As human beings, we’re already battling a number of thoughts and emotions – and the events of our past, present and future can weigh heavily on us. One of the most challenging aspects of healing for those in addiction is learning how to love oneself, especially if resentment is found; for many people, the beginning of healing is marked by a point of shame, anxiety and fear of abandonment. Nobody likes to face painful life events, but when addiction is active, it’s all too common to fall into the trap of self-defeat and even self-hatred. Self-love in recovery is crucial as we learn to accept the mistakes we’ve made in the past, while also maintaining hope for our future. For many people, 12-Step programs foster this beautiful journey of healing and growth.
While it’s been quite the buzzword on social media lately, self-love is defined as:
“Regard for one’s own well-being and happiness.”
There are many characteristics of self-love, such as:
- Not looking to other people or one’ productivity to define their worth
- Speaking to oneself with love and compassion
- Accepting what we cannot change
- Firmly saying “no” if that’s what feels right for us
- Setting boundaries for ourselves when it comes to technology and other harmful habits
- Knowing ourselves and making our choices based on what works best for our happiness and health
- Making time to do things that bring us joy
- Not dwelling on past mistakes
- Trusting one’s path in life
- Learning to set boundaries with others, and more
It always feels so much easier to fall into negative coping patterns of behavior – to blame others for the pain we’ve experienced, to wallow in self-pity over what we can’t have and more. When we look at the bigger picture, however, what does that bring us? How much happiness do we gain from it? In many cases, that negative sense of self-identity is perpetuated, and we only continue to enact an unhealthy relationship with ourselves.
Contributor Joyce Marter told the Huffington Post in 2016 that,
“Self-love is the prerequisite for complete immersion in the abundant flow of light and love in the world around us.”
In order to love ourselves fully, we have to take daily action to improve our relationship with ourselves: and while it isn’t easy, it’s definitely worth it.
One of the first and most important aspects of self-love has to do with how we talk to ourselves. Words of affirmation are incredibly important; daily affirmations and recognizing our strengths is key to becoming stronger within ourselves. It’s easy to focus on our weaknesses, what we’ve done wrong, why others shouldn’t involve us in their lives – but there are so many positive, admirable traits about us that deserve to be recognized, too.
Another aspect of self-love is treating ourselves kindly. There are many actions that we can take from this, such as:
- Preparing ourselves healthy meals
- Creating and maintaining a clean home environment to bring us peace and serenity
- Scheduling regular dental check-ups, along with doctor’s appointments and therapy appointments if needed
- Grooming ourselves with love and care, as well as dressing in a way that makes us feel good about ourselves
Last year, Medical News Today, a website that publishes information related to a variety of health conditions, explained that one of the most common dangers to self-love is perfectionism. When we make perfectionism the most important thing, we tend to experience a number of serious harmful health effects, such as:
- A shorter lifespan
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Eating disorders
- Suicidal tendencies
- Slower recovery time from serious conditions like heart disease
- And more
The reality is that we’re not perfect, nor will we ever be – because we’re human. 12-Step programs often help us overcome this perspective on life by reminding us that a Higher Power is in charge – and by building a stronger connection with a Higher Power, we can recognize that we don’t always have the control that we think we have in life.
Start Self-Love Today
If you’re ready to apply more self-love to your recovery, it’s important to remember that there are going to be many days when you don’t feel like it – but you have to do it anyway because it will pay off throughout the span of your life. It’s about creating healthy habits of treating yourself – and self-love will help you become happier and healthier in nearly all aspects of life. Right now, practice saying these words of affirmation:
I’m doing everything I can to create a great life for myself, and that’s commendable.
I believe in myself and my journey.
I’m a strong person and I can get through whatever obstacles come my way.
If you’re ready to begin the beautiful journey towards healing and wellness, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers, and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.