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People recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) may struggle with internalized stigmas, shame, guilt, and other negative feelings. Everyone has a voice in their head tearing them down or building them up. The internal monologue is called “self-talk,” and it profoundly affects mental health. According to the Review of Philosophy and Psychology, “The self talk we engage in may be overt or covert, and is associated with a variety of higher mental functions, including reasoning, problem solving, planning and plan execution, attention, and motivation.” Clinicians at West Coast Recovery Centers help clients identify negative self-talk and replace it with positive self-talk. 

How Does Your Internal Story Affect Your Mental Health?

Everyone has an internal story they use to direct how they interact with others. According to The Shadow Work Workbook by Jor-El Caraballo, “As we live so much of our world inside our own minds, we construct realities based on how we make sense of our world around us . . . You can’t help but see the world through the filter of your own history and experiences.” Internal stories impact how people think, behave, and feel. In addition, they are directly linked to a person’s self-perception. 

Internal stories impact mental health in multiple ways, including: 

  • How people think about themselves affects how they treat themselves and others 
  • Mental health issues and SUD may cause people to have distorted self-perceptions and believe negative things about themselves
  • How people treat others affects their self-image 

Mental health is affected by a person’s beliefs and how they choose to think about themselves and others. For example, if someone has an internal story telling them they are a “bad person,” they may experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. In addition, some people misuse substances as a form of self-medication to cope with mental health issues caused by negative self-talk and destructive internal stories. 

Negative Self-Talk Significantly Affects Recovery

Many individuals diagnosed with SUD have internalized stigmas affecting their mental health. Some people may struggle to let go of painful and untrue beliefs about themselves. Individuals may find it easier to continue negative self-talk instead of taking the steps necessary to address the underlying issues affecting their recovery. 

Negative self-talk affects long-term recovery by doing the following: 

  • Increasing the risk of developing co-occurring mental health disorders 
  • Decreasing self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy
  • Increasing the severity of symptoms 

Negative self-talk is a part of everyone’s experience. However, people can avoid negativity and instead focus on the positive aspects of their experiences. Self-awareness is essential to positive self-talk. Many people benefit from finding ways to improve self-awareness during and after treatment. 

Mindfulness and meditation are two common ways people in recovery increase self-awareness and objectivity. The more aware people are of their limits and needs, the less likely they are to engage in unhealthy behaviors.

Increasing Self-Awareness Using Positive Self-Talk

Self-awareness is easier to improve when people use multiple methods to center themselves in the moment. Exercise, breathwork, mindfulness-based therapies, and self-talk improve self-awareness and allow people to gain better control over their emotions. West Coast Recovery Centers uses evidence-based and alternative holistic treatments to help clients improve self-awareness and heal from the damaging effects of substance misuse. 

What Is Positive Self-Talk?

Positive self-talk involves uplifting thoughts or beliefs that make people feel good about themselves and motivate them to make healthier decisions. Many people think of positive self-talk as “looking on the bright side” of life experiences. 

Self-talk alone is not enough to improve a person’s mental health. However, self-talk combined with mindfulness and increased self-awareness helps clients achieve emotional stability. According to Behavioral Sciences, “There is good evidence to suggest that trait mindfulness, self-compassion, and self-talk play a significant role in psychological management and self-regulation.”

How to Use Positive Self-Talk Each Day

People benefit from regularly practicing positive self-talk instead of focusing on negative emotions or thoughts. For example, someone struggling with depressive symptoms may worry they will never feel happy again. Using positive self-talk, they can remind themselves of recent moments when they felt happy and activities they can do to improve their mood. “I feel sad right now, but that feeling won’t last forever” or “I want to cry, but I can watch a happy video about baby animals instead” are examples of how people can acknowledge their negative feelings while maintaining positive self-talk. 

Some additional ways people use positive self-talk include: 

  • Spending a few minutes at the beginning and end of the day reframing experiences and expectations in a positive way
  • Repeating positive affirmations every day and during stressful moments throughout the day
  • Combatting negative thoughts with positive alternatives by focusing on the “silver lining” of every situation

West Coast Recovery Centers helps clients improve positivity and use self-talk to counter negative thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. Clients are provided with the tools they need to replace unhelpful or toxic thoughts with ones capable of improving their mental health.

Individuals who struggle with substance use disorder or mental health issues often have low self-esteem. Negative self-talk accompanies feelings of low self-esteem and impacts mental health. Treatment programs provide clients with the tools they need to build healthy coping skills, including positive self-talk. The compassionate care team at West Coast Recovery Centers guides clients through developing healthy thought patterns and behaviors to support positive self-talk. Clients are encouraged to practice regular self-care, challenge negative self-talk, and combat internalized stigmas using healthy coping skills. The care team provides personalized treatments to empower and uplift individuals in recovery. To learn more about our programs and services, call us today at (760) 492-6509.

West Coast Recovery Centers ( 370135CP), Valid through July 31, 2025
Jackson House Visalia (540056AP), Valid through May 15, 2025
DHCS Licensing and Certification Division