I know it is difficult to be optimistic when we constantly encounter negativity and pessimism around us. Remember, recovery is all about hope, so your best option is to be optimistic and cultivate the hope of recovery. Trust me, without hope you won’t be able to maintain sobriety. Optimistic people are hopeful, confident, cheerful and positive in their attitude. On the other hand, pessimistic people are hopeless, depressed, suspicious and negative in their attitude. They don’t look forward to life.
As long as you remain pessimistic, you will continue to feel hopeless and lack the necessary enthusiasm to stay in recovery. You will be gloomy and lethargic. However, since you have decided to maintain sobriety, it is essential for you to develop a positive attitude and learn to look on the bright side of life. You have to train yourself to look at situations differently and learn to expect positive results from your earnest efforts.
Let me tell you a well-known story about attitude. Once, two marketing managers were assigned the task of assessing a certain region in Africa to ascertain the potential to market their brand of shoes. Both managers had remarkably different outlooks and attitudes toward life. After reaching the assigned territory, both managers noticed that no one was wearing shoes. The pessimistic manager immediately concluded that they wouldn’t understand the concept of shoes since they apparently had never seen or heard of shoes in their entire lives. Disappointed, he left the region without trying.
The optimistic manager, who was extremely self-confident, said to himself, “What an opportunity to sell shoes! No one in the region is wearing them. Their feet are cracked and hurting. With effective communication and demonstration, I can make them understand the concept of shoes and market the brand to the entire region. I’ll be the first person to make shoes available to them and, in turn, my company will make a tremendous profit.”
Without wasting time daydreaming and using a highly effective display, he immediately began to explain the concept of wearing shoes. Before the day was out, his sales team had sold their entire stock and called in an order for more from the warehouse. Sooner than he thought possible, he became a millionaire, whereas the other marketing manager lost his job and, in frustration, began drinking.
Optimistic people tend to trust their own judgment and always expect positive results from their sincere efforts. Whereas, pessimistic people expect the worst, become desperate and hardly try. They are easily discouraged and afraid of challenges. They have difficulty realizing that life itself is full of challenges, and there are no exceptions to the law of nature. We all have to tackle our daily challenges effectively. It is vital to remember that every night has a bright upcoming morning attached to it, so keep looking forward to bright mornings instead of anticipating gloomy nights during which you begin drinking or using other mood-altering chemicals.
Your attitude plays a very important role in recovery. Without drastically changing your ideas and attitude, you won’t be able to maintain sobriety. You have a choice to be positive or negative in your attitude. The choice is yours, but, if you are serious about your recovery, you should also be serious about developing a positive attitude. Talk to people who are full of life, befriend people with a positive attitude and read self-help books to help you to develop a positive attitude.
Jay is a 53-year-old very intelligent lawyer. He is married and has three school- age children. Sadly, he is a chronic alcoholic and has turned into an extremely negative person. When he is in a drunken stupor, he uses foul language in the presence of his children and resorts to calling his wife’s relatives derogatory names. He blames others for his drinking and does not accept responsibility for his erratic behavior. He is in denial. He finds fault with everything around him and refuses to seek help.
When drinking, he fails to attend to court matters and ends up refunding money to clients who pay him in advance. Before he started drinking, he was a well-respected lawyer and other lawyers consulted him over difficult matters. Now, however, no one is willing to seek advice from him or refer clients to him because they don’t want to risk their own reputation. They are afraid of his unpredictable irresponsible behavior. They don’t want to take a chance or lose business on his account.
Oblivious to reality, he is unable to see his own role in his downfall and resorts to calling his colleagues selfish and challenging them. Recently, he has been verbally and physically aggressive toward those who advised him to seek help. The people who knew him as a gentlemen, were shocked because they couldn’t imagine he would stoop that low.
He is neither concerned about his reputation, nor does he want to be a responsible person. He will stop drinking for a couple of weeks, then he tends to a couple of court matters and, once he is paid, he goes binge drinking. Now this behavior has become his pattern. There doesn’t seem to be any end to it because he is pessimistic and does not look forward to living. He is allowing alcohol to destroy his reputation and ruin him completely.
There is constant tension in his house. His relationship with his wife and children has become strenuous. They are thinking of leaving him forever, but it seems he doesn’t care. He has become self-centered and thinks only of his next drink. He has stopped paying for his children’s tuition, and they no longer go to their karate classes. They are losing focus and performing poorly in school. His hopelessness and irresponsible behavior have become a cause of ruin for the entire family. The situation is truly disheartening.
Without hope, no one will be able to recover. Hope helps us look forward to living, whereas hopelessness forces us to focus on the negative aspects of life. Once you become hopeful, you will be able to take the first step to your recovery; you will be able to look forward to living life and stop making wrong choices. If you have decided to remain in recovery, be hopeful and start implementing the action plan that you think will help you to maintain your recovery. Don’t wait, start NOW.
Bajeerao Patil is an author, therapist and HR professional who brings over 23 years of experience to the addictions and human resources field. Bajeerao is currently working as drug and alcohol counselor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bajeerao specializes in the areas of addiction, anger management, time management, interpersonal relationship, reality therapy and recovery. His book about addiction “Insanity Beyond Understanding” is currently available on his website: http://www.bajeeraopatil.com, Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com and also in local bookstores. His soon to be published books are:
Build Your Recovery Don’t Screw It Up
How to Bounce Back When Life Knocks You Down
This particular article is an excerpt from his upcoming book Build your Recovery…Don’t Screw it Up.