Four Tips for Increasing Self-Love in Recovery by Mack Garland, LCSW

Teen Heart BreakEngaging in the recovery process can be one of the most difficult, and life changing experiences on which we can embark. Often because of the arduous nature of recovery we overlook the importance of self-love and self-esteem present in the process. Below are four tips for increasing self-love in recovery.

Guilt and Shame (Forgiveness)

Everyone comes in to recovery with an extra helping of guilt and shame. We did things of which we are not proud. Guilt is recognizing we acted in ways during our addiction that were harmful to others and ourselves. Shame is the emotion we attach to the guilt. We remember coming to work drunk (guilt) and feel embarrassed (shame) about the behavior. To increase self-love we need to forgive ourselves. We did not act like our true self we acted under the influence. We cannot change the past, but we can act differently now and in the future. Acknowledge and accept your past, focus on not making the same mistakes in the future and forgive yourself.

2. Disgrace (Pride)

Recovery is hard work! Stopping the addictive behavior is extremely difficult. Learning to forgive ourselves for the past and focus on a better future takes hard work.. Give yourself credit where credit is due. Be proud of the progress you have made so far. If you have one day, or 20 years abstinent from your addiction; be proud of the hard work you have done to get to this place. Be proud of how far you have come.

Isolation (Community)

In over 20 years working in recovery I have yet to meet anyone whose addiction did not effect others, usually family, close friends and work relationships. As the addiction grows usually one’s support systems shrinks until we are isolated, alone and cutoff from the people who love us. When we start to recover we have the opportunity to build new, stronger relationships with the people we love and new relationships with others in recovery. Surround yourself with positive people, people who love and support your journey. Make an effort to engage with people in your recovery circle, whether at 12 step meetings, day treatment or inpatient hospitalization, others in recovery understand our process and can make great support systems.

4. Plan for the Future

Recovery is normally a life long process, but that does not mean we cannot plan for fun, for a future filled with manful endeavors and “a life worth living”. Most of us in our addiction were just “living a life”, in recovery we began to develop a life worth living. Can you see the difference? Part of learning to love ourselves is planning for the future, and having fun in the present. Do little things that you find enjoyable and don’t be afraid to make goals in sobriety, to dream the big dreams. It is not so much attaining the goal as enjoying the process of working toward the goal, the journey is more important than the destination. Have fun everyday along the way.

Elana Clark-Faler
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