Whether we realize it or not, we are always telling ourselves a story. Most of the time, we tell ourselves a story to help us make sense of a difficult situation. These stories, however, aren’t always based on truth. In fact, they are often a way for us to avoid the pain of admitting that we are vulnerable. Brené Brown is a research professor and author, but you might know her from her TED talk, The Power of Vulnerability. This talk is one of the top five most viewed TED talks worldwide. Brown has talked a lot about the importance of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, and one way to do this is to take note of the story you are telling yourself. Self-talk is an integral part of recovery. Sober Life is here to help you navigate through the story you are telling yourself and figure out ways to challenge and rewrite these stories.
The Self-Talk Cycle
Without even realizing it, your thoughts impact almost everything about you. Your feelings, actions, and behaviors are all motivated by your thoughts. If you aren’t paying attention to your thoughts regularly, they may be running wild and impacting you negatively. Think about the last time you woke up in a bad mood. Maybe you didn’t sleep well, and now you’re going to be exhausted as you trudge through your day. You’re already annoyed, and then you realize that you’re all out of coffee. You’ve got a big meeting today, and the added exhaustion and frustration are only making things more stressful. The more roadblocks you encounter, the more negative your thoughts become. You begin to think that the bad mood you woke up with was a sign that nothing would go right today. This cycle of negativity is holding you back, and you find yourself unprepared for your meeting. You really didn’t need this spiral today.
While we’ve all dealt with the negative cycle of self-talk before, the good thing is that you do have the power to press pause on the spiral. You don’t have to let yourself spiral until you hit rock bottom. The sooner you recognize the cycle, the sooner you can press pause and create some space between yourself and your thoughts. The key is to figure out the story that you are telling yourself.
The first step to pressing pause is to notice the story. Once you realize that you’re beginning to spiral, stop and face the facts. Make a mental note of what is actually true. Compare the facts to your story and figure out if there is any rationality to the information you’re telling yourself. If your cynical tale is based in fiction — it usually is — you have the power to regain control.
Part of pressing pause on your negative thought spiral is turning off autopilot mode. Too often, we go through our day without giving much thought to the things that we do. We might be doing something out of habit that may not even be serving us well. Start by setting intentions for your day. If a situation starts to veer off course, you’ll be able to remind yourself that you are only doing things that will help you reach your goals. Disrupting the routine of negativity is crucial. For example, if you had noticed the lousy mood immediately when you woke up, you could have disrupted it by doing something that would relieve stress and give you a fresh outlook for your day. You could’ve gone for a run, practiced yoga, or used mindfulness techniques. These things are only helpful when you are aware that the negative self-talk is there.
Get to the Root of Your Story
Another way to disrupt the negative self-talk and change course is to get to the root of the story you tell yourself. If you realize that the information is irrational and based on fiction, try to figure out why these thoughts are there and where they have come from. Using the example above, that bad mood you woke up with set a negative tone for the day. If you look below the surface, you might realize that you were worried about the meeting you had and didn’t want to make a bad impression or say something wrong. Think about why this is the case. Have you been in a situation before where a crucial meeting turned disastrous? What was the outcome? How can you prepare for this meeting so that you are ready to perform well? The more you understand the story you are telling yourself, the better equipped you are to deal with it rationally.
Take Action Into Your Own Hands
Only you can press pause on your thoughts. Once you are aware of the negative self-talk, weigh the pros and cons of the situation. What’s the worst that can happen? What the best that can happen? What choices can you make that will set you up for success? A great way to do this is to keep a thought journal. Write down the initial thought and how you are feeling as a result of it. Then, assess whether or not it is fact or fiction. Lastly, write down how you can reframe the situation to take action against the negative thought. Use this rewritten thought like a mantra for your day. Check in with yourself throughout the day and make sure you aren’t in a thought spiral. You have the power to figure out the story you are telling yourself. Make that story work for you.
Sober Life can help you work on your self-talk in your recovery from substance abuse. If you are dealing with intense, negative thoughts and emotions, you aren’t alone. You may have turned to substances as a way to help cope with these thoughts and emotions, but your substance abuse is fueling them. Sober Life can help you break that cycle. We can help you press pause and take a look at how you can take recovery into your own hands. Have the courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable and ask for the help you deserve. Our staff is ready and willing to help you find success in sobriety. Call Sober Life today at (619) 542-9542. We can’t wait to speak with you today! Call us now!