Recovery Tip: Pay Attention to How People Talk to You — And How You Talk to Yourself

We hear a lot of voices each and every day. We hear our family, our friends, our coworkers, our bosses, our baristas, and plenty more. 

Each and every one of the voices has a message to share with us. That message can be kind and helpful. That message can be meanspirited and uncalled for. A great many of the messages we hear throughout the day are somewhere in the middle.

Meanwhile, we also hear the voices of all sorts of folks who are far away but who reach us via our radios, televisions, computers, devices, and other sources. Those voices might be calming and reassuring. Those voices might be angry and agitating. A great many of these voices are somewhere in the middle. 

And then there is your very own voice—the voice in your head that is narrating your life and passing judgment on most everything you do. That voice can be discouraging or encouraging. If we are being honest, most people find that their inner voices tend to focus on the negative rather than the positive.

All of these voices wash over us all day, every day. Because the flow never stops, we seldom take stock of the overall impact these voices have on our mental health. But our tendency not to think about it doesn’t mean that there is no impact on our mental well-being. And given that good mental health and ongoing sobriety are deeply intertwined, failing to spot potential problems related to your mental wellness can endanger your sobriety.

We have some tips for making sure you hear more voices that are supportive—and fewer that are discouraging.

Make a List. Then Make Some Decisions.

One way to get yourself thinking more deeply about how the people in your life talk to you and how that impacts your mental health is to make a list. Write down the primary people in your life—friends, family, coworkers, those at your church or other house of worship, and more. Think for a moment about your usual interactions with them. Do they leave you feeling energized or drained? Are they kind or critical? Do they listen, or do they just wait for their turn to talk?

If you find that you have one or more people on your list who consistently bring you down, it is time to make some choices. In some cases, you might be able to simply minimize the amount of time you spend with a person. In other cases, you might have to muster your courage and gently let someone know that the way they tend to talk to you is unhelpful—maybe even harmful. In a few cases, you might have to accept that a person must remain in your life despite their tendency to speak to you in negative ways. In those cases, remind yourself that this person’s opinion is not the final word on you or your worth.

Consider the Source. Then Make Some Changes.

When it comes to your media intake, you have the power to make the same sorts of decisions we have noted above. Does a particular news outlet leave you feeling angry or unsettled each time you tune in? Try engaging less—or finding an alternative. Does your social media feed make you feel depressed or less successful than others or riled up? Again, try engaging less—and culling your list of friends and followers so that negative or upsetting voices have less of a presence. Taking the time to consider your full media diet and adjusting it so that it offers more positivity is a good way to support your mental health.

Listen to Yourself. Then Make Some Improvements.

As we have noted in a previous blog entry, our inner voices often seem to be rooting against us. And that is simply not helpful when a person is trying to maintain good mental health and their sobriety.

Take a little time to really listen to what you say to yourself in the privacy of your own head. If the voice is not providing a healthy dose of encouragement and support, it is time to change your internal messaging. 

You Should Listen to the Voices Telling You to Get Help

Are the people in your life urging you to get treatment for a substance use disorder? Is your own inner voice pointing out to you that using drugs or alcohol is making things worse and worse the longer you do it? Those are voices worth listening to.

At The Aviary Recovery Center, near St. Louis, MO, we will help you regain and maintain your sobriety. And all you will hear from us is encouragement and support. We are ready to get started whenever you are.