Getting Rid of Stinking Thinkin

Letting Go of Stinkin’ Thinkin’


The phrase ‘stinkin’ thinkin’ originated in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as a way to describe thinking which may lead a person back to drinking. Over time, the phrase became associated with a number of self-destructive thought processes. The voice can also be termed ‘inner critic’ which lives inside all people and needs to be quieted in order for a person in recovery to be successful. Learn some tools for letting go of negative thought patterns and behaviors in recovery.


Silence the Inner Critic

Each person has an ‘inner critic’ who lives inside each of us and delivers critical, disapproving dialogue. Statements may be repeated inside a person’s head about not being worth, lovable or capable. Words such as these can be damaging to a person’s self-confidence and ability to stay clean and sober. Some names for the inner critic may include:

  • Perfectionist with high standards that are unattainable
  • Guilt-tripper who cannot let go of the past and offer forgiveness
  • The Destroyer that attacks self-worth, shames and only points out flaws
  • The Taskmaster pushes a person to work harder to find worthiness in success


Other voices may arise in a person’s mind but no matter what the inner critic says, the negative espoused may have good intentions but programs the brain for negativity and blame. In order to be motivated to stay clean and sober, an individual must see potential and motivation to change rather than stay the same. The inner critic is not a reality, just an expression or manifestation of fears, doubts and worries. Take it with a grain of salt and move on.


Positive Self-Talk

Eliminating negative self-talk is more important in maintaining self-esteem than engaging in positive self-talk. The voice of an inner critic can be quieted to gain control of negative statements. Building awareness of and choosing positive, affirmative statements is important in the process of recovering from stinkin’ thinkin’. The following tips can be helpful to get started:

  • Keep track of negative statements made to oneself over the course of a few days
  • Make a commitment to put an end to the negativity.
  • Consistently practice restating how to turn around self-destructive habits and dialogue into positive, affirmative statements.
  • Use facts to support positive thoughts and turn away negative ones


Learned optimism is when a person disputes and refuses to allow negative self-appraisals to influence decisions and actions. Come to expect positive outcomes to combat negative self-talk. Persistent negativity cannot survive in the midst of positive, good thoughts which will lead to good behavior. Negative self-talk and thoughts will eventually lead down the road to relapse. The sooner a person gets rid of it, the better. This includes finding other people who support the journey of recovery and getting rid of toxic people, situations and environments which don’t promote a healthy focus on staying clean and sober.


Life is too short to live in the past or with negativity. The Villa helps individuals with addiction find joy and a positive perspective on life again. Call us if you need help kicking addiction and you want to return to a positive outlook on life.