I believe that the true solution to substance abuse and drug and alcohol addiction is for addicts and alcoholics to transform their thinking, to come to create a positive self-image and with it positive self esteem for themselves. This process I refer to as transformation or reinventing yourself. But what does it really mean to reinvent yourself? And more importantly how does one go about reinventing oneself?
Addicts and alcoholics tend to have very poor self-esteem. The poor self-esteem is merely the emotional consequence of a negative self-image, the way in which the addict and alcoholic thinks about themselves, thinks about their value and worth as a human being. Reinventing yourself is when an individual creates a positive self-image to replace the negative one that has been and is currently running their life.
The process of reinventing yourself takes time and work. This process also involves stopping some negative behaviors and starting others that are positive. For example, an individual needs to stop criticizing oneself completely if they are to transform. The continuous self-criticism that addicts and alcoholic engage in only reinforces and strengthens the negative self image that they continue to experience throughout the day.
One of the behaviors that need to be started is the use of positive affirmations. Saying positive affirmations repetitiously is a very powerful way of starting to reprogram the addicts and alcoholics mind from being primarily negative to one that is essentially positive in nature. Using positive affirmations the way they were meant to be used will help the individual to start to think and believe differently about themselves.
As mentioned the process of reinventing yourself takes time and consistent work. It is also important to manage your expectations as you work on transforming yourself. There will be no immediate payoff, no instant gratification. The negative self-image of the addict and alcoholic is very strong, has been running the show for years and will resist change. It is so very true to say that it is cunning, baffling and powerful.
Many will resist this conversation, the conversation of transformation, insisting that it is not important, that it has nothing to do with recovery. In their resistance many will stay the same, will continue to do life as they have been doing it in the past, will not transform. Recovery is not about a physical change. Recovery is not about doing or having anything. Recovery is about a transformation of thinking, of thought, of coming to think about yourself differently, of coming to choose to think about yourself in a way that you truly matter.
Dr. Harry Henshaw