Understanding and Changing Negative Self-Talk
Are you defeating yourself with negative self-talk? Self-talk is the conversation you have within your head. Everyone has an “inner voice” that provides a narrative in daily life. For people in recovery, this voice can be detrimental. After all, when you arrive at drug and alcohol treatment or go through detox, you go through a lot of pain. Many people in recovery feel hopeless, sad, or fearful. The good news is that these feelings are just that, feelings. They’re not facts about what’s going on right now.
Changing your self-talk will help you live on a day-to-day basis rather than feeling bad and beating yourself up. (And will help prevent your mood from going from bad to worse.) Positive self-talk can also provide you with some great benefits.
Recognizing Negative Self-Talk
Self-talk reveals a lot of information about how a person may feel about themselves. You may suffer from low self-esteem or guilt. Or maybe you’ve let yourself and others down in the past. Maybe you simply think you’re no good at anything because that’s what somebody told you in the past. Here are a few examples of negative self-talk:
- “Why should I speak at this meeting? Nobody wants to hear what I have to say, anyway?”
- “I should just give up while I’m ahead. I’m no good at this, anyway.”
- “I’m not smart enough to get this job; I don’t know why I applied.”
- “I’m too stupid to figure this out.”
- “Why even bother exercising? I’m too fat to lose this weight; it won’t make any difference.”
Negative self-talk is how you reinforce negative beliefs about yourself. It’s not useful, and it’s really not an accurate reflection of who you are. After all, you are changing all the time in recovery.
Combating Negative Thoughts
Many people in recovery find new ways to change their self-talk as time goes on. The first step is that you need to recognize when it’s happening. Try wearing a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it every time you start thinking negative thoughts. Write down what you were thinking in a journal every time you’re feeling negative.
Once you know the negative thought you’re thinking, it’s time to think about examples of when you felt good about yourself. If you believe you are stupid, then how did you get an A in College Algebra? If nobody wants to hear what you have to say, then why were you invited to speak in the first place?
Trying writing down ideas that counter your negative thoughts onto note cards. Write them in affirmation-style.
- “I’m not stupid, I’m smart when I study and do my work.”
- “I can really do almost anything if I put my mind to it!”
- “I have a lot of things worth sharing with others.”
- “I am getting stronger every day.”
- “Just for today, I’m working hard on being a better person.”
If you need help writing affirmations, ask a therapist or your sponsor for more ideas. Affirmations can help you work on focusing on your strengths and believing in yourself. Try using them at least once a day, and pulling them out when you’re thinking negative thoughts.
Sober Living is An Option
Are you looking for sober living in the San Diego, California, area? Our programs are a great launchpad for people new to recovery who need time to transition to daily life. We offer options for housing and aftercare. Call to hear more about how we can help you by calling 760-216-2077.