When people are in the midst of their addiction they can have a cynical attitude towards nice people. This is because they value nonconformity and being an addict usually involves being the complete opposite of a nice person. The individual will be able to use cognitive dissonance as a means to avoid feeling bad about not being a nicer. They may believe that nice people have boring lives or that they are only pretending to be nice. Once people become sober they will need to have a different relationship with the world. If they continue with the same beliefs and behaviors of the addict they are unlikely to find success. This means that whey they become sober the individual will need to work towards becoming a nice person.
It would be difficult to define exactly what is meant by a nice person. A dictionary definition of nice would be pleasing and agreeable in nature. It nice person would be defined as somebody who is of good character and reputation. The aspects of character that might make somebody a nice person would include:
* Acts towards other in a friendly manner.
* Has a bit of humility.
* Optimistic most of the time.
* Does not spend much time gossiping about other people.
* Does not engage Schadenfruede – they get no pleasure from hearing about the misfortunes of other people.
* This individual has a high level of self-esteem but is not narcissistic.
* They are not argumentative.
* Secure in relationships and not prone to jealousy.
* They do not tend to put too many demands on friends and family.
* A nice person is able to make time for the people they care about.
* They like to help other people.
* They can keep a secret.
* A nice person is honest and open.
* They are not self-obsessed.
The addictive personality is a group of characteristics that are associated with those who develop this type of problem. Not every addict will have all the characteristics of the addictive personality, but they are likely to have at least some of them. Many of the traits associated with the addict are almost the opposite of what would be expected from a nice person. The characteristics of the addictive personality include:
* A proneness to attention seeking behavior.
* Highly insecure in relationships and easily becomes jealous.
* Low self-esteem which they may try to cover by behaving in an arrogant manner.
* Prone to negative thinking. Their constant negativity can mean that they are difficult to be around.
* They usually feel alienated from most other people.
* Antisocial tendencies.
* They put a high degree of value in nonconformity and rebelling against society.
* Addicts will often act in an impulsive manner with no thoughts of the possible ramifications of their behavior for themselves and other people.
* They will tend to suffer from depression and anxiety.
* They do not like to delay gratification. This means that they may put their own pleasure above the needs of other people.
* They can be highly demanding of friends and family.
* Find life to be extremely stressful and do not have good coping skills.
Giving up alcohol or drugs is a wonderful start, but it is not enough to ensure a successful like in recovery. The problem is that the characteristics of the addictive personality can continue to cause problems for the individual. They may still be self-absorbed, pessimistic, impulsive, and have all the other unattractive personality traits of the addict. In order for these people to begin a new life it will be better for them to move away from the addictive personality toward and instead develop the characteristics of a nice person.
If the individual continues to act in much the same way as they did as an addict it will make life difficult for them. They are likely to develop dry drunk syndrome. The dangers of the addictive personality in recovery include:
* It will mean that the individual will be far more likely to relapse. They may do this on impulse or because life feels too uncomfortable.
* The addictive personality involves some very unattractive traits. This makes it hard for people to develop any real friendships.
* The individual will suffer from a great deal of stinking thinking . This negativity will take much of the enjoyment out of their recovery.
* The continuation of the addictive personality means that the individual will easily fall into other maladaptive behaviors. Some drug addicts manage to escape their habit only to develop alcoholism.
* Family and friends will continue to suffer as a result of this person’s behavior.
* Their attraction to nonconformity and tolerance for deviance may mean that they continue to have legal problems.
* They are likely to have periods of depression.
* They will continue to experience life as very stressful.
The old motto that a leopard can’t change its spots is not true when it comes to the addictive personality. It is common for addicts to give up their addiction and become completely different people. The benefits of being a nice person in recovery include:
* Life is just easier when people are nice. This is because such individuals are not their own worst enemy.
* Nice people find it easy to build meaningful relationships. Other people just want to be around them.
* They will suffer from far less stress in their life. This should mean that they are less likely to develop stress related illness.
* Family and friends will get to actually enjoy spending time with their loved one.
* Being nice opens doors in life. The individual should find that they have a great deal more opportunities than in the past.
* Self-absorption can make life extremely uncomfortable for people. It is a great relief to escape this self imposed prison.
* The nice person will be less likely to relapse. They enjoy life more so they have no great desire to escape it by using mind altering chemicals.
* This individual will have the open-mindedness and humility to be always learning and trying new things. The benefit of this is that things never become dull.
* The addictive personality prevents people from developing emotional sobriety. The nice person will be on track to develop serenity so that they always have a sense of peace no matter what is happening in their life.
The goal in recovery should be progress not perfection. It is not likely that the individual will be able to overcome all their character flaws right away. It can take years for people to chip away at them until they eventually become the type of person they always wanted to be. In order to become a nice person in recovery the individual needs to:
* Have realistic expectations. It will take time and effort to overcome the character flaws associated with the addictive personality.
* Accept that they are likely to have bad days when their old personality rears its ugly head. This should happen less and less over time and the only time that people fail is when they give up trying.
* Humans are highly influenced by the people who they spend most of their time with. If people want to learn how to be nice they should spend more time with nice people – as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, stick with the winners.
* Those people who follow some type of spiritual path are likely to find that this helps them become a nicer person.
* It is a good idea for the individual to keep a journal of their progress in recovery. Progress can happen slowly over time and a journal makes it easier to track changes.
* Mindfulness meditation is a wonderful tool that can help people interact differently with the world. The individual gains a more objective understanding of their thoughts and behavior so is better able to manage both.
* One of the most effective ways for becoming a nicer person is consciously spend more time thinking about other people. This is a perfect anecdote for self-obsession.
* Helping other people will not only make the individual a better person, but it will also strengthen their recovery.
* Those who belong to a 12 Step fellowship may find that working this program helps them become a nicer human. Just attending meetings is probably not enough to gain from this program – the individual needs to apply what they learn there to their life.
* Therapy sessions can be helpful because they provide a setting for the individual to explore their personality. The therapist can genteelly guide the individual to make the changes that will be needed to improve their life.