Before we choose the path to recovery, most of us are bogged down with extreme feelings of guilt, shame and self-loathing. We are physically ill most of the time, we are addicted to a substance and feel trapped not knowing how to eliminate it from our lives, and many of us are hiding our addiction from the public and from loved ones. The negative feelings just keep coming and coming, and we don’t know how to fix them.
When we begin to recover, it’s still difficult to shed these feelings. But we must get rid of those feelings, and replace them with self love and self care in order to fully recover. Today I have chosen this safe coping strategy:
Praise yourself. Notice what you did right; this is the most powerful method of growth.
As you begin your new sober life, you will stumble once in a while. It is inevitable. Even if you stay on the path and do not relapse, you will still experience urges and cravings. And on days when you’re feeling down and lost, you might snap at loved ones and say things you don’t mean. It’s still easy to be down on ourselves, even though we are sober.
But, it’s important to notice what you’re doing right. For example, you’re staying sober. You’re employed or you’re attending school. You’re reconnecting with loved ones. You’re exercising. You’re eating healthy.
Don’t focus on the junk food you had yesterday, or the argument you had with your spouse, or the urge to use that you had to talk yourself down from. The more bad thoughts you have toward yourself, the more will come. It’s a downward spiral that’s difficult to escape from. And in the end, you will think it’s ok to use again, because you’re not worth sobriety.
It’s important to know that’s not true. You’re more than worthy of a sober existence, you deserve it. And beginning to love yourself the way you are, flaws and all, will help make your journey that much easier. None of us is perfect, and we all need a little help once in a while. When you find yourself caught in a negative feeling directed at yourself, take time to remember the things you did right. Take time to remember that you can make the next five minutes, the next day, the next week, better.
Each of us is learning new things every day. Learning to love ourselves again after a battle with addiction is no different. Of course, we should reflect on our past mistakes, and learn from them, but we should not hold on to them and use them to judge ourselves. Positive thinking, positive self-talk and self-forgiveness are very important in any recovery journey. Remember to love yourself as you are.