No matter where you are currently in your recovery process, building your self-esteem while also learning how to manage your substance use disorder and keep your symptoms under control is a difficult task. However, building your self-esteem while in recovery is also vitally important for making healthy choices and successfully completing your recovery goals. It’s easy to fall victim to guilt and self-deprecation, which may prevent you from building up your self-esteem, especially in early recovery.
However, the more you practice positive behaviors and cognitions that will help you recognize your self-worth, the easier it will be to have a positive outlook on yourself and your progress. Building your self-esteem is key to managing the emotional triggers that may cause you to abuse substances.
Be Aware of Thought Patterns and Beliefs
An important step towards building up your confidence during recovery is to be aware of your mental processes (cognition) or, more commonly referred to as, your way of thinking. Understanding your thoughts will help you pin down negative thoughts that may be causing you to have a low opinion of yourself. Mental health professionals can help you analyze your thoughts and understand why certain self-beliefs may be unhealthy or harmful. This is often done using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which will allow you to identify harmful thoughts and patterns and give you the tools to stop and eventually change these thoughts to positive and productive ones.
Make Thoughts Physical
Anytime we say a thought out loud or write it on paper, it becomes more permanent. Journaling your thoughts on a daily basis may help you understand them better, and writing positive thoughts and affirmations or saying them out loud might help you build your self-esteem. Even if you don’t fully believe the positive messages that you are writing down or speaking out loud, the more you say them, the easier they will be to believe.
Building your self-esteem during the beginning of your recovery may be more difficult because you may be focused on how you harmed others around you. Building your self-esteem and practicing positive self-talk does not mean excusing your harmful actions; rather, the focus is on developing your strengths and skills that will help you achieve your recovery goals.
Take Care of Yourself
When people are depressed, stressed, or anxious, it’s easy to forget to make time to take care of themselves properly. However, proper self-care can build your self-esteem during recovery and help you get over difficult bumps on your journey. Self-care includes exercising regularly, eating healthy, cleanliness, and getting the proper amount of sleep.
Exercising is one of the best ways to build your confidence because it releases endorphins and boosts your energy levels. Being able to accomplish your fitness goals may help you realize what it might take for you to accomplish your recovery goals while also giving you the confidence to do it. Healthy eating habits, enough sleep, proper hygiene, and regular exercise will energize you and help you to do more with your day, making you feel more accomplished and raising your self-esteem.
Much of the treatment for substance use disorder will focus on making amends with people you may have hurt due to your substance abuse. However, it is also equally important to make amends with yourself. While you shouldn’t make excuses and forget about your past actions and behaviors, it is also important to remind yourself that you have a disorder that caused the reward system in your brain to change. You are suffering from an illness. It’s okay to feel remorse for your past wrongdoings, but it’s important to be kind to yourself.
Remind yourself that you’re taking steps to change the type of person that you were, which takes time and patience. If you’re constantly beating yourself up and wallowing in your guilt, you’ll never have the confidence that you can make positive behavioral changes and reach your recovery goals.
Have an Action Plan
Since changing your behavior and forming new habits takes time, it may seem like an impossible undertaking. Any goal can seem impossible to achieve if you don’t have a plan or steps to make it happen. Making a plan with a mental health professional will help you stay focused on your goals and have a successful recovery.
Breaking up your long-term goals into smaller, short-term goals will make your goals seem more obtainable and raise your confidence by making you feel like you are more in control. When you create an action plan for change, then your efforts for making that change become more real and doable.
Building your self-esteem and confidence during your recovery is important for achieving your recovery goals. It’s important not to wallow in your own guilt or self-deprecation. While taking responsibility for your wrongdoings is important, it is also important to acknowledge your strengths and skills that will help you throughout your recovery. The professionals at Shoreline Recovery Center are dedicated to helping you build your confidence by finding tools to help manage your symptoms and making an action plan that is specific to your needs.
Shoreline Recovery Center offers cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), during which mental health professionals will help you analyze and modify your thoughts and behaviors. You’ll also be surrounded by a non-judgemental community that will accept you as you are and make it easier for you to accept yourself. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance use disorder, please call Shoreline Recovery Center at (866) 278-8495 to learn more about how our programs can help you.