So many influences around us constantly tell us what success looks like. There are pictures and videos on social media, advertisements, our friends, family, and even strangers commenting on things with their opinion. The opinion of others is always there, even if it is unsolicited.
For a person with addiction, the harshed and loudest voice actually comes from within. The inner critical voice is the biggest enemy they face, and it knows all the secrets, and what hurts most. The negative thoughts from the inner voice drain away positive feelings and create self-doubt, distrust and frustration. So how do we silence this?
Where does the inner critical voice come from?
It might feel like the inner voice has been with us forever, as most of us can’t remember when it wasn’t there. This inner voice isn’t our conscience or intuition, but its own separate narrative. It’s often the result of an experience in our early childhood that has developed into beliefs about ourselves.
For example, if our parents spoke harshly to us or about themselves. If a child has heard their mother or father talk negatively about their appearance to themself, the child may end up doing the same. Our brain when we are very young is very malleable, and the messages we hear contribute towards building our belief systems.
For someone struggling with addiction, the inner voice can be a result of low self-worth and self-esteem from the very start of their disorder. The behavioural and mental symptoms can appear long before the actual substance use.
How do we silence this harsh voice?
The conversation between your critical voice and your true self goes back and forth constantly. When you add in the fear and low self-esteem from addiction, it can leave you fighting a difficult battle in your head, leading to being unable to make positive, healthy changes to your life. Tools learned in rehab treatment and support can help to find the reality outside of their mind.
Other processes to help with the critical inner voice include:
Be aware of your thoughts
When you’re aware that the critical inner voice is ‘taking over’ your conscience, you can pause to consider whether these thoughts are based on anything factual, or if it just comes to make you doubt yourself.
Realise what makes your critical inner voice start talking
Is it sensitive about your appearance? Or does it get loud when trying to make a new friend or hand in an assignment at work? When is your inner voice most critical? This can help you realise where it stemmed from.
Face the thoughts
Write down or tell your support network about the thoughts, and express how they make you feel. Remind yourself, and let your friends remind you that they are not real and you have qualities that deem them untrue.
Imagine your life if the thoughts were true
If you really were incapable of your current job, or you really were just pretending to be smart, then you wouldn’t be where you are now. This helps you to know the difference between your life and what’s being created by the voice.
Say positive affirmations
Write down all the positive opposite ideas to your critical voice, and remind yourself of them every day. Say these positive affirmations to yourself in the mirror every day, and drown away the negativity. Practice patience with yourself, and let this inner critic fade away.