How Can Good Self-Esteem Help You Through Recovery?
There are dozens and dozens of reasons why people abuse drugs. It could be because they have mental health problems or an addictive personality. It might also be because of past trauma, peer pressure, or because they are self-medicating. Another reason why people often abuse drugs is because of low self-esteem says Johnny K - owner of True Life Recovery detox in Orange County, California.
Self-esteem is basically your sense of overall value or worth. It basically means that you care about yourself, and can also be described as self-love. Essentially, self-esteem means that you believe in yourself. As you can imagine, this is something which is extremely important if you're in recovery.
As we've said, many people abuse drugs and alcohol because they simply do not care about themselves. They have no concern about their well-being, or about their life, and this manifests itself as a self-destructive downward spiral. They do not give a damn and are more than happy to annihilate their lives. Some of these people are even more than happy to die.
This is an extremely unproductive way of thinking and only leads to pain and suffering. You're not going to get anywhere if you feel like this. And in order to recover and put an end to drug or alcohol addiction you have to get out of this mind-set. You need to start genuinely caring about yourself as a person. You have to value and love yourself. What's more, you need to be concerned about your health, your future, your life, and - most importantly - about recovering from your drug or alcohol addiction.
This can be very difficult for some people. You may find it hard to start caring about yourself. It may be something which you have never done before. There are dozens of reasons for this. Many drug addicts suffer from past trauma. You may also have had an abusive childhood. The inability to stop abusing drugs or alcohol will also contribute to feelings of low self-esteem. All of these factors will combine to create feelings of low self-worth and even self-hatred.
It's because of these feelings that many people relapse. They do not care about themselves enough to successfully complete treatment and stay clean. That being said, it's not the end of the world. If you're struggling with low self-esteem it is possible to do something about it. There are six things you can do now to build your self-esteem, and greatly improve your chances of a successful recovery. These include.
1. Live Consciously
The first step of building self-esteem is living more consciously. This can mean many things, but basically it involves being aware of yourself and what is going on in your life. Living consciously means that you need to wake up and start paying attention to your life. For many people with drug and alcohol problems this may be difficult. After all, these substances numb the senses and put you fast asleep. You've been living in a dream world for such a long time, it might be hard to break out of it. But the truth is that it's not that hard. The easiest way to start living more consciously is by paying attention. Pay attention to what you do during the day, how you interact with people, what you're thinking, and also to what you're feeling. Over time it will become easier.
2. Accept Yourself
You need to practice radical self-acceptance. Many people with drug or alcohol problems have deep seated insecurities. These are a group of people who do not like themselves at all. They see themselves as bad or unworthy people. The second step to building self-esteem is overcoming these feelings. You need to accept all aspects of yourself. Both the good and the bad. At the end of the day it's really about the relationship you have with yourself. Are you going to be in constant conflict with yourself, and learn to accept yourself as a person. The choice is yours?
3. Be Responsible
One of the best things you can do in life is learn how to take personal responsibility. Realize that you are 100% responsible for your choices and actions. Many addicts have great difficulty with this. They blame other people for all of their problems. It's not their fault. The reason why they became an addict is because of their parents, or childhood, or the environment they grew up in, or because of things that people have done to them.
To overcome your addiction you cannot think this way. Stop being a victim and accept that you are responsible for your actions and behaviours. If you do this you'll find that it's enormously empowering, and may completely change the way that you see yourself.
4. Be Assertive
To build self-esteem you need to stop being a doormat. Stop letting people walk all over you and assert yourself. Have the courage to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. Learn to express your feelings and be authentic when doing it. This is extremely important because repression leads to all sorts of psychological issues. In fact, one of the reasons why you may have developed drug or alcohol problems is because you've never been able to express yourself in a healthy way. This is what initially leads to low self-esteem. To overcome this you need to start asserting yourself.
5. Live Purposely
A big part of sobriety is finding a higher purpose in life. You need to find something greater to focus on than drug or alcohol abuse. This means you need to set goals for yourself. Goal setting is one of your most important post recovery tasks. If you leave treatment without having a specific plan for your life, it's highly unlikely that you'll actually succeed. You need to have goals for every aspect of your life.
6. Have Personal Integrity
Personal integrity means that you stay true to the person that you are. That you're not a liar, sham or hypocrite. It means that you have ideals, values, convictions, beliefs, standards for your behaviour, and that you stick to them no matter what. Integrity also means that you know what is wrong or right, and make an effort to do what is right.