Bravely Balancing Positive Attitudes & Negative Feelings in Recovery

Many of us often have the idea that because it’s been years since we’ve been to treatment or started recovery or therapy, we shouldn’t have the “negative feelings” that we do. This can start us down the “shame spiral” or what some have referred to as “feeling bad about feeling bad”.

Going through a depressive episode, feeling sad for a yet unknown reason or grieving deeply can feel like failing, like we aren’t working our program hard enough or aren’t taking good enough care of ourselves. Recovery literature often suggests, “changing our attitudes” while simultaneously directing us to allow our feelings in order to move on and not dwell on them. This is not for the faint of heart and a licensed and qualified therapist to help guide us and help us to feel safe is recommended.

This endeavor can be tricky business. However, in recovery, we are doing our best to live in reality and although we are no longer active in our “ism”, or in the beginning of our recovery, intensely painful feelings can continue to surface. It may even be because of our recovery that we have access to deeply painful feelings for the first time. It may feel like anguish or such deep mourning for something we can’t even name. I believe it is one of the most courageous things we can do to allow these feelings. Feeling ashamed of having this experience can keep us from healing the most painful parts of ourselves. Recovery is not a destination. It is a path taken by the very brave.

“…when we long for a life without difficulties…remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.”

-Peter Marshall

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