We should never underestimate the power of our thoughts because they have the ability to shape our lives, for better or worse. The way you think will determine your whole outlook on life, so that if thoughts are overwhelmingly negative you’ll tend to perceive things more negatively, and if thoughts are positive overall, you’ll look on the bright side when it comes to experiencing things. A person who has been addicted to drugs or alcohol will often have a difficult time breaking out of negative thought patterns that have dominated most of their life. A big part of recovery will involve changing the way you think and breaking out of this negative pattern.
What is negative self talk?
That inner voice that runs on throughout the day can range from cheering oneself on to being a harsh critic of almost everything you do. When you begin to feel that you’re your own worst enemy, it may be time to make a big change to the way you talk to yourself. Some types of negative self talk include:
-dwelling on angry or negative feelings about the past
-pessimism about the future
-being extremely critical about one’s own behavior
-feeling resentment toward others
-comparing oneself to others
-downplaying or criticizing one’s achievements
-black and white thinking
-holding grudges against others and not being able to forgive
-having unrealistic expectations for oneself and for others
-feeling enjoyment when other people fail or are unhappy
-creating drama out of small events
-always believing that other people’s motives are negative
Why is negative self talk so harmful?
Negative thinking is always dangerous to a person’s well being, but it has an especially harmful effect on someone who is in recovery. Some of the ways it can impact recovery include:
-thinking negatively often makes negative things happen
-contributes to a lower sense of self worth and trust in oneself
-raises a person’s level of anxiety
-can make depression symptoms worse
-gets in the way of recovery goals
-diminishes a person’s motivation
-makes it difficult for a person to enjoy any success or progress they have made in recovery
-gets in the way of creating meaningful connections with others
-often causes a person to turn to maladaptive behaviors to cope
-makes achieving a sense of wellness and balance very difficult
How to work with and overcome negative thought patterns.
The good news about all of this is that it is possible to overcome negative thinking and turn your behavior around. Some helpful methods for working with negative thinking include:
-Teach yourself to be more aware of your thoughts, so that you recognize negative thinking as it arises.
-Start challenging each negative thought. Feel free to argue with yourself when any specific self criticizing thought arises.
-Tell yourself that thoughts are not true. This way we start taking negative thoughts less seriously and they have less of an effect on us.
-Learn a meditation technique like mindful meditation to enable you to better recognize the types of thoughts you have throughout the day.
-Journaling is another good practice that helps a person deal with repetitive, negative thoughts. Seeing those thoughts in writing makes them less scary and easier to deal with.
-Spend more time doing positive things that enrich your spirit and help you focus on the good in life.
-Learn how to practice gratitude in your daily life. Keeping a gratitude journal is a good way to begin doing that.
-Be kind to yourself always. This means setting realistic goals, being gentle with yourself when things don’t work out, and talking in a loving way to yourself.