The Realties Of Self Abuse

How many times have you thought something negative, rude, shouted at yourself, or beaten yourself up over your addiction, mental health or any other issue? If it were someone else, we would be arrested for abuse, yet we allow ourselves to be treated this way because our heads tell us this, which doesn’t help us achieve our long term goals or maintain our recovery when we have to battle with this constant negative thinking and self talk.

Some of the common statements used in addiction are as follows; do any of these sound familiar to you?

  • I’m just a waste of space, why bother?
  • Everyone expects me to fail so if I do, they’ll just tell me they were right!
  • I’m useless, I can’t do it, so why even bother to try?
  • I’m just like all the other drunks or junkies.

I certainly know I have and if I treated others the way I have myself, I’d be arrested for abuse!

Cut yourself some slack, drug and alcohol addiction, mental health issues or any other related issue are hard to tackle and do take time to resolve.
Likewise, breaking your own expectations because they are set higher would be expected of someone else can also be a difficult thing to contend with.

Give yourself a pass to just stop, relax, take stock of the situation and try to work with others to find alternative, more constructive way to deal with the issues you face.
Beating yourself up will never t change your situation and in the long run, only does more harm than good.

You are strong and resilient and you can do this! It may just take slightly longer to reach your end goals than you may like.

Remember: mental expectations and reality are two different things and sometimes we forget that!
In the mind of an addict, we want everything done now, we want instant fixes, instant change and when this doesn’t happen, it can be a difficult thing to deal with.

Overcoming The Top 10 Most Common Statements

1. I’m not worth it.

This is a direct assault on your self-esteem and it is simply not true! Telling yourself you are not “worth it” only perpetuates negative beliefs you may have picked up early in life.

2. There’s no use.

Telling yourself there is no use steals your personal power and leaves you with no motivation.

3. I can’t do it.

Again, very disempowering. There are times when you truly cannot do something, however, most of the time this one is delivered as more of a self-attack than a statement of fact.

4. I’ll never follow through.

This is a set up for failure before you really get started. We all know that success comes one day at a time. Telling yourself you will fail before you get started is shooting yourself in the foot.

5. People won’t like me.

A set up for rejection. When you enter a new situation telling yourself that people won’t like you, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy!

6. Others are better than I am.

We all tend to compare ourselves to others. Sometimes we exercise prejudice against ourselves, though. Telling yourself that others are better than you is an assault on your self-worth.

7. I am not enough.

A huge one for people who feel inadequate to meet the demands of life. A sense of personal inadequacy is very discouraging – don’t reinforce it!

8. I must be perfect.

The way to guarantee failure is to criticize yourself whenever you are imperfect, which is all the time. We are perfectly imperfect!

9. My opinion doesn’t matter.

More low self-esteem in this statement. To say this one to yourself, you must consider yourself unworthy.

10. I’ll never be any different.

We say this as if we are written failure into stone. It’s a hopeless thought. Just say no to this one!

Other Types Of Negative Thinking

These are some of the other types of negative thinking that are most commonly encountered within our thinking. By being aware of these, that will help you try to change the way you think.

Again, don’t expect to change completely overnight, so go easy on yourself if you do experience any of these different types of negative thinking.

What Can I Do About This?

You can try to implement some of the following tips and tricks to help you overcome the negative, abysive self talk we often give ourselves:

Ask yourself

What is my current self-talk like? What do I say to myself about difficult situations, responsibilities, opportunities and my ability to manage these things? What do you say to yourself when you are experiencing negative feelings such as frustration, disappointment or something you don’t want to do?

Consider your plans

…for the next week and reflect on what you say to yourself about them. This should help you to identify whether you have a tendency to be a positive or negative thinker and the part that self-talk plays in reinforcing this.

Plan positive things to say

If you know you have to deal with a potentially difficult situation, identify and rehearse some positive self-talk statements that you can employ before, during and after the situation, e.g. ‘When I stop and think I stay calm and in control. Being calm helps me to think clearly and make better decisions.’

Keep a diary

…for a week detailing any negative things you say to yourself. After a week look back and see what sort of messages you give yourself. Ask yourself, would I say these things to a friend? We are often harder on ourselves that others.


…how your self-talk has allowed you to engage in problematic sexual behaviour. If you have not offended, this could include masturbating to sexual thoughts of children. Think about how you might have made it ‘okay’ or ‘not so bad’ by the things you said to yourself about your behaviour.

Challenge your thinking

For each negative statement ask yourself these questions:

  • What evidence do I have for this belief?
  • What other explanations are there?
  • How likely is this to be the case?
  • If it concerned someone else what would I think?


Do something that will distract you from negative thoughts and feelings. This might be an activity or contacting a friend.

Positive reframing

Try to find a positive aspect to the situation to focus on, rather than the negative. This is something we often do after a bereavement for example, remembering the positive life someone had rather than the loss.

Use positive language

If you constantly say “I can’t” you will convince yourself that it’s true. Replace negative words with positive ones.


…on what has contributed to the negative thoughts and feelings. Positive thinking is not about denying that anything is or can go wrong. If something goes wrong then take the time to consider what went wrong in order to avoid future mistakes and look forward more positively.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

It takes time, practice and determination to change negative thinking and adopt a more optimistic approach.

Still struggling? Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! You can speak to a therapist to help overcome your negative thinking. You could also speak to your local drug and alcohol service who may be able to help you.

We offer counselling which can help with this negative thinking. You can get in touch with us for an appointment by clicking here. We offer online therapy too! You can also find your nearest drug and alcohol service on our help and support page here.

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Published by Drink ’n’ Drugs

Providing useful, relevant, up to date information and support for those suffering from active addiction or those who are in recovery.

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