The way one responds to circumstances in life can have an influence on feelings, thoughts, and behavior. If, for instance, you took the blame for a death in the family when you were a child, then perhaps you have a core thought that says you are unworthy or unlovable or that you are a failure.
At some point, whether in adolescence or adulthood, this might have led to an addiction. Often, addictions develop to escape unpleasant or negative thoughts, emotions, and moods.
Certainly, sober living also means getting healthy in your thoughts. As a result, feelings and behavior will also change. This is the premise for a very effective therapy used to treat depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It essentially aims to change behavior by identifying negative and distorted thinking patterns. This successful form of therapy emphasizes the link between thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and more importantly, it attempts to identify the way that certain thoughts contribute to the unique problems of an individual’s life. By changing the thought pattern, both feelings and behavior change, which can result in a transformed life. And in the case of addiction, it can lead to living free and clear of an addiction – sober living.
Here’s a clear example: John was let go from his job after 26 years. Depending on how he responds will influence his feelings, thoughts, and behavior. He could either think that his company no longer needs him or that he was letting his family down by losing his job. This in turn could trigger certain feelings such as depression, discomfort, and hopelessness. And this in turn might lead to avoiding friends and family or activities he used to enjoy.
However, he might see it as an opportunity to make a change in his life. He might have a positive thought about all the skills he has acquired over the years and how he can apply them elsewhere. As a result, he might feel optimistic, excited, and motivated, and he might start behaving in ways to acquire that new opportunity such as networking, planning for the future, and building a new career.
The difference in this example began in the way that John inwardly responded to his circumstances. Finding the thoughts that led to certain feelings and possibly the escape of those feelings through alcohol or drugs is like getting at the root of addiction. Once that thought is found it can be replaced with a thought that is more life affirming and self-loving. For instance, the thought, “I am worthless,” can be replaced with “I can achieve anything”. By examining thoughts, you can almost immediately change your mood and behavior.
This is particularly useful if you’re having a craving for a drink. Instead of actually fulfilling that desire, you can write down the thoughts you’re having along with your associated feelings. Keep in mind that unhealthy thinking might be evident among the behavior of friends, family members, or others who you knew when drinking. In other words, you might see the evidence of unhealthy thought patterns around you. Certain thinking patterns might also develop because of a need to feel a sense of control or to justify certain behavior. Unhealthy thinking might also develop as a result of not knowing other ways to cope with circumstances and the feelings that those circumstances invoke.
Accessing those unhealthy thoughts, regardless of their source, allows you to replace them, preventing any experiences of depression or anxiety, and this in turn facilitates changing your life and living a sober, healthy life.