Why Positivity is Not the (Only) Best Advice for People in Recovery

Why Positivity is Not the (Only) Best Advice for People in Recovery

Society is about positive psychology and culture these days. While it seems like a good idea to stay positive, think positive, and achieve results that are positive, that is not the only way to live. It may not even be the best advice for people in recovery. There are some really, truly, hard days, and even weeks or months where a person in recovery is fighting for their sobriety and a chance to do it again the next day. Being positive while hanging by a thread may seem like a good way to support a loved one, but it may not be the best advice for every person in every circumstance.

Why it Doesn’t Always Work

Uplifting messages seem to be the cultural shift these days. There are talks online, videos, and snippets of conversations around how to be more positive, how to uplift others, and be surrounded by positive, forward-thinking people. People are emotional, by nature, and are capable of experiencing all kinds of feelings. A happy face and positive emotional state can make others feel better about your circumstances, but it does not necessarily make you feel better about it. Pushing through hard times takes courage and tenacity, but sometimes positivity is the last thing a person wants. When people struggle with chronic conditions, like addiction, they may also struggle with mental health issues, myriad health conditions, and other things which make it hard for them to find positive thoughts and energy to cope. 

Hard to Smile

Smiling through the pain, gritting your teeth and getting it done, going the extra mile, are all things people talk about to get through the hard stuff. Positivity culture is about being uplifting and helpful, but it can also have a shadow side. When there are triggers, cravings, thoughts of relapse, and other challenges, it can feel lonely. There may be feelings of guilt, failure, and internalization of those messages that if you are not positive or smiling enough, you must be doing something wrong. In this way, it can be used as a weapon to blame people with chronic illness for their struggle rather than offer support.

Be Yourself

When a person is having a hard time in recovery, it is hard to feel positive about anything. It can feel like recovery is for nothing, after all. All this work to get here and nothing to show for it. When someone wants to put a positive spin on it, they might suggest that a person just needs to be grateful, smile more, be more positive, think more positively, and other things like this rather than let that person feel how they feel. The best advice for people in recovery is to be authentic. Share widely and proudly about how you feel. Not everyone will receive it well, but not everyone is meant to be a friend or companion for the journey. To be the healthiest self, a person has to embrace the spectrum of their emotions and surround themselves with people who support them. Once they do, they are likely to feel happier and more content with their circumstances and embrace the journey for what it can bring to their lives without worrying about being inauthentic in the process. 

Oceanfront will help you capture all the emotions for this journey. We understand the challenges you face and are here to help you navigate them while you are growing and learning. From detox to recovery, we partner with you to support every aspect of recovery. We are located in beautiful Laguna Beach. Call us to find out how we can help you navigate addiction recovery: 888-981-4295