• How to Live a Life of Positive Self-Talk

    How to Live a Life of Positive Self-Talk

    Remember when you were young and you were told that we all have both an angel and a devil sitting on our shoulders? The angel is perched on our right and the devil on our left side. The angel represents morality and the voice of integrity in helping us make decisions. The devil is a sign of temptation and the voice trying to get us into trouble.

    These proverbial angel and devil on our shoulders are a lot like self-talk. Everyone has positive and negative internal conversations with themselves on a daily basis. A mild example of these two competing voices could be an internal argument about something simple, such as getting up early for a workout.

    The positive voice would be encouraging as it recognizes the advantages of getting out of bed and exercising. The devil would attempt to justify ignoring the alarm and providing excuses such as, “I’ll work out later tonight. Right now, I’ll enjoy more sleep.”

    The Power of Thoughts

    At any given time, each one of us has a running conversation going on in our heads whether we recognize it or not. This mental chatter constantly influences our perception of the world and how we act in it.

    After a while, our internal commentaries can even become self-fulfilling prophecies.

    Positive self-talk, such as affirmations, are especially important to recovering addicts. Believing you can be sober is very empowering and offers significant motivation toward success. On the other hand, negative self-talk, if allowed to become dominant, moves the addict to a destructive self-fulfilling prophecy and creates harmful situations that sabotage success.

    Steps Toward Positive Self-Talk a Daily Habit

    The habit of negative self-talk has absolutely no benefit for anyone at any time. Regretfully, this destructive voice may become so ingrained that the person is not even aware they are engaging in damaging internal conversations.

    The following four steps can help guide you or someone you love toward more constructive, confident and encouraging thoughts and provide you with the support you need when times get tough.

    1. Awareness

    Becoming mindful of discouraging thoughts entering your mind is a vital and very difficult first step. Frequently, addicts become programmed by outside influences to believe they are “bad” people and “can never be helped.” It is no wonder depression can easily become the overriding emotion in individuals who engage in substance abuse.

    If you can stop and identify negative trigger words such as “I can’t” or “I won’t” or “I’ll fail,” you will increase your awareness of the negative self-talk.Then, whenever these discouraging trigger words enter your mind, immediately substitute them with uplifting or motivational thoughts. Instead, say, “Why not try?” or “Yes, I can.” It won’t be easy or quick to form this new awareness, but it is a crucial first step.

    2. Visualize

    Addicts often become accustomed and even comfortable with the negative outcome of their actions. Some former alcoholics and drug abusers admitted they had to “rewrite their scripts” in order to become healthy. They literally had to stop the negative self-talk that visualized failure and replace the image with a clear vision of a positive outcome.

    3. Eliminate Adverse Influences

    Whether you are suffering from an addiction or not, surrounding yourself with undesirable or even toxic people increases negative emotions and damaging self-talk. Engaging with other people who exude positive energy and encouragement is essential. Their unquestionable support will allow you to reach your potential and replace disparaging self-talk with uplifting affirmations.

    4. Focus on Enjoyment

    Recovery is an intense process, so the thoughts that are created in an addict’s mind can become overwhelming and confusing. Instead of becoming engulfed in these detrimental scenarios, step back and remind yourself what brings you joy. And then be grateful for the occasions and actions that bring you happiness.

    It will take constant practice for this to become a conscious habit, but being thankful and appreciative of what you have will do wonders for your internal state-of-mind.

    Audrey Beim holds two advanced degrees from major universities, including a Master’s Degree in Psychology. She has over 20 years of experience in the health, wellness, nutritional and fitness categories and has used her expertise to write articles for media outlets such as Linfield Media and Examiner.com.

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