5 of the Best Recovery Mantras

Words have an undeniable power over us. Mantras are especially helpful in recovery journeys, providing self-help and support along the way to reaching sobriety. As many will attest, mantras can be vital in helping you navigate away from negative emotions and cravings,

A recovery journey will always have ups and downs, or good and bad days. But, don’t’ forget that we all need a little encouragement or self-affirmation at times. Words can help us as they act as vital stimuli for individuals who are looking for a positive change, regardless of their background, situation, ethnicity, struggles or strife.

Words aren’t only powerful in helping you overcome negative thoughts and cravings, regardless of the health or personal issue you’re facing. Still, they also bring great comfort, reminding us that we are not alone.

Inspiration can also fill the hearts of those finding the path to recovery difficult as these mantras remind us that others have the same thoughts and struggles as us but still found success in sobriety. This is evident as mantra meditation is often used by those attempting to reach sobriety. [1]

Below are five of the most favourable recovery mantras that many on a recovery journey seem to find helpful.

1. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

This mantra can stare you in the face, but until you’re ready to see, you probably glaze right over it. It is common for people to wonder why their lives don’t improve, yet they do nothing to improve it. How can we wonder how we got ourselves into bad situations when we continue in the same negative patterns?

We must be honest with ourselves and accept that our lives will not change for ourselves unless we become the catalyst. Hence the saying, nothing changes. Don’t be daunted by this. The nothing changes mantra is not forcing you to change everything in your life overnight.

Even small but positive changes can have an incremental and eventually massive impact on our lives. What starts as a snowflake will ultimately begin to roll down your path to recovery until it snowballs into more extensive and significant changes. But, of course, this takes time.

What could start as a conversation with a loved one about your alcohol or substance abuse problem could lead to you reaching out to your GP about treatment options. Or it may lead to you contacting your local NHS, charity or private drug and alcohol treatment services. So, you see, small changes can lead to considerable improvements in our lives.

You can use this saying in any area of your life where you need a little encouragement, whether for recovery, career, education, health, and relationships.

2. One Day at a Time

We’ve all heard the saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, which provides a nice visual image to go with this mantra. People usually find themselves being told entering rehab and recovery: ‘just take it one day at a time.’ I know this sounds corny or too easy to be true, but it does work.

In contrast, if you think of your sobriety in terms of a lifetime, it can be immensely daunting. This is true for anything in your life but is especially important with sobriety. In the early recovery days, you might find yourself contemplating being sober forever and a day. That feels like a long time.

Putting yourself in this frame of mind can be counterproductive; this thought pattern is genuinely frightening, daunting, and off-putting. Moreover, it might leave you feeling defeated, like the path to recovery is impossible to reach.

You only have power over the here and now, so rather than thinking about the future, think about today’s actions and make a choice not to drink today. Then, you can make that choice again tomorrow when it comes. Eventually, weeks, months and years of sobriety will pass by.

It is far less overwhelming to approach your recovery just twenty-four hours at a time rather than as a lifelong decision. As a result, you’re a lot more likely to achieve success, feel less anxious or overwhelming fear.

3. Progress, not perfection

It’s all too easy to strive for perfection and be exceptionally hard on ourselves when we fail in our standards. This is dangerous, potentially leading you to drink if you feel disappointed with yourself. Following this mantra means you no longer feel the need to push yourself past what is reasonable in all aspects of your life or sobriety.

You should be proud of every day that you don’t’ drink or do drugs. So if you fall off the wagon for a day, have a glass of wine, don’t beat yourself up. We should all be proud of ourselves for all the good decisions we’ve made and not let a moment of weakness tear us down.

Did you pour the rest of the wine down the sink? Did you get back to your AA meeting? Whatever positive step you took to get you back towards sobriety should be celebrated.

You will give yourself a lot of ‘should and should nots’ in your recovery. As human beings, we’re most often our most demanding critics. Try to ignore your own rules. Listening to the suggestions given to you by doctors and health care professionals is helpful but leave the pressure at the door.

No one is perfect, and no one expects you to stop drinking or using substances immediately. However, you wouldn’t require help if that were the case.

4. Never Give Up

It might sound completely clichéd, but this mantra is vital for anything you want to achieve in life, but especially for sobriety, as it steers you in the right direction. No matter what happens, never give up. It doesn’t matter how stressed, anxious, tired, or defeated you feel; never stop trying to achieve your dream of sobriety.

The victory will be all the sweeter, the harder you’ve worked for it when you finally achieve long term sobriety.

5. HALT When Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired

Although common triggers in everyday life, these warning signs are even more dangerous for those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Stop and take note of these four common triggers and halt the minute you start to feel any of these signs. When you see the warning signs, it’s ok to take a breath, have a break, step back and do nothing.

It can be confusing or daunting when you’re feeling all these negative emotions and not knowing what to do. At times like that, your best move is to do nothing. To follow this mantra, you’ll have to develop some self-awareness to enable you to see the signs of these symptoms, jumping on them before they get the better of you and ruin all your hard work.

Likely, your go-to response to hunger, anger, loneliness, or tiredness would be to consume alcoholic beverages or abuse substances. But this is a different path you are on, and you need to be kind to yourself as you develop other, sober, and healthy coping mechanisms.

It’s normal to be uncomfortable in our skin and with ourselves when irritable, hungry, or tired, so the best thing to do is HALT and fix that stressor as soon as possible. Practising self-care is not selfish; it is essential to keep us going on the path to recovery.

Although these are some of the most popular mantras, there are many more out there if these don’t quite do it for you. Search for recovery mantras on Google, Instagram, or Pinterest search, or ask others in recovery for recommendations. Better yet, why not make up a mantra of your own to suit your life and personality. All you need is a little creativity and inspiration.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5472955/