The Power of Positive Self-talk
“You can't tell me what to do.” This phrase echoed through our heads and passed through our lips early on in life and, honestly, persists today. Maybe this is true for everybody, but for us, it seemed to be so prevalent and, in the end, caused so much misdirection and destruction in our lives. The consequence of this self-talk took us to places we ultimately regretted. Our stubborn stand wedged us from life's beautiful potential.
“We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.”
Alcoholics Anonymous has taught us to live in the present. We have come to a place of comfort in knowing that the past cannot be changed and that the future is yet to play out.
We so value the experiences we have had as they shape better the decisions of the moment.
We didn’t know the fire was hot until we touched it once. We didn’t realize our stubbornness and internal soundbites threatened our peace until we felt the heat. We had to examine how our attitude and approach affected our beliefs and actions.
So, today becomes an opportunity to transform - to take the lessons of the past and carry a new practice into the future.
“Can’t” can become “Can.”
“Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery."
The genius of the AA program is that it is, by default, not an instruction guide but rather a suggested course of recovery. Genius. For had we walked into a meeting and been told what we “had” to do, we would have instinctively turned right around and walked out those doors doomed to death.
Herein lies the great dichotomy: the suggestions are inherently instructions.
“Don’t” becomes “do.”
A whole new world was opened to us when we realized that what we were being told what to do was for the very best for us. This took a reset and actual inner voice and tone change. We shifted from “Have to” to “Get to”. This we learned in the rooms as well.
The reprogramming process takes practice, but it is well worth it. Simple applications change the state from “I can't have a drink” to “I can enjoy this event”; “I shouldn't go to the bar” to “I could save a bunch of money”: “I don’t want to make amends” to “I do want to feel better”; “I can't drink at my daughter's wedding” to “I can act with honor at family gatherings.”;” I shouldn’t act in anger” to “I should show love in all scenarios”; “I won’t stew in the past” to “I will look forward with confidence”; “I must not drink” to “I can live a healthy life”; “I shouldn’t be dishonest” to “I shall live in integrity.”; “I need to follow these instructions” to “I want to build something rightly,”; “I won't forgive,” to “I ought free myself from the weight of unforgiveness”; “It is not possible” to “It is feasible.”; “This can't be good” “This could be a growing experience.”; “I am a chronic relapse” to “I am confident in my recovery.” “I can’t change” to “I will work toward a better life.”;
The examples are endless as the list above is just a conversation starter, and the point is that it MATTERS how we talk to ourselves.
Everything starts with an observation that then triggers reactions that begin in our head and end up in actions. In between is the self-talk. This is where we are most vulnerable and have the greatest opportunity to frame our responses and impact the outcome.
“Choose wisely” is our suggestion to ourselves.
This morning, we woke up in bed, not in a ditch, a hospital bed, or jail. We don't have to live today - we get to.
What do you get to do today?
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a sober.coffee podcast titled “Karen Joins - Avoiding Triggers and Traps”….The podcast dropped on 10/20/2021. Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.