When you make a mistake, however small and insignificant, you’re likely to be upset with yourself, at least to some degree. If not, you have more self-acceptance than most. If you do swear upon dropping a glass, missing a deadline, or falling back on old, bad substance use habits, you’re like most people. Sometimes these ‘mistakes’ have more dire effects than other times, but the extent of their effects can be highly dependent on how you react to them within yourself.
Be Kind to Yourself to Limit Substance Use
“Self-talk falls within the realm of private internal speech… it becomes part of the continuous stream of daily thoughts, of the ever shifting sands of conscious awareness.” It’s difficult to notice the habits that you may have in addressing yourself, let alone when you want to try and understand or change them. However, this self-talk can make a big difference when in recovery from substance use, considering that you may be your biggest supporter toward a healthier lifestyle… or, your biggest enemy.
Do you ever wonder why you’re so hard on yourself or especially critical of your own actions? Have you considered that you may be your own biggest roadblock toward recovery? You probably have. However, have you tried to adjust your way of thinking to try and make things easier for yourself? Not many people can say that they have, or that they’ve been very successful if they’ve tried.
Allowing negative trains of thought to run amok in your head is hugely detrimental to your shedding old substance use habits in favor of newer, healthier ones. “To break this pattern, conduct a kind of mental accounting of your interior mental life by taking stock of your inner thoughts.” What kinds of things are you routinely telling yourself? How do you handle both minor and major slips? Do you ever speak to yourself in a more positive way, or is it always critical?
Becoming more aware of your own habits is the first step. Once you notice the regular tone of your self-talk, particularly as it pertains to your substance use, you’ll be able to start making adjustments. These changes may be small at first, but that’s the best way to implement serious shifts in your thought patterns, which is a difficult enough task on its own. Pushing your own “emotional buttons” is like getting into a fight with yourself which, obviously, you won’t be able to win no matter what.
Often, the source of the negative self-talk is external, warped messages from family, friends and others. When in treatment for addiction, you will likely receive a lot of advice and suggestions, some of which comes from those who don’t know what you’re going through. Your recovery from substance use is a personal and serious experience and, usually, these people are only trying to help. As a rule, take the advice of non-professionals with a grain of salt and be aware of how those words may affect your internal dialogue. A relative may not see the steps you’ve taken and thus may be more belittling, but you do know what you’ve been through and done and are therefore responsible for appreciating those efforts.
“Taking control of your thinking involves challenging negative thoughts whenever and wherever they occur.” They’ll happen everywhere and at any time, which is just how the brain works. It’s difficult and inconvenient and can be discouraging, particularly if you’re already feeling down about something else. However, noticing and standing up to those negative thoughts can start to make long-term changes in how you speak to yourself. If a parent doesn’t appreciate the steps you’ve taken to eliminate substance use, consider factors in that parent’s life that may make them more cynical, whether on a large or small scale (they may not have succeeded in their own previous abstinence efforts, or they may be having a difficult week at work). Take stock of the positives, which are much better evidence toward how you’re doing than your (perhaps imagined) failings.
Negative self-talk is a vicious cycle that may make it seemingly impossible to emerge from a period of substance use. However, you have the power to make those changes within yourself and to begin a more beneficial, automatic reaction that will have lasting impacts. For more information about substance use treatment, get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center, and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.
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About The Bergand Group:
At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehabilitation and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]