Building confidence and self-esteem in Recovery
Because you’re worth it!
So, you have gone and got yourself sober - Brilliant Achievement by the way!
Maybe you spent time in a detox or rehabilitation center, maybe you had 1-1 therapy or maybe you just bit the bullet and went it alone.
Whatever path you chose to get there, YOU put the work in, YOU got yourself there. So, you should be feeling great, right?
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people in recovery however to struggle with low self-esteem, robbing them of the joy sobriety brings. Instead of joy, familiar feelings of unhappiness, unworthiness, and generally feeling unsatisfied rear their ugly heads and make staying sober in the long run a challenge.
Building confidence and self-esteem is an integral part of staying sober.
What is self-esteem anyway?
Basically, self-esteem is our perception of our worth as a person — including our feelings of confidence and satisfaction with our life.
People with low self-esteem act and think in ways associated with not feeling like they are a good or worthy person. - I’m unlovable; I’m no good; I’m broken – Sound familiar?
(I used that last one a lot!)
Low self-esteem and addiction often go hand in hand. I think it’s fair to say that people with low self-esteem are at higher risk of turning to drugs and alcohol to TEMPORARILY feel better about themselves.
I highlight the word TEMPORARILY because this then leads to the viscous cycle of using substances and experiencing lower and lower self-esteem.
Levels of self-esteem plummet while feelings of shame and guilt sky-rocket. Behaviours such as lying (big one for the secret users) make it hard for us to like ourselves.
When I finally got sober, I realised that the damage my addiction had caused weighed heavily on my already low self-esteem.
Fortunately, self-esteem is not a permanent characteristic.
That means we can build it up if it is low. If you currently struggle with low self-esteem and lack confidence, you are not alone, but staying sober may depend on your determination to increase your self-esteem.
If low self-esteem influenced you to use in the first place, then it can also trigger relapse, which is why it is important to consider ways to increase your feelings of self-worth and self-confidence in order to achieve long-term sobriety.
Try these suggestions to help begin rebuilding your Confidence and Increase your Self-Esteem:
Fill your life with positive and supportive people
Although self-esteem comes from within, we need support of others. Reach out to people you look up to that encourage and inspire you to be different. If someone gives you a compliment accept it and thank them instead of shying away and feeling sheepish.
Use positive affirmations
We become what we tell ourselves we are. The more you say to yourself
“I am a good person who deserves respect and happiness,”
the more these words will ring true. Choose one or two positive affirmations, write them down, stick them on your mirror, and read them out loud to yourself every day.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
Please. Stop. Stop. Stop this.
Pay attention to your own thoughts — and recognise that you are unique. If you catch yourself comparing, mentally say STOP and cut off the thought.
Recognise and challenge negative thoughts
Much easier said than done. Recognising and changing these negative thought patterns are essential for staying sober.
Figure yourself out
In order to remain clean/sober you must continuously work on getting to know what makes you a unique and special person without drugs and alcohol. This will mean acknowledging your strengths and accepting your imperfections.
Focus on success
It’s so easy to focus on failures. We tend to beat ourselves up for little things. Instead, focus on each small success. Each day staying sober is a success, so be sure to acknowledge it!
You and only you can create change in your life.
Take responsibility for your own happiness and self-esteem. Make a conscious decision to work towards becoming a more confident and self-loving person. Staying sober takes dedication and ongoing commitment to yourself.
Finally, its important to note:
“Change Takes Time”
You are not going to regain self-esteem overnight, there is no magic ward to make it happen. Working hard to increase confidence and self-esteem will make staying sober that much easier and contribute to your overall happiness and well-being.