The Power of Gratitude In Your Recovery

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July 22, 2020
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We should be patient with our feelings while our minds recalibrate to those details that most deserve our appreciation and respect. Why do people become addicted to alcohol and other drugs? Chances are if you have been in recovery for more than a day or two, you have heard someone talk about gratitude. As a core principle of many recovery programs, the word gratitude gets thrown around a lot. Practicing gratitude is more than just mailing a thank you letter. To practice daily gratitude means viewing the world through a lens of appreciation.

gratitude in recovery

Gratitude can help keep your focus on the progress, not the setback. During these Step 10 personal inventories, we can note these tendencies and commit to changing them. Then when we feel gratitude slipping away, we can re-engage with whichever practices help us to feel connected with our Higher Power and other people. We can observe our expectations and attitudes while working Step 10, which we should perform on a daily basis. In active addiction, we struggled with the concept of having enough.

How to Maintain an Attitude of Gratitude During Recovery

Each day is a gift and each day sober is a new chance to appreciate those things and people in our lives that bless us. A really great thing about practicing gratitude is that it can become infectious easily. Whether it’s just our basic drive to be competitive, or something much less cynical, practicing gratitude can lead those in close proximity to becoming better versions of themselves.

Can gratitude heal you?

Expressing gratitude is associated with a host of mental and physical benefits. Studies have shown that feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood and immunity. Gratitude can decrease depression, anxiety, difficulties with chronic pain and risk of disease.

Developing the quality of gratitude can take time and effort. For those in recovery, maintaining gratitude can help reduce risk of relapse, promote a positive mindset, and act as an important tool in managing difficult emotions or situations. Starting a new life in recovery involves pushing through regrets from the past and shedding a lot of baggage. That said, there are going to be residual negative emotions and memories that can hinder your recovery. One of the benefits of cultivating a grateful heart in recovery is that it helps you better handle the negative things that come your way. Gratitude becomes like a sweet salve that not only heals but also contributes to your sense of joy for breaking free from substance use. Gratitude refers to the recognition and expression of thankfulness.

Why is Gratitude an Important Practice in Recovery?

Taking stock of what you’re grateful for should be about stepping back and taking stock of what you appreciate, what has gone right, and how things have gone better than they could have. Overall, those who practiced gratitude reported better quality of life – but how is this? The effects of gratitude can benefit our lives in more ways than one. Not only can it strengthen our relationships with others, but it can provide us a with a load of other physical, psychological and social effects, too. Gratitude is a powerful force for many in recovery because it’s all about understanding how lucky, blessed and/or gifted to have the support, tools and help that we’ve received along the way.

If gratitude doesn’t come easily during your recovery, there are practices you can follow to retrain your mind toward this more positive outlook. Harnessing science, love and the wisdom of lived experience, we are a force of healing and hope ​​​​​​​for individuals, families and communities affected by substance use and mental health conditions. When we worry about relapse or feel resentment or other negative feelings creep in, it’s a great opportunity to cultivate gratitude. When addiction rules most aspects of life, it can be difficult to recognize and take advantage of new opportunities to learn, grow, and change. Recovery allows you to explore new opportunities and make new connections without the distraction of drugs or alcohol. Gratitude doesn’t just happen, but it can be easy to develop, just by being mindful as you move through daily life. Creating a “gratitude practice” starts with simply paying attention to good things large and small – and tools such as journals, lists or meditation can help.

Gratitude and Positive Thinking

If you have struggled with addiction, relapse is always a risk. Anything you can do to reduce the risk of using again supports and strengthens your recovery. People who practice gratitude are more resilient and can recover better from trauma. As one of the most common mental health conditions, anxiety disorders can… It will take time to heal the wounds of the past, in you and in others.

While we can look at each one of these things and find an issue, the power is in finding the good in each. It is easy during recovery—when our eyes are turned toward our failures and our hopes toward sobriety—to become lost in self-preoccupation and unhealthy introspection. After all, depending on our medicated self to “figure it all out” has been our modus operandi for a long time, even though it has cheated us out of the life we gratitude in recovery really wanted. We realize once again that the all-powerful, lying self can only offer cheap anesthesia for a fleeting moment. Gratitude is a mindset, no matter what circumstances we’re in. We all go through times where life is hard, where we might experience grief or loss. It’s not about, “Turn that frown upside down,” or “Suck it up, buttercup.” Gratitude is recognizing that we are allowed to feel, authentically, what we feel.

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