3 Mental Traps to Avoid

3 Mental Traps to Avoid

There are plenty of mistakes to avoid when recovering from addiction. Some of them include not treating co-occurring mental health issues, continuing to spend time with friends who drink and use drugs, waiting to hit “rock bottom,” and many others. Many of these mistakes are obvious but they’re still hard to avoid for one reason or another. However, some mistakes are hard to avoid because they don’t look like mistakes. In fact, they might superficially look like pretty good ideas, but they end up holding your back. These are mental traps and here are three common ones.


Perfectionism is a trap because we all want to do things well. Mistakes can be painful and embarrassing and failure can mean a huge waste of time and money. From a young age, we’re all told to do our best and not settle for mediocrity. However, there is also a significant cost associated with trying to make things too good. People with perfectionist tendencies are more prone to anxiety and depression. They can be extremely self-critical, even when something they attempt turns out pretty well. Perfectionism is also a major cause of procrastination. Procrastinators either spend too much time preparing to start something or they are just afraid to start because they feel like they will fail. As a result, the apparently positive attribute of having high standards can hold you back because you’re reluctant to try new things with a greater risk of failure and you may never start important projects–like recovery–to begin with.


When you start something new, you naturally want to know how you’re doing. This is especially true of addiction recovery, where so much depends on your success. Unfortunately, the metric many people use to gauge their progress is looking at other people’s progress. This isn’t helpful at all because everyone enters treatment with a different history, different needs, and different advantages. What’s more, studies show that making comparisons is bad for your mental health. One study found that people who make more social comparisons were more likely to feel envy, guilt, regret, and defensiveness and were more likely to lie, blame others, and have unmet cravings. None of these emotions are helpful in recovery. It’s much better to focus on making progress from one day to the next, rather than comparing yourself to others.

Unrealistic Expectations

It’s hard to balance expectations for recovery. You have to expect life to improve significantly, else it’s hard to motivate yourself to get treatment and stay sober. However, recovery takes time and if you expect too much too fast, you may be discouraged or disillusioned. We are all told to set our sights high and believe in ourselves and that’s great, but we also have to expect challenges and setbacks. There are many aspects of addiction recovery that you have little or no control over so it’s important to commit to the process, knowing that benefits will appear over time. 


Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California is a premiere men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate and that recovery isn’t a sprint– it’s a marathon.

To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (855) 202-2138

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