Finding early recovery to be a difficult, even painful period? Many people enter recovery with a low sense of self-esteem that becomes more apparent to them without the numbing effects of drugs or alcohol. This is why taking time to learn to love yourself is so important for long-term healing.
You have started recovery with high hopes for a better future. You know that life can be more than your addiction, and you want nothing more than to move forward. But somehow, your thoughts and inner narrative keep dragging you back. You doubt yourself, are intensely critical of everything you do, and feel deep shame about your past. In some ways, the biggest obstacle between you and your long-term recovery…is you.
Many people struggle with low self-esteem in recovery. For some, a lack of self-love may have fueled the addiction in the first place, while for others the addiction itself may be the reason they are now doubting their self-worth. No matter what the source, learning how to love and accept yourself is a foundational element for a lasting recovery.
What Does Self-Love Really Mean?
The term “self-love” might invoke images of a day at the spa and positive affirmations repeated in the mirror. While these things may be part of cultivating self-love, the real work is far more comprehensive, involving physical and emotional practices that help develop a genuine appreciation and respect for oneself.
Being Able to Self-Validate
Many of us rely on external validation for that boost to our confidence and self-worth. The quality of this validation is important, such as when it comes from someone we admire or respect, as is the quantity, like when we are broadly or often praised. It’s the latter that has been monetised in recent years through social media, with likes, comments, shares, and subscribes feeding into our need for external recognition.
We often also seek validation through our work, to the point where we may be completely unable to separate our worth from our ability to produce or be of service to others. However, no matter how we devote ourselves to others, when we rely on external validation to determine how we value ourselves, we will always fall short.
This is because self-validation is irreplaceable in our measure of self-worth. Even if we are lauded by those we care about, or masses of adoring strangers, it will never be enough if we cannot also validate ourselves. We must learn to appreciate and recognise our own efforts, thoughts, and actions.
This means being conscious of what you are feeling, and taking time for reflection on what you have done. When you’re sad or exhausted or irritated, give yourself the space to feel your feelings and validate them. Sit with your emotions, explore where they are coming from, and remind yourself that this process is an important part of regaining your health. Acknowledge to yourself when you’ve done something that is good, have improved, or are working towards a goal.
Being Gentle With Yourself
Do you find that you have an arsenal of explanations for other people’s behaviour, but are intensely critical of your own slightest misstep? We are often our own harshest judges, internally castigating ourselves for things that we would overlook or dismiss in others.
What if you decided to extend the same kindness and compassion towards yourself that you do to others? Mistakes are a natural and important part of personal growth as a person, and offering yourself forgiveness when you make them can dramatically impact your recovery. Finding this tenderness with yourself allows you to be fully aware of your actions and positively affected by them, rather than stymied by guilt or self-loathing.
Building Healthy Boundaries
Assessing the relationships you have with others is an important part of recovery. During your addiction, you may have formed unhealthy relationships with others, whether they be people who have enabled your addiction in some way, or people who have blamed or disparaged you for it. Recognising what your personal boundaries are and honoring these can help you identify which relationships are toxic, and which are positive.
Because people often completely lose touch with their boundaries during addiction (and may have struggled with them prior to their dependency as well), you will likely need some time to get acquainted with what they are. You can start by asking and answering a few key questions, like:
- Who do you most need to set boundaries with?
- Where do you most need to set boundaries with yourself?
- What are the biggest challenges you anticipate when setting boundaries? How will you deal with these?
- When you decide to say “no,” what will you say “yes” to? And if you say “yes,” what will you say “no” to?
Going through this process will help you start to assess where your limits are, and what you need for yourself in order to have a successful recovery.
Making Sure You Get the Basics, and a Little More
When we are busy putting other people’s needs before our own, we may ignore our body’s most basic requirements. Eating enough of the right kind of foods, getting good sleep, exercising regularly and having a little time to give yourself whatever your spice of life is – a massage, going to a movie, having dinner out with friends – are the building blocks to a strong recovery. Resist the urge to underestimate the impacts these have on your overall mood and resilience, and instead make them an absolute priority.
To make sure that you are getting enough of what you need, talk to your doctor or an addiction specialist about recommendations regarding nutrition, sleep and daily activity. Create a plan for yourself that lays out your targets and track your progress. If you are not meeting your goals in certain areas, discuss what needs to be done in order to get to where you need to be. Maintaining recovery, and having the strength to handle life’s challenges, depends on having a body and mind that is nourished, rested, and healthy.
Learning How to Love Yourself at The Dawn
The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab Thailand offers customised treatment plans designed to help clients overcome addiction and mental health issues. Our holistic approach to recovery includes a broad array of treatment modalities, including modern psychotherapies, proven wellness practices, and fitness routines. We work with each client to develop a highly personalised treatment plan based on your unique needs and goals.
Addiction Treatment and Recovery in Thailand
Located in beautiful Northern Thailand, just an hour’s flight away from the capital city of Bangkok, The Dawn is a beautiful riverfront sanctuary where clients can recover in a relaxed, cosy ambience and truly focus on themselves. Each client is given a comfortable, private room and access to resort-style facilities including WiFi, a swimming pool, meditation studio, and fitness centre. Internationally accredited by the American Accreditation Commission International (AACI), The Dawn is an oasis of peace and healing a world away from all the stressors and triggers of home.
Give yourself the gift of a recovery retreat, and call The Dawn today to learn more about our programmes.