Our Best Thinking Got Us Here
Isn’t it interesting how every thought is a brilliant idea the moment we have it, only to be reclassified (often) later on?
Let’s face it: everything is a brilliant idea at first. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have thought it up! However, the more we think about it, sometimes we identify the downside to it and we cast it aside. Only when we apply the principles of reality to every idea do we know if we have a good thing or not. This is true more times than not with most alcoholics and addicts.
Alcoholism and addiction are as much brain disorders as bodily dysfunction. It is a chemical imbalance and spiritual malady that modern science and religion still do not fully understand. But one thing is for sure: our addiction affects and directs our thinking. The deeper the addiction, the more obscure the thinking becomes. When an addiction meets its saturation point, when we run out of excuses, that is when we can finally realize that it was our best thinking that got us here.
No matter how smart we thought we are, we were terrible decision-makers when we were using. We were selfish and impulsive. We paid little attention to how our actions affected others. This is what we did with the best of our intentions. Thinking errors are probably the most common feature of addiction. So how do you think good thoughts with a broken brain?
We cannot heal a sick mind with a sick mind. We cannot think our way into right living. We can only live our way into right thinking. So much of our thinking is just automatic, unconscious thoughts that we have without us even realizing we’re having them. These thoughts tell us things, and many times, these things aren’t necessarily good. Since we can’t just wish these counterproductive thoughts away, we need to use a bit of trickery here.
The only way to escape a convoluted mind is to just move onto the next right thing, doing what is right in front of you, right now. Start thinking about what you are thinking about and when you find yourself thinking crazy, just go and do the dishes, walk the dog or call a friend. Just do any right thing that you can think of that helps others and takes your mind off of your own worries.
John Nash was a Nobel Laureate who also spent his life fighting schizophrenia. He always saw things that were not there. Late in life, he was asked if he still saw things that were not real. He said he did, but like a diet of the mind, there were certain appetites in which he no longer chose to indulge. The same must be true for us.
For me, it is a comfort to realize and remember that I will probably always have a certain number of thinking errors no matter how much improvement I make. I will also have those brilliant ideas pop up every now and again. I’m going to have to live with that. But now I know how to navigate those waters and sail back to reasonable happiness. It is a progress-and-not-perfection thing. When I acknowledge my thinking errors, I name the ghosts and they no longer haunt me anymore. This is the only way I know, which allows me to escape an unbridled, unnecessarily over-complicated mind.
James A. Francetich is a freelance writer and author. The opinions expressed are solely of the author and do not represent any community based recovery programs, private or public entities or any governmental agencies.