There is a cause-and-effect relationship between low self-esteem and addiction. The problem is, sometimes it is hard to tell which is the cause and which is the effect.
In some cases, having low self-esteem may be one of the reasons you began to abuse drugs or alcohol in the first place. In other cases, maybe you started out with good self-esteem, but addiction and its consequences damaged your ability to love yourself.
Here’s the good news: Regardless of whether you started suffering from low self-esteem prior to addiction or after, you can heal. Low self-esteem does not have to be permanent. You can start loving yourself today, even if you are still in addiction rehab. Make that, “especially if you are in addiction rehab.” Why? Because being in addiction rehab means that you have already taken steps toward loving yourself. That is something to celebrate.
Building a Better Self-Image
You know firsthand how hard the struggle against addiction can be. Imagine if the person you love most in the world was going through what you are experiencing. How would you treat that person? Would you speak negatively to him or her, constantly pointing out all the small and large failures along the road to recovery? Of course you wouldn’t, because it would not be helpful, kind, or loving to that person. You would never even think of hurting someone you love that way.
Now, think about this. Are you doing to yourself the very things you would never do to someone else? If so, make it your aim to stop today. Make a pact with yourself to stop the negative self-talk, the constant rehashing of past failures and mistakes, and the emotional self-bashing. You deserve better. Treat yourself with the same dignity and respect you would give to anyone you love, because you’re worth it.
Embracing the “I Love Myself” Philosophy
Sometimes it’s harder to love yourself than you may assume. Especially when your addiction has hurt other people or damaged your physical, mental, or emotional well-being, it can be a real struggle to remember what makes you worth loving in the first place. Here are some ways to put down addiction’s emotional baggage and lighten your load as you make your journey toward recovery.
- Let go of past mistakes. If something can be done to repair any damage that occurred in the past, do it. If not, understand that time flows forward and not backward. The past is the past.
- Be kind to your body. Take time to eat right and exercise. It doesn’t have to be gourmet food or running a marathon. Just take some small steps each day toward nourishing your body.
- Be kind to your mind. Carve out a little time each day to reset mentally. Even if it’s only for ten or fifteen minutes, sit quietly and think about the good things that you have accomplished today. Take pride in every achievement, no matter how small. Small accomplishments are the foundation upon which strong self-esteem is built.
- Practice active forgiveness. Let go of resentment toward others. Let go of anger and bitterness toward yourself as well. Resentment and bitterness are like emotional cancer. Excise those negative emotions from your life, starting today.
- Learn to laugh again. It is true that you need to be serious about addiction rehab, but that does not mean that you should not enjoy the humor in life. Watch a silly movie, read a funny book, or just sit and people-watch in a public park for a bit. You’ll find abundant reasons to smile and laugh.
- Practice generosity. Doing something good for others will help you build your confidence and self-esteem. You have great power to affect the lives of others for good. Use that power, and you will find that it grows and fills your life with new meaning.
The Best Way to Learn to Love Yourself
Any relationship you build starts with a learning process. If you want to love yourself, it is important to embark on a journey of self-discovery.
Look in the mirror. Learn about what makes you tick. Celebrate the treasures you find out about yourself on the way. You are unlike any other person on the planet, with unique and special talents and gifts. Develop those talents and use those gifts wisely. You have the potential and the privilege to do something no one else has ever done. You are writing the story of your life. Make it a love story.
We’re Here to Help
Harris House is here to help you on your journey of self-discovery. When you are ready to begin, contact us.