They say, “What you think about, you bring about.” So many struggle day to day in various areas of their lives. They don’t have to, but they “think” they do, so they continue to struggle. You’ve been there, just like many others: you’ve tried and tried to take control of your drinking and you find yourself in a familiar scenario you’ve been in all too many times. You’re at the bottom of a bottle and you can’t help but think that you are simply destined to fail. You believe that because you’ve failed this many times, you’re a failure and you should simply give up trying as you’re just going to fail again. This thought process is known as Stinking Thinking.
Stinking thinking can refer to any type of negativity, but generally it goes beyond a sporadic negative thought. Everybody has “off” days and feel poorly now and again. However, stinking thinking can go beyond that. Negative thinking becomes harmful, crippling thoughts of failure or self loathing that crush the human spirit. You feel trapped in a seemingly endless cycle. This is because thoughts are seeds you choose to plant and nurture. Constant negativity will grow a sour harvest that never changes.
People who have reverted back to old patterns of thinking are also victims of stinking thinking. It is absolutely possible to think your way out of recovery. The idea that you’re never going to be able to control your drinking, so you should give up and drink anyway is a classic example of stinking thinking.
There are several other examples of stinking thinking. Little habits developed over time that have worked their way into your thoughts and change your perspective on how you see and handle life. However, there are also ways to “freshen up” your thoughts, change how you think about things, and how you handle difficult scenarios that would typically be thought of negatively.
“All or nothing thinking”, believing things are either all good or all bad. It’s easy to over generalize. Constantly saying, “always” or “never” when describing situations. Remember life is not painted black and white. Much of life takes place in grey areas. Most things are not all good or all bad - but somewhere in between. When you’re working on moderating your drinking you may slip up, but you don’t always slip up.
“Mental filtering”, by only seeing the negative and never the positive in any situation. Challenge yourself to be optimistic and see the positive side of a situation. Life doesn’t happen to you, it just happens. How you see something makes all the difference.
“Labeling”, putting negative labels on yourself, others, or things in your life. When you talk down about yourself, calling yourself a loser or a failure, you are planting those seeds. You will feel like a loser and a failure. Misery is optional, choose to compliment yourself. Remind yourself that you are bright, strong, and important.
“Emotional Reasoning” thinking feelings are facts or reality. Emotions are not facts. Just because you feel a certain way, does not make it true. Notice when emotions are getting the best of your thoughts and check out the facts first.
Practice new ways of thinking to help you stay positive and keep the stinking thinking at a minimum. Remember that the past is the past and no one can change it. The future is not set in stone and no one can be certain about what it will hold.. Don’t dwell in the past, and don’t stress about the future. Everybody makes mistakes, and anyone can bounce back from them. The future offers limitless potential. When you’re feeling overwhelmed about the past or future, remember where you are in the moment.
Michael Yasinski MD