Realistic Goals And Expectations With The Help Of Positive Self-talk

Achieving sobriety and maintaining it is a journey filled with many milestones. Setting realistic goals and expectations, coupled with positive self-talk, can significantly influence your loved one’s recovery process.

Begin by helping your loved one to set realistic goals. These should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). For example, a goal could be attending a certain number of therapy or 12-step meetings per week. This helps give direction and purpose to the recovery journey. It’s equally important to celebrate every step taken towards these goals, no matter how small.

Positive self-talk plays a vital role in this process. Negative thoughts can often lead to self-defeating behaviours. Guiding your loved one to replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations can help shift their mindset. This practice aligns with the 12-step philosophy of accepting one’s limitations and seeking strength from a higher power.

Consider the unusual case of Themba, a resident of Johannesburg. Struggling with substance addiction, Themba’s negative self-talk often held him back. He continually told himself he would never overcome his addiction because he’d failed multiple times before. However, once Themba started integrating positive self-talk into his routine, his outlook began to shift. He started replacing “I can’t” with “I can try,” leading to a gradual but noticeable change in his recovery journey.

Themba also started setting achievable goals for himself. He began by committing to attending one meeting a week, then slowly increased his attendance. With each goal met, his confidence grew, and he felt more motivated to continue on his path to recovery. Themba’s case demonstrates that setting realistic goals and utilising positive self-talk can significantly influence addiction recovery.

Now, let’s address five frequently asked questions related to this topic:

  1. Q: How does positive self-talk influence addiction recovery? A: Positive self-talk helps to shift a negative mindset and promotes self-compassion and self-efficacy, key elements for recovery.
  2. Q: Can setting unrealistic goals hinder recovery? A: Yes, setting goals that are too lofty or unrealistic can lead to feelings of failure and disappointment, which can potentially trigger a relapse.
  3. Q: Is positive self-talk a part of evidence-based therapy? A: Positive self-talk is often incorporated into Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), an evidence-based therapy, as a method to counteract negative thinking patterns.
  4. Q: How does goal setting align with the 12-step philosophy? A: The 12-step program encourages individuals to accept their limitations and focus on achievable growth, mirroring the principles of realistic goal setting.
  5. Q: How can I support my loved one in setting realistic goals and using positive self-talk? A: You can help your loved one set SMART goals and encourage them to replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Being supportive and patient during their journey is crucial.

The incorporation of setting realistic goals and positive self-talk in addiction recovery has roots in several historical therapeutic practices and philosophies.

You can trace back the concept of setting realistic goals in therapeutic contexts to the mid-20th century, with the rise of cognitive and behavioral therapies. Dr. Edwin Locke’s pioneering research in the 1960s on goal setting and motivation in the workplace revealed that clear, challenging goals led to higher performance. While Locke’s work wasn’t specifically about addiction recovery, it paved the way for therapists to incorporate goal-setting in their practices, including those working with individuals battling addiction.

The 12-step philosophy

Originating from the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program established in the 1930s, inherently embraces the idea of goal-setting. The steps themselves can be seen as a series of achievable goals, from admitting powerlessness over addiction to making amends with those harmed by one’s addiction.

Positive Self Talk

As for positive self-talk, it was largely popularized by French psychologist Emile Coué in the early 20th century. Coué’s method involved conscious autosuggestion, where he encouraged patients to repeatedly tell themselves “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.” This mantra was one of the earliest forms of positive self-talk.

It wasn’t until the late 20th century that positive self-talk started to be integrated into addiction recovery programs. This development was significantly influenced by the growing recognition of cognitive-behavioral therapies, which focus on altering thought patterns to change behaviors.

Positive self-talk’s inclusion in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for addiction recovery is a testament to its efficacy. By helping individuals alter their negative thought patterns, it provides a method to cope with cravings and avoid relapses.

The blend of setting realistic goals and using positive self-talk in addiction recovery reflects a holistic approach, emphasizing both action-oriented strategies and mindset alteration. This combination has evolved over time and will continue to be an integral part of addiction recovery programs.