We all have that little voice inside our heads making the “director’s commentary”, the narrator that judges the outcome of our past actions and makes assumptions about our future ones. The inner voice represents our train of thoughts and, since our thoughts determine our actions, it is important to learn how to channel it and steer it towards the right decisions. Let’s elaborate.
The Typical Inner Voice of the Addict
For addicts and recovering alcoholics, transforming the negative chatter into something more positive and constructive seems impossible. Since they’ve become so accustomed to the negative mindset, the overwhelming guilt and pessimism about the future, the inner voice just goes on and on about how they’re going to fail next. After a while, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But Your Voice Can’t Always Cheer For You, Right?
I don’t want you to get me wrong, nobody’s inner voice is a 24/7 cheerleader, providing standing ovations irrespective of the situation. No one’s train of thought is always riding the rainbow tracks covered with rose petals to the island of pink unicorns. However, when the negative emotions assume direct control of your mind and dominate your inner voice, then you have a problem. As long as you grip to bitterness, resentment for yourself and your past actions, guilt, and anxiety, your relapse is imminent.
The Things Your Mind Tells You That You Should Learn How to Dismiss
Let me compile, from my own experience as recovering alcoholic and the numerous personal stories I’ve heard in various support group meetings, the absolute worst thoughts that can go through your head in the struggle to remain sober after rehab:
- You can’t start learning a new profession, you’re too old for this!
- There’s no way you can take up sports after heavily drinking for 20 years, you’re not in shape.
- I can’t believe you said that thing 5 years ago, how can you live with yourself?
- This can only turn out badly, don’t even bother trying…
- You actually believe they’re going to give you another shot? No way, there’s no point asking…
- The damage you’ve done to your marriage is irreparable, she’s probably already having an affair
- Your friends are definitely badmouthing you behind your back, just look at how they’re conspicuously smiling
All this and other variations constitute nothing but unproductive thoughts that are barriers on your path to adapting to a fulfilling life of sobriety. I know because the first time I relapsed, these voices were always on my case and no, I’m not suffering from schizophrenia.
What I’ve Learned About Silencing the Negative Voice
Learning how to think more critically was perhaps my best decision at that point. What I mean by that is that every time the pessimistic thoughts about my odds of success in a certain matter came up, I learned how to immediately question its logical basis. When you challenge the voice that says you won’t succeed, you’ll immediately learn that it has no arguments for this claim.
Another thing I learned during my rehab program that really helped me overcome the negativity and fear of failure was recording my successes – no matter how small – in a journal, which I turned to every time I felt pessimistic about a project’s chances.