Most of us have one. An internal dialogue that is. Seems most of us prone to alcoholism, addiction, depression, or anxiety have a fairly outspoken and unrelenting internal dialogue. For many of us, it becomes our closest and most trusted companion. So close, many of us don’t even recognize as it speaks to us. So trusted that we follow its advice, even over a cliff if it told us to.
A breakthrough in my recovery from addiction, anxiety, and depression came when I learned I no longer had to follow the guidance of my internal dialogue. I could take a break from listening to it until it got wiser and more trustworthy.
I found that the advice that those who had more sobriety and whose recovery I admired gave me different advice than my internal dialogue. So one day, I decided to take a chance and listen to them instead of my old friend inside my head. I figured following their advice couldn’t be any worse than the advice I was getting. They were at peace, I was not. They had prolonged sobriety, I had not. I wanted to die, they did not. They could laugh and enjoy life, I could not. So what did I have to lose? My misery perhaps? It was worth the risk.
Lo and behold, the very first day was a success. Someone suggested attending an AA meeting a day for 90 days straight. My internal dialogue balked, “Only real losers do that. You don’t need to. You’re too busy”.
I eventually got to the point where I would actually speak back to the dialogue in my head. I would say, “fine, you sit here and debate about the viability of a meeting, the rest of us (body parts) are going”. And off we went. Not once did I regret going to a meeting in those 90 days. My internal dialogue was wrong 100% of the time with respect to meetings. Instead, the thinking I borrowed from others who suggested I do 90 in 90 turned out to be 100% right. Every meeting was a new adventure and new lights came on.
My burden of depression and anxiety began to lift measurably. I remained sober and began to help others do the same. Yet this was just the beginning. Now, years later, I am finally learning to be able to trust my internal dialogue much more because it has grown up and recovered a lot. Not completely, so I am cautious to discern each bit of advice that my head tells me. But it is reliable far more often than it used to be.
Now, instead of casting a dark shadow on so many things, my internal dialogue helps me see positive and light, even in painful situations. My internal dialogue is learning to tell me the truth. This is one of the powers of recovery. An AA reading states it, “Intuitively, we will know how to handle situations that used to baffle us”. And, “We will know a new freedom and a new happiness”.
There is such freedom and serenity being able to trust that your own thinking isn’t constantly setting you up for failure with its lies and negativity.