Apr 6, 2016 | By Tim Powers

The Power of Positive Thinking in Recovery

Recovery Relapse Prevention

Positive Thinking

There is no way around it, sorry…

You will experience negativity in your life–maybe on a daily occurrence.

There will be days in which you wish you stayed in bed and played tag with the snooze button. There will be those days in which the people, places, things and events in your life come together to form one huge heaping mass of suck. As they say, shit happens. For us in recovery, the process of navigating the negative that happens to us can be an interesting experience.

I am not saying that the mere sliver of negativity will compel you to rush immediately to the liquor store, corner tavern or your dealer, but if you let the bad things simmer and stew in the crockpot of the soul chances are going to be pretty good that we will smell what we are cookin’ and it will not bode well for us.

The stresses that we encounter in our day-to-day doings are one of the most common snares that we can fall into in regards to relapse. It is definitely important to face what stresses, angers, and frustrates us head-on, but stewing in the juices of adversity and allowing it to run riot is no bueno. How do we keep the finger off the trigger while moving forward and keeping our sanity intact?

Behold the power of positive thinking in recovery.

 We Think A Lot

Have you ever thought about how many thoughts you have in a single day?

According to some estimates, we as human beings average between 40,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day. That is a ton of information that passes through our grey matter, and it is a safe bet that a fair percentage of those thoughts are the ones that cause us grief and trouble to varying degrees. Paying bills, increased workload or school work, family strife, parking tickets, remembering to take the kids to soccer practice/dance/karate…the list can go on and on.

It’s no wonder why there are days when we lay down and feel like we have been hit by a truck. Negative energy drains us and breaks us down, and if we allow ourselves to stay stuck in the doom and gloom the way we view ourselves, others and the world around us begins to sour. When we stay in Debbie Downer mode, we are more susceptible to feeling extended periods of depression and anxiety because we stay stuck in feelings of anger, frustration and hopelessness–and this is bad in we are trying to maintain our sobriety.

When we stay stuck in negativity, we are at greater risk for developing hypertension, increased instances of infections, cardiovascular disease and digestive disorders. Additionally, research has shown that chronic stress and negativity can actually decrease our lifespan by shortening our telomeres (the “end caps” of our DNA strands, which play a big role in aging).

It is absolutely critical that we embrace positive thinking in recovery in order to stay on the level. As with everything that we do in recovery, staying positive in sobriety takes know how.

Embracing Positivity In Recovery

When you are burdened with the grind of life and are weighed down by the negative, you would be surprised to learn that many of the things that we fret about and dread actually turn out for the best. Our friends at Happify Daily share the following:

  • 85 percent of the stuff we worry about end up having a positive or neutral outcome.
  • In the event that what we worry about becomes reality, 80 percent of people say they handled the outcome better than they thought they would.

In our recovery, it is important to keep this in mind. We often hear around the tables of 12-step meetings the phrase this too shall pass, and while this saying is well-worn (and dare we say cliche) it is the absolute truth. Whether we believe it or not, we have an immense strength in reserve and we can persevere and pull through things no matter what the odds.

Simple Tips to Increase Positivity In Your Recovery

When we speak of positivity in recovery, you already possess many of the tools you need. If you have are in a drug treatment program or have already successfully completed a treatment program, you were taught the basic yet essential life skills needed to keep your recovery game on point while successfully navigating the molehills and mountains of daily life.

You may also have picked up a few of these skills in your homegroup, through working with your sponsor or via a family member or friend. The following are simple ways that you can incorporate and strengthen positive thinking in your recovery.


One way to increase your positive thinking in recovery is through the use of meditation. Meditation is a powerful tool that you have at your disposal, and if you can carve out 15 minutes a day you can gain tremendous benefit. Whether it is simple mindful meditation practices or more formal meditation practices, focusing on your breathing is relaxing and helps you focus on the here and now and how you can impact the present. When you practice meditation regularly, any thoughts of the past or future fall to the sides and you can place your energies on what you can do right now to be happier.

Take Responsibility for Your Life

You already know this, but you alone are responsible for your life, and you alone have the power to transform your life. This simple fact can be hard to frame in our minds because we often pinned the blame on others when we were active in our addiction. As stated earlier, we have limitless power that resides within us and when the chips are down we can be amazed at how we can pull through. Now is the time to put the skills and know how to good use.

Stick With the Winners

If you want to become more positive, you need great role models. Another one of the common saying heard in 12-Step meetings is stick with the winners and the meaning is simple. You need to hang with those who meet adversity in their life with strength and fortitude. Whether is it your peers in recovery, family members, friends or whomever, find those people in your life who know how to handle negativity in a healthy, constructive and realistic manner and soak their knowledge in like a sponge.

Be of Service to Someone

In order to pull out of a tailspin, it is good to get out of yourself and be of service to someone else. Volunteer your time at a drop-in center, senior citizen home, or local hospital. Be a mentor or a sponsor to someone who is new in recovery.


To generate positive thoughts in your recovery, sometimes you just have to fake it in order to make it. You may not feel like it or up to it, but the simple act of putting a smile on your face may help you get out of the doldrums. It is often said that it takes more muscles and energy to frown than it is to smile. Just the simple act of a smile can make you feel lighter. Give it a try.

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