Building self-esteem following addiction is one of the biggest challenges facing people in recovery, but it’s crucial for maintaining sobriety. Addicts rely on substances to give them a false sense of self-esteem, making them feel more desirable and outgoing. However, true self-esteem is attained when a person is comfortable in their own skin without the use of a substance.
There are a variety of things a recovering addict needs to do to build high self-esteem. Here are 5 simple suggestions:
Look for the Good in Others
Addicts new to recovery typically have a hard time feeling good about themselves. Therefore, it may be helpful for an addict to start focusing on things they admire in others. Then, the addict can decide how to implement these qualities into their own lives. Pay compliments to your peers, but don't compare yourself to others — this only breeds self-doubt. When you show love to others, it makes you more open to loving yourself.
If you doubt your ability to accomplish goals, nobody will expect you to accomplish them either. Furthermore, others will find it impossible to respect you if it is evident that you do not respect yourself. The basis for how others treat you is often determined by how you treat yourself. Thus, by respecting yourself, others are likely to follow.
Better Self-Care Leads to Improved Self-Esteem
As the old saying goes, "Be your own best friend." Make sure your emotional, spiritual and physical needs are fulfilled. Do things that are self-nurturing — exercise, get enough sleep, eat properly and find healthy ways to express emotion. Better self-care will lead to an improved self-esteem. Self-care is not a selfish act. On the contrary, you cannot fully give to others unless you take care of yourself first.
Accept That You Are Deserving of Love
Many recovering addicts in 12-Step programs take comfort in knowing they’re unconditionally loved by the higher power of their choosing. Some are lucky enough to have people in their lives who love them regardless of their past addiction. In any event, you are deserving of love. So start loving yourself today in order to jumpstart the journey towards recovery.
Start Embracing Your Individuality
Each person is unique and special in their own way. For that reason, start embracing your individuality instead of rejecting it. Be thankful for life’s journey and accept that you contribute to the lives of others. Nobody else can contribute in the ways you do because your characteristics are unique. No one else thinks exactly the same way or makes the same choices. So, love yourself just the way you are right now - don't wait for some idealized version of yourself to materialize.
Recovery is possible with self-love and the belief that you are deserving of love. Building self-esteem is a crucial step towards that goal.