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Why Do People with Addiction Struggle with Self-Criticism?

That internal critic, the voice inside, can be a destructive force in addiction. Rehab and recovery is a time to discover how to handle those thoughts and words that go through the mind as a result of past trauma, neglect, and painful experiences. To get past the shame and self-criticism takes some time. Learn why self-criticism is harmful and how to silence it when that inner critic is too loud.

Inner Critic and Addiction

The inner critic can painfully magnify a person’s less desirable traits or features. Whether it is physical or emotional, the inner critic focuses on all the ways a person does not measure up. This can start in childhood with parents or caregivers who are overly protective or overly critical. In recovery, addiction is looked at for how it kept a person from becoming who they could be. Lies, pain, and deception are part of the challenge people face from their addictive past. Self-criticism holds people back in recovery. It is not easy to stop those voices from having their say but to keep punishing oneself can continue the addictive cycle in the mind, even if the body is substance-free.

How to Handle the Critic Within

Knowing how to navigate those tricky thoughts and feelings can be difficult. Here are some ways to work through that inner dialogue when it starts taking over the mind:

  • Be aware: consciousness is the key to noticing inner dialogue run amok. When those words or phrases play out that says a person is not enough or is contemptuous, don’t listen. Don’t give in. simply notice and let them slip away silently. This will take time but keep working on it
  • Write down the words: when words or phrases pop into the mind, note them down on a pad of paper and cross it out with a positive next to it. Re-affirm in the mind and heart that this is not who the person is at their core
  • Offer loving-kindness: self-kindness and peace is at the heart of everything. There is no secret formula. It may be a physical act of hugging oneself or simply feeling loved and cared for by those who support the recovery journey. Call them up and ask for positive affirmations to help derail those thoughts
  • Read or watch something funny: comedy is a good distraction for negative thoughts. If that doesn’t work, watch Mr. Bean or something absurd that seems so odd and different the mind no longer is thinking about those thoughts

Self-judgment can come with shame and blame, as well as anger. Neutralize it by letting go and seeing the value in oneself. Find that self doesn’t believe the inner critic and wants to experience healing. Note what that feels like and try to go to that place when things are hard. Keep up with practitioners who support positive mental health strategies in recovery and seek support with loved ones who will help keep the focus on healing the mind and body in recovery.

The mind can be the worst critic. Don’t let it derail the recovery you deserve. There is hope and healing on the other side. Let us help you navigate the challenges you face. Call us to find out how to get started: 1-855-483-7800