Building Self Esteem
Building Self esteem
Growth in self esteem is an essential element in an addict’s recovery – Writer Erika Cormier offers four useful approaches to those in early recovery struggling with issues of self esteem.
1. Take Good Care of Yourself
Nourish your body by eating well and when you are hungry. Avoid over indulgence in anything like caffeine, sugar or starch that can have a negative effect on your physical energy. Take a walk, exercise, even for a few moments a day to circulate your blood and energize your body.
“Do something you love every day, or begin trying to.“
Make a commitment to take time for yourself to enjoy an activity or relax when needed. Surround yourself and spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself. Address health problems or concerns with visits to healthcare providers. These are all things we avoid in active addiction because our addiction consumes and dictates our time and what we do with it. You may even have difficulty thinking of an activity that gives you joy because it is a good possibility that you haven’t had time to do anything you enjoy in a very long time.
2. Practice positive self-talk
“Work on changing negative thoughts about yourself to positive ones.”
You may give yourself lots of negative self talk. Many people do. This negative self talk worsens your low self esteem. You can decide now not to do this to yourself. That’s great if you can do it. However, negative self talk is often a habit that is hard to break. You may need to work on it more directly by changing these negative statements about yourself to positive ones. Begin this process by making a list of the negative statements you often say to yourself. Some of the most common ones are:
- Nobody cares about me
- Nobody loves me
- I can’t do anything right
- I am stupid
- I am worthless
- I have never accomplished anything
The list could get very long the more time one has repeatedly practiced negative thoughts. This can be changed by then developing a positive statement that refutes the negative one. For instance, instead of saying to yourself, “Nobody likes me” you could say, “Many people like me”, or even be more specific and name people. Instead of saying, “I am ugly”, you could say “I look fine”. Instead of saying, “I never do anything right” you could say “I have done many things right.” You could even make a list of things you have done right. It helps to do this work in a special notebook or journal, dedicated to your recovery. Recovery practices like this which are designed to change your long-ingrained habits necessitate action on your part. You must commit to practice recovery and work on your habits so that you develop healthy thinking and increase self-esteem and self-worth. Taking away and abstaining from a substance will not change habits of thought. Once you have developed positive statements that refute your negative statements, read them over and over to yourself. Read them before you go to bed at night and when you first get up in the morning. Read them aloud to your partner, a close friend or your counsellor. Make signs that say a positive statement about you and post them where you will see them–like on the mirror in your bathroom. Then read them aloud every time you see them. You can think of some other ways to reinforce these positive statements about yourself.
3. Complete an Attainable Goal
This can be difficult because with addiction, our motivations for activities not related to our addiction are placed on the back burner and forgotten about, ignored. It may take some deep thought to come up with a goal, but that is the point, to search our motivations that have long been forgotten.
“The key to beginning this in recovery is making sure the goal is measurable with a clear ending, attainable and achievable in a timely manner. Start small. Like making your bed in the morning, taking a walk in the afternoon, doing laundry, sending someone a card or letter that you’ve been meaning to thank or talk to, organising a drawer, anything that is reasonable and attainable.”
Once you finish an activity that you set out to accomplish, you will feel good about yourself for having done it. Again, this may seem simplistic but these are all activities that you may have not done while in active addiction.
4. List Your Accomplishments
“Sit down and write out everything that comes to mind that you have ever achieved.”
It does not have to meet any expectation or measure to anyone but you. Start simple and small, with daily goals you have met and then you can explore accomplishments that you find of value. This can be as easy as listing that you’ve provided shelter for your children, having your children, getting clean, not using yesterday, not using today, getting a job, helping someone, being a good friend, a good parent, a good sister, brother, etc., cleaning the dishes, doing groceries, any goal at all that you set out to do and you completed is an accomplishment that you should acknowledge. Every goal in the step above, once completed can be listed.
When we complete tasks, big or small (as determined by you) will promote positive emotions, thoughts, and self-esteem. There are numerous ways you can achieve a quick self-esteem boost that can develop into healthy habits every single day. Talking with a friend on the phone or in person may make you feel good, reading a magazine, looking at old pictures, watch a funny movie or show-something that makes you laugh, wear something that makes you feel attractive, make a list of all your positive assets, there are simple boosters in every day that can help us reach a habit of positive self-esteem.