When you buy a favorite movie or television program on DVD or Blu-ray, there is often a commentary track (even multiple commentary tracks) that you can listen to while the movie or show is playing. It might be the director talking about the process of shooting the film. It might be an actor or two telling funny stories from their time on the set. It might be the person who wrote the script talking about choices they made to move the story along. The commentary tends to overwhelm the dialogue or music or other sound cues from the film or episode you are watching—which is okay if you find the extra information interesting, but it is pretty distracting if you are just trying to watch and enjoy something.
Those commentary tracks are a lot like the inner voice most of us have in our head. The action of our lives is ongoing, and as it all unfurls, the inner voice generally has something to say about most everything. It is your inner voice that stresses you out by incessantly reminding you when you are running late on a project. It is your inner voice that tends to remind you of your mistakes or regrets. And it is your inner voice that might insist that you can’t possibly maintain your sobriety.
When that voice is constantly making negative comments, it can seem like an impartial third party is passing judgment and has decided you simply are not good enough. But it is important to remember that your inner voice is not some all-seeing and all-knowing arbiter of how your life and sobriety are going.
That inner voice is just you. And really, you should be kinder to yourself.
You Can Switch the Commentary from Negative to Positive
Let’s consider that commentary track again. Imagine that your favorite movie came with two commentary tracks—one by a critic who absolutely hated the film and another by a critic who truly loved the movie. Which one would you prefer to listen to? The odds are pretty good that if you like the movie, you are going to want to hear commentary from someone who also liked it. It might be interesting to hear the negative take, but you probably wouldn’t take it to heart. This is your favorite movie after all!
You could think of your inner commentary as having two possible slants as well. Your inner voice could be in the habit of chiding and criticizing you or it could be in the business of lifting you up and encouraging you. The latter sounds better, right? But so many people listen to the negative commentary instead.
It may feel as though you don’t have a choice about which kind of commentary plays in your head, but you do. We’ll say it again: Your inner voice is you, and you should be kinder to yourself.
We Affirm the Value of Affirmations
One way to work toward a more consistently positive inner commentary is to get in the habit of repeating affirmations to yourself. Having a set of positive comments you repeat internally (or even out loud) can feel awkward or silly at first. But the fact is that reminding yourself of a few positive things about yourself—“I am doing my best.” “I made a mistake, but I can learn from it.” “I worked hard to get sober, and I can stay sober.”—can, over time, have a powerful effect on your inner voice’s overall tone.
Helping your inner voice get in the habit of being kind and supportive is good for your self-esteem, your mental health, and your ongoing sobriety.
Here’s a Bit of Commentary from Us: You Should Get Help for a Substance Use Disorder
When you are in the grips of a substance use disorder, there is a good chance that your inner voice is not serving you well. It might be suggesting that you don’t really have a problem. It might be arguing that your life is such a mess that you might as well keep using drugs or alcohol. It might be telling you that things can never get better.
But the voice in your head when you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol is wholly unreliable. So here’s some straight talk that is worthy of your attention: The best way to reclaim your life and your sobriety is to get yourself into treatment. At The Aviary Recovery Center near St. Louis, Missouri, we offer personalized care grounded in expertise and compassion. We can help you regain and maintain your sobriety. Getting sober is an accomplishment your inner voice should take note of and celebrate.