“I’ll just have one. It’s no big deal.”
“I can’t have fun unless I’m [fill in the blank].”
(overeating, smoking, drinking, etc.)
“I can handle it; it’s not a problem.”
When Sue came to me, she shared how impossible it was to resist food, men, and negative self-talk. She wanted a way out, and, yet, she could not see a way out. I supported her through her pain with unconditional love and mostly by championing her healthy self and disempowering her wounded self.
My motto is: I do not judge; I LOVE.
It seems that most of us want out of addictive behaviors, and, yet, the moment we take a step forward, the deluding, conniving self-talk begins. Before you know it, this deceptive self-talk has become a deafening self-shout, and the danger of relapse is just around the corner. That’s the power of language and how it shapes our thoughts and actions.
But it is possible to get control over this self-defeating, one-way conversation. When you change your self-talk, you change your whole life.
Addictions help people avoid unpleasant, painful emotions. People develop addictions not only to substances—drugs, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, sugar, food—but also to activities, such as gambling, sex, the internet, work, theft, shopping.
The common threads are
1. A preoccupation that interferes with life
2. Continued use or involvement despite negative consequences
3. Loss of control. While they may bring short-term relief, addictions result in long-term nightmares.
To the voices in your head, however, it’s ALL about the short-term relief.
Lynne Namka, author of Avoiding Relapse: Catching Your Inner Con, refers to this enabling self-talk as the “Inner Con.” (I refer to it as the ego’s voice through my work in A Course in Miracles.) This is the grand seducer who tempts you to go back to your addiction with huge fabrications, distortions, tricks, and rationalizations that ignore the severe emotional, interpersonal, and physical consequences of continued use.
“Your Inner Con is absorbed in totally protecting and preserving itself,” Namka writes. “It feeds your fixation and agonizes about not being complete without using. It seduces, swindles and victimizes you to go against yourself and your better nature. It divides your psyche and creates mistrust in yourself. Its purpose is to keep hounding you until you weaken and give in. It will say anything to get you to use.”
This Inner Con is the fear-based part of you. It fears change. It fears facing the unpleasant and painful emotions that your addiction hides. Actually, it’s the active voice of your addiction. But it is not who you are. It is just a fragment of the total you. By understanding this, relapse into addiction becomes only one choice of many.
Doing some or all of the following actions will help counter this negative, seductive self-talk:
1. Get support. Talk to a trusted friend or family member or consider joining a community online or in person. You do not have to try to change alone.
2. Engage other inner characters. Why let your Inner Con hog the microphone? What do other parts of you want to share? Speak to your Inner Healer. What does it have to say? Your Inner Hero? Your Inner Cheerleader?
3. Counter the negative, distorted self-talk with affirmations. “I am powerful and capable of changing at any age.” “I choose not to overeat.” “I am able to say ‘No.’” “I choose to read a book rather than use the internet.” “I choose loving people in my life who do not pressure me into doing anything I do not want to do.”
4. Journal. Make lists of all of your Inner Con’s statements. Write dialogues between these statements and other inner characters. Write all the emotions that surface when you’re not engaged in your addiction. Then share this with a trusted friend, a sponsor, or your therapist.
5. Schedule daily contemplation time to go inside and help change beliefs and destructive self-talk. Use this time to journal, meditate, pray, read, or study. Many people make this a daily practice for the rest of their lives.
Replacing the negative self-talk with supportive beliefs and positive self-talk frees up blocked positive energy and puts you on a path not to destruction but to fulfillment.
I recently spoke to Sue, who shared the joy she has found since she put down the 2×4 of food, men, and negativity and began honoring her true voice. Because Sue no longer allows her negative voice much airtime, she no longer has to fight the negative voice. You see, Sue learned that by not empowering the negative self-talk, the volume on it got very low. And while her hope is that the voice will go away altogether, I remind her that low volume is great start. And that feels good enough for her right now.
Weight Release & Body Image Coach, Laura Fenamore, is on a mission to guide women around the world to love what they see in the mirror—one pinky at a time—so they can unlock the secrets to a healthy weight and start loving their lives as soon as possible. Having overcome her own battle with addiction, obesity, and eating disorders, Laura released over one hundred pounds twenty-four years ago, beginning her on a journey to guide other women to live more joyous, balanced lives. Laura believes that self-love and self-care is where the transformation begins. Learn more about Laura at OnePinky.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.