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The Importance of Self Love in Addiction Recovery

Alexa Iocco Addiction Treatment , Recovery November 18, 2021

The Importance of Self Love in Addiction Recovery Resurgence Behavioral Health

Learning to Love Yourself Again After Rehab

Starting the recovery process can feel overwhelming and practicing self-love may be a foreign concept to many people who have struggled with addiction. After rehab, self-love is an important practice, but this task is easier said than done.

Your entire identity was distorted by addiction, putting your next fix or your next drink as your top priority, and placing compassion for yourself at the bottom of the list. Now that the substance use disorder has been treated, you are left facing parts of yourself you may have been trying to mask.

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Overcoming stigma is also a challenge because there are numerous stereotypes and prejudices in our culture surrounding addiction, such as:

  • You will never be more than an addict – labels such as “addict” are unnecessarily harmful and judgmental, reducing a smart, interesting, profound human being to a stereotype
  • You are weak or have no self-control – anybody, under the right set of circumstances, can become addicted to drugs or alcohol. It is not a character flaw, nor is it something to feel shame about
  • You are not able to get or hold a job or have a normal life – many people with substance use disorders have full-time jobs, families, and friends and are successful in their lives
  • You are broken – although many people facing addiction have experienced trauma or mental illness, the truth is addiction is a treatable disease of the brain and is not a life sentence

These types of prejudices may incite a relapse in those who do not have a solid base of self-love, as they may begin to believe what is being said about them. Finding self-love is challenging, but also rewarding. Coming to terms with who you were and becoming the happy and healthy person you want to be, one step at a time, is a healing process that can be life-changing.

What is Self-Love?

Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself and is important because it is a way to motivate yourself into making healthy choices. It is a state of being that is cultivated by our thoughts and our actions and instills meaning and depth into life.

Some ways people practice self-love include:

  • Having high regard for your own well-being and happiness, cultivating a healthy self-esteem
  • Not settling for less than you deserve, remaining authentic to what is true to you
  • Taking care of your own needs, without sacrificing your well-being to please others
  • Prioritizing yourself, even when it means upsetting others
  • Engaging in reflection, like a gratitude list, journaling, or actively thinking about your desires, feelings, and intentions will help you stay in touch with what is important in life
  • Setting healthy intentions to act in meaningful ways, and setting specific goals that are broken down into small, achievable steps, so you can stay sober one day at a time and work toward concrete, attainable objectives
  • Being kind to yourself and giving yourself a break from judgment, forgiving yourself, and having self-compassion and inner patience, choosing not to dwell on past mistakes
  • Setting healthy boundaries, not accepting treatment from others that is not healthy for you from your romantic partner, friends, family, work colleagues or anybody else
  • Listening to your body, getting enough rest and eating well, nourish your mind, body and spirit
  • Accepting your emotions, and loving yourself as you are in this moment
  • Practicing mindfulness, acting according to your values and beliefs
  • Putting effort into the decisions we make, weighing the pros and cons
  • Using the influence words can have in a constructive way, including affirmations, mantras, and positive self-talk
  • Constructing a life that you can be proud of, without comparing yourself to others
  • Celebrate your wins. No victory is too small in recovery. Making it through one tough day is just as important as making it to a year of sobriety.

Actively planning to set aside the time each day to take care of yourself and do things that bring you joy, rather than trying to jam self-care into the day, will help you find a good routine in which you can focus on your feelings, motivations, and outcome of your actions as you work to enhance your overall well being.

Positive actions will result in positive feelings towards ourselves and will help bring inner peace, greater satisfaction with life, and more resilience. To stop self-destructive actions, such as drinking or using drugs, we must first learn to love ourselves to then learn to cope with problems in a healthy way.

Self-love is different for everybody because we all have different needs and ways of taking care of ourselves, but with addiction recovery, one of the most important ways to love yourself is to act based on what you need, not what you want. Acting as your own caregiver and prioritizing your needs will help you stay focused on what is important.

Why Do We Neglect to Love Ourselves?

Some of the factors that influence the neglect of self-love while in addiction recovery include:

  • Shame, low self-esteem, and self-hatred can make it difficult to cultivate self-love
  • It is easy to be pulled into negativity, stress, and longing, or to think self-deprecating thoughts
  • In recovery, it is easy to feel alone, even when surrounded by supportive people
  • Feelings of hopelessness are common when addiction is involved
  • Depression and other mental health issues can contribute to difficulty with self-love

Focusing on the negative is partly a human instinct, as our ancient ancestors would have to think ahead to what could possibly go wrong to survive. In modern life, we do not need to focus so hard on the bad stuff. Negativity holds us back and can color our entire world if we let it. We ruminate, inviting harmful factors into our lives, and damaging our own health and mental wellness.

Some ways neglecting self-love can manifest include:

  • Pulling away from loved ones and friends, avoiding social situations and activities
  • Experiencing self-doubt
  • Giving in to temptations easier
  • Acting out in anger or frustration
  • Focusing on thoughts that may promote relapse, rather than positive thoughts that will help with recovery

It is important to be as loving and patient with yourself as you would with somebody else in your life who you care about.

What Happens When We Neglect Self Love in Recovery

Self-love is important because our actions matter, and the way we behave influences everything in our lives. Self-love in recovery helps us forgive our own weaknesses while we embrace our strengths, helping us develop compassion for ourselves as we heal our mind and body, mend broken relationships and get to know ourselves again while in recovery.

When we neglect self-love in recovery, negativity can overwhelm us and encourage old habits to come back again. Feelings of isolation, regret, shame, and depression are all triggers for many people and may bring about a relapse if they are not dealt with. Self-love empowers us to take responsibility for our actions, and when we stop caring about our own well-being is when self-destructive thoughts and behaviors can seep in.

Self-love allows us to forgive ourselves if we slip up or relapse in our recovery journey. Through forgiveness and positive actions, we can pick ourselves back up again and return to rehab, attend meetings or speak with medical professionals or peers for help and support.

Some examples of self-love after relapse include:

  • Taking action -if you have a relapse plan, follow the steps you have laid out for yourself
  • Asking for help – loving yourself involves doing what is best for you, even when it is difficult
  • Being honest with yourself without thinking harmful thoughts – you can admit you made a mistake without feeling shame or anger with yourself. Self-forgiveness is self-care.

Why Learning to Love Yourself is Crucial in Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery is not easy, but when you take care of yourself in a loving way, being mindful of how your actions and self-talk in each moment can affect your overall health and wellness, you will find that you want to take care of yourself and stay on a healthy living track, without returning to substance abuse.

You are important and you deserve to treat your own well-being as a top priority. In addiction recovery, your own self-love may be what keeps you from drinking or using drugs in those difficult moments when you are hit with a trigger. By remembering that you deserve to be well, healthy, and in control of your own life, your sober self will persevere, and you will flourish.

If you are ready for help for a substance use issue or want to speak with an addictions expert on what you can do to increase self-love in your recovery process, contact Resurgence Behavioral Health to speak with an expert today. It’s never too late to get the help you need.

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