How do we define self-esteem, and why is it paramount to addiction recovery? Self-esteem can be defined as our overall sense of worth. The image of self stems from our childhood familial dynamic, the love, and support we were given (or deprived of), empirical circumstances, our mental wiring, personality, background – myriad factors. Studies have shown a strong correlation between substance abuse and self-esteem. The ones who struggle with low self-worth live by the question: "Why try at all?" The well-embedded belief of "born or destined to fail" gives room for a distinctive abyss to cultivate self-destruction. For that reason, any individual in addiction recovery should give their self-esteem their undivided attention. The truth is that our fundamental pillars of existence mustn't be put on hold. The very success of one's sobriety rides solely on their ability to love oneself. Let's talk about why self-esteem matters in addiction recovery.
Low self-esteem is the gateway to relapse
Relapse and low self-esteem go hand in hand; a symbiosis made in hell. The ones who are riddled with insecurities and poor self-image seek refuge in psychoactive substances to alleviate the mind and soul's perpetual, excruciating uneasiness. People turn to drugs and alcohol for various reasons: to lower their inhibitions, survive a breakup, build pseudo-confidence, or escape negative thinking patterns. Whatever the culprit, individuals in recovery face an even greater danger: relapse. When one stops using, the crutch is no longer available; only the sober truth of self-loathing. Learning how to boost your self-esteem in recovery is crucial for avoiding relapse.
Low self-esteem signs
Individuals struggling with addiction often exhibit the following behaviors:
The danger of not working on your self-esteem
Low self-esteem is a peculiar round of hell; it's a self-imposed prison of a loveless existence. The ones who succeed in freeing themselves from the iron fist of addiction are the ones who learn to feel compassion and practice self-love. Without working on your self-esteem, you risk remaining confined and unconditionally lost in anger, fear, anxiety, depression, and self-disgust, a bystander in your own life. Now, that would be a disgrace. Showing your teeth and fighting the inner demons isn't. It's an act of courage. An act of self-love. The path to healing emerges when you realize that the only person who can save you is you. High self-esteem invites motivation for recovery. And it's absolutely worth all the blood, sweat, and tears.
Building self-esteem in addiction recovery
Nothing happens overnight. There will be no miracles here, only hard work. The path to self-love is a continuous fight, and it needs you to give it your 100%, especially after completing the primary treatment program. Long-term treatment is mandatory if you want to stay on the sober train. Fortunately, you're not alone; some of the best mental healthcare providers offer online therapy – reach out to a professional and ask for guidance.
How to improve self-esteem
Addictive behavior or not, many people struggle with low self-esteem. The good news? You can mend it. We suggest practicing the following steps to improve and rebuild your sense of self-worth.
Build positive relationships
Once you're in recovery, it's essential to stay clear from anyone who has ever influenced or endorsed your substance use in the past. Learning to say "No" to toxic relationships is the cornerstone of your self-esteem. Going back to certain individuals or even places can trigger you into relapse temptation. Instead, focus on creating new, healthy relationships with toxic-trait-free people who can see your beauty and worth and will appreciate your presence and friendship. Self-esteem matters in addiction recovery. Find the people who will love you for you.
"I'm good at..."Ask yourself this: What am I good at? Every human being is good at something, no matter how idiosyncratic their talent. Are you good at telling jokes? Making lasagna? Painting? Singing blues? Find the thing (or things) you do well. The better we are at something, the better we feel about ourselves. It's a reasonably straightforward hypothesis. Being great (or simply good) at something boosts your mood and self-esteem.
Additionally, it prevents your mind from wandering off-limits. Something as "silly" as joining a choir can turn out to be a lifesaver. If you love cooking, try volunteering at a local soup kitchen. According to consumeropinion.org, recovering individuals who volunteer are less likely to experience relapse.
Healthy self-esteem requires exiting the comfort zone and probing for novelties. Feeling anxious about new experiences is entirely typical and expected. The difference between low and healthy self-esteem is that, although you fear the unknown, healthy self-esteem doesn't stop you in your tracks; you don't allow negative emotions to prevent you from experiencing new things. So, choose your challenge. Start small. (then gradually work towards something you really want.) Gym, pottery class, 10,000 steps per day, or simply going out for a cup of coffee. Start somewhere. Expand your comfort zone and transform your negative thoughts into a healthy dose of self-praise.
Learn to say "No"
Individuals with low self-esteem are known to be people pleasers. "NO" is non-existent in their vocabulary, and often so, to their detriment. (if you say no, they won't like you anymore) Here's some homework: stop saying "Yes" all the time. See what happens. Will they leave? Think of you less? Or appreciate you more? Practice setting boundaries. Do what is best for you, not others. Saying yes to the things you don't want, like, or need will only evoke resentment and send you down the low self-esteem spiral.
Healthy self-esteem matters in addiction recovery. So, be kind to yourself and others. Refrain from being your own worst critic. Say NO to your inner tyrant. Rest, tyrant, rest. Instead, offer compassion. Be gentle. You deserve it. And remember: nobody but you will save you from yourself.
Meta Description: - Low self-esteem matters in addiction recovery as it can trigger relapse in patients. Here are some tips to avoid that. Photo used: https://unsplash.com/photos/SR8ByN6xY3k
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