Recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, and the anxiety, depression, or stress that may be present throughout the process, can take a toll on many aspects of daily life, down to the power an individual feels in everyday situations. Feeling powerless in recovery can compromise many elements in the process, introducing doubt or allowing prevailing feelings of sadness or frustration to continue to go unchallenged. Garnering a sense of self-worth and empowerment is crucial for finding success in other parts of the recovery process.
Addressing the feeling of powerlessness can often start by looking at one’s language. The words that a person uses and the confidence in their voice can provide insight into how one may view themselves. Challenging how a person talks about themselves and confronting the language of powerlessness opens the door to greater confidence and positivity in recovery.
What is the Language of Powerlessness?
The language of powerlessness is the way that an individual speaks or verbalizes their thoughts. Despite the intention behind one’s thoughts or assertions, using powerless language can inhibit the listener’s confidence in the speaker and further compromise one’s self-confidence. Language of powerlessness can appear in many ways. While occasional use of this kind of language may not be a big deal, controlling the continuous use of this language is vital to ensuring one’s message is impactful as intended.
However, the language of powerlessness often has very little to do with the subject matter at hand. Those giving a rousing, passion-filled speech can find their message inhibited by the use of powerless language, and even something as mundane as ordering coffee in the morning can be accentuated with powerful language to start the day off on the right foot.
Catching Filler Words
“Um’s” or “well’s” and “hmm’s” are common filler words that an individual may use throughout their sentences. While people may often employ these kinds of words while collecting their thoughts, filling the downtime with these sounds still has an active effect on the conversation. The use of these words can make an individual seem or feel distracted or ill-prepared for the discussion, meddling with the intent behind one’s sentences. These kinds of filler words can convey uncertainty, despite the point that an individual is trying to make.
For those in recovery, uncertainty can be a familiar feeling. Challenging this uncertainty and being confident in one’s choices to pursue a sober and better lifestyle is essential for maintaining motivation. Even if an individual doesn’t realize that they are employing these filler words, the sense of uncertainty or doubt can still prevail through one’s thoughts, creating an internal dissonance between one’s desires and confidence that they can reach their goals. Rather than attempting to fill space with these filler words, consciously taking an extra second to pause before speaking can teach the brain to cut these symbols of uncertainty from one’s language and inner monologue.
Hedging One’s Self
The language of powerlessness can also come about in speech that seems to defer authority to the listener, taking power away from the speaker and putting oneself “below” another in the conversation. These phrases can take a feeling of agency away from the one speaking and further open themselves up to the judgment or persuasion of the listener, compromising one’s own goals for the conversation in the process. Some powerless language used when hedging one’s self may be using phrases like:
- Kind of
- Sort of
- Don’t you think?
- Is that right?
- I guess
- I’m no expert, but
- Call me crazy, but
- I just feel
Overuse of these kinds of phrases can inhibit one’s ability to speak clearly and decisively and instead open oneself to the wills of others, which may even inhibit one’s own recovery path and focus.
While the inverse of this practice, speaking in absolutes such as “definitely” or “always” can present their own complications in the recovery process, learning to identify when an individual is detracting from their own agency and searching for external validation unprompted can lead to a sense of powerlessness over one’s own life.
Language has a powerful effect on each person, and the way that a thought is conveyed carries as much weight behind it as the thought itself. Speaking with confidence, whether about one’s goals in recovery or even one’s challenges, can be an empowering experience when utilizing the correct language. Dismissing the use of powerless language to convey one’s goals can be a reaffirmation of motivation, instilling a sense of possibility for self-made change. Moving towards a more powerful language can help an individual, either consciously or subconsciously, develop a better sense of self-confidence and self-worth. Some powerful language to introduce to one’s vocabulary are:
- “I am” instead of “I feel like”
- “I will” instead of “I think I can”
- Sure thing
- Of course
Even confidently or deliberately stating when one struggles in their recovery journey can be the catalyst of change. The assured projection of language can be its own reminder that one was successfully able to identify and verbalize difficult parts of recovery, taking control and regaining confidence.
Throughout the recovery process, tracking one’s thoughts is important. However, it is just as important to listen to how these thoughts are verbalized to move towards self-empowering language.
Language is a powerful recovery tool and can provide the first glimpse into how a person feels about themselves and the world around them. Nothing about recovery is easy, but we at Avalon Malibu can help you begin to adjust your worldview by changing the words you use. Our extensive programs utilize this change in vocabulary to augment our other proven, evidence-based programs, such as yoga, meditation, and massage therapy, or even our art, music, or seasonal ropes course approaches to recovery. Our beautiful facility allows you to detach from other stressors in your life and focus on yourself to learn more about your language and emotions, all while thriving as a member of a motivated recovery community. For more information on the various ways you can personalize your time with us or to speak to a caring, trained professional about your unique situation, call us today at (844) 857-5992.