What we tell ourselves directly affects how we think, feel and act. And how we think, feel and act directly impacts our health. Healing this mind-body connection is, in fact, at the forefront of what I do as a clinician in the field of addiction treatment.
In many ways, my job is not unlike that of a computer programmer working to fix a broken hard drive. Clients with addiction issues often struggle to love themselves. Many bear deep inner wounds from past hurts or traumas. Negative self-talk, shame, guilt and the inability to forgive often replay themselves as both conscious and subliminal messages.
One of my goals, then, is to help clients identify and correct these damaging internal scripts, so they can replace them with healthier ways of relating to themselves and the world around them. Like a computer technician, I help them rewire, restore and reprogram that mental hard drive.
“Recovery affirmations” are one of the tools in my arsenal. These affirmations, which are healthy for the body and a balm for your mental health, will center around “something we want to eliminate in our lives or something we want to create in our lives.” They were written by the spiritual teacher, Louise Hay, author of the bestselling book Heal Your Body.
To what extent can such affirmations really be good for us? Research in recent years has given clues to how our thoughts affect our health. Negative self-talk is linked to chronic stress, which we now know is the chief culprit for a host of diseases, addiction included. Studies have shown how repressed anger (a common dynamic with addiction) can lead to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, digestive disorders and infection, according to a summary of that work from the University of Minnesota. And a 2014 study in Social Psychological and Personality Science found there were negative health dimensions to harboring a grudge, whereas forgiveness helped lighten one’s physical burden.
Furthermore, the work of leading positive psychologist Dr. Barbara Fredrickson and others in recent years has revealed the numerous health benefits of positivity and positive affirmations, such as better sleep;
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About the Author
Candice Rasa, LCSW, is Clinical Director of Beach House Center for Recovery, a drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation center in Juno Beach, Florida. She has more than 10 years’ experience in the mental health and substance-abuse arena, and supports healing in the clients she serves from a perspective of spirituality and alternative Eastern methods.