Thoughts On Hope That We Can Change Our Thinking And Change Our Lives
by Mike MT Massey, SMART Recovery Volunteer Meeting Facilitator
I was doing some research on addiction and behavior and I was thinking about us, about myself, about what we often feel in our depths of despair in addiction, and about some of the processes we use in SMART to help ourselves. I like SMART, it works well for me. We use techniques and statements to get us to realize that the three major upsets are ourselves, others, and life events, and that we let or make ourselves feel upset about these things. And we use tools in SMART that can help us believe we don’t have to be upset about many of these things.
And we say “change our thinking, change our life”. We say our beliefs can cause us harm, or our beliefs can lead us to positive outcomes.
This is all true, but it’s not always easy to grasp that our beliefs and subsequent actions are hurting us. Other people and life can and do sometimes hurt us. It’s ok to be upset about crummy stuff, it’s how we deal with these upsets that is the key. If we use our upsets with ourselves, other people’s actions and life’s stuff to get blasted (like I did with every with little bump in the road), we will always have reasons to get blasted. And when we punish ourselves, has that ever changed the past, present or future for the better?
I know what it’s like to have drank and taken drugs so long that changing this ingrained behavior seemed impossible because I could not conceive of anything that would make me feel better, even when drinking and using was literally killing me.
I understand that many of us have difficulty with changing our thinking. The very thought that we can change our beliefs, which are our thoughts and feelings, can be hard to accept. These thoughts of ours are so deeply ingrained in most of us that it can seem impossible to change how we view things.
I understand how difficult it can be to learn and accept that our negative emotions, other people, and life events don’t make us drink, drug, gamble, overeat or hurt ourselves. We hurt ourselves with these things that make us feel better, at least for a little while.
It’s true that we believe that we have no better option to feel less miserable, cope with stress, anger and sadness, or be reasonably happy, than to drink or use. But that thought, that we have no better option, is not true. There are plenty of options, and there is hope for all of us. People do change and stop hurting themselves with drink and drugs and harmful behaviors all the time. There is hope for us, plenty of it.
I have been in despair, I have given up on myself, I have not only been on my knees, I have been flat down on my face. I just thought eventually I would die. I have been broken with no hope or confidence whatsoever that I could stop. But I have stopped and I have changed. I did it.
I changed my thinking and I changed myself. I have overcome severe drinking and drug use. Yes, SMART helped me and so did my family and my employer. But I changed myself by changing my thinking. I trained myself to believe there are better options, and I accepted that there are many better ways to live my life than being a drunken drugged out wreck.
And lastly, I accepted myself, I accepted that I am human; that the beliefs I had developed about myself that I could never be man enough, courageous enough, tough enough, strong enough, smart enough, successful enough, or just plain “good” enough were wrong. None of those thoughts were true. I accepted that I have good and bad characteristics. I am as worthy of happiness and hope and joy as anybody else. There never was a reason to punish myself the way I did for so long.
There is hope for all of us. We all have the power to have a good healthy life just as we have the power to destroy ourselves. The choice is ours. We can all help ourselves and be well. And SMART has tools and support to help us do it.
Mike is one of the many volunteers that make it possible for SMART Recovery to assist individuals seeking abstinence from addictive behaviors. The approach used by SMART is science-based using non-confrontational, motivational, behavioral and cognitive methods. Find out how you can get involved. Help us to bring SMART Recovery to even more people. Thank you for your support!