Gratitude in Recovery

Published December 3, 2020 by:
gratitude

A Reflection on Thanksgiving Gratitude

Thanksgiving came and went in twenty-four hours, as it does every year. As we all know, Turkey Day is America’s day to Give Thanks. A day of appreciation. Of Gratitude. We get one designated day to shimmy into introspection and think about what makes us happy and fulfilled.

We gather around a feast of gluttony personified with our relatives, friends, and neighbors while sharing why we enjoy living. Recognizing the people and events that make life easier and enjoyable sparks joy in the mind. Gratitude is a cathartic experience– you momentarily relive moments in your memory that make you merry.

People who are navigating through their sobriety, especially during the winter holidays, can find relief by enlisting the help of gratitude. Addiction recovery often feels like trying to hold water in cupped hands; watching cravings slip through the cracks is a reminder to practice habits that will fortify the weak points. Gratitude is a wonderful addition to your recovery tool belt.     

A Thankless Mirror

Thanksgiving highlights a societal issue: people typically don’t express their gratitude for others. Unfortunately, it’s not a common occurrence for people to reminiscence on past positive experiences. As a result, we rarely remind our loved ones of our appreciation for their acts of kindness and thoughtfulness. 

Without gratitude, we slip into cynicism and fall out of positive self-talk practice. The world is forever bustling and it is insanely easy for our mindset to sour. Consequently, our self-talk becomes negative and our mental health takes a turn for the worse.  

Taking Gratitude for Granted

People have one of two mentalities: you’re either grateful for life or take life for granted. When you take things for granted, you begin to expect things to be handed to you. That is a dangerous game. For instance, when we assumed sobriety is just another part of life, seeing it as an inevitability, we lack the diligence to maintain our recovery. Typically, taking sobriety for granted leads people to slip up and relapse back into their addictions. Consequently, these people struggle to return to the path of recovery and often repeat this cycle until they shift into a grateful mindset.  

Assuming that you deserve everything you want out of life without giving thanks and giving back is naive and selfish. Arguably, taking the people that care about you for granted is a nondecision. In truth, these nondecisions are decisions to not return affections. In other words, when you accept the love of friends and family without repaying the favor with gratitude, you are actively rejecting their kindness. 

Thank You, Sobriety

Good mental health is an indispensable factor when maintaining sobriety in recovery. Acknowledging the people who helped you during the hardships of addiction recovery is incredibly impactful. When you thank others for their assistance, it reminds you that you’re not alone. Gratitude illuminates just how much your friends and family care for you. 

Shame haunts the mind of those in early recovery because they focus on the negative memories during their substance abuse that they regret. Specifically, they ruminate over the selfishness of their addiction and fall into the belief that they are undeserving of help. As a result, they either refuse help from others or they’re racked with guilt for accepting. While this may be true, it is important to remember that gratitude is an act of reciprocation. Instead of focusing on feelings of self-inflicted humiliation, thank others for their assistance. Moreover, acknowledging their consideration proves that you appreciate them and reinforces their behavior. Therefore, an indulgence in kindness simultaneously improves the mood of others and your own mood.