Seeking Self-Love in Recovery
February is the month of heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and notes of admiration for loved ones. What if you spent the same amount of time and energy focusing on giving that kind of fondness and love to yourself?
The disease of Substance Use Disorder relies on feelings of guilt, shame, isolation, and general self-dissatisfaction to maintain control of your brain. While in active use, you more than likely tried to soothe said emotions by using substances. In contrast, recovery demands compassion for both others, and yourself. The journey to self-love is a road of building genuine self-esteem in an effort to maintain a strong long-term recovery.
It’s on old cliché, you must love yourself first. Unfortunately, there’s no guidebook or formulaic way to go about finding self-love, but the desire to seek it is a great first step.
What is self-love?
Webster defines it as an appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue.
How can you achieve it?
You may know acceptance as a recovery principle. Acceptance of your powerlessness over drugs and alcohol, acceptance of your inability to control all of the things around you, and acceptance of others. To work toward a place of self-love, you must begin at self-acceptance.
Self-acceptance is not to be confused with complacency—of course, you must continue to work on the things that you can change. For example, Step 7 on humility reminds you to ask your higher power to remove your shortcomings. When you practice self-acceptance, you willingly acknowledge the parts of you that are imperfect and work to better what you can and accept what you cannot. This may require the help of a higher power, a counselor/therapist, and/or the collective wisdom of a home group or sponsor.
Focus on Treating Others Well
You know that in terms of recovery, you get back what you put in. Most often it is the same in regard to the way that you treat others. When you practice giving compassion, empathy, patience, and understanding to others, it can be easier to treat yourself in the same way.
TIP: When you make a mistake, slip up, or do something wrong—try to take a moment of pause and think about how you would treat a close friend or loved one if they did the same thing. Treat yourself how you would treat a close friend in the program.
Don’t Get in Your Own Way
Unfortunately, you can be your own worst enemy in recovery. In fact, most humans can get in their own way at times. You may think that you’ve “mastered” your recovery concepts and get “too comfortable” in your recovery. You may hear this from time-to-time, but more than anything it is a warning against arrogance. Arrogance can be completely subconscious and unintentional, but it can be very dangerous to your recovery. Though everyone’s recovery is different, you must remember that you cannot face the disease alone, and you are never invincible or not susceptible to the disease or a return to use. That humility and humbleness are what ultimately will allow you to build genuine self-love, understanding, and to stay sober.
Small Acts of Self Kindness
- Keep your spiritual life active and healthy—pray, meditate, journal, repeat.
- Take care of your health, eat well, and move around—get those natural endorphins going!
- Begin to seek your purpose in sobriety. What brings you joy? What are your passions? Pursue them!
- Surround yourself with people who love you for YOU, specifically, those in your recovery network.
- Take an inventory of the things you enjoy about yourself in your journal. What are your most positive attributes? What do you add to a group setting? Ask a close friend or sponsor for help with this reflection.
- Be of service when you can. Helping others is a proven way to build self-esteem.
- Remember that you are a human being. You will never be perfect, but you are perfectly flawed and that is okay.
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About Fellowship Hall
Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.