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Creating Self-Love in Addiction Recovery
It can be difficult to rebuild self-love in addiction's aftermath. Here are some self-care methods to learn to love the new you.
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How do we find self-love in addiction recovery? It’s a more important question than you might think. Rebuilding self-esteem and self-confidence, creating a life independent of addictive substances, becoming a person that we are proud of—all are essential to prevent relapse and find true emotional sobriety.
Ultimately, we have to give ourselves the love and the compassion we deserve. Here are some tips to get started:
Build Self-Love in by Learning Who You Are (Without Addiction)
One frightening aspect of addiction recovery is the sense that without substances, we no longer recognize who we are. Without the crutch of substance use, who are you? What are your real interests? What really excites you?
Taking the time to sit with yourself in that vulnerable place of curiosity is one of the first steps to achieving self-love. We can’t love what we don’t recognize, so be patient with yourself and take the time you need. Getting reacquainted with ourselves takes time.
That’s the point where things get exciting–determining what you want to do with the rest of your life. What are you moved to do in this next phase of your life?
At The Edge Treatment Center, a key part of our treatment plans revolves around each client’s long-term life goals. Taking measurable steps toward goals is so meaningful to our mental health. More importantly, finding purpose and acting on that is essential if we want to build a life worth staying sober for.
Work on Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy
Self-esteem and self-efficacy are key parts of rebuilding the self-love that addiction often takes from us. We need faith that we can make good things happen, and the self-esteem to believe we deserve those good things.
One of the ways we can build our sense of self-efficacy is through making small good decisions consistently. Creating better decision-making comes from consistently making better decisions and retraining our thought processes.
One of the most hopeful facts about our brain is that we can re-train our neural pathways through something known as neural plasticity. Neural plasticity is increased by mindfulness practices and describes our brain’s willingness to fall into new neural pathways.
In short, if we continue to make choices that reinforce good habits and positive neural pathways, our brain will eventually help us to make those alterations more natural from a long-term standpoint.
Self-efficacy, in turn, helps us to rebuild that sense of self-esteem. Increased focus on mindfulness and self-care will also help.
Create a Self-Care Routine
We’ve talked about the importance of mindfulness before (with or without meditation) because self-care is an incredibly important tool in relapse prevention.
In fact, lack of self-care is one of the first signs of emotional relapse, which is the first stage of relapse. So here are some lesser-known self-care strategies, straight from our Clinical Director, Jeremy Arzt, LMFT, MA:
Find Your Flow
“A hallmark of good self-care is when we enter a state of flow, meaning we lose track of time because of how engaged we are. In doing so, we reduce our current stress and increase our emotional resilience for the future.”
Identify what Self-Care Means To You
“How we reach flow is a very personal thing. Bubble baths, yoga, and meditation may work for an introvert, but not for everyone. Activities that fall under self-care for an extrovert may include concert attendance, a conversation with a close friend, or dancing.”
Maintain Your Routine
“To benefit from self-care, try doing something that you love–something that takes you away from stress and into the present moment”
Once you find what works for you, stick with it. For many, self-care can mean physical exercise, meditation, or spending time outdoors.
If self-care for you means retreating from the world and diving into a favorite book or show, great! Lose track of time for a while and make sure you carve out time to do so regularly.
Surround Yourself with People Who Respect and Love You
Finding community is an important aspect of any recovery program. Whether you find your tribe in your sober living, through your long-term drug rehab, or support groups, it is important to find people who have been through the addiction recovery processes, who know how to appropriately handle negative emotions, and who will applaud you for taking care of your mental health.
We sometimes find that those who join us after short-term rehab programs haven’t given themselves enough time to build a support network. Find people who you know are there for you, and who make you feel confident in your abilities.
Individuals in recovery often find this support in others who have experience in addiction recovery. One of the best methods of practicing self-love is surrounding yourself with people who will love you until you can do so on your own.
Work Things Out in Therapy
Let’s face it, many of us bring “baggage” into our addiction recovery. Unhealed traumas, negative thought patterns, coping mechanisms that no longer serve us–all of these can hold us back from true self-love. This won’t be the first time you hear this, surely: try therapy.
Asking for help is not a weakness.
Many think that therapy is a sign of weakness, but therapy helps us to be our strongest selves. If you need to understand yourself better, tackle some long-term issues, and find coping skills to live your best life, an addiction therapist will help with all of that.
Anyone in early addiction recovery should probably have some form of therapy anyways; why not utilize every possible option to keep yourself feeling good and loving your new life in recovery?
Therapy can be hard, but it gives you an ally in identifying what might be holding you back, and in finding the first steps forward into long-term addiction recovery. With this newfound self-efficacy will also, naturally, come the ingrained habit of self-love.
Self-Love in Healing from Addiction
In summary, self-love is always a worthy pursuit, but especially so in addiction recovery. We can build the habit of loving ourselves by taking the time to get to know ourselves better, building up our self-esteem and self-efficacy, surrounding ourselves with support groups and others who love and respect us, and working on ourselves in therapy.
All that being said, if you need help to find the long-term addiction recovery you or a loved one needs–we are always willing to be of help.
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