In early recovery, sometimes you can only make gratitude lists reading “sobriety, food, clothes, and a place to sleep.” And while it may seem like nothing, each of these is a huge thing to be grateful for when you first get sober. But, making a real commitment to recovery requires you to go deeper and turn your short gratitude lists into intentional daily practice.
After some time substance-free, you may notice you aren’t necessarily “behavior-free” or free from the bondage of persistently negative thoughts. It’s all too easy to throw a pity party and sink into a downward thought spiral of “Why me?” or “Of course, nothing ever goes my way.”
What you really mean is that people, places, or things are not exactly to your design. Insisting that things go your way only sets you up for an expectation hangover or a premeditated resentment. Sometimes there is no purpose to the pain and you must accept that suffering is just part of the human experience
Still, there is almost always a silver lining to every cloud and growing your gratitude helps you recognize them.
Gratitude as an Opposite Action
If you’re prone to catastrophizing, or very quickly spiraling into the “worst-case scenario,” making a gratitude list at that moment can slow down your descent into self-induced madness.
For example, if you find out your car is going to need an expensive repair, it’s easy to think “I don’t have that kind of money just lying around, I’m going to have to eat instant ramen for three months and end up living in that car under a bridge.”
If you go there, walk yourself back through your reaction and find things to be grateful for. Make a list that includes things like; “I’m grateful I have a job, I’m grateful for my friends and family I can reach out to for help if I find my financial situation unmanageable, I’m grateful for the resourcefulness that has kept me alive this long.”
This interrupts your negative train of thought and allows your logical mind enough space to do its job and problem solve. Fear of financial insecurity is deeply ingrained in many people, and for good reason: unmet childhood needs, immigrating from a poverty-stricken country, self-inflicted financial trauma due to substance use, or process addictions like gambling and shopping.
If you can stop long enough to recognize that your emotional mind has gone into overdrive due to fear of past circumstances being repeated, you can fact-check your fear. This allows you to acknowledge that, while they served you well in the past, they are no longer necessary.
Make It a Group Affair
Start a text chain or Facebook messenger group chat with a group of friends or loved ones and commit to checking in daily with a gratitude list. Your gratitude lists can consist of anything – your pets, your favorite fruit being in season, your significant other, the gifts of recovery, spiritual blessings, etc.
Even on hard days, if you’re the only one in the group that hasn’t responded yet, it’s easy to take a quick look around you and find a way to participate. Constantly reminding yourself of what you do have, allows the perspective shift essential for recovery to take place.
Additionally, committing to a nightly check-in with your partner is a great way to take inventory of your appreciation for each other, as well as discuss minor disturbances regularly to prevent blowups due to festering resentments.
Celebrate Your Wins
Sometimes you may feel like you shouldn’t celebrate milestones that are “things that people are supposed to do anyway.” Part of the shame culture of society consists of minimizing accomplishments and holding people to unrealistic standards.
It’s okay to celebrate your driver’s license restriction being lifted, probation or parole ending, having a record expunged, buying a home, legally registering and insuring a car, starting a business, finishing college or trade school, or quitting smoking.
For example, if you were a slave to nicotine, smelling the whiff of a cigarette and not wanting it is a massive accomplishment. If your loved ones are truly your people, they will meet you where you’re at and cheer you on over the next hurdle.
Reach Out For Additional Help
It’s also okay to ask for help if you find that gratitude is difficult to come by at times. There is no “right time” to take on the leap of shifting your perspective, creating unity, and practicing healthy communication with your loved ones. The longer you leave your thinking untreated, the longer your suffering lasts. NOW is the right time.
Reach out and schedule a free 30-minute breakthrough call so we can recognize your roadblocks, reframe your thinking, and outline the path to wellness today!