Self-love is an often-neglected area of addiction recovery. Many people who struggle with substance use disorder (SUD) find it difficult to forgive their weaknesses or acknowledge their strengths. Yet, developing compassion for oneself is critical for maintaining sobriety in the long run.
What Is Self-Love for Recovering Individuals?
People in recovery may experience ebbs and flows of guilt and shame toward themselves. Even when they progress in sobriety, they may still look back on their time of active addiction with a sense of guilt, embarrassment, or shame. Self-love means permitting one to love oneself as a precious individual.
The concept of self-love can be challenging because people with substance addiction often come to distrust themselves, their desires, or their impulses. They may have a low sense of self-worth or low self-esteem, to begin with. Research shows that low self-esteem is a significant risk factor for substance use. People who struggle with SUD as a result of poor self-esteem may have conditioned themselves with certain narratives such as, “I do not matter to anyone,” “I am not loved or wanted,” or “I hate myself.”
Self-love requires reflecting on one’s personhood in a positive light and embracing oneself for who they are. It also means filtering negative self-talk, a significant inhibitor of well-being. Recovering individuals can choose self-love instead of self-loathing. It is an empowering choice to make.
How to Nurture Self-Love Practices
Recovering individuals can begin cultivating self-love by articulating in either verbal or visual ways that they forgive themselves. Doing so is acknowledging themselves as being imperfect but worthy. This self-forgiveness also recognizes and accepts detours on the path of personal growth. The process is guided by a positive forward outlook rather than a negative backward one. Individuals can recognize what has happened in life but avoid dwelling on things so memories or guilt don’t interfere with the healing process.
Equally important is self-compassion. Many people with substance addiction are strict or perfectionistic when it comes to themselves. Recovering individuals must learn to relax and mitigate the urge to rush to self-judgment. Instead, they can model that mistakes are simply setbacks and that what one chooses to do after they’ve made a mistake is what defines them.
Lastly, self-love also involves practicing regular self-care. Self-care is more than spa trips and days off. It promotes caring for oneself, mind, body, and soul. This can include little indulgences like a nice bath or face mask. Still, it also involves eating well, getting enough sleep, taking time for enjoyable hobbies, and keeping a clean home and organized finances to avoid stress.
Working With Health Professionals to Nurture Self-Love
Recovery experts and mental health professionals have many ways to help recovering individuals regain their self-esteem. Improving regard for oneself is integral to a personalized relapse prevention plan. Recovering individuals can collaborate with health professionals to address this critical area.
Those who work with a cognitive-behavioral therapist can be coached to better articulate and process emotions. The therapist will work with them regularly to identify negative self-talk patterns and find strategies to correct them. This is a critical step to building a positive emotional system internally for them.
Joining a support group is another important way to interact with professionals and peers alike to boost self-love. Becoming active in a strong recovery community can significantly improve one’s self-esteem. They can see themselves in a new light from the perspective of other peers. For example, hearing others share similar emotional struggles or triggers can alleviate the shame of these emotions and provide tips for overcoming them.
Healthy, meaningful relationships within a recovery community can build a person up. Many people have lost self-love because they have been harmed by relationships that tear them down. The recovery process gives individuals a chance to experience more positive relationships. When a person is surrounded by people who speak positively of them, it is earlier to love themselves more.
Be Patient With Progress
Frustration and despair are common struggles on the journey of addiction recovery. However, sitting in these struggles is often when the most growth happens. Making time and space to connect with oneself is the first step toward self-discovery. It takes time to learn about oneself, what presents dangers to their health and progress, and how to rebuild that health and progress when it’s threatened.
Recovery is a life-long process. Things don’t get easier overnight, and it may feel like an uphill battle. Recovering individuals should be encouraged, though—arriving on the other side of the struggle is worth the wait.
If you are struggling to feel worthy of making progress through addiction recovery, consider the concept of self-love. A sense of self-worth and self-love is at the root of recovery from addiction. Laguna Shores Recovery has programs to educate and support you with ways to regain self-love and self-confidence. Our medical staff is compassionate about caring for the whole person while implementing science-based techniques into your custom treatment plan. We embrace an integrated, holistic recovery approach to healing your mind, body, and spirit together. We will walk alongside you to offer support and guidance. We have a wide range of treatment options, and our alumni programs include aftercare and connect you with a community of recovering individuals. Call us today to discover how you can be part of our community. Call 866-934-5276 to speak with one of the staff members for more information on our programs.