do in our daily lives but we still walk around with our heads low unable to tread through these thoughts – which continue to hold us back.
What Is Holding You Back?
I had the pleasure of sitting down and speaking with Veronica Valli. Veronica is a woman in long-term recovery. She’s also a therapist, coach, and creator of the online Soberful Program. She’s helped many gain their lives back and live up to their true potential and rid themselves of these beliefs.
“We just have to change. You’re sober but why do you feel so crappy?” She said. “You used to alcohol to numb that before and now you don’t have it. Now you need to do something otherwise nothing will change. You need to work on your emotional life.”
So what is holding us back and how do we get past it? What are these thoughts, beliefs, and fears that continue to limit us? Well, some of us have all had these beliefs:
I’m Not Good Enough
Ouch. This one hurts. How long have we been criticizing ourselves? We must remember that feelings aren’t facts. For a change, try to approve of something that you do. Be gentle with yourself for once and learn how to talk back to that “inner critic” in your head, because it’s time someone start talking back to those negative voices. Self-love is essential.
Letting Your Past Dictate Your Future Outcomes
If we constantly dwell on our past failures, we will still continue to build up negative beliefs about ourselves and sometimes this can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. These negative beliefs can affect us when facing future challenges and the cycle will continue to repeat itself. You have the power to break the cycle.
I Don’t Deserve Happiness or Success
Lies! Sometimes feeling undeserving can create resistance to positive change. With this though, we must trace our steps back and understand how we began to feel this way and also begin understand what makes us feel deserving. It’s a process and at times can be messy. When we sort these sort of feelings out we end up learning to forgive ourselves for the deep-rooted feelings that we’ve held onto. We start to feel better and more understood in our own experiences.
Sobriety is Boring
This belief has got to go, and maybe it already left the building along with the booze. At one point alcohol and other drugs left us in a land where the fun and connection and excitement lived, and who wants to give up all that? To change this belief – we must learn to have fun.
I Don’t Need Help
Aren’t we ambitious? However, thinking that we’re capable of doing everything on our own isn’t realistic. Sure, sometimes it’s hard for us to let our walls down, get vulnerable and ask for help (especially if we’ve learned this at a young age), but how much in your life have you learned from other people? There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it. There’s a very fine balance to be struck here. At times we must learn to be capable on our own when it’s necessary, but we must also learn to trust others to lend a helping hand.
I Should Be Further Along in My Life
A lot of this belief can be fear driven. In today’s society we tend to compare ourselves with others – this trend has recently gotten heavier with use of social media. People show the “highlight” reel of their lives and tend to leave out the rest. We do so much comparison and leave ourselves in the dark – especially if we’ve been though the detour of addiction – but that’s all it is – a detour. In all reality, if we just keep the thought of, “I am exactly where I need to be in order to get where I want to go,” we can slowly replace the old thoughts and be everything we want to be.
We attract in which what we focus on, and if we’re focusing on these, we’re going to continue to be stuck on an emotionally shut off and crappy place. However, just like our drinking, these beliefs aren’t going to change overnight. It takes time, practice and most importantly – patience.