Positive Self Talk: The Key to Recovery, Sustaining Sobriety (and a Key to Wellness for All)
A healthy and encouraging support circle in recovery is important, but when it comes to sustaining sobriety and maintaining a balanced lifestyle, you are your greatest ally – and your thoughts are more potent than you might think.
You’re probably well acquainted with your inner voice or self dialogue- those outspoken, opinionated, and sometimes downright stubborn vocals that always seem to have something to say, every second of the day.
Your inner voice is your relentless cheerleader, reassuring you on sleepless nights that you are worthy enough. Your inner voice can also be the defeating and pessimistic antagonist, whispering unreasonable worries and impossible fears.
The words you tell yourself can become so imbedded they become a habitual and sometimes unhealthy narrative. While thoughts like “I don’t deserve this” or “I’m not good enough” may seem harmless at first, reoccurring negative self talk can sabotage your recovery.
Why Negative Self-Talk Can Sabotage Your Recovery (And How to Undo This Pattern)
Negative self talk can lead to feelings of guilt and shame, which can perpetuate harmful coping mechanisms, such as using again, in order to mask shameful feelings.
The good news is: negative thoughts and self talk is a learned habit, and therefore, it can be unlearned through something called neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change throughout the lifespan. Believe it or not, your brain has the amazing capacity to reshape, re-wire, reorganize and make new connections. This means unhealthy, self defeating thoughts can be reprogrammed to positive and uplifting ones— and more quickly than you may think.
Positive self talk is all about rewiring your brain and relearning how to compassionately speak to yourself. Here are a few tips to help with learning to self love through mindfulness of your internal language.
4 Ways to Rewire Your Brain For Positive Self-Talk
- Observe Your Thoughts
In moments of quiet, start to observe the running commentary of your mind and try, without judgment, to observe the dialogue that takes place.
Are your words degrading and negative, or are they supportive and encouraging? If your thoughts are negative, that’s okay. This is a learned way of being and speaking. Observing and becoming aware of this is the first step to changing the vicious, self defeating spiral of negative self-talk.
- Ask: Would You Say This to a Friend?
This is a simple exercise that can help highlight the way you speak to yourself, and the compassion you need to learn to extend inwards.
You are your own worst critic, and usually, callous and unsympathetic words you have about yourself simply aren’t justified. You probably wouldn’t speak to a friend in such a way, so why would you harness such negativity towards yourself?
Be mindful and aware of the words you have internalized. If your thoughts aren’t things you would say to a friend, then don’t say them to yourself. As soon as these thoughts arise, we encourage you to interrupt them by saying something along the lines of “not useful!” or “no, thank you!”
This can help you learn to extend to yourself the same kindness you freely offer to loved ones.
- Ask: Is This True?
Often, your internal dialogue can become so common place, you don’t pause to question the things you tell yourself.
Negative self talk naturally leads to negative self beliefs. So, the next time you observe yourself thinking destructive thoughts, pause to ask yourself, is it true?
It’s important to recognize the stories we tell ourselves are often words we’re carrying around from our past. Perhaps a parent or important mentor in your life inflicted these wounds (intentionally or unintentionally) on you as a child, and these words followed you into adulthood where you internalized them as your own.
By asking yourself “is it true?” you work towards replacing perceived negative thoughts with what’s really true in the present moment.
- Journal Your Way to Positivity
“Free writing” down your thoughts and words can help you externalize and identify your thought patterns. By writing down your internal dialogue in an unedited, stream of conscious approach, you’ll become more aware of the way you speak to yourself— on and off the paper. Once written down, practice sectioning off these thoughts, and replacing them with more empowering, self affirming ones.
One of the most profound benefits of changing your internal dialogue is that it ultimately changes your behaviour. In fact, in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the basic premise is: change your thoughts, change your behaviours. In other words, you can’t do one without the other.
By replacing patterns of negative self talk to positive self talk, you’ll begin to notice a positive transformation in both your internal and external environments which will help you feel at more at ease in your recovery, and much more successful.
How Our Team Can Help You at the Paradise Valley Healing Center
At the Paradise Valley Healing Center, we recognize each person is unique. We work with individuals to explore what their personal challenges and struggles are, to determine what’s necessary for their healing. We also work closely with the individual’s support network, which can ease the stress in everyone’s lives and increase feelings of joy, equanimity and peace.
Contact us via phone or email with your questions and inquiries today. Our therapists are available to provide answers on how we may best assist you on your path to wellness. We look forward to hearing from you!