If you are a negative self-talker, you may not even be aware of it.
Thinking the worst can be second nature after years of doing it. But it can be influencing how you live life and keeping you from getting the best out of it. Thinking drinking or drugging will continue the downward slide. Here’s how to cut back on negative self-talk.
It’s Not All in Your Head
Self-talk isn’t just mindless chatter. It has a way of creating its own reality. Telling yourself you can do something can help it happen. Telling yourself that the 12 Step program is too hard and you will never get clean or sober and you will not listen to speakers at meetings.
Telling yourself that if they can do it, I can too will see your throw yourself into the program – 12 steps, service, 12th step work, getting a sponsor etc.
In fact, people who think negatively tend to be less outgoing and have weaker social networks than positive thinkers. Multiple studies link positive emotions with more satisfying relationships, more sobriety, more romance, and lower rates of divorce.
Avoid a Downward Spiral
Negative self-talk can be a runaway train. Your mind goes around in circles replaying a negative event or your own shortcomings. People who ruminate dwell on negative feelings. You may think that you’re getting in touch with your true feelings, but bad feelings have a way of getting worse the more attention you give them.
The more you focus on negative events or shortcomings, the harder it is to put them behind you. Many times I have thought about that last binge I had and how hopeless I have become.
Talk Yourself Out of It
If negative self-talk came with an off switch, you could just flip it. But it doesn’t. It takes a plan and some work to tone it down. Here are four ways to make it happen:
- Distance yourself. You can’t banish negative self-talk forever, but you can take a step back from it. When you notice negative self-talk occurring.
- Distract yourself. “Over-thinking involves focusing on a train of thought that goes around and around, You can stop that train of thought by focusing on something else.” 12 Step Fellowships suggest calling your sponsor or going to a meeting is a way of focusing on another subject.
- Call them on it. Give your negative thoughts the third-degree and they could crumble. You might ask yourself, “Is that really true?” or “Is there another way to look at this situation?” You may also look for benefits. If you busted try to look at it as a learning experience. What actually lead to the event?
- Save them for later. Set aside a time of day for negative self-talk. If you hear yourself doubting, blaming, or comparing yourself to others at another time of day, tell yourself you will come back to the conversation later. When the appointed time arrives, your negative thoughts may have lost most of their oomph.
Make It Positive
Most people in recovery can admit to negative self-talk. I could drink today! I would like a drug fix! I’ll go gambling, just for a while!
Write down four words on a piece of paper to reinforce your new thinking style. Throughout the day, glance at them: “Sober, Fun. Smart. Effective.” And that is what will happen.
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