There is a connection for some women between how they feel about their body and their drug or alcohol use. For some women, it’s easy to believe that there is something wrong with their body. Perhaps they feel their nose is too big or that they are too fat, even though the scale indicates their weight is within a normal range for their height. Others might believe that they are ugly and not have a specific trait that other women have who are considered beautiful. These sort of thoughts and beliefs about oneself can be challenging to have. They can be harmful. It’s as though women start feeling uncomfortable in their own skin and drinking or getting high takes that discomfort away.
Plus, women today have a lot of expectations placed upon them. They are expected to raise their children, tend to their spouses, take care of household chores, and maintain a career. Not being able to meet all of these expectations can bring experiences of shame, which is often at the root of an addiction. Then, if and when an addiction does develop for women, that too can add to shameful feelings.
If an addiction does develop, a cycle of harm can develop. If a woman already has a strained relationship with their body, meaning that they don’t like it or that they feel it should be different, then the harm of addiction tends to only make that relationship worse. An addiction wreaks havoc on the body. Destruction to the brain and body can be severe with addictions to drugs such as heroin or methamphetamine. And even the regular use of alcohol can be harmful because alcohol impedes nutrient breakdown and impairs the ability to assimilate those nutrients. And, when someone is in the height of their drinking, 50 percent of their calorie intake is derived from the drinking. Damage to the body, not only because of the addiction but also because of the destructive thoughts that continue to feed the drug use.
However, if a woman could transform her relationship with her body, the cravings to drink or use drugs might change. In fact, once a woman is feeling love for herself, she might get to the point where she doesn’t want to ingest harmful substances because she simply doesn’t want to harm her body anymore.
If you’d like to get to this point in your own relationship with your body, here are three practices to develop in your life to make this transformation:
- Start looking for beauty. – Have you ever had the experience of seeing a blue car and then suddenly you’re seeing blue cars everywhere? It’s like the brain picks up on one detail in your environment, gives it attention, and suddenly that detail is in your environment frequently. It’s like your brain is picking it out of all the other incoming information you can receive about the world around you. Well, you can instigate this kind of experience! And with respect to your body, start looking for beauty. What’s beautiful about you? What do you like? What do you have that few other women have? Once you begin to notice beauty in yourself, you might start seeing it all the time!
- Smile. – Another way to find beauty is to feel beautiful. Rather than having a judgmental thought about yourself, turn that around by prompting yourself to feel beautiful. Now, that might be difficult to do if you’ve not felt beautiful in a while. But you can think back to a time that might have brought about that beautiful feeling. Another way to feel beautiful is to smile more often. Smiling actually changes the physiology in your face and the rest of your body. Not only will it facilitate a more positive feeling inside, but others who witness as smile often look upon that person with love and appreciation. Studies show that most people are drawn to someone who smiles.
- Watch your self-talk. – When you notice yourself saying, “I’m too fat,” or “I’m ugly,” or “My belly is too big for the rest of my body,” replace those judgmental thoughts with something positive. Replace your negative self-talk with words that are loving and life-affirming!
Learning to love your body and who you are as a woman can change things. You’ll stop wanting to harm yourself, and instead you’ll slowly only want to treat yourself with love and care.
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