Healthy Thinking

Setting boundaries on how I think and how I verbalize my thinking has had a profound impact on my recovery.

A major milestone in my recovery was learning to listen closely to the over generalizations I hear coming from my own head.

I first became aware of this issue in recovery meetings when I heard statements such as "I know so-and-so will never change." Or, I heard (myself included) spouses and coworkers over generalize about each other; parents about their children; children about their parents; employees about their bosses; bosses about their employees; and one sex about the other (for example: "all men / women are _______").

By verbalizing these over generalizations and false beliefs, I have discovered that I am only hurting myself. I reveal more about myself, my thinking, and my attitude than I do about the other party. I am unconsciously re-affirming my own version of reality; creating self-fulfilling prophecies; and falling prey once again to my own over-expectations (which the other person invariably lives up to). In other words, I had formed the habit of seeing what I wanted to see, believing what I wanted to believe, and thus creating a false reality that conformed to my over generalized thinking. For me, this type of thinking and talking is merely another form of self-inflicted insanity and delusion. So, I'm grateful that I became aware of this tendency in myself.

Now, when I catch myself thinking and verbalizing over generalized beliefs, I recognize it and immediately pause and question the statement in my mind: "Are all men / women really (fill-in-the-blank)?" "Is it certifiably true that so-and-so will never change?"

As a recovering co-dependent, I am learning instead to affirm the good and the best traits in myself and in others. I am working at practicing open-mindedness and an unconditional belief in the positive possibilities and potentials in everyone I know. I am choosing to make a conscious and mindful effort to verbally affirm and encourage these possibilities, so that the potential for positive change and transformation become self-fulfilling prophecies. Likewise, I want to form ongoing relationships with people who will reciprocate and verbally affirm the potential for good and for positive change they see in me. After all, I am capable of changing.

Slowly and painfully, I'm learning my mind has the awesome ability to create reality "as I see it." Therefore, for me, recovery has meant setting boundaries and limits on my own thinking, which in turn affects my attitude, which in turn alters and affects my life and my environment. I'm discovering that healthy thinking is affirming the endless potential for positive change and for good in myself and in other people. This results in the creation of the tremendous peace and serenity I now experience on a hourly basis.

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All this is not to say that I now naively and blindly automatically assume that all people and all situations are good, honest, trustworthy, safe, etc. Rather, I'm finding true reality is in the middle ground, in the calm, balanced center. When I assume the worst, my life is adversely affected; when I affirm the best, my life is positively affected. My boundary for my thinking is thus: "Affirm the best."

next: Twelve Steps Before the Program

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, November 30). Healthy Thinking, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, December 4 from

Last Updated: August 8, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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