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This is a guest post by Andy.
I remember when I hit rock bottom. I was only in my 20’s, yet I desperately felt the need for my life to be over soon. I felt like there was nothing I could do to make things right, so I might as well end it all…
Throughout my teenage years and my early 20’s, I struggled with alcohol and drug abuse. It all started when I was only 9 years old and I snuck a bottle of liquor at a family party. Soon enough alcohol wasn’t enough and I started experimenting with other substances. When my family and friends recognized the signs of my addictive behavior they clearly wanted to help me. The problem was I wasn’t ready to change, so all I did was push them away. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. I told myself I could quit anytime I wanted to, even though I knew that was a big lie.
At 23 I was sentenced to two years in prison for drug-related charges. It was only then that I realized what the future holds for an addict, and decided to make some serious changes in my life. I went to rehab and then got a job, which I got really good at in a short amount of time. But I began working too much and stressing over work. I traded my substance addiction for a work addiction, and it was so overwhelming that it ultimately led me to relapse.
And that’s when I hit rock bottom. I wanted to change my life, have a future, be happy, yet no matter how hard I tried it seemed like my addiction was stronger than me. I decided there was only one way of stopping the pain I was feeling, and that was ending my life. I was living with my parents at the time, and I waited for them to leave the house before I stole my mom’s painkillers. What happened next is all a blur to me, all I remember is my mother slapping the pills out of my hand, holding me, crying…
I went back to rehab, feeling weak and wounded but determined to make things right this time. I learned something there that completely changed my life: I realized I had spent my whole life looking at the negative side of everything, dwelling on my problems instead of focusing on the good things. After learning this, my life took a 180-degree turn. I’ve been sober for 9 years now, and today I’d like to share 5 positive life habits that actually worked for me and might help you as well.
1. Empowering Yourself
I spent a lot of time feeling like a victim of the things that happened to me that I couldn’t control. I used to ask myself constantly “why is this happening to me?”, instead of focusing on the things that I could change. Positivity is all about empowering yourself, knowing your worth and being wise enough to potentiate your strengths instead of focusing on your limitations.
2. Learning the Difference Between Quitting and Letting Go
As I mentioned before, the main thing that led me to relapse was how hard I was working despite the high levels of stress and anxiety I was under. I was too proud to stop working and give myself some time to heal. I felt like I had to prove something. I understand now that there is a difference between quitting and letting go. Sometimes, things can get unbearable or unmanageable, and a positive person recognizes that the best thing is to step back and let go. This applies to relationships, work, even a lifestyle. Making the decision of doing only what you feel is right for you is the most liberating feeling you’ll experience.
3. Making Every day a Good One
To me, positivity means finding a good side to every situation. We all have those days when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed. It’s your choice to dwell on your problems and inevitably make your day a miserable one, or, try to concentrate on the good things in your life, which, if you look on the bright side, are a lot. Creating simple routines -like singing in the shower or saying hi to everyone- can help you get in a good mood that can last throughout the day.
4. Leaving the Past in the Past
This was a hard one for me. During recovery, I used to beat myself up for all the pain I had caused my family and the damage I had caused to my body and all the years I wasted with drugs and alcohol. It was like I wanted to change the past and it was frustrating not being able to do so. I ended up learning that, even though I couldn’t change what I had done, I could choose what to do next. Instead of living in the past and letting those terrible memories bum me out, I learned to only revisit them to use them as a motivation to make good choices from now on. I found self-forgiveness, and I learned that positivity means living each moment to the fullest.
5. Focusing on Your Possibilities Instead of Your Limitations
There was a time when I thought I simply couldn’t do it. I thought I wasn’t strong enough to ever quit drugs and alcohol. I managed to push through it and I realized I was strong enough and smart enough. After getting clean I found out I had many talents that I had never given myself the chance to exploit.
You probably have more talents than you know, you just haven’t realized it yet. A good exercise for this is to make a list of all the things you do well, every single thing. Being aware of your abilities and strengths makes you more confident, and even though you can’t fix every problem, you can focus on changing the ones that are under your control. Furthermore, positivity is also about constantly seeking self-improvement, be it personally, academically or professionally.
It’s been almost a decade since the day that I tried to end my life. I’m glad my mom found me before it was too late. I’m glad I got another chance. It doesn’t matter how bad things may seem at the time, all you need is a little perspective, and positivity can give you just that.
We all have habits in our daily lives, some are good and some are bad. So why not try and change the negative ones for these simple, positive ones? They helped me rebuild my life, even after I thought it was damaged beyond repair. I still put them in practice every day, and I can sincerely say that I am happy and at peace. I hope they help you as well, and if you have any other positive life habit you’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Hi, I am Andy! I was born in Bogota, Colombia but raised in Los Angeles, California. I am 8 years sober (almost 9!). I spend my time helping others with their recovery and growing my online business. Read more of my writing at Northpoint Recovery.
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