Perhaps throughout your recovery, you’ve been working on yourself. You’ve been making the changes you need to make in your life in order to feel good, happy, and healthy. But perhaps you return to one part of yourself that seems to hold you back again and again. And it might be your self-esteem – how you feel about yourself.
To be clear, self-esteem is much more than how you feel about yourself or how you see yourself. Self-esteem includes how others see you too, your ability to accept yourself for who you are, your sense of confidence, and your ability to love yourself even when the world around you doesn’t believe in you. These are, no doubt, difficult tasks. However, self-love, self-acceptance, and self-confidence all feed one another. Believing in yourself as a good person or as a confident person also feeds into having a healthy self-esteem.
Often, a significant factor in the development of addiction is not feeling good about who you are. Part of the disease of addiction is having a low self-esteem. And as a result, part of the recovery process is learning how to love yourself again. It’s learning how to recover from a low self-esteem. The following are suggestions to consider as you’re working on your self-esteem in your recovery:
Look for the good in your life. If you have a son or daughter and you wanted to look for the good in your child, you might praise him or her on the B that he got instead of seeing the A he should have gotten. And the same is true in your own life. Instead of seeing what’s going wrong, look for your desires, your motivations, and your positive talents. Look for your unique values, viewpoints, and beliefs that make you who you are. Look for the good in your life instead of the not-so-good things. This alone can help you feel better about your life.
Tell and show yourself love. It might sound odd to tell yourself that you love yourself. But it’s essential to do so, especially if we’ve never been told that by anyone else. If you’ve had an abusive childhood or dysfunctional relationships with parents, acknowledging love for yourself can transform the way you feel about yourself. Just as when a child feels love from his or her parents, it facilitates with loving him or herself. For many people, recovery and drug abuse help is learning to parent yourself. Part of this re-parenting is finding the love that you might have never received when you were a child. Even if you weren’t abused as a child, there is an overwhelming amount of teasing and bullying in childhood that it can be difficult to fully form a positive self-esteem as a child. You can ease the pain of a low self-esteem by showing love to yourself by clearly saying, “I love you.”
Praise yourself as much as possible. This might be another re-parenting technique. If you have a low self-esteem, you might not have received enough praise as a child or even as an adult. For this reason, you might need to do it for yourself. Praise yourself when you have the opportunity. When you’ve worked hard towards a deadline, praise yourself for all the effort and work you put into meeting the deadline on time. When you’ve worked out and watched your eating habits and you lost 10 pounds, praise yourself. Look for the things you’re doing right. Look for the ways that you are improving your life.
Listen to your soft inner voice. One of the most significant ways to find self-confidence is to listen and follow that soft, inner voice. When you follow something that you know you were meant to do and it creates a positive result, it can bring great feelings of self-connection and self-confidence. Although during an addiction, it might be difficult to even hear that soft voice. It’s always there. In fact, it’s always guiding and leading you in the right direction. You have your own intelligence and learning to trust yourself is part of recovery.
If you’re working on your self-esteem, the above suggestions are meant to be a resource. As you continue to love, praise, and accept yourself, you’ll find that how you feel about who you are will change.
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