Old 01-13-2005, 07:58 PM
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What are some ways to build self-esteem? How has your view of yourself changed since you got sober? Please share some positive ways to overcome a negative self-image.

Love and hugs,
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Old 01-13-2005, 09:52 PM
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I, too, would like to know how some "long timers" have delt with this.

Self-love is a big issue with me.
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Old 01-14-2005, 07:52 AM
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Hi Hope.

I think this a great topic. I don't have a real lot of time under my belt, but here's my two cents.

I've always had a problem with low self-esteem. I think that's probably one of the underlying issues with why I drank, why I ate too much, why I would seek out jobs where I would be under-employed, the list could go on.

It seemed that I just wouldn't do anything to be good to myself - just constantly put myself down.

My divorce in November really changed my outlook on life. For some reason, everything just snapped after that happened. I knew that I couldn't just treat myself poorly any longer. So what did I do?

I realized that just not drinking was going to solve the problem. So I became active in my recovery. That's means I started attending meetings, I changed my diet, I began exercising, I took a good hard look at my spirituality. I think for the first time I realized that I'm stuck with me and I needed to find me - the true me because the true me is a good person.

So I guess, in a nutshell, to build up my self-esteem, I started being good to myself. It's hard work but I feel good now and I've lost over 40 lbs!!! I still have more to go to get my self-esteem where I want it to be, but it gets better each day.

I've rambled a bit, but the topic is something that is close to me.

Thanks for letting me share.

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Old 01-14-2005, 08:12 AM
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Thanks for sharing Richard! You are doing great and I'm very happy for you. You deserve all the happiness in the world.

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Old 01-14-2005, 08:52 AM
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It is what it is!!!
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The steps. Everytime I work the steps in my recovery I am able to let go of just a little bit more of the 'garbage' that I have carried with me as a child. For me it didn't/doesn't happen all at once. I am on my 3rd time right now, and more is being revealed.

I heard a speaker at a meeting with 15 years last week say when she got to the rooms of NA she had no self esteem, today she has a little, and each year she stays sober and continues to work her recovery she gains more.

I ask my HP for help with this everyday. I work daily on trying to replace the negative talk with positive talk (daily struggle for me).

I remind myself daily that I am a gift to this world, we all are. We are all here for a purpose. My purpose is not to cure cancer or go to the moon, but I have a purpose even if it is just to share some joy with someone else each day.

I try and surround myself in my life with people that look at life in a positive way. That is why I stick around here, there as so many positive people here at SR that want to share with others.

And a biggie for me is not only understanding in my heart, but remembering daily that I am NOT the things that I did or the things that were done to me. Those are things that happened and what matters is how I live my life today.

This is a really great topic and an issue that almost everyone I know in recovery deals with alot. Thanks.

Richard...Great job!!!
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Old 01-14-2005, 10:17 AM
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This very topic came up last evening at a support group that I attend on a weekly basis.

I am now sober a little over 13 months and have found that being sober I have far more self esteem than I did when I was drinking. Richard’s comment that his drinking arose from a lack or low self –esteem, also applies to my situation. It became so easy to withdraw into a the haze of booze than to face the realities of the moment or day.

You asked how did I change and improve my self-esteem. One very fundamental and essential element to my change was the realization that I cannot change the past, my actions nor the feelings and emotions of those I impacted during my drinking. What I can change is how I am at this very moment and be true to my recovery so that I am sober and strong tomorrow.

You know the basic serenity prayer is something I do each and every day and it is truly on point: “To accept the things I cannot change” - the past; “To change the things that I can” – the present and the future; and “The wisdom to know the difference”

We tend to perceive ourselves at a lower elevation than those who we love and surround us out of our guilt for have been a drunk or a drug user. This is a perception one has to let go of and move forward.

Another way of looking at this situation is the attempt to maintain a positive mental attitude (PMA). What I have learned that greatly assists me in having a PMA is two really simple thought processes.

1) Each evening while going to sleep, I review the day and confirm that I was sober again.
2) Each morning when I awake, I plan my day in a broad stroke and commit that I will retain my sobriety throughout the day.

The second step is the most beneficial and rewarding. I make a short list (and I do mean a short list – 3 to 5 items) of what my goals are for the day. Some revolve around work, some concern home chores and some are relationship issues. I write this list on the back of my business card, and as I go through the day, I cross off my accomplishments. The actual process of striking through or xing out the tasks that have been performed provides me an overwhelming amount of gratification. Hey, I did it!

Finally, learn to look people directly into their eyes and with your head straight-forward. You are on the same playing field of life and in no way perceive yourself to be at some lower level.

These are provided me with what I need, and hopefully you find them useful.

Have a Great Day.
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Old 01-14-2005, 10:33 AM
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I, too, can really relate to this. I seem to have skipped over humility and went from being (over)confident to humiliated. That's where my addiction took me. Addiction is the true equalizer, no one is worse or better than any one else.

I have a family in recovery now and (this is a miracle) they are loving me until I can love myself.

Self-esteem, self-love, for me is a verb, not a noun. In order to love myself, I need to take action, which I call esteemable acts. Each day that I live in integrity, be of service to others and care for myself, I gain a little bit of self-esteem. Like Richard, I am taking care of myself and working my program of recovery hard. It really makes a difference. I am starting to be able to look myself in the eyes again.

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Old 01-14-2005, 10:48 AM
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What a great thread.
I've posted this before, but it bears repeating.
One of the longtimers in AA I'm closest to told me this once.

"Dan, the greatest gift the AA program of recovery gave me is simple.
Today, when a person tells me they love me, or that I did a good thing, I no longer think of ten different reasons to not believe them."

I'm aspiring to that incredible simple serenity.
One day at a time.
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Old 01-14-2005, 10:55 AM
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Psalm 118:24
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Learning to have a positvie outlook helps out a lot. Set goals for your self. Something you have to work for but, can be made. All of us are created equal. You need not bow down toany one. Take another inventory of your self. Are you anywhere near the 4th step? Make a list of the good things about your self. Write down everything that you do for people. Work on making your self a beter person. Simple things like taking the time to donate blood, help out with any charity drives you can be involved with. I worked on raising money for diabetes. We do the race for the cure for cancer in the spring here where I live.
Each and efveryone of us in here have a responsibility to make the world a better place. That's how you get your self worth doing unto others
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Old 01-14-2005, 11:00 AM
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Well just reading this thread has lifted me, you are each and every one of you an inspiration and I am honoured to know you.

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Old 01-14-2005, 11:22 AM
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I only speak for myself.

If I start at the beginning of building self-esteem I realise that my inherent justification for being on the planet, standing next to you, is not in my acheivements or behaviour. My justification for being here is simply that I am here and I am breathing. There is no need for further justification.

Having established my credentials for being here I find I am in a muddle which can be painful. I realise that I have made my own bed and it is my actions that have caused this and that it may be a long road out and I may take many unhelpful roads along the way.

I try to recognise that I am not here to strive towards perfection, that I have too many expectations of myself and others and many unhelpful ways of thinking which cause me problems. Part of the problem is that I am too judgemental of my own behaviour and this is part of the problem.

I am just a human being doing the best I can with what I know. I am not superman, though I have thought of buying the T-shirt.

The human race is evolving. It's not perfect.


Andy F.
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Old 01-14-2005, 11:26 AM
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I have found one of the best things for me to restore self-esteem is going to the gym.
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Old 01-14-2005, 03:45 PM
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Wow everyone!! Great thread Hope!

To go along with all the other great things that have aready been shared, I also think that perception, honesty, and graditude help me.

As I stay sober, I get to learn more about myself everyday. How I react to people and situations, how I perceive these things. A lot of my thought processes have changed. My "expectations" have changed. Maybe a little of my low self esteem came from self pity. Now, I use these episodes in my life as learning experiences. I try to find out what part I played in them honestly. It helps me to know I am working on me!! And it makes me feel better to know that as they have said, I don't have to be perfect.

Graditude!! How can graditude do anything but make me feel better. Like I'm a special part of this world. Put here to see a certain smile on someones face, or to put one there!! Being grateful for the things that I have, especially the kindness of heart!! Being grateful for the knowledge that I am never alone!!

Thank you all for sharing!! Great stuff!! Really made me think!!

And Hope, I hear, no matter how far down we go - it's only 12 steps up!!!!!!!

Love to all,
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Old 01-14-2005, 03:58 PM
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Believe it or not, the meetings are helping me. When I look around and see all these people who are facing similar problems as I am and who are not judging, it is wonderful.

As far as day to day stuff, I'm making an effort to do things I enjoy and am good at, and then recognizing that they are good. Cooking, writing, etc. Even walking my dog, lol! And when I spend the day productively, I don't feel bad about changing into sweats and lazing in front of the TV in the evening, lol!

But a big thing for me, I think, is not to try to do it all at once. I used to think recovery meant immediately correcting every bad habit and if I didnt' or couldn't, then I came down on myself. Now, I am learning to live with progress vs. perfection
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Old 01-15-2005, 07:01 AM
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Dan and jojo both spoke my thoughts!! How scary is that?!!

A simple(?) excercise that my first sponsor had me do was to pay attention to the positive things people said to me. I had to notice my reaction, which was usually "Yeah-Right!! What are you sucking up for." or "If you really knew me, you wouldn't be saying that!" ( I said these things to myself, of course. Not out loud.)

I was then instructed not to automatically discredit what people said to me, but to hold onto it, take it home and consider the possibilities of ways that it could be true. It wasn't easy, but I tried it and I have to admit that it went a long way in helping to build up my strength and confidence and trust. Over time!!

When I allowed others to believe in me and love me when I couldn't believe in and love myself, I came to know the power of a 'WE' program. I am not alone on my journey through recovery because my Higher Power gave me the gift of life through other recovering addicts and the 12 Steps.

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Old 01-15-2005, 07:12 AM
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We all need each other.
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Great thread, Hope. I have been told that the best way to gain self-esteem is to do esteem-able (sp?) acts. By staying sober each day, I gain a little bit of self-esteem. Also, many of the things that have come about as a result of being sober, like paying my bills on time, getting to work on time, keeping my house in order, etc. help me to feel better about myself. As others have said, it is a very gradual process. We do not just wake up one morning saying, "hey, I am a pretty cool chick (or dude)." Keep doing the next right thing and better self-esteem will come along.

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Old 01-15-2005, 09:43 AM
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Baby steps work for me :-)

I set myself a _small_ goal. One that I know I can acomplish without too much trouble. I arrange things so that I can spend time reaching that goal, i.e.: set aside the time to actually do it. When I first got sober, it was things like showing up 15 minutes early at a meeting to help set up, stay 15 minutes late and help clean up. Thank _one_ person who shared.

Then I would accept my own congratulations to myself for having reached my goal. Once I learned how to accept praise from _me_ as a result of lots of practice, it became easier to accept praise from others. With time, my goals got bigger. Made coffee for a meeting for 6 months, welcomed people at the meetings, found at least one newcomer at every meeting and listened to their story.

Little by little my goals became bigger, and my self esteem healthier.

Mike :-)
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Old 01-15-2005, 11:56 AM
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Here's a quote that describes my problem, from AA's 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, page 53, step 4:

We have not once sought to be one in a family, to be a friend among friends, to be a worker among workers, to be a useful member of society. Always we tried to struggle to the top of the heap, or to hide underneath it. This self-centered behavior blocked a partnership relation with any of those about us. Of true brotherhood we had small comprehension. (end quote)

My low self-esteem came from uniqueness - no one is the same as me, I'm much worse. I had to join the human race when I sobered up. I had to work on the character defects described in the quote. Now I'm one of us, no better, no worse. No more and no less.

Humility and good self-esteem comes from being able to look in the mirror and see what's really there - nothing more, nothing less.

Lots of great stuff in this thread. Thanks all.
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Old 01-15-2005, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by hector
My low self-esteem came from uniqueness - no one is the same as me, I'm much worse. I had to join the human race when I sobered up. I had to work on the character defects described in the quote. Now I'm one of us, no better, no worse. No more and no less.
Yep. Lots of good stuff in this thread indeed.
Thanks for that Hector.
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