The words we speak to ourselves matter

In English, it is common to say “I am mad,” “I am hungry”, or ” I am lonely.” Working in addiction management I have many times heard people say, “I am an addict”, or “I am irredeemable”, or some other variation on negative self-talk. It may seem ridiculous to have a discussion about language when a person is in the middle of a personal self-flagellation, but words are powerful and I want to take a moment to tell you why I believe if you change your language you can change your mind and change your direction in life. 

When we have feelings, good or bad they are limited. You may have anger one moment and joy the next. However, those fleeting feelings do not define who you are. Having a substance use disorder is not the definition of who you are. You are someone’s parent, child, friend, or lover. You are so much more than this moment, but it is difficult to see that when you are experiencing something overwhelming or devastating. 

Sometimes saying, “I am an addict” is easier than exploring why you engage in self-destructive behavior. By defining yourself by your illness, your current emotion, or even lack of something you diminish who you are. This distracts from your humanity. If you tell yourself, “this is what I am”, then it becomes harder to see yourself as something else. 

I suggest the next time a negative thought attempts to creep in, you try to recognize it as how you feel in the moment. Then, try to replace it with a possible solution.

For example, 

I locked my keys in the car.

Thought: ” I am stupid.”

Replace with: ” I feel stupid.”

Positive Affirmation: ” I guess I have been pretty distracted. I may have to slow down to avoid this mistake in the future.”

If you change your language, you can change your mind and your direction in life. 



Available by phone and email Monday- Friday 8am-5pm. After hours and weekends, messages are checked and returned within 24 hours or next business day.

Text Us
Skip to content