How We Talk To Ourselves Matters
It’s apparent to almost anyone who interacts with others on a daily basis that how we talk to other people is important. It matters – the words we say and how we say them. If we aren’t paying attention, our words can easily cause conflict, misunderstanding, or hurt. Luckily, the 12-Steps teach us very well how to take care of our words and actions regarding others.
It is easy to see, with time and 12-Step work, how the principles of the 12-Steps and the actions they suggest can repair broken or strained relationships and help us forge new, healthy relationships. Indeed, one of the major focuses of recovery, and the 12-Steps, is to help us have and maintain healthy relationships with others.
Many of these relationship tools can be applied inwardly as well – to explore how we talk to ourselves. Just as we must act and speak with concern, attention, and love to others, we would be wise to treat ourselves the same way. Unfortunately, this is often a struggle.
Time spent in addiction and alcoholism can breed and reinforce a negative, even nasty, inner dialogue. We often beat ourselves up, over and over again, for things we think we did wrong or should have done. We tell ourselves that we do not like who we are.
This negative self-talk is not only emotional self-abuse, but it can delay us experiencing the full force of the benefits of recovery. It also goes against one of recovery’s great tenets, which is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to our higher power and our fellows. Changing your inner voice can change your life.
Understand and Accept Where You Are
Most of us are not healthy, whole, or well-adjusted when we find Jaywalker Lodge. We have been through the wringer of alcoholism and addiction and we are often worse for the wear. We aren’t meant to be perfect – when we accept that we are human and forgive our own mistakes, it sets us on a course of learning, growth, and improvement.
We can begin a new journey in recovery, right where we are, and go anywhere we’d like to from there. But nobody wants to work for someone who mentally and verbally abuses them. We have to get on our own team, just as the people we meet in recovery at Jaywalker Lodge will guide us, cheer us on, and council us. We must do these same things for ourselves, even as we learn to do them for others. None of us are perfect – we all have growing to do.
We must actively try to stop beating ourselves up about where we are in our lives, and understand that recovery is a beautiful opportunity to learn, grow, and work our way to being anyone and anywhere we’d like to be in life.
Use a Kind Voice
Most of us spent lots of time in our disease isolated from others. Now, in recovery, we are getting better at socializing and spending more time with people. We are alone much less. But we still spend all that time with ourselves – whether at home or in a meeting, we are always with us. That’s a lot of time we spend with ourselves!
Constantly beating ourselves up or rehashing our mistakes can wear us out quickly. It can make us want to isolate, ignore a helping hand, or avoid an important lesson or opportunity. We can feel unworthy of the gifts of sobriety because we’ve spent all our time telling ourselves we don’t deserve it.
It’s vital to break this negative inner dialogue. It does not serve others, it does not serve our higher power, and it really doesn’t serve us. Learning how to speak positively to ourselves can take some practice. But with the help of the 12-Steps, our sponsor, and our higher power we can at least begin to speak objectively to ourselves.
We do inventory and we talk and pray about our thoughts. We begin to see more clearly as we stay in 12-Step work. It helps to remember that we are not bad people – we are people with the disease of alcoholism and addiction. You don’t speak negatively to someone who is sick. You help and encourage them with positive self-talk.
What Does Positive Self-Talk Do?
The short answer is it guides most of our thinking, attitudes, and behavior. Whether we pay attention to it or not, we spend almost all day thinking and talking to ourselves. The voice we use helps govern how we respond to situations, expectations, and fears. Positive self-talk can keep us physically and mentally healthy, affect our energy levels and immune system, and help free us from worry and expectation. It does a lot more than we may realize.
The 12-Step program of recovery can produce unbelievable and wonderful changes in our lives, no matter how we talk to ourselves. Our higher power is not often limited by our inner dialogue, but we are. Miracles will happen in recovery when we do the 12-Steps – but if we use positive self-talk as we do the work, it can have amazing benefits. It may just be the little piece of the puzzle that helps us to fully embrace all the positive changes that come to us in a sober life.
It’s important to treat yourself like someone you care about. If you’re not on your own team just yet, let us be there for you. At Jaywalker Lodge, you already are someone we’d love to help. We can introduce you to the tools you’ll need to begin a life of recovery. Call us today at (866) 529-9255.