For those recovering from addiction, it can be a difficult process to grasp the concept of self-love. This is because recovering addicts often feel guilt or shame associated with past actions when their addiction was active. These feelings can cause possible relapse by causing low self-esteem. Learning to love yourself after addiction is a complicated process, but it has many benefits. It is crucial to life in recovery.
Why Are Shame & Guilt So Common In Recovering Addicts?
During addiction, individuals will often do anything necessary to get their drug of choice in their possession. Stealing money, breaking into private property, and performing sex acts are often done to obtain money needed to buy drugs or alcohol.
When reflecting on these past actions, they can leave a person feeling broken and at their lowest because they know they would never do those things sober. Relationships are often damaged by these actions and can be difficult to mend or even acknowledge. Without acknowledging the actions that destroyed relationships, it is impossible to begin the healing process.
Start By Educating Yourself
Educate yourself about how addiction is a chronic disease that takes over all rational thinking. It is self-preserving, doing whatever it needs to do to get its next fix. Those suffering from an addiction often do things they would not do when they are sober. Remember that you are not a bad person for your addiction. This still applies even if you acted differently in negative ways when your addiction was active. Specifically, teach yourself about how addiction affects the brain and its decision making.
Your Past Does Not Define You
Remember that focusing on past actions will keep you from moving forward. It will only strengthen your sense of guilt and shame, causing a higher risk for relapse. Choosing recovery is a step in the right direction of being a better person. By letting go of the past, you are able to look towards a brighter future.
Try to do one nice thing for someone every day. Remember that your past does not define you. You deserve good things and a happy life, regardless of the actions that occurred during your addiction.
Go to those that were hurt when your addiction was active and ask to make amends. Make a genuine apology, but remember that they are not required to accept it. Understand the difference between simply apologizing and making amends.
Remember that you are not a perfect person, and neither is anyone else. You are still learning. However, others should not be expected to accept your apology and make amends. Everyone heals differently.
Take Care of Your Physical Health
Studies have been done to examine the effects of physical health on feelings of self-love. Many have determined that one of the best ways of reaching a state of self-love is to treat your physical body with respect and goodness. By exercising, eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and more, your body will be in its best state for recovery. You will have the proper energy and motivation to maintain your sobriety.
Remember that the mind is a part of your body, so you should take care of it as well. Practice mindfulness through different activities. These can include things like reading books, learning a new skill, learning new languages, practicing meditation, and more. Playing an active role in your self-love journey will help build your confidence over time.
Set Goals for the Future
When you set goals for the future, you are able to see your progress in real-time as you move towards them and achieve them. Your goals give you a good chance of staying on track in your recovery. Invest in the future and the things that will come to you, as this can help improve your confidence and self-esteem.
Models such as the S.M.A.R.T. model (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) can be used to set achievable goals that are in your best interest. This will keep you motivated to complete them as you see the progress being made.
You Are Worth It
Remember that you are a person worthy of good things. Even on your worst days, you still deserve happiness. Your past actions do not define you, and you can still have a bright future. Recovering from addiction is a difficult journey. Taking small steps towards sobriety and staying committed to your recovery is important. Never forget that you deserve love and should take an active role in your self-love journey.
Learning to love yourself again after addiction can be just as difficult as dealing with triggers and cravings. The feelings of shame and guilt that weigh heavily on those in recovery can sometimes hold them back from sobriety. Taking steps to feel better and stay motivated in your recovery is necessary. Setting goals, reaching out, treating your body with respect, and reminding yourself that you are worth it can change your entire perspective on yourself and the world around you. Treatment centers for addiction educate clients on self-love techniques along with other programs offered. This is because learning to love yourself is crucial to keeping individuals motivated. NorthStar Transitions believes that self-love is a foundational step of recovery that sets individuals up for a life of sobriety. To learn more about self-love, recovery, and other treatment options, contact NorthStar today at (303) 558-6400.