As addicts and alcoholics, sometimes we have a tendency to self destruct. It seems to be part of our nature, a built-in stubbornness if you will. Even after getting clean and sober for a while, some of these tendencies will still tend to surface, threatening our sobriety. So how can we stay on guard against these self defeating thoughts and attitudes?
First step: raise awareness
Before you can work on a problem like this, you need to first raise your awareness so that you can identify when it is occurring in your life. For example, some people like to “play the victim” and engage in self pity. This leads to wasted mental energy and obsessive thinking, not to mention a complete lack of positive action. This self defeating behavior is a great way to justify laziness and inaction, which just leads to more mental obsession. It can become a sort of trap; a negative feedback loop.
So before attempting to rid yourself of such a self defeating behavior, you have to raise your awareness of it. The best way to do that is to bring it to the forefront of your mind and make a firm decision that you are really going to work on eliminating this mental garbage. You might also talk about with others in order to increase your awareness of the problem and simply reinforce in your mind that you are now taking action against it.
The idea is that you have to be in a state of mind where you can instantly catch yourself if you start to slip into a self defeating mindset. If you don’t know that you are doing it, how can you possible stop it? Awareness, then, is key.
Next: zero tolerance policy
The next step is to shut these mental games down the second they start. If you find yourself slipping into an unhealthy thinking pattern, the solution is to put an immediate stop to it, no matter what. Do not allow yourself the indulgence of obsessive thinking. I call this a “zero tolerance policy.”
Raise your awareness enough to notice that you prefer and even enjoy these types of thought patterns, where you engage in obsessive, self defeating thoughts. For people like us these mental games are a luxury that we cannot afford. You must deny yourself of them. That is the zero tolerance policy in action. At first, you might feel like you are missing out on something. In only a few short days that feeling will pass and you can be free from mental obsession.
Then: preempt self defeating attitudes through positive creation
As you grow in recovery, eventually you’ll reach a point where self defeating thoughts are no longer a problem. This can come through positive action in creative recovery. When you follow the creative theory, and start living with purpose and working towards a healthier vision of your life, then you start to preempt the self defeating mental garbage that used to plague you.
When creative recovery becomes a habit, there is no room for your mind to be clouded with unhealthy thought patterns. The zero tolerance policy becomes automatic and you start shutting down these negative thought patterns before they even get started.