Most of us experience shaky self-esteem from time to time, but those feelings can be especially pronounced during addiction treatment and recovery.
When addiction has turned your life upside-down, it’s easy to get bogged down in shame and regret for the bad choices you made. While it’s essential that you come to terms with your errors and take responsibility for your actions, it’s just as important to remember that your mistakes don’t define you. You deserve to feel good about yourself.
You may have done some regretful things in the past, and shame and guilt are often appropriate emotions that arise when we’ve done something contrary to our personal value systems. However, without forgiveness for yourself and others, those past mistakes will continue to weigh you down. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Nobody is perfect.
Show yourself some compassion. Forgiving yourself is easier said than done, but it’s a critical part of the recovery process. Until you let things go, you’ll have a difficult time moving on and turning your attention towards the future. Learning to love yourself takes time, but if you’re persistent, you’ll notice significant long-lasting changes.
Say Goodbye to Negative Self-Talk
We all learned messages when we’re children, and unfortunately, not all of them are constructive. Even well-meaning parents, friends, and teachers can implant thoughts that can impact our self-image in powerful ways. Look at it this way: You wouldn’t say mean things to your friends, so don’t say them to yourself.
You probably don’t realize how often you repeat messages that have become a large part of how you view yourself. The first step is to pay attention to your disparaging thoughts and take steps to turn them around. It may help to write them down as you notice them, then replace every negative thought with something more positive.
Direct your thoughts to things you like about yourself and remember that we all have shortcomings. Remind yourself of your positive attributes: you are talented, smart, friendly, creative, hard-working, dependable, funny (or whatever you like best about yourself). Be realistic; it takes time to change thoughts that we’ve carried deep in our psyche for a lifetime.
Be Nice to Yourself Every Day
Self-care is a fundamental way to demonstrate self-love, even when you’re feeling less than enthusiastic. Eat healthy foods and avoid a lot of sugar and fast foods. Take care of basic hygiene: wash your hair, trim your nails, brush and floss your teeth, or maybe invest in a new set of clothes (thrift stores are a great resource if you’re short on cash).
Get in the habit of daily exercise (preferably outdoors; the sunlight will lift your spirits). It isn’t necessary to join a gym, but it’s important to do something you enjoy so you’ll stick with it. Ride a bike. Take a yoga class. Dance. Walk. Stretch.
Nurture your spiritual side in ways that work for you. Attend church or a Twelve-Step meeting. Read something inspirational every day. Learn to be more mindful of yourself and your surroundings. Listen to music that lifts you up.
Brighten your living space. It isn’t necessary to spend a lot of money, but creating a space that reflects your personal spirit is a huge self-esteem booster. Clean from top to bottom, then add a fresh coat of paint, an inexpensive throw rug, or a new plant.
Practice doing things that bring you joy. Fly a kite. Go to the zoo. Plant a garden. Adopt a homeless puppy or kitten. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
Simple but Effective Self-Esteem Boosters
- Don’t compare yourself to others (especially if you spend a lot of time on social media). It’s a waste of time and it never works, but it can drag you down.
- Spend time with positive, clean and sober people that genuinely like and accept you.
- Are you a procrastinator? Take care of a task that you’ve been putting off. Clean out that glove compartment. Pay that bill. Make that dental appointment.
- Learn something new and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Take a dance class. Learn a musical instrument. Be adventurous. If money is tight, look at community centers or your public library. Community colleges often offer a variety of affordable classes.
No matter what you may have gone through in your past or what you may be currently going through, it is important to take some time for yourself and remember that you are just as important as the loved ones around you.
If you are ready to start your journey to recovery, call us at 1-866-716-2006 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a family member concerned about your loved one, please visit our interventions page to learn how to make the first steps towards their recovery.