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Addiction and Self-Esteem – Building Yourself Back Up

Addiction and Self-Esteem – Building Yourself Back Up

Addicts entering treatment often have negative views of themselves. Whether we've never had a healthy sense of self-worth or our self-esteem has been shattered by addition, we must find a way to break the cycle and rediscover our value.

Like everything in recovery, building your sense of self and loving yourself is a process. It grows and evolves; it takes work. The first step in claiming a healthy sense of self-esteem is believing that we are worthy of it.

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem by Celebrating Success

If you have just entered a program of recovery or a residential treatment facility, you've taken one step toward a brighter tomorrow. You've made a healthy decision. As poorly as you may feel, the moment you step into a meeting or a rehab facility, you have chosen yourself over addiction. Congratulate yourself for choosing life.

In the very beginning, focus on staying sober. Let the days build into a week, two weeks, and a month. At the end of the month, go to a meeting and pick up your 30-day chip. That chip marks a stretch of sobriety some people never attain. Whether you've picked that chip up before or not, commend yourself on the discipline it took to tackle thirty days without drugs and alcohol. Allow your ego to bask in a moment of real triumph.

Once the first 30 days are behind you, there are many more hurdles toward success in front of you. Some achievements are uncomfortable. Acknowledge all achievements and do not let discomfort rob you of the pride that comes with the realization that you CAN do something you once believed to be impossible.

I distinctly remember the first major panic attack I had while in residential recovery. I did not have a bottle of pills to sooth me. It was incredibly uncomfortable. I was irritable through it and angry because (shocker), I didn't want to feel it. But, feel it I did. I was in public and doubt I pulled through it gracefully - but amazingly, the anxiety attack passed, and when it did, I was still sober.

After it ended, my belief that I was a complete failure cracked - I had succeeded at one thing. Plus, I started to believe that if I could go through that once, I could go through it twice. The point of all this is to say that if you experience success once, you can build on it. I don't remember my second panic attack. Or the third. I only remember laying down that very first brick that became the foundation my self-esteem is built on today. Also, because I stayed in recovery, my panic attacks decreased as my body healed and when they did occur, I had tools at my disposal to help me through them.

Build Your Self-Esteem Back One Step at a Time

Completing the twelve steps is hard work. Despite that fact, millions of people around the world have done it and continue to do it – because it is life changing. It is a journey back to yourself and those around you. It is a recipe that combines forgiving others with forgiving yourself. It introduces you to a way of life that stops to acknowledge miracles big and small.

If you work the twelve steps with your sponsor, your sense of self will change for the better. Sponsors tell us when we are unfair to ourselves, when we are sabotaging ourselves, and how and when to make amends. Amends are made to repair the harm we've caused others. A side benefit of that is the pride in knowing that we've taken the action necessary to clear the wreckage of our past.

Increase Your Self-Esteem by Setting Attainable Goals

Create some goals for your future. Write them down, think about them, and make them realistic. Set goals that set you up for success and your self-esteem will naturally grow.

The first goal is to stay sober. But, also think about the life that staying sober could give you. What do you want to do with THAT? Do you want to improve a relationship, rejoin the workforce, go back to school for a degree, or go to church every Sunday? Whatever it is that you want, set a goal that takes you closer to it, and set realistic expectations for it.

If you've been an airline pilot, setting the goal to fly planes for a living is realistic. If all you've ever done is fly paper airplanes, your first goal shouldn't be to go to the airport and ask to fly a plane. It should be to learn what it takes to become a pilot. Once you get that information, you've completed the first goal and can set another. This analogy sounds ridiculous, but it's critical. Always set yourself up for success, and bite off only what you can chew. Getting information that moves you toward a goal feels infinitely better than having an airline tell you there's no way they'll let you fly a plane anytime in the foreseeable future – even though, with enough work, they just may!

One of the greatest gifts of sobriety is that of time. You have time to take baby steps that set you on your way. Don't be surprised if all you want to do is learn to grow a daffodil, and plant a seed, only for God answer back with a field of flowers. Always remember He has a plan for you and that it may be much, much bigger than anything you've imagined.

Let the plan unfold. Just put one foot in front of another every single day. When I was in inpatient treatment, my hands shook violently. I could not write. One day, I said to someone that worked there, "I need my hands. I'm a writer." He didn't believe me, and said, "You can't write." Still, I asked him for a pen and paper and sat down at a table and scratched out a poem. My penmanship was atrocious. The poem was not.

Thirteen years later, I spend my days writing. It's how I support myself. My first goal was just to write a poem. It was a little goal, and an easy one. Nevertheless, God saw it and set a plan in motion that landed me sitting in a field of daffodils with a keyboard in my lap.

YOU CAN DO MORE THAN YOU KNOW AND YOU DESERVE TO LOVE YOURSELF Addiction and Self-Esteem – Building Yourself Back Up