I’ve been hearing them for years. You’re your own worst enemy. You’ll never change. You’re messed up. You’re crazy. You’ll always be this way.
They come from the negative self-talk in my head, but they’re also statements that my loved ones have told me time and time again. They reside in my subconscious because of the way my parents and siblings spoke. They were the voices of adults in my life who couldn’t be what I needed as a child because they never received what they needed when they were children.
They were people I should have been able to trust and depend on, but who led me astray. People who did me wrong because they didn’t know any better. For many addicts, it’s these negative voices we carry with us that help keeps us on a cycle. These statements push us down anytime we want to pick ourselves back up.
But then, one day, I realized that I had a choice as to what thoughts I should listen to, what thoughts to accept as reality, and what thoughts I would allow to live in my brain. That was the day I discovered my own truth.
A Healthy Way Forward
Psychologists say we have five seconds before making a decision. It’s a time-lapse that most of us won’t recognize if we continue reacting to all the voices going on in our heads instead of choosing which ones to give energy to.
Healthy functioning brains will logically weigh options and pose potential outcomes whereas unhealthy minds will react impulsively to thoughts with no detection of a choice. Until very recently, my brain was the latter.
This shift in perspective is not a big dramatic epiphany in a church pew or a spotlight shining on you when you’re all alone. It’s not someone coming to your aid and helping you in the darkness. You are all you need to confront yourself and you are the only person who can make you confront yourself. It will be the most difficult thing you will have to do because, when it happens, you’ll see things as they are. You’ll see reality.
For the first time in ages, you’ll understand why things happened and why you are the way you are and why you made decisions you did. You'll feel the pain, the regret, and you may want to run from it. But you can't; you may want to beat yourself up, but you can't. You have to face it and accept it logically. You have to accept the feelings that come with it, and you have to let them pass, but most of all, you'll have to know you'll be okay. You’ll be safe accepting all your darkness and all your failures. You’ll be okay when you accept that you are who you never wanted to be and who you feared you would become because that’s the first step to lasting change.
The Power of Choice
Just because a thought exists, doesn’t mean it’s the truth. Just because an emotion lingers, doesn’t mean it’s reality. Our mind plays tricks on us because we are shaped by things that happened to us.
Chances are if your mind is putting you down and making excuses who everything you are now and everything you’ve done, on the other side there is freedom. Confronting yourself means acknowledging and accepting the things you’ve done and that has been done to you. It’s letting go and it’s not resisting. It’s surrendering to reality. And that means letting go of everything you thought things should be like and everything you thought you should be and allowing yourself to accept yourself as you are. That is the moment you know the truth and that is the moment you become free from your mistakes, your past, and your demons.
Confronting ourselves doesn’t mean we will never have these thoughts again, but it means we will know we have power over them, and a means to make different choices and have different results. It’s becoming a victor over your thoughts and emotions.
Let me be clear—it’s a fight. But, if you don’t fight, you will never overcome it. Wrestle with your darkness, don’t fear it, and then—day by day, moment by moment, thought by thought - be the lasting change you want to see in yourself.