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“This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.”
“Every action you take is a vote for the person you wish to become.”
“You don’t need to change your negative thoughts. You just need to change how you engage with them. Observe them, choose not to believe them, then let them naturally pass like clouds in the sky. They will pass. They always do.”
#2 Negative thoughts destroy only myself.
My first conscious sober act is to reduce negativity in my life.
Welcome to the New Year and a clean slate – tabula rasa. This year instead of focusing or diving headfirst into New Year’s resolutions, which 23% of people quit after one week, a more welcome change is reducing negativity with Statement #2 in action. Yet what is negative thinking and where does it come from?
For many, negative thinking is a repetition of modeled behavior, critical self-talk, and/or a response to untended past trauma. It’s likely to become a habit and our SUD (Substance Use Disorder) over time, fueled it, ingraining deceptive ideals. According to a Duke University study, habits form about 45% of our total behavior. A wonderful thing about habits is that as a learned behavior, they can be unlearned, adapted, or reduced as Statement #2 indicates.
In our WFS Program booklet, it states “Negative attitudes can influence us to the exclusion of other feelings. When we allow negative attitudes to control us, we risk becoming unsettled and may jeopardize our sobriety.” Statement #2 in action can add to relapse prevention as well as creating healthy new habits. Here are four ways to address negative thoughts:
1. Become aware and observe your thoughts: Pay attention to what you are saying to yourself and when. Jot them down and see if you can identify patterns such as when-morning time, who-alone or with others, or how much energy you have. 2. Increase or decrease balance in your life? Let it go if it does not serve you and remind yourself that it’s just a habit.
3. Put space in between you and negative thoughts with physical action: Go outside for a walk, meditate, journal, or participate in your favorite hobby like gardening, art, music, or hiking. Concentrate on connection.
4. Detach from it and counter it with the positive opposite: If the thought of drinking or using is screaming loudly inside you, counter it with a calm, assertive affirmation of “I am safe and sober and value my recovery” or “My sobriety means the world to me and I work hard on it every day.” Make your own mantra to counteract the negative thoughts and use it anytime you need it. Keep repeating it and it will become a habit. (my go-to mantra is “I am a competent woman and have much to give life”)
Dear 4C Women,
My mantra is “Life is change, growth is possible, choose wisely.” I have certainly experienced that this year. I had to make a conscious choice to either go completely into negative thoughts over my grief or choose to put all of the WFS Statements into action, especially #2. This doesn’t diminish or change my grief; it gives it an authentic place to experience and share it without shame. In other words, no destroying myself!
I used to think that vulnerability was a negative feeling. My history of rejection and feeling inadequate created a wall of protection that didn’t serve me well. It left me more vulnerable to my low self-esteem. So grateful that WFS guided me to finding my voice and finally speaking it! I also learned to express my feelings. I turned vulnerability into courage. I no longer apologize for expressing my feelings or even feeling my feelings. I have turned my negative thoughts into embracing my authenticity so if a negative thought arises, I don’t ignore it but explore it. This is when my mantra comes into play. Do I want to grow with the changes in my life or be stuck in my negativity? This also fits in with Statement #2 when I finally realized that it is my choice to reduce negative thoughts by examining their origin and understanding that these negative thoughts would continue to hurt me deeply without reflection. If someone says or does something now that is painful or insensitive, I try my best to speak up. This is not always easy yet it applies to Statement #2 and my mantra so well. It makes me a teacher while also being my own student.
I hope you will create your own mantra and find the courage to explore the negative thoughts as they arise. Be kind to yourself, love yourself, and acknowledge the 4Cs that support your recovery.
Bonded in reducing negativity as you learn, grow, and accept that you are worthy, Dee
As we bid farewell to the past year and embrace the dawn of a new one, I wanted to take a moment to extend my warmest wishes to you for a Happy New Year filled with joy, prosperity, and endless possibilities.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and as we step into 2024, let’s reflect on the lessons learned, cherish the memories made, and look forward to the adventures that lie ahead. May this year be a canvas of new opportunities, a tapestry woven with laughter and continued milestones.
As we proudly raise our AF glasses to welcome the New Year, let’s also raise our hopes, aspirations, and determination. May each day bring you closer to the 4C woman you are, and may you find the strength and courage to overcome any challenges that come your way.
Let’s embrace the spirit of new beginnings, cultivate positive habits, and foster meaningful connections as we begin or continue our New Lives. May this year be a chapter of growth, resilience, and fulfillment.
Thank you for being a part of my personal and professional journey, and here’s to another year of shared experiences, accomplishments, and joyous moments.
Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy New Year filled with love, laughter, and prosperity!
WFS Program Manager