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The Importance of Positive Self-Talk During Addiction Recovery

Positive self-talk is an essential part of our daily lives but is particularly important during the process of addiction recovery.

Without even realizing it, we are constantly engaging in an internal dialogue with ourselves. This conversation takes place almost all day, every single day.

So, we should ask ourselves what is the theme of this conversation and what are we telling ourselves every day?

Are we breaking ourselves down, telling ourselves lies about our worth or capabilities? Or, are we lifting ourselves up with positive thoughts and gentle reminders that it’s okay to stumble here and there, as long as we get back up again?

positive self talk

Why is Positive Self-Talk Important During Addiction Recovery?

Negative self-talk encourages us to feel shame or guilt which are often considered stepping stones towards relapse; using our substance of choice may help us numb the shameful feelings we are experiencing.

However, with a little bit of hard work and dedication, we can use positive self-talk to re-program the way we perceive ourselves and, in turn, the way we communicate with ourselves.

Positive Self-Talk Benefits

Although there are many anecdotal benefits of positive self-talk, there are a few which are particular evident:

  • Decreased anxiety
  • Development of healthy coping strategies, especially during challenging times
  • Decreased feelings of depression
  • Improved energy and feelings of vitality
  • Willingness to face daily challenges
  • An improved self-image, increased self confidence

Positive Self-Talk Exercises for Addiction Recovery

Managing self-talk is something that takes practice and requires awareness. There are a few simple exercises that can help us change the way we speak to ourselves through our thoughts.


When you are sitting quietly, take a moment to observe your thoughts without any judgment. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, don’t respond with more negative thoughts about it.

The first step to changing something is to be aware of it. So, when we identify negative thoughts, we can start by asking “would I say this to someone I love?”

This is a great way to distinguish between loving and destructive thoughts. If we wouldn’t use these words when speaking to someone we love, then we shouldn’t be saying them to ourselves.

At this stage, a great way to deflect the negativity is to say “this is not compassionate or constructive” or “I do not allow these thoughts into my space.”

We can then replace these destructive words with ones that are more compassionate and forgiving, like “it’s okay to make mistakes, I will try again” or “my past does not define who I am, I am trying my best.”

Another question we can ask ourselves when we find ourselves thinking negatively about ourselves is “am I speaking the truth?”

Negative self-talk is mostly made of unforgiving and over-criticizing thoughts about ourselves, who we are and what we are capable of.

Are we telling ourselves that we are incapable of achieving our dreams? Do we believe that we are not worthy of love?

These words are untruthful and hurtful. We should replace these with “I am capable of achieving my dreams” and “I am worthy of love and forgiveness.”

Positive self talk


Another way to learn positive self-talk is to write down daily affirmations for ourselves every day, or every week.

An example of a positive affirmation is “I am strong, I am beautiful, I matter.” The beauty of affirmations is that we can create our own, based on where we are mentally and emotionally.

We can start each day saying our affirmations out loud every morning, throughout the day and before going to sleep.

By using daily affirmations, we will soon forget how to speak negatively towards ourselves.


As humans, we often fall into the “victim” state which compromises our ability to be grateful for the things we have.

However, if we take just a few minutes in each day to name 3 things that we are grateful for, we begin to realize that we are often blessed beyond measure.

By focusing on what we are grateful for, we stop giving energy to our problems which are not always as bad as we make them out to be.

Addiction Recovery and Positive Self-Talk

Addiction recovery is a challenging but extremely rewarding journey. The key to a successful recovery is to be patient, forgiving, compassionate towards ourselves.

This journey is all about being gentle with ourselves and accepting of our past mistakes, knowing that we are working towards a brighter future.

Positive self-talk can be instrumental in a successful journey towards sobriety. It’s all about self-love.

Step Away – Rehabilitation Centre South Africa

Daily self-talk exercises can help us rewire the way we communicate with ourselves, giving us the power to deflect negative thoughts before they accumulate and fester internally.

For more information about the importance of positive self-talk during addiction recovery, or to learn more about our programs, please feel free to contact us.

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