Self-talk in Your Recovery

Self-talk is the voice within our mind, it is our thinking, our inner conversation. Self-talk plays a very important role in building our self-esteem, we need to pay attention to the language that we use on a daily basis. Self-talk can be supportive or destructive. We think in words. Words are extremely powerful more than we sometime realise, they can be healing or damaging. Word is one of the smallest units of speech or writing that is the smallest isolable meaningful element of the language. Words are the foundation building blocks for human change and improvement. They provide us with many of the problems and indeed many solutions to life’s woes and difficulties. They can allow us to grow, develop and succeed while on the otherhand, using them poorly can cause stagnation and hardship.

Words are the drops of water in the sea of the language, but without the drops there is no sea. When people find recovery very difficult and go through confusing states of mind, sometimes it helps to just focus on the words they use in their communication. In recovery we learn to talk nicely to ourselves and other people as well.

Destructive Self Talk:                                          Challenge with:

I will never be able to do this                                   I will have a go, and see how I get on

I can’t…                                                                        I do not want to…

I do not know                                                             I will find out or I wonder

I should                                                                       I would like to


Learn to avoid the use of ‘imperatives’ such as :

I should

I ought

I must

Replace them with words that imply choice:

I could

I want

I can

I choose

Should – implies pressure, something we feel obliged to do rather than something we want to do. It is more productive to remove these words and replace them with words that give us choice. Should makes us feel pressured, it is strongly connected with guilt, living in the past, failure, shame, negative self-image, regret, frustration and expectations. When “should” is used to communicate about others it is also negative. It is connected with blame and also our expectations of others. We sometimes feel others aren’t behaving according to our expectations – we often feel they “should” act differently.

Have to – It implies you are being forced to do something. It is something you “have to do” rather than want to do. This word is also closely connected with expectations and eliminate choice and free will.

Remember: We need to think assertively before we can behave assertively.