You might have voices of doubt telling you that change is not possible. In the past, it may have had you convinced you were not capable of amounting to anything, and that no one in your family amounted to much.
Those messages, instilled in you from the time you were born, contributed to how you view yourself in the world, and importantly, what you believe the world thinks of you. If, as a child, you were encouraged to try new things without fear of shaming when you made a mistake, you stood a better chance of establishing efficacy, the belief that you are capable of achieving great things. On the other hand, if you experienced shaming or ridicule, no matter your natural intelligence or gifts, following through with the goals and desires you have for your life can be a struggle.
Anyone attempting to make changes in his or her life face resistance. Preferring familiar comforts over uncertainty, the brain is hard-wired to want things to stay as they are. Negative messaging prevents you from realizing this, encouraging you to believe natural resistance as the truth.
If you recognize this in yourself, working with your therapist during intensive substance abuse rehabilitation is crucial. Telling that messaging to shut up, literally, is the first step on a long journey to believing in your ability to follow through with your goal to end substance abuse. The right support is essential because without it, no matter how much encouragement you are given, it will have no meaning without the capacity to believe it.
Hit the Pause Button
Every experience you have provides an opportunity to either validate the negative messaging or re-write it. It is vital that, over time, you continue to surround yourself with healthy, non-emotionally abusive relationships that do not derive their power from demeaning your intelligence or capabilities. Your support counselor will help you recognize what healthy relationships look like and how to minimize contact with or avoid those that fail the health test.
Recognize Fixed Mindsets
Fixed mindsets prevent growth. As demonstrated above, our brain hates change. Fear, also opposed to change, loves that your mind hates new stuff and will happily dispatch the same loud-mouthed goal crusher you’ve been dealing with for years.
Just as with addiction, knowing is half the battle. But with the help of conscious thinking, it is a battle you can win.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal can be very beneficial. If writing is not your thing, hit the record button on your phone. Whatever your preference, write or talk about any area of success in your life, no matter how insignificant it may seem. However you choose to journal, make it something that works for you. Ask your addiction support counselor for suggestions. Your journal might include entries that look or sound a bit like this:
- the time I helped another person
- the time I fixed my car
- the time I rescued that dog
- the time I took a yoga class
- the time I got my landlord to return my security deposit
- ..and so on.
Notice that there aren’t any hard skills on the list? Instead, your list includes examples of events, no matter how small, during which you constructively handled a situation. By writing or recording these experiences, you are taking the first steps to rewire negative thought distortions.
Next time you begin a conversation, listen to the language you are using. Do you always use the word “always”?
- I always make a mess of things.
- I could never speak in public; I always mess up or get nervous.
- I don’t have any willpower; I always cheat and go back to old habits.
Try this Instead
- I have had challenges in the past; however, I am overcoming them and doing the best that I can.
- I have never spoken in public before because the idea makes me anxious. I have avoided public speaking. With a little training, however, I might be open to the idea.
- I notice that whenever I am stressed, maintaining my willpower is difficult. This time though, with the right help, I am learning to deal with my anxiety.
Ask yourself: Which list is more empowering?
You might be familiar with the voice of doubt telling you that change is not possible, that you are not capable of amounting to anything, and that no one in your family amounted to much. Telling that messaging to “shut up” allows you to talk over the noise–to rewrite the negative script with your own story. When you are ready to make a committed change, the Detox Center of Colorado is ready to partner with you. Offering care for both substance abuse and mental health issues and surrounded by the breath-taking natural landscape of the Rocky Mountains, we provide a specialized care model that includes support and aftercare planning. Our solution-based residence program teaches you coping skills aimed at accountability and recovery. No matter where you are in your recovery, we look forward to exploring the range of supportive treatment options available to you. Call the Detox Center of Colorado at (303) 952-5035.