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How Positive Affirmations Might Help Staying Sober

Many people are put off the idea of positive affirmations because it can sound a bit too New Age. It is true that some individuals make claims about affirmations that sound too good to be true and would require a belief in the supernatural, but this does not mean that this type of practice is without merit. In fact, positive affirmations can be an excellent tool for those trying to build a life free of addiction because it can boost their motivation and positivity.

What Are Positive Affirmations?

If you have ever attended a 12-step recovery group, you will have seen how affirmations are used in recovery. An affirmation is a statement you deliberately make in order for it to influence your thinking and mood. If you are about to do something hard, you might say to yourself "I can do this", and this affirmation can help to boost your energy levels and focus. A useful way of understanding affirmations is to say that it is an attempt to programme your own mind.

The opposite of positive affirmations is negative self-talk. If you tell yourself you are going to fail at something, it greatly increases the likelihood of you failing. This is referred to as a self-fulfilling prophecy. The fact that you expect to fail means that you will not be able to summon enough determination to do the things you need to do in order to succeed.

Popular Affirmations Used in Recovery

An affirmation can be anything you want it to be, but some of the most popular ones that people use in recovery include:

  • one day at a time
  • don't pick up the first drink
  • it works, if you work it
  • let go and let God
  • I came, I came to, I came to believe
  • just for today
  • count your blessings
  • half measures availed us nothing
  • easy does it but do it
  • if I think, I won't drink, if I drink, I can't think
  • fake it to make it.
Benefits of Affirmations in Recovery

Positive affirmations are an incredibly easy technique - you can say these powerful sentences anywhere and anytime (you do not have to say them aloud for them to be effective, either). One of the most important benefits of this technique is that it can boost your self-esteem. It is the same as having a motivational coach in your brain, encouraging you to put in that little bit of extra effort to help to ensure your success.

Those who have low self-esteem tend to have an inner voice that is regularly negative and bullying. This negativity can be so bad that the person develops self-hatred. This abusive inner dialogue can dramatically reduce motivation, meaning that the person begins to feel completely helpless and hopeless. Positive affirmations change the nature of this inner voice so it becomes more encouraging and supportive, which can have a dramatic impact.

The other great thing about affirmations is that they can give you the courage to leave your comfort zone. If you want to be able to reach your potential in life, you will occasionally have to push yourself beyond what you think you are capable of achieving. This willingness to go the extra mile can come about because of positive affirmations.

Tips for Using Positive Affirmations Effectively
  • Never use the word 'should' in an affirmation
  • when creating your own affirmations, always use the present tense - say "I am more productive" and not "I want to be more productive"
  • use positive affirmations to counteract any regular negative thinking you have - for example, if you regularly think about relapsing, you could use the affirmation "I am sober and strong"
  • it is recommended that you concentrate on just a few affirmations rather than having too many of them
  • you need to feel the words as you say them
  • it can be very helpful to meditate on your affirmations - you can use them as a type of mantra
  • repeat your affirmations as soon as you wake up and repeat them when you have time throughout the day
  • you don't need to waste money on expensive apps in order to enjoy the power of affirmations - there is a lot of stuff out there that is basically just there to get you to hand over some money (paying for affirmations doesn't make them any better).
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