After reflecting on behavior from when you were actively addicted, you may experience feelings of shame and guilt. This is extremely common and means that you’re working the steps correctly. However, remaining in this negative headspace can be detrimental to your mental health in the long term. High self-esteem is something you’ll begin to build in rehab. As you overcome the compulsion to use drugs or alcohol, you’ll also leave behind the person you were in active addiction. This second chance enables you to choose positivity by changing the tone of your innermost thoughts.
The Importance of Positivity
It can be challenging to maintain positivity and excitement in recovery, especially after you’ve accrued some days and settled into a routine. However, a good attitude is crucial to sustained sobriety. Low mood and negative affect are major contributors to relapse, which means that given the chance, one should seek out any opportunity to find a silver lining.
There has been a large body of research surrounding the topic of positivity. Studies show that it can boost the immune system, reduce stress levels, give you more energy, and make you more likely to achieve your goals. This is important because those who maintain a positive attitude reduce their risk of relapse, find happiness in sobriety, and handle potential obstacles much better than those who steep themselves in negativity. Believe it or not, one key way to stay positive is to keep a close watch on your tone.
How Tone Impacts Mood
Tone is defined by Merriam-Webster as an accent or inflection expressive of a mood or emotion. Put simply, sentences and written content alone carry only part of your meaning. The intent and feeling behind what you’re saying is conveyed through tone.
The concept of “tone” also includes how you speak to yourself. If your sense of humor is heavily self-deprecating or you berate yourself over small mistakes, you’re continually reinforcing a negative self-image.
According to Rick Hanson, Ph.D. and senior fellow of the Greater Good Center at UC Berkeley, paying attention to tone puts you more in touch with yourself. This is because you have to be aware of the feelings building inside – which also promotes mindfulness and the associated attitude of detached observance it includes. Keeping your tone under control prompts you to deal with any underlying negativity, and changes how you view the world.
Each of us has a collection of thoughts and messages that play over and over in our minds. This inner buzzing frames our reactions to life and its obstacles. Imagine two people: one who is constantly anxious about the opinions of others, and one who is self-confident and assumes the best. Who is more likely to handle rejection with grace? If you’re constantly worrying about how others perceive you, that particular neural pathway is well-worn and easy to access at the slightest urging. It’s not difficult to immediately spiral into thoughts blaming yourself for failed social interactions. On the other hand, if you consciously choose positive self-talk, you can cultivate an attitude of assurance and resilience.
Positive Self-Talk and Tone
Too often, we develop negative patterns of self-talk. We remember the critiques of our parents, teachers, friends, and family members. The brain is also particularly eager to hold onto negative feedback, as opposed to positive reinforcement. One of the key steps of therapy is to “overwrite” these harmful inner monologues with helpful, positive affirmations.
Attending one-on-one counseling sessions is a great avenue for improving the tone of your self-talk. You can also begin developing these habits by trying a few exercises yourself.
For example, write down some of the negative messages in your mind that undermine your ability to overcome substance use. Now, intentionally correct those negative thoughts with positive truths from your life. Be as specific as you can, and don’t worry if the rebuttals don’t come to mind quickly. These truths always exist, but they can be hard to see if you’re only reinforcing negative thought patterns.
Dr. Gregory Jantz, author and founder of The Center: A Place of HOPE, writes, “Positive talk is not self-deception. It is not mentally looking at circumstances with eyes that see only what you want to see. Rather, positive self-talk is about recognizing the truth, in situations and in yourself.”
Your Partner in Recovery
Segue Recovery Support is a part of the BRC Family of Programs. Since 2006, we have worked tirelessly to provide ongoing support through all phases of the recovery process. We believe that addiction is a chronic illness, requiring proven, evidence-based treatment.
Today, Segue provides comprehensive aftercare services accredited by the Joint Commission. If you or a loved one require additional mental health support in your sobriety, don’t hesitate to call 1-866-905-4550.