Now that you have completed treatment and have been discharged, you are excited about your new and healthy life, and are likely feeling extremely hopeful, and positive, too. And you should! You sought help for your drug or alcohol addiction, and you are now clean and sober. You have much support available to you, and you are on the right track. The possibilities are endless for you now, and the sky is the limit. You are walking on air, and ready to face the world and all the new challenges it presents to you.
However, those challenges may seem many. You likely had to give up some of your friends and relationships when you got sober, and also probably had to stop going to some of the places you used to frequent. On the other hand, you may have destroyed some relationships with people who mean a lot to you while you were using, and you don’t yet know how to repair them. You might not have a job, much money, or an ideal place to live, and truly – you now must to learn how to live as a sober, healthy, responsible human being all over again – and that can appear to be an extremely difficult task ahead. The changes you made in your own life to stop your drug or alcohol addiction were wholly good, of course, but all these other life changes all at once may make you feel helpless all over again.
As a result, you may find yourself wondering how you can possibly stay positive, happy, and hopeful, in the early stages of recovery. Well, don’t give up now – as twentieth century poet and playwright Robert Frost once said, “The best way out is always through,” or in other words, you just have to keep on going, and keep moving forward, and you will make it. You will.
The Power of Positive Thinking
There has been much research on the power of positive thinking and how it can help people in all aspects of their lives, but specifically in healing. You are recovering from a disease in your addiction recovery and therefore the findings in this realm are absolutely applicable to you. Barbara Frederickson is a researcher at the University of North Carolina who studies positive emotions and in 2011 she published a landmark paper on this topic. Her work is among the most referenced and cited in her field, and her findings are extremely useful for all. One of her experiments was to break her subjects into five groups and show them short films. The first group’s film inspired feelings of joy; the second group’s film offered feelings of contentment. Her third group watched images that were neutral, and her final two groups were shown clips that gave them feelings of fear and anger, respectively. Afterwards she asked them to write down actions that were inspired by the films; they were handed pieces of paper with twenty fill-in-the-blanks spaces that all began with the phrase, “I would like to….”
The people who watched the films that inspired negative emotions wrote down the fewest responses, but the groups that watched the films about joy and contentment wrote down a vast number of actions they would take, even when compared to the neutral group. In short, what she found was that when people are experiencing emotions like joy and contentment, they will see many more possibilities ahead.
Further, a review of studies on positive thinking that appeared in the August 2017 Canadian Medical Association Journal also found that the power of positive thinking is real. The researchers that reviewed these studies learned that across a wide range of clinical conditions, from everything from lower back pain to heart surgery, patients who felt they would do well in recovery actually did. Patients who were scared or pessimistic about their recovery did not recover as quickly as the optimists did, nor as well. It seems then, that according to research, positive thinking is in fact real, that it really does help, and it can certainly help you, too.
Ways to Stay Positive in Early Recovery
There are some simple ways you can stay positive and focused on your recovery, especially in this early stage. For the most part, the tips below have to do with taking care of yourself and building relationships. This may seem like a no brainer, but it is also often easier said than done. When you are feeling negative and depressed, it’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself, and when you stop taking good care of yourself, it’s easy to quickly become isolated from others. Take care to avoid these things, and you will already be on the right path to positivity, and the continued sobriety that accompanies those positive feelings.
- Physical health and nutrition. If you take care of yourself physically, you will feel better overall. Eat healthy foods. Exercise frequently and regularly.
- Get enough sleep. Being well rested is an easy way to encourage positivity in your life. If you get enough sleep, you will begin each day fresh and ready to conquer.
- Cultivate and develop relationships. Making new friends isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it. Get out there and meet new people; it will make you feel good about yourself and you will learn new things about the world. If this seems daunting, reach out to people you already know, and work on strengthening your relationships with them.
- Give back to others. Even if you just help a neighbor carry in his or her groceries, your internal reward will be a feeling of positivity. If you volunteer with an organization you like on a regular basis, your positive feelings will just grow and grow.
- Focus on hobbies. Find something you like to do and do it often. Challenge yourself to master something new. Although it may be frustrating at first, your feelings of accomplishment when you succeed will encourage you tenfold to continue to challenge yourself more.
- Set goals. There’s nothing like setting goals to help you get a clear picture of how you would like to see your future unfold. List some things you would like to do, and then break larger goals into smaller steps. The completion of each small step is a victory and a cause for celebration.
- Meditate. Taking time to quiet your mind and focus only on your breath or another focal point will bring you inside yourself and give you a quieter mind. Use the contemplative period that follows to bring forth clear and positive images to encourage you on your path.
- Discover your strengths. When you identify your best qualities and then share them with others, for their entertainment or education, you will further realize the value of you as an individual upon this earth, and the unique ways in which you can give your talents to the world around you.
- Give thanks for at least five things every day. Some people do this upon awakening, some people do it at a meal or before bed, but make it a habit, and you will see how gratitude can keep you on a positive and hopeful path moving forward.
- Like gratitude, optimism can be a very powerful force. If you catch yourself thinking of all the bad outcomes that could occur in a situation, stop yourself immediately, and instead try to think of all the good things that could happen instead. Manifest positive things by truly believing they will happen, rather than their opposite.
Each of these things independently will help to cultivate positivity in your life, but when you combine many of them or all of them, you will begin to find that it is more and more difficult to feel negative and hopeless. This is your new life and your new path, and moving forward from here it is vital that you begin to incorporate these things into your life and daily way of thinking.
At Clear Sky Recovery, we know that returning home after visiting our facility can be difficult, and that you will face many challenges during your transition. We hope to send you on your way feeling extremely positive after your ibogaine experience with us. The licensed clinical psychologists on our staff will work with you to create an aftercare plan to ensure that you will leave not only positive and hopeful about the future, but also to make sure that you know what to do if and when the going gets tough.
If you are interested in hearing more about our facility, ibogaine, and ibogaine treatment, please give us a call. Our intake specialists are standing by to talk with you about the ways in which ibogaine can change your life, and the ways we can help you in your unique situation. We look forward to hearing from you.
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.