Remember how you felt back when your high school sweetheart broke up with you? Did it feel like the end of the world? Did it feel like you would be alone for the rest of your life? Did it feel like no one would ever love you again?
For many people, those feelings were very real – yet things turned out differently. It wasn’t the end of the world, they didn’t end up alone, they found love and companionship elsewhere. In most cases they found even greater relationships. They changed, they grew, and they found that their feelings didn’t predict reality.
Remember when you first went looking for a job. You filled out tons of applications, without even getting any calls for an interview. Did you feel like no one would ever hire you? Did you feel hopeless and helpless?
Many people have felt this way – yet they weren’t hopeless and helpless, they found jobs, and they excelled in their careers. Again, their feelings did not predict the future, they learned that there is hope, and their repeated efforts to find a job payed off – proving that they were not helpless.
Do you feel powerless over your substance use habit? Do you feel as if you’ll never be able to change your habit and control yourself? While I can empathize with this feeling, and I know it’s a terrible place to be, the feeling doesn’t have to become a reality. Many people have felt this way, only to find later that they’ve had the power to change all along.
A feeling of powerlessness over drugs and alcohol is just that – a feeling. You needn’t accept it as a fact of life or part of your “disease”. It’s wrong and dangerous for anyone to reinforce this feeling and tell you that you are indeed powerless. Would you tell a young person who just got dumped that their feelings of impending doom are true? Would you tell them to accept the fact that no one will ever love them again, and that their situation is in fact “the end of the world”? No, that would be silly. But then why do we think it’s proper to do the same thing to people who are going through a temporary state of unhealthy and irrational feelings related to their choices to use substances?
NOTE: None of this is meant to breed distrust or rejection of your feelings, it is only meant to spark some critical thinking and self-examination which will open you to changing some negative thought habits. Feelings are important, but they should be viewed realistically. They may not always be what they seem.